sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, August 12, 2013

Izumo/Senkaku Islands (update)

This morning, I blogged about the new Japanese Destroyer-Helicopter Carrier Izumo. Perhaps it's time to bring you all up to speed with the events of the past week in the Senkaku Islands that China is ardent to obtain.

Last Wednesday and Thursday a Chinese patrol stayed in the On Wednesday and Thursday a Chinese patrol stayed in the Senkaku Islands area for more than 28 hours, the longest intrusion detected to date. That patrol began the day after Japan announced the launch of its helicopter-carrying destroyer, Izumo. The correlation does not appear accidental. The Tokyo government made an official protest. The Chinese don't care.

Last Saturday, four Chinese coast guard ships entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands and stayed for an hour.

On Sunday, The Japanese Coast Guard detected three Chinese coast guard ships sailing around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea just outside Japan's territorial waters. Japanese press reported that was the 26th straight day of such Chinese patrols.

Thus far, no confrontation at sea has taken place. Chinese coast guard patrols have become more frequent. The next escalation step is they will become more aggressive in an effort to provoke a confrontation in which China will express injury and outrage.

China wants the Senkaku Islands and the oil underneath them. Japan doesn't plan to cede control of its territory to China. (which China feels is supremely unfair)

This drama will continue to escalate and it bears watching.

It Bites

Scientists file it in the Goldilocks Principle folder. While this usually explains the zone that Earth occupies (not too hot, not too cold) where life can exist, it's also applied to animals and humans, who can survive and reproduce only if the temperature is just right. Too hot and they will overheat. Too cold and they will freeze.

To stay in their comfort zone, animals have evolved very sensitive temperature sensors to detect the relatively narrow margin in which they can survive. Until recently, scientists knew very little about how these sensors operated.

Have you ever wondered why mosquitoes seem to hoan in on one person and tend to leave the person standing next to them alone (for the most part)? Yes, there may be perfumes, personal odor based on diet and other variables, but the relative body heat that a person puts out needs to be factored into the preference matrix. THE LITTLE BASTARDS ARE USING Infra Red ON US. 

A team of Brandeis University** scientists has discovered a previously unknown molecular temperature sensor in fruit flies belonging to a protein family responsible for sensing tastes and smells. These types of sensors are present in disease-spreading insects like mosquitoes and tsetse flies and may help scientists better understand how insects target warm-blooded prey -- like humans -- and spread disease.

The discovery is published in today's advance online edition of the journal Nature.

Biting insects, such as mosquitoes, are attracted to carbon dioxide and heat. Notice how mosquitoes always seem to bite where there is the most blood? That is because those areas are the warmest, says Paul Garrity, a professor of biology in the National Center for Behavioral Genomics at Brandeis who co-authored the paper.

"If you can find a mosquito's temperature receptor, you can potentially produce a more effective repellent or trap," Garrity says. "The discovery of this new temperature receptor in the fruit fly gives scientists an idea of where to look for similar receptors in the mosquito and in other insects."

The newly discovered sensor belongs to a family of proteins, called gustatory receptors, that have been studied for over a decade but never linked to thermosensation, Garrity says. In previous studies, other gustatory receptors have been found to allow insects to smell carbon dioxide and to taste sugar and bitter chemicals like caffeine.

But in fruit flies, one type of gustatory receptor senses heat rather than smell or taste. This receptor, known as Gr28b, is responsible for sensing external temperatures and triggering a quick response if temperatures exceed the fly's Goldilocks zone, Garrity and his team discovered.

The research also reconciles previously conflicting views of how a fruit fly senses warmth, by showing that the insect has distinct external and internal systems for thermal detection.

** "The temperature tastes just right: Scientists discover previously unknown thermal sensor in insects linked to taste, smell."ScienceDaily, 7 Aug. 2013. Web. 9 Aug. 2013.


JMSDF Hyūga DDH 181
The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force launched its third (and first of a new class) helicopter carrier, the Izumo. As with the Hyūga, pictured left, it looks more like a light aircraft carrier than a destroyer, but the Japanese have their reasons for doing what they do.

Even though the Chinese accuse Japan of "constant military expansion", the new Izumo will replace an older DDH that doesn't look nearly so much like an aircraft carrier. So while the JMSDF is replacing, they're modernizing and enhancing capabilities.

Izumo is Japan's biggest warship (810 feet in length) constructed since World War II, and at a cost of US $1.2 billion, it isn't cheap -- but the Japanese are concerned about China.

Izumo's unveiling ceremony took place on the 68th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima -- a date clash which Tokyo said was coincidental. However it was intended to send a message to China. The Japanese-built carrier can accommodate nine helicopters and is expected to play a major role in disaster and rescue missions, as well as defending sea lanes and sovereignty claims, according to the defence ministry.

The navy's biggest vessels currently are a pair of smaller helicopter carriers. Less than two weeks ago, the Chinese coastguard entered waters disputed with Japan for the first time, upping the ante in a festering row over ownership of the Senkaku islands, which Beijing also claims and calls the Diaoyus.

The rocky islands are located in rich fishing grounds in the East China Sea and are believed to harbor vast oil and gas reserves beneath the sea bed.

Last year, China commissioned its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning as part of its own military build-up. At the same time, the US has been drawing down naval construction and capability as part of the Obama doctrine to vastly increase spending on social programs at the cost of military preparedness.

Though the Japanese have not hinted at this, the Izumo could carry up to 10 of the US Governments newest F-35B V/STOL stealth fighter-bombers. I'm sure that this logistic option has not occurred to the Japanese...or to the Chinese...or to the US Navy.