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Base jumper Kristian Moxnes of Norway leaps from the 300-metre Open Deck of Malaysia’s landmark Kuala Lumpur Tower. (Vincent Thian/AP)
Base jumper Kristian Moxnes of Norway leaps from the 300-metre Open Deck of Malaysia’s landmark Kuala Lumpur Tower. (Vincent Thian/AP)

Talking points: A new breed of fish, water on Mars and to serve, with love Add to ...

A NEW BREED OF FISH

Where have you been hiding, Akawaio penak? As reported by CTV News, the previously unknown genus of electric fish was only recently discovered in the murky waters of the Mazaruni River in Guyana by a team of international scientists including the University of Toronto’s Nathan Lovejoy. Named for the Akawaio Amerindians indigenous to the area, the fish has DNA deemed so distinct that it represents a new genus, the classification one notch above species. “We were delighted,” said Lovejoy, who teaches biological sciences at U of T’s Scarborough campus.

WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE

There is indeed water on Mars, and more than previously believed. CBC News reports that the Mars Curiosity rover has turned up a surprising amount of water on the surface of the barren planet, along with a chemical that could make NASA’s ongoing search for life more difficult. A sample of fine-grained sand obtained by the rover shortly after its touchdown in August has revealed the soil contains roughly 2 per cent water by weight. “It was kind of a surprise to us,” admitted Curiosity scientist Laurie Leshin. “If you take a cubic foot of that soil you can basically get two pints of water out of it.” Although the Curiosity mission has so far found no signs of methane, it has confirmed the presence of sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and reactive chemicals known as perchlorates, which can break down and degrade the organic compounds that NASA scientists are seeking.

TO SERVE, WITH LOVE

Why is there never a radar gun around when you need one? As reported by Yahoo.com, tennis star Venus Williams was recently denied the chance to top her own record for the world’s fastest serve by the absence of proper measuring technology. At last week’s Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Williams blasted a 209 kilometre-an-hour serve in her match against Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard. The serve was unofficially measured by a spectator, but the World Tennis Association doesn’t sanction the use of radar guns at events in Japan. All of which means that Williams’s 207-km/h serve at the 2007 U.S. Open still holds as the fastest serve in women’s tennis to date. Williams took the missed opportunity in stride. “I don’t know if it was that hard,” she said. “I hope it was. That’s insane. It’s awesome.”

THOUGHT DU JOUR

There are two kinds of coaches – those who have been fired and those who will be fired.

Ken Loeffler, Basketball coach (1902-75)

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