Saturday, June 18, 2011

Asterix comics study: cartoons that were deemed 'too violent'

Asterix is not the first cartoon to be criticised for the level of violence its characters inflict on one another. Here are some more examples of animated brutality that some felt went too far.

Tom and Jerry
The beloved cat-and-mouse duo would never have been made in today's society because of health and safety rules, the director of Bob the Builder claimed last year.
Fears that children will try to imitate the behaviour they see on screen have led to guidelines demanding that modern cartoons must be more "realistic" than in previous generations.
Sarah Ball said: "In the society we live in now there are so many health and safety or 'standard practice’ rules that you have to adhere to because broadcasters are so concerned about imitable behaviour."
For a show whose most recognisable character is an innocent-looking, red-cheeked rodent, the Japanese animated series about a world of collectors seeking out magical species is surprisingly violent.
Rather than looking after their endearing and seemingly harmless pets, or putting them in a zoo, the aim of the programme's "trainers" is rather less wholesome – to teach their charges to fight before pitching them against one another in battle.
The authors of a 2009 study into children's programmes including Pokemon and even Scooby-Doo said violent cartoons and video games could influence children's "aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviours".
Punch and Judy
A puppeteer in Portsmouth was ordered to lower the level of violence in the traditional children's show last year amid concerns from organisers that some scenes could be deemed offensive by parents.
Daniel Liversidge was ordered to remove any instances of Punch hitting Judy, and swapped his whacking stick for a fluffy mop so that he could tickle her instead.
The puppeteer was also told Punch could no longer put Judy through a mangler or throw a baby out of the bath. He said: "You always get people asking for the traditional stick to come back but you have to move with the times ... at the end of the day I am a children's entertainer and my job is to keep children happy."
Itchy and Scratchy from The Simpsons
OK, it's a cartoon-within-a-cartoon, but Marge Simpson's shock at seeing the gory violence in Bart and Lisa's favourite TV show leads her on a one-woman crusade against the network, in an episode called Itchy & Scratchy & Marge.
Condemning the "needless brutality" with which the cat and mouse – a parody of Tom and Jerry – attack one another, she spearheads a campaign that forces the show's makers to dramatically tone down the cartoon. After several turgid episodes in which Itchy and Scratchy trade presents and hugs instead of missiles and bullets, the show's ratings plunge as children lose interest.
Fortunately for the network, Marge destroys her credibility by refusing to lead a similar censorship drive against Michaelangelo's David, upon which Itchy and Scratchy immediately returns to its original form.
Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck exhibition
In an exhibition parodying the concern some parents express about violence in cartoons, artist James Cauty and his 15-year-old son Harry drew a series of "Splatter" images showing Looney Tunes characters being brutally shot, decapitated and eaten alive.
The 2008 exhibit, displayed at the London Aquarium Gallery, included a picture of Daffy Duck's head exploding as he is shot at point blank range by Bugs Bunny, and blood dripping down Sylvester the cat's face as he takes a bite out of Tweety Pie, having finally caught his budgerigar rival.
Mr Cauty said: "Its very difficult to shock kids these days – you have cartoon characters being shot in the head and walking off cliffs, so we have decided to replace them with something more realistic."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lunar eclipse: science behind why Moon changes colour

A lunar eclipse is when the Earth casts its shadow over the moon. Often the moon turns brown in an eclipse but can become a reddish, coppery colour or orange. Thursday's eclipse sent the moon into a "blood red" colour.

The lunar face is usually tinged by light from the Sun that refracts as it passes through our atmosphere. But the intensity of the colour depends on the amount of ash and dust in the atmosphere. The Moon, a cold, rocky body about 2,160 miles in diameter has no light of its own but shines by sunlight reflected from its surface. It orbits Earth about once every 29 and a half days and as it circles the planet, its changing position, in respect to the Sun, causes our natural satellite to cycle through a series of phase. An eclipse of the Moon (or lunar eclipse) can only occur at Full Moon.

The phenomenon known as a “total lunar eclipse” occurs when the planet completely blocks the sun, causing the moon to darken and appear to change colour. But the moon does not become completely shaded because the Earth's atmosphere refracts, or bends, indirect sunlight toward it, which gives off a dim illumination. As indirect sunlight must travel through the Earth's atmosphere before reaching the moon, any clouds or dust in the atmosphere will block out some colours in the sunlight.

“The total phase of a lunar eclipse is so interesting and beautiful precisely because of the filtering and refracting effect of Earth's atmosphere,” a Nasa spokesman says. Astronomers say this causes the moon to seem to change colour, frequently in yellow, orange, or red shades. The exact colour varies depending on weather conditions. The specific phenomenon that occurred on Thursday was known as a "deep lunar eclipse". Scientists said the eclipse could be safely observed with the naked eye. The next total lunar eclipse will be on December 10. There will be partial solar eclipses on July 1 and November 25, but the next total solar eclipse will not take place until November 13, next year.

Stargazers across the globe have been treated to  lunar eclipse, the longest in more than a decade, which turned the moon a blood red colour. Stargazers with clear skies throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia were treated to the visual treat, when the terrestrial shadow started to fall at 6.24pm BST and lifted just before midnight. The "totality", which is when the lunar face is completely covered, lasted 100 min. which scientists said was the longest since July 2000

Monday, June 13, 2011

Astonishing image captures night sky in dazzling formation

Exclusive: Lit up in the night sky, this spectacular picture shows a galaxy of stars in a dazzling formation more akin to a large-scale spinning wheel.

The astonishing image, taken in the heart of the Australian outback, was used simply by taking advantage of the earth's rotation.
Andrew Brooks, an amateur photographer, took the image using his camera, a tripod, his neighbour's lounge room light and a little patience while letting gravity do the rest.
The image, taken in the remote town of Denial Bay, a fishing village on the edge of the Great Australian Bight, was taken using a special “time lapse” process.
It takes advantage of the earth’s natural rotation, which explains the circular appearance.
Each picture takes about 36 minutes to complete – the camera shutter is locked open for 18 minutes before it spends a similar amount of time processing what it has taken – which then produces what appears to be a moving image.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Scientists create cow that produces 'human' milk

Scientists in Argentina have created the world’s first cow to boast two human genes that will enable it to produce human-like milk.

Genetic engineering was used to introduce the “mothers’ milk” genes into the animal before birth, according to the National Institute of Agribusiness Technology in Buenos Aires.
As an adult the cloned cow “will produce milk that is similar to humans” in what will prove “a development of great importance for the nutrition of infants”, it said in a statement.
“The cloned cow, named Rosita ISA, is the first bovine born in the world that incorporates two human genes that contain the proteins present in human milk,” the statement said.
In April scientists in China published details of research showing that they had created GM Holstein dairy cows which produced milk containing proteins found in human breast milk.
But the Argentine team say the Chinese only introduced one human gene, whereas their research involved two genes meaning the milk will more closely resemble that of humans.