Is Shaq Sinking Suns?
There's a new big man in town; the Phoenix Suns are betting he's the spark they need to win the playoffs.
One of the biggest stars in the NBA universe, Shaquille O'Neal, is now wearing purple and orange. And both Shaq and the Suns have a lot to prove. Shaq, who just turned 36 and has endured knee and hip injuries, wants to show he's still a big force in the NBA. His critics say that the Diesel is too old and too slow for a high-octane, blazingly fast team like the Suns.
During the regular season, the Suns are one of the toughest teams in the West. And while fans love the Suns' exciting and high-scoring brand of basketball, led by two-time League MVP point guard Steve Nash, the team has never won the NBA Finals.
The Suns believe that Shaq is the piece that's been missing. At 7 feet 1 inch tall and 325 pounds, Shaq gives the Suns a true center who grabs rebounds, plays tough defense and passes the ball well. Up till now, Amare Stoudamire has been stuck playing center for the Suns, even though he's really one of the best power forwards in the game. With Shaq in at center, Stoudamire is freed up to do what he does best!
"Psychologically it really helps us out. Guys are much more willing to go to the boards and fight around the basket with Shaq in there," explains Head Coach Mike D'Antoni.
Fans love Shaq's superstar qualities. The big guy has won four NBA Finals and was MVP for three of them! But the Suns have lost their winning ways since Shaq started playing on Feb. 20. In the trade for Shaq, the Suns gave up All-Star forward Shawn Marion, who said he wanted to be traded at the beginning of the season. For years, Marion had been a clutch scorer. As of press time, the Suns have won just two of their last six games and have fallen to fifth place in the Western Conference. Fans wonder whether it's growing pains with the big guy or could it be a bad fit?
'Doomsday Vault' Opens for Business!
SVALBARD ARCHIPELAGO, Norway-Imagine a bank that's so far north that polar bears outnumber the people living there! The bank is located on Norway's Svalbard archipelago just 620 miles from the North Pole. As you may have guessed, it's cold there. During winter's around-the-clock darkness, temperatures can fall to -22° Fahrenheit.
The bank was blasted into the side of an arctic mountain and has reinforced concrete walls to help protect its valuable deposits from natural disasters, global warming and even a nuclear explosion. Welcome to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault-also called the "Doomsday Vault" by the press!
You can find seedbanks all over the world. Native Seeds/SEARCH is a seedbank here in Arizona. Its mission is to protect the diversity of local seed used in farming and their wild relatives. "We have nearly 2,000 varieties in our seedbank, mainly corn, beans and squash," explains Carolyn Owens, who works on grants for the seedbank. "Just like the seedbank in Norway, the seeds need to be kept cold, so they're stored in a freezer," she says. Seeds for the bank come from southwestern states and northern Mexico.
Seedbanks help protect our food supply from the "what ifs" in life-like what if there's drought; what if a disease attacks a certain kind of wheat, or what if global warming changes what can grow around here?
Modern farming has led to fewer and fewer varieties of crops. This has brought about many varieties of food crops being lost forever, and Owens says it's alarming. "It's just more cost effective to grow a single variety...but you don't know what disease is going to come along down the road," she says. A disease could wipe out an entire variety of a crop, leading to food shortages. But if there are enough other seed varieties, like wheat for instance, one of those types of wheat may turn out to be resistant to the disease.
Owens points out that a lot of seedbanks are in politically unstable areas like Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, and have been looted or destroyed. In the Phillipines, a flood wiped out the country's seedbank.
That's why the Svalbard Global Seedbank was created-to protect the diversity of seeds no matter what happens in the world. Countries can "deposit" different varieties of seeds. If a disaster jeopardizes crops, the country can make a "withdrawal" of seeds.
The vault was built by Norway at a cost of about $3 million. Because seeds are so small, the "Doomsday Vault" can hold up to 2 billion seeds!