The Best Florida Resorts For Family Holidays

By R. Ritchie

Florida has to be one of the very best destinations in the world for family holidays. Florida’s top family resorts have programs designed for children of all ages. Some of the more popular activities are instruction in water sports such as snorkelling, waterskiing, windsurfing and sailing – others offer coaching in tennis and golf. For younger children, the resorts organise special days around a theme, with crafts, activities and games. The programs are often part of your holiday package, but some resorts charge an additional amount per day for each activity.

The Northeast Coast

Set on lovely Amelia Island, Amelia Island Plantation, covers 1350 acres, with winding roads and paths that meander through natural woodlands. Here you’ll find Kids’ Camps, and a Teen Explorers program that offers tennis and golf clinics, arts and crafts, and field trips, plus a highly popular games room.

Northwest Coast

The giant 2400-acre Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort has many activities for kids: sailing, tennis, kayaking, golf, and the Jolee Island Nature Park with pirate-ship playground. Watersports include body surfing, with complimentary boogie boards. Programs include day and night activities for teens and a water park.

Central Florida

The 800-room

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Nickelodeon Family Suites

, located within five minutes of Disney World in Orlando, will be a big hit with your kids. The resort’s pool is actually a water park, and a complimentary nine-hole miniature golf course, several basketball courts, and a state-of-the-art theatre are all geared for family fun.


Caribbean Beach Resort

has the relaxed feel of a brightly coloured island village – a perfect setting for a moderately priced family holiday. Parrot Cay, a one-acre adventure island built in the middle of a lake, is a play area for children, connected to the lakeshore by footbridges. A wide variety of eating options will satisfy the fussiest eaters. Another exceptional accommodation option for Disney World visitors, the new

All-Star Music Resort

Family Suites are particularly inexpensive and family-friendly. They sleep a family of six and offer two full baths and a kitchenette with microwave and refrigerator.

At Universal Studios Florida, you can choose from three luxury resort hotels:

Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel

, and

Portofino Bay Hotel

. Here you are within easy reach of Universal’s theme parks, their Wet ‘n Wild water park, themed restaurants, entertainment complex and a 20-screen movie theatre.

On the central west coast,

The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort

, a five-star resort, on Longboat Key, was named the 5th Best Family Resort in the United State by Child magazine in 2006. The complimentary children’s programs include a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities.

The Southeast Coast

Located on the St. Lucie River, the

Club Med Sandpiper

has a great ambiance and its outstanding programs include waterskiing and wakeboarding, inline skating, tennis and golf, plus a circus school, complete with flying trapeze.

The Breakers

, at Palm Beach, is particularly suited for families. Children 17 and under stay for free, and kids from 3-12 can attend the Coconut Crew Interactive Camp for a fun day of tennis, golf, arts and crafts, lawn hockey, or swimming. The family entertainment centre includes a toddlers’ room, a computer X-box room, and Italian restaurant.

The Southwest Coast

Noted for its Victorian style, with big verandas and wicker rockers on the porch,

Sanibel Harbor Resort and Spa

is a top-rated 80-acre oceanfront resort that overlooks Sanibel and Captiva islands. There is a Kids Club for ages 5-12. At the

South Seas Resort

on Captive Island, you can paddle a kayak, canoe or rent a Hobie; try the fishing, parasailing and body boarding at the beach; bike or jog; join in the Fun Factory kids’ programs, and there are excellent teen and family activities.

About the Author: Rod Ritchie writes for many publishers including AA Publishing and Fodors.

Go America

provide great value hotels and car hire all across North America. Book

Florida hotels and car hire



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Founder of the National Ballet of Canada dies at age 85

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Celia Franca, founder of the National Ballet of Canada and its training ground, the National Ballet School of Canada, died at age 85 Monday in Ottawa, Ontario.

She is reported to have died in an Ottawa Hospital and her cause of death is not known. She went to the hospital last week and stayed there until she had died.

“Celia was more than the National Ballet’s founder. She was its presiding spirit, its most stalwart supporter and the embodiment of its ideals and values,” said Karen Kain, the National Ballet of Canada’s current artistic director. “She inspired generations of dancers by her example and her devotion to the art of ballet. And most importantly, she made us believe in ourselves and that no goal was ever out of reach.”

Franca, born 1921 in London, England, came to Canada in 1951 to found the National Ballet of Canada. Franca choreographed ballets in Canada such as the famous “Cinderella” and “The Nutcracker.” She was artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada for 24 years.

In 1967, Franca was named an officer of the Order of Canada, then named a Companion of the order in 1985.

British computer scientist’s new “nullity” idea provokes reaction from mathematicians

Monday, December 11, 2006

On December 7, BBC News reported a story about Dr James Anderson, a teacher in the Computer Science department at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. In the report it was stated that Anderson had “solved a very important problem” that was 1200 years old, the problem of division by zero. According to the BBC, Anderson had created a new number, that he had named “nullity”, that lay outside of the real number line. Anderson terms this number a “transreal number”, and denotes it with the Greek letter ? {\displaystyle \Phi } . He had taught this number to pupils at Highdown School, in Emmer Green, Reading.

The BBC report provoked many reactions from mathematicians and others.

In reaction to the story, Mark C. Chu-Carroll, a computer scientist and researcher, posted a web log entry describing Anderson as an “idiot math teacher”, and describing the BBC’s story as “absolutely infuriating” and a story that “does an excellent job of demonstrating what total innumerate idiots reporters are”. Chu-Carroll stated that there was, in fact, no actual problem to be solved in the first place. “There is no number that meaningfully expresses the concept of what it means to divide by zero.”, he wrote, stating that all that Anderson had done was “assign a name to the concept of ‘not a number'”, something which was “not new” in that the IEEE floating-point standard, which describes how computers represent floating-point numbers, had included a concept of “not a number”, termed “NaN“, since 1985. Chu-Carroll further continued:

“Basically, he’s defined a non-solution to a non-problem. And by teaching it to his students, he’s doing them a great disservice. They’re going to leave his class believing that he’s a great genius who’s solved a supposed fundamental problem of math, and believing in this silly nullity thing as a valid mathematical concept.
“It’s not like there isn’t already enough stuff in basic math for kids to learn; there’s no excuse for taking advantage of a passive audience to shove this nonsense down their throats as an exercise in self-aggrandizement.
“To make matters worse, this idiot is a computer science professor! No one who’s studied CS should be able to get away with believing that re-inventing the concept of NaN is something noteworthy or profound; and no one who’s studied CS should think that defining meaningless values can somehow magically make invalid computations produce meaningful results. I’m ashamed for my field.”

There have been a wide range of other reactions from other people to the BBC news story. Comments range from the humorous and the ironic, such as the B1FF-style observation that “DIVIDION[sic] BY ZERO IS IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE MY CALCULATOR SAYS SO AND IT IS THE TRUTH” and the Chuck Norris Fact that “Only Chuck Norris can divide by zero.” (to which another reader replied “Chuck Norris just looks at zero, and it divides itself.”); through vigourous defences of Dr Anderson, with several people quoting the lyrics to Ira Gershwin‘s song “They All Laughed (At Christopher Columbus)”; to detailed mathematical discussions of Anderson’s proposed axioms of transfinite numbers.

Several readers have commented that they consider this to have damaged the reputation of the Computer Science department, and even the reputation of the University of Reading as a whole. “By publishing his childish nonsense the BBC actively harms the reputation of Reading University.” wrote one reader. “Looking forward to seeing Reading University maths application plummit.” wrote another. “Ignore all research papers from the University of Reading.” wrote a third. “I’m not sure why you refer to Reading as a ‘university’. This is a place the BBC reports as closing down its physics department because it’s too hard. Lecturers at Reading should stick to folk dancing and knitting, leaving academic subjects to grown ups.” wrote a fourth. Steve Kramarsky lamented that Dr Anderson is not from the “University of ‘Rithmetic“.

Several readers criticised the journalists at the BBC who ran the story for not apparently contacting any mathematicians about Dr Anderson’s idea. “Journalists are meant to check facts, not just accept whatever they are told by a self-interested third party and publish it without question.” wrote one reader on the BBC’s web site. However, on Slashdot another reader countered “The report is from Berkshire local news. Berkshire! Do you really expect a local news team to have a maths specialist? Finding a newsworthy story in Berkshire probably isn’t that easy, so local journalists have to cover any piece of fluff that comes up. Your attitude to the journalist should be sympathy, not scorn.”

Ben Goldacre, author of the Bad Science column in The Guardian, wrote on his web log that “what is odd is a reporter, editor, producer, newsroom, team, cameraman, soundman, TV channel, web editor, web copy writer, and so on, all thinking it’s a good idea to cover a brilliant new scientific breakthrough whilst clearly knowing nothing about the context. Maths isn’t that hard, you could even make a call to a mathematician about it.”, continuing that “it’s all very well for the BBC to think they’re being balanced and clever getting Dr Anderson back in to answer queries about his theory on Tuesday, but that rather skips the issue, and shines the spotlight quite unfairly on him (he looks like a very alright bloke to me).”.

From reading comments on his own web log as well as elsewhere, Goldacre concluded that he thought that “a lot of people might feel it’s reporter Ben Moore, and the rest of his doubtless extensive team, the people who drove the story, who we’d want to see answering the questions from the mathematicians.”.

Andrej Bauer, a professional mathematician from Slovenia writing on the Bad Science web log, stated that “whoever reported on this failed to call a university professor to check whether it was really new. Any university professor would have told this reporter that there are many ways of dealing with division by zero, and that Mr. Anderson’s was just one of known ones.”

Ollie Williams, one of the BBC Radio Berkshire reporters who wrote the BBC story, initially stated that “It seems odd to me that his theory would get as far as television if it’s so easily blown out of the water by visitors to our site, so there must be something more to it.” and directly responded to criticisms of BBC journalism on several points on his web log.

He pointed out that people should remember that his target audience was local people in Berkshire with no mathematical knowledge, and that he was “not writing for a global audience of mathematicians”. “Some people have had a go at Dr Anderson for using simplified terminology too,” he continued, “but he knows we’re playing to a mainstream audience, and at the time we filmed him, he was showing his theory to a class of schoolchildren. Those circumstances were never going to breed an in-depth half-hour scientific discussion, and none of our regular readers would want that.”.

On the matter of fact checking, he replied that “if you only want us to report scientific news once it’s appeared, peer-reviewed, in a recognised journal, it’s going to be very dry, and it probably won’t be news.”, adding that “It’s not for the BBC to become a journal of mathematics — that’s the job of journals of mathematics. It’s for the BBC to provide lively science reporting that engages and involves people. And if you look at the original page, you’ll find a list as long as your arm of engaged and involved people.”.

Williams pointed out that “We did not present Dr Anderson’s theory as gospel, although with hindsight it could have been made clearer that this is very much a theory and by no means universally accepted. But we certainly weren’t shouting a mathematical revolution from the rooftops. Dr Anderson has, in one or two places, been chastised for coming to the media with his theory instead of his peers — a sure sign of a quack, boffin and/or crank according to one blogger. Actually, one of our reporters happened to meet him during a demonstration against the closure of the university’s physics department a couple of weeks ago, got chatting, and discovered Dr Anderson reckoned he was onto something. He certainly didn’t break the door down looking for media coverage.”.

Some commentators, at the BBC web page and at Slashdot, have attempted serious mathematical descriptions of what Anderson has done, and subjected it to analysis. One description was that Anderson has taken the field of real numbers and given it complete closure so that all six of the common arithmetic operators were surjective functions, resulting in “an object which is barely a commutative ring (with operators with tons of funky corner cases)” and no actual gain “in terms of new theorems or strong relation statements from the extra axioms he has to tack on”.

Jamie Sawyer, a mathematics undergraduate at the University of Warwick writing in the Warwick Maths Society discussion forum, describes what Anderson has done as deciding that R ? { ? ? , + ? } {\displaystyle \mathbb {R} \cup \lbrace -\infty ,+\infty \rbrace } , the so-called extended real number line, is “not good enough […] because of the wonderful issue of what 0 0 {\displaystyle {\frac {0}{0}}} is equal to” and therefore creating a number system R ? { ? ? , ? , + ? } {\displaystyle \mathbb {R} \cup \lbrace -\infty ,\Phi ,+\infty \rbrace } .

Andrej Bauer stated that Anderson’s axioms of transreal arithmetic “are far from being original. First, you can adjoin + ? {\displaystyle +\infty } and ? ? {\displaystyle -\infty } to obtain something called the extended real line. Then you can adjoin a bottom element to represent an undefined value. This is all standard and quite old. In fact, it is well known in domain theory, which deals with how to represent things we compute with, that adjoining just bottom to the reals is not a good idea. It is better to adjoin many so-called partial elements, which denote approximations to reals. Bottom is then just the trivial approximation which means something like ‘any real’ or ‘undefined real’.”

Commentators have pointed out that in the field of mathematical analysis, 0 0 {\displaystyle {\frac {0}{0}}} (which Anderson has defined axiomatically to be ? {\displaystyle \Phi } ) is the limit of several functions, each of which tends to a different value at its limit:

  • lim x ? 0 x 0 {\displaystyle \lim _{x\to 0}{\frac {x}{0}}} has two different limits, depending from whether x {\displaystyle x} approaches zero from a positive or from a negative direction.
  • lim x ? 0 0 x {\displaystyle \lim _{x\to 0}{\frac {0}{x}}} also has two different limits. (This is the argument that commentators gave. In fact, 0 x {\displaystyle {\frac {0}{x}}} has the value 0 {\displaystyle 0} for all x ? 0 {\displaystyle x\neq 0} , and thus only one limit. It is simply discontinuous for x = 0 {\displaystyle x=0} . However, that limit is different to the two limits for lim x ? 0 x 0 {\displaystyle \lim _{x\to 0}{\frac {x}{0}}} , supporting the commentators’ main point that the values of the various limits are all different.)
  • Whilst sin ? 0 = 0 {\displaystyle \sin 0=0} , the limit lim x ? 0 sin ? x x {\displaystyle \lim _{x\to 0}{\frac {\sin x}{x}}} can be shown to be 1, by expanding the sine function as an infinite Taylor series, dividing the series by x {\displaystyle x} , and then taking the limit of the result, which is 1.
  • Whilst 1 ? cos ? 0 = 0 {\displaystyle 1-\cos 0=0} , the limit lim x ? 0 1 ? cos ? x x {\displaystyle \lim _{x\to 0}{\frac {1-\cos x}{x}}} can be shown to be 0, by expanding the cosine function as an infinite Taylor series, dividing the series subtracted from 1 by x {\displaystyle x} , and then taking the limit of the result, which is 0.

Commentators have also noted l’Hôpital’s rule.

It has been pointed out that Anderson’s set of transreal numbers is not, unlike the set of real numbers, a mathematical field. Simon Tatham, author of PuTTY, stated that Anderson’s system “doesn’t even think about the field axioms: addition is no longer invertible, multiplication isn’t invertible on nullity or infinity (or zero, but that’s expected!). So if you’re working in the transreals or transrationals, you can’t do simple algebraic transformations such as cancelling x {\displaystyle x} and ? x {\displaystyle -x} when both occur in the same expression, because that transformation becomes invalid if x {\displaystyle x} is nullity or infinity. So even the simplest exercises of ordinary algebra spew off a constant stream of ‘unless x is nullity’ special cases which you have to deal with separately — in much the same way that the occasional division spews off an ‘unless x is zero’ special case, only much more often.”

Tatham stated that “It’s telling that this monstrosity has been dreamed up by a computer scientist: persistent error indicators and universal absorbing states can often be good computer science, but he’s stepped way outside his field of competence if he thinks that that also makes them good maths.”, continuing that Anderson has “also totally missed the point when he tries to compute things like 0 0 {\displaystyle 0^{0}} using his arithmetic. The reason why things like that are generally considered to be ill-defined is not because of a lack of facile ‘proofs’ showing them to have one value or another; it’s because of a surfeit of such ‘proofs’ all of which disagree! Adding another one does not (as he appears to believe) solve any problem at all.” (In other words: 0 0 {\displaystyle 0^{0}} is what is known in mathematical analysis as an indeterminate form.)

To many observers, it appears that Anderson has done nothing more than re-invent the idea of “NaN“, a special value that computers have been using in floating-point calculations to represent undefined results for over two decades. In the various international standards for computing, including the IEEE floating-point standard and IBM’s standard for decimal arithmetic, a division of any non-zero number by zero results in one of two special infinity values, “+Inf” or “-Inf”, the sign of the infinity determined by the signs of the two operands (Negative zero exists in floating-point representations.); and a division of zero by zero results in NaN.

Anderson himself denies that he has re-invented NaN, and in fact claims that there are problems with NaN that are not shared by nullity. According to Anderson, “mathematical arithmetic is sociologically invalid” and IEEE floating-point arithmetic, with NaN, is also faulty. In one of his papers on a “perspex machine” dealing with “The Axioms of Transreal Arithmetic” (Jamie Sawyer writes that he has “worries about something which appears to be named after a plastic” — “Perspex” being a trade name for polymethyl methacrylate in the U.K..) Anderson writes:

We cannot accept an arithmetic in which a number is not equal to itself (NaN != NaN), or in which there are three kinds of numbers: plain numbers, silent numbers, and signalling numbers; because, on writing such a number down, in daily discourse, we can not always distinguish which kind of number it is and, even if we adopt some notational convention to make the distinction clear, we cannot know how the signalling numbers are to be used in the absence of having the whole program and computer that computed them available. So whilst IEEE floating-point arithmetic is an improvement on real arithmetic, in so far as it is total, not partial, both arithmetics are invalid models of arithmetic.

In fact, the standard convention for distinguishing the two types of NaNs when writing them down can be seen in ISO/IEC 10967, another international standard for how computers deal with numbers, which uses “qNaN” for non-signalling (“quiet”) NaNs and “sNaN” for signalling NaNs. Anderson continues:

[NaN’s] semantics are not defined, except by a long list of special cases in the IEEE standard.

“In other words,” writes Scott Lamb, a BSc. in Computer Science from the University of Idaho, “they are defined, but he doesn’t like the definition.”.

The main difference between nullity and NaN, according to both Anderson and commentators, is that nullity compares equal to nullity, whereas NaN does not compare equal to NaN. Commentators have pointed out that in very short order this difference leads to contradictory results. They stated that it requires only a few lines of proof, for example, to demonstrate that in Anderson’s system of “transreal arithmetic” both 1 = 2 {\displaystyle 1=2} and 1 ? 2 {\displaystyle 1\neq 2} , after which, in one commentator’s words, one can “prove anything that you like”. In aiming to provide a complete system of arithmetic, by adding extra axioms defining the results of the division of zero by zero and of the consequent operations on that result, half as many again as the number of axioms of real-number arithmetic, Anderson has produced a self-contradictory system of arithmetic, in accordance with Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.

One reader-submitted comment appended to the BBC news article read “Step 1. Create solution 2. Create problem 3. PROFIT!”, an allusion to the business plan employed by the underpants gnomes of the comedy television series South Park. In fact, Anderson does plan to profit from nullity, having registered on the 27th of July, 2006 a private limited company named Transreal Computing Ltd, whose mission statement is “to develop hardware and software to bring you fast and safe computation that does not fail on division by zero” and to “promote education and training in transreal computing”. The company is currently “in the research and development phase prior to trading in hardware and software”.

In a presentation given to potential investors in his company at the ANGLE plc showcase on the 28th of November, 2006, held at the University of Reading, Anderson stated his aims for the company as being:

To investors, Anderson makes the following promises:

  • “I will help you develop a curriculum for transreal arithmetic if you want me to.”
  • “I will help you unify QED and gravitation if you want me to.”
  • “I will build a transreal supercomputer.”

He asks potential investors:

  • “How much would you pay to know that the engine in your ship, car, aeroplane, or heart pacemaker won’t just stop dead?”
  • “How much would you pay to know that your Government’s computer controlled military hardware won’t just stop or misfire?”

The current models of computer arithmetic are, in fact, already designed to allow programmers to write programs that will continue in the event of a division by zero. The IEEE’s Frequently Asked Questions document for the floating-point standard gives this reply to the question “Why doesn’t division by zero (or overflow, or underflow) stop the program or trigger an error?”:

“The [IEEE] 754 model encourages robust programs. It is intended not only for numerical analysts but also for spreadsheet users, database systems, or even coffee pots. The propagation rules for NaNs and infinities allow inconsequential exceptions to vanish. Similarly, gradual underflow maintains error properties over a precision’s range.
“When exceptional situations need attention, they can be examined immediately via traps or at a convenient time via status flags. Traps can be used to stop a program, but unrecoverable situations are extremely rare. Simply stopping a program is not an option for embedded systems or network agents. More often, traps log diagnostic information or substitute valid results.”

Simon Tatham stated that there is a basic problem with Anderson’s ideas, and thus with the idea of building a transreal supercomputer: “It’s a category error. The Anderson transrationals and transreals are theoretical algebraic structures, capable of representing arbitrarily big and arbitrarily precise numbers. So the question of their error-propagation semantics is totally meaningless: you don’t use them for down-and-dirty error-prone real computation, you use them for proving theorems. If you want to use this sort of thing in a computer, you have to think up some concrete representation of Anderson transfoos in bits and bytes, which will (if only by the limits of available memory) be unable to encompass the entire range of the structure. And the point at which you make this transition from theoretical abstract algebra to concrete bits and bytes is precisely where you should also be putting in error handling, because it’s where errors start to become possible. We define our theoretical algebraic structures to obey lots of axioms (like the field axioms, and total ordering) which make it possible to reason about them efficiently in the proving of theorems. We define our practical number representations in a computer to make it easy to detect errors. The Anderson transfoos are a consequence of fundamentally confusing the one with the other, and that by itself ought to be sufficient reason to hurl them aside with great force.”

Geomerics, a start-up company specializing in simulation software for physics and lighting and funded by ANGLE plc, had been asked to look into Anderson’s work by an unnamed client. Rich Wareham, a Senior Research and Development Engineer at Geomerics and a MEng. from the University of Cambridge, stated that Anderson’s system “might be a more interesting set of axioms for dealing with arithmetic exceptions but it isn’t the first attempt at just defining away the problem. Indeed it doesn’t fundamentally change anything. The reason computer programs crash when they divide by zero is not that the hardware can produce no result, merely that the programmer has not dealt with NaNs as they propagate through. Not dealing with nullities will similarly lead to program crashes.”

“Do the Anderson transrational semantics give any advantage over the IEEE ones?”, Wareham asked, answering “Well one assumes they have been thought out to be useful in themselves rather than to just propagate errors but I’m not sure that seeing a nullity pop out of your code would lead you to do anything other than what would happen if a NaN or Inf popped out, namely signal an error.”.

Wood Burning And Pellet Burning Stoves

By Win Paulson

There are many things to take into consideration when using wood burning and pellet burning stoves. It is important to know what types of fuel your particular type of burning stove can use and what cannot be used safely. A stove user will also want to be aware of why their particular buring stove uses certain materials to burn.

Regular wood burning stoves are vented by way of a chimney. They do not burn as hot as pellet and corn burning stoves and so are not as efficient. It should be noted here that wood burning stoves are not made to burn with the same intensity that pellet and corn burning stoves do.

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Wood burning stoves work on the principle of radiant heat coming directly off the stove. This is very different from the workings of pellet and corn burning stoves. These stoves provide heat by having an electric motor blow the heat produced by the burning pellets into the room the stove is in much the same way a furnace would blow heat through ductwork. The fumes from pellet- and corn-burning stoves are typically vented directly through an exterior wall to the outside.

Wood pellets and corn are not necessarily interchangeable as a source of fuel in a pellet-burning stove. One should check a manufacturers recommendations before exchanging one fuel source for the other. It is also possible that using the wrong fuel source will void a manufacturers warranty if you have a problem with your stove down the road. Do your homework when shopping for a pellet-burning stove. Know ahead of time if the stove you want will burn your preferred fuel source and also know ahead of time if your preferred burning fuel is readily available in your area. There are stoves on the market that are produced to burn both corn and pellets, either separately or as a blend, while most are ideally produced for one or the other.

You need to know that wood burning stoves are not made to burn corn or pellets and that wood and pellet burning stoves heat your home based on different principles. Wood pellets and corn may or may not be suitable to burn in the same stove. You should know what the stove manufacturers recommendations are before purchasing a stove or before using any type of fuel in it.

About the Author: Win Paulson is the editor of

where you’ll find numerous articles on flexible fuels and renewable energy sources.


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New ring discovered around Saturn, could explain dark side of its moon

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Astronomers have found a huge new ring around the planet Saturn. The faint dust ring extends up to 7.4 million miles (12 million km) from the planet and could fit over a billion Earths inside it, making it the largest in the Solar System. It could also solve a mystery about one of Saturn’s moons that has puzzled scientists for centuries.

The ring was found with the help of NASA‘s Spitzer Space Telescope, with details published today in the journal Nature. It is thought to consist of ice and dust from Saturn’s moon Phoebe, which is kicked up by collisions with comets and then drifts in towards the planet. The ring and moon both orbit in a plane inclined at 27 degrees to the other rings.

“This is one supersized ring,” said Dr Anne Verbiscer of the University of Virginia, one of the authors of the paper. Of Saturn’s other rings, the largest is the E-ring, a mere 150,000 miles (240,000 km) in diameter. Jupiter also has “gossamer rings” of a similar diameter to the E-ring. If the Phoebe ring was visible from Earth, it would appear twice as large in the sky as the full Moon.

However the newly found ring is extremely faint. It is made up of dust particles around 10 microns (thousandths of a millimetre) in size, and according to Verbiscer, “In a cubic km of space, there are all of 10-20 particles.” This explains why it has evaded discovery until now. “If you were standing in the ring itself, you wouldn’t even know it.”

The Phoebe ring does not reflect much visible light, but the Spitzer telescope was able to pick up the dust’s faint infra-red glow. The telescope, launched in 2003, orbits the Sun and is roughly 66 million miles (107 million km) from Earth. It is one of NASA’s four Great Observatories.

The discovery could also finally account for the unusual appearance of Iapetus, another of the planet’s moons. When Iapetus was first observed in 1671 by astronomer Giovanni Cassini, its leading side was seen to be much darker than the other. Until now scientists had been unsure why this was. Now it is thought that the moon orbits in the opposite direction to the ring, and as Iapetus moves through the ring, dust builds up on its front surface. Verbiscer likens it to “bugs on a windshield.”

“Astronomers have long suspected that there is a connection between Saturn’s outer moon Phoebe and the dark material on Iapetus,” said Douglas Hamilton, another author of the paper. The material has been found to have a similar composition to Phoebe’s surface. “This new ring provided convincing evidence of that relationship.”

This is the second major discovery for astronomers studying Saturn in the past month. In September, evidence from the Cassini orbiter showed that Saturn’s other rings were far less flat than expected.

US President George W. Bush’s daughter announces engagement

Friday, August 17, 2007

One of United States President George W. Bush‘s twin daughters, Jenna Bush, announced her engagement today, according to the White House. Bush, 25, became engaged to long-time boyfriend Henry Hager. Hager reportedly proposed to Bush in Maine on Wednesday.

The Washington Post reports the two have been dating for two years.

Sally McDonough, the press secretary for first lady Laura Bush said no official wedding date has been set.

Hager, 28, is currently enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Business, and is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Hager of Richmond, Va. Hager’s father was a lieutenant governor in Virginia and the former director of Virginia’s Office of Commonwealth Preparedness.

In 2004, Bush earned an English degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

Culture of violence reported in central Australian Aboriginal communities

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Australian media reports that a recently leaked Northern Territory police briefing paper exposes “shocking” cases of sexual abuse and violence against women and children in remote Australian Aboriginal communities.

Central Australian Crown prosecutor, Dr Nannette Rogers, alleged a range of “dreadful” cases she has heard of. Her paper claims details of abuse (over a 15-year period), including the rape of a seven-month-old baby, and the sexual assault and drowning of a girl by an 18-year-old man. The report refers to a disturbingly abusive and secretive Indigenous male culture. She says a “web of kinship” has helped to create a “conspiracy of silence” and that Aboriginal communities were suffering from “tragedy fatigue,” allowing horrific crimes to appear unremarkable.

“It doesn’t augur well for Aboriginal people to be functional human beings with the attributes of turning around and caring for children themselves,” she said. “The child grows up seeing violence done to him or her and having violence done to him or her.”

Tangentyere Council chief executive William Tilmouth says it is appalling behaviour. “It’s a behaviour that’s got to stop, it’s behaviour that denigrates the family, as well as the women,” he said.

Discover Jaisalmer S Big Garden At Majestic Bada Bagh

Discover Jaisalmer s Big Garden at Majestic Bada Bagh


Pushpitha Wijesinghe

Pleasantly situated a mere 5km from Jaisalmer lies the Big Garden that has become an iconic Jaisalmer landmark in its own right. Renowned world over as Bada Bagh, this 16th century masterpiece of a garden occupies pride of place in all Jaisalmer travel itineraries as it has for centuries by no mere coincidence. Ideally positioned on Ramgarh Road, this historic garden was the brainchild of Maharawal Jait Singh who commissioned the construction of the venue in the beginning of the 16th century. Although the site was eventually completed by his son Lunakaran long after his demise, the garden remains a focal part of Maharawal Jait Singh s legacy even to this day.

Complete with its own dam, water tank and garden, the Bada Bagh enclave also encompasses the Govardhan Stambh which identifies the dam and water tank and their respective names in its engravings. One of the most fascinating features of Bada Bagh is of course its impressive and almost revolutionary drainage system which manages water supply to the garden with astonishing efficiency. Built according to a five-tier drainage system or Bhanvaria, the dam includes split-level drains that ensure a flood free drainage network when the tank is filled to the brim while also maintaining a natural flow in the distribution of water.

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The main highlight of a visit to the Bada Bagh is of course stepping into its magnificent Shiva shrine dubbed the Shrine of Bhaironji. As a popular deity all over the historic state of Rajasthan, Bhaironji is believed to be a folk incarnation of Lord Shiva who grants childless and infertile women in the region the blessing of an offspring. The shrine also features an unusual depiction of the deity with his beloved dog who is as legendary as Shiva himself in popular culture and folklore.

The brown hued royal cenotaphs are situated above the garden which also contains a lush grove of mango trees and a Kanwar Pada garden. In fact, Bada Bagh still serves as one of the city s most prominent vegetable and fruit plantations supplying its freshly grown produce to the nearby town.

Travellers on the lookout for luxury

Jaisalmer hotels

will be more than happy with The Gateway Hotel Rawalkot Jaisalmer. Perfectly situated this stylish rest is also within close proximity of

Jaisalmer sightseeing

highlights such as the stunning Jaisalmer Fort which is visible from the hotel.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.

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Wikinews interviews Tom Millican, independent candidate for US President

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

While nearly all cover of the 2008 Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, the race for the White House also includes independents and third party candidates. These parties represent a variety of views that may not be acknowledged by the major party platforms.

As a non-partisan news source, Wikinews has impartially reached out to these candidates, throughout the campaign. The most recent of our interviews is North Carolina, Tom Millican, an independent corporate manager and Vietnam veteran.