Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Rare 'white' elephant captured in Burma
A rare "white elephant", a traditional symbol of good fortune and power in south-east Asia, has been captured in Burma, state media reports.
Reports say the 2m (6.5ft) female elephant was tracked down in Maungdaw in the west of the country.
White elephants are only nominally white - they often look reddish-brown in the sun, and light pink when wet.
Analysts say the animal is likely to be brought to the capital, Naypyidaw, for the military ruler, General Than Shwe.
Goce satellite views Earth's gravity in high definition
It is one of the most exquisite views we have ever had of the Earth.
This colourful new map traces the subtle but all pervasive influence the pull of gravity has across the globe.
Known as a geoid, it essentially defines where the level surface is on our planet; it tells us which way is "up" and which way is "down".
It is drawn from delicate measurements made by Europe's Goce satellite, which flies so low it comes perilously close to falling out of the sky.
Scientists say the data gathered by the spacecraft will have numerous applications.
One key beneficiary will be climate studies because the geoid can help researchers understand better how the great mass of ocean water is moving heat around the world.
The new map was presented here in Norway's second city at a special Earth observation (EO) symposium dedicated to the data being acquired by Goce and other European Space Agency (Esa) missions.
Europe is currently in the midst of a huge programme of EO development which will see it launch some 20 missions worth nearly eight billion euros before the decade's end.
The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (Goce) is at the front of this armada of scientific and environmental monitoring spacecraft.
Launched in 2009, the sleek satellite flies pole to pole at an altitude of just 254.9km - the lowest orbit of any research satellite in operation today.
The spacecraft carries three pairs of precision-built platinum blocks inside its gradiometer instrument that sense accelerations which are as small as 1 part in 10,000,000,000,000 of the gravity experienced on Earth.
GRAVITY - A MOVING TARGET
The 'standard' acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface is 9.8m per second squared
In reality the figure varies from 9.78 (minimum) at the equator to 9.83 (maximum) at the poles
This has allowed it to map the almost imperceptible differences in the pull exerted by the mass of the planet from one place to the next - from the great mountain ranges to the deepest ocean trenches.
'Sex' drove fossil animal traits
Several prehistoric creatures developed elaborate body traits in order to attract members of the opposite sex, according to new research.
The purpose of the exaggerated crests and sails found in many fossil animals has long been controversial.
Some scientists said sails helped to regulate body temperature and that head crests helped flying reptiles steer during flight.
Now a study say these traits became so big because of sexual competition.
The findings, by an international team of researchers, is published in the journal American Naturalist.
One of the prehistoric animals looked at by the researchers were pterosaurs - flying reptiles which became extinct at the time of the dinosaurs.
The study suggests the relative size of the head crest compared to the body of the pterosaur was too large for it to have been dedicated to controlling the animal's body temperature or its flight.
They also looked at mammal-like creatures called Eupelycosaurs, which lived before the time of the dinosaurs.
This group, which included the animals Dimetrodon and Edaphosaurus, carried large elaborate "sails" along their backs.
By using known relationships between body size and metabolic activity - the process behind heat generation - in living organisms, the scientists concluded that the features were "too exaggerated" to have played a role in the control of body temperature.
Co-author Dr Stuart Humphries, from the University of Hull said: "One of the few things that haven't changed over the last 300 million years are the laws of physics.
"So it has been good to use those laws to understand what might really be driving the evolution of these big crests and sails."
His colleague, Dr Joseph Tompkins, from the University of Western Australia, commented: "The sails of the Eupelycosaurs are among the earliest known examples of exaggerated secondary sexual traits in the history of vertebrate evolution.
"Indeed, the sail of Dimetrodon is one of the largest secondary sexual traits of any animal."
Co-author Dr Dave Martill from the University of Portsmouth said: "Pterosaurs put even more effort into attracting a mate than peacocks whose large feathers are considered the most elaborate development of sexual selection in the modern day.
"Peacocks shed their fantastic plumage each year, so it's only a burden some of the time, but pterosaurs had to carry their crest around all the time."
UFO Researcher Dennis Whitney quits after alleged threat
Mysterious new crop circles at UFO capital of Britain in Wiltshire
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Blind Dog Has Her Own Seeing-Eye Dog
These two dogs are more than just best friends, they share a rare bond.
Ellie, a young cavalier King Charles spaniel in England, is almost completely blind. While her owner and a local animal organization are working to raise money for a vision-restoring operation, a German shepherd named Leo has taken matters into his own paws, and is protecting and guiding her.
"Ellie has cataracts on both eyes and is only aware of shadows," explains Jean Spencer, manager of Rochdale's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in an interview with the Manchester Evening News. "But Leo, who's an absolutely massive dog, has become her eyes. It's touching to watch them together. She follows him around and snuggles up to him."
Ellie was part of a litter of five puppies rescued from harsh conditions by the RSPCA, says Julie Lander, an RSPCA volunteer and Leo and Ellie's owner. "As well as having cataracts, Ellie's eye muscles haven't developed as they should have as she'd been kept in the dark. The puppies had no light or heating. I felt so sorry for her when she arrived, and knew she'd need a special home. But I also knew she would be all right with Leo, as he just loves little dogs and they took to one another straight away," Lander tells the Manchester Evening News.
Lander goes on to explain how Leo's almost 90 pounds of bulk helps keep his new charge safe. "I take them for walks in the park and Leo guides Ellie around. He is so protective and herds the more boisterous dogs away from her," Julie says.
No one has commented on whether Leo can actually tell that Ellie is disabled or if he is caring for her based solely on her size. If Ellie's problem is ever fixed, it will be interesting to see whether she will continue to share the same bond with Leo.
Although they already have had at least one fundraiser, the RSPCA does not yet have enough money to pay for Ellie's operation. If you would like to donate, go to www.rspca-rochdale.org.uk.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Object isn't what it seems. Read story at
Phantoms & Monsters
Photo of object.
Three ghost hunters were conducting an investigation at a cemetery in Richland, Missouri, when they captured something quite unique and 'ghostly', though not the Bob Marley type.
It's also rare that ghost hunters report to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), though it has happened before.
Here is that report (as is), in it's entirety. To see the original report and photos, click on the links provided.
MUFON case 23649
06-05-2010 at 22:39
On the evening of Saturday June 5th our paranormal group decided to do a investigation in a cemetery near Richland Missouri in Pulaski County. It was just the group leader, his wife, and myself that night. We were having the usual investigation and were at first glance getting a lot of orbs, with a couple of really cool face pictures. While at the cemetery I saw a shooting star shoot straight down. The night was clear with some clouds in the distance producing heat lightning. My friend was using a camera that had an infra red attachment. He has a better camera then I do that is 10megapixel. We spent about 45 minutes at this place then moved on to the next cemtery down a series of dirt roads. While there all three of us noticed a constant humming noise at this cemetery. It was not the interstate as when you live by a road there are occasional breaks in the noise. We finished up the investigation at the second investigation and headed back to the group leader's house. We uploaded our pictures to our respective computers and procedded to go through the evidence right then and there. About approximately ten minutes into the review of evidence. I hear "What the hell is that?!?" coming from the group leader. I got up and, his wife got up from the computer desk and headed over to his desk and looked at an unusual object hanging in the sky among the trees. This was unlike anything I had ever seen before. We realized that this photo was taken in the first cemetery. The picture that was taken in the same spot and in the general same direction before had no such object in it. It was invisible to us. While we were in that spot we had to be no more then 25 feet from the object and the group leader speculates that the object was hovering about in the tree tops. Observing us. Also noticed in other photographs are humanoid looking faces with two black stripes painted upon their cheeks. It is also worth noting that the group leader and his wife did a previsit to the graveyard about two weeks ago. When we arrived he commented that their looked to be several dirt patches that were not there previously. Were the aliens investigating us investigating the cemetary? Did they follow us to the other cemetary and was that the contant humming we heard? We may never know the true answer.
Original Photo 1
Original Photo 2
Note: I have cropped the original photo and enhanced the object.
If you look closely, it appears to be behind some trees in the foreground, yet partially "in" the background trees.
The object also appears to be semi-transparent. Perhaps a double exposure, or stranger still, something trans-dimensional?
It looks vaguely like a "cement bucket" but I'd appreciate feedback on this. Please email me if you have any idea as to what this object could be.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
True believer on trail of Sasquatch in Va., claims 14 sightings
Billy Willard holding a plaster cast that he made of a suspicious footprint. (Bill O’Leary/Washington Post)
Boston.com - THORNBURG, Va. — Billy Willard says he’s on the verge of a major discovery that could change the way humans think about the natural world, not to mention their need for a creature-proof home security system.
Here in Spotsylvania County, in the forests around Lake Anna, Willard contends there have been 14 sightings in the past decade of that most fabled of cryptozoic beasts: Bigfoot.
Or Sasquatch, as the elusive, apelike brute is referred to in other circles — and on the side of Willard’s blue pickup. The decal on the truck reads “Sasquatch Watch of Virginia,’’ of which Willard is chief pooh-bah (when he’s not earning a living installing and removing underground home oil tanks).
Go ahead, call him a loon, a flake, a huckster. He’s heard it all. But Willard knows what he knows, which is that three people from this area — a woman, her husband, and their granddaughter — told him they saw a shaggy, super-sized figure on two legs gallivanting across their wooded property.
Last month, Willard led a weeklong expedition to the site, where he installed five motion-sensor cameras that will snap photos if and when the big galoot wanders by again.
Willard, 41, says he’d like to lead a tour of the property and introduce the witnesses, really he would. But the woman who says she saw what she believes could have been Bigfoot fears an avalanche of ridicule, which is why Willard is left to deliver his version of what happened a few miles away, in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen.
“We believe we may be close to some kind of major discovery,’’ he said. “All the things they would need are here, fresh water, shelter in the woods. The high concentration of sightings tells me they’re here.’’
He interrupts his monologue to answer his cellphone, the ringtone to which is the country tune “People Are Crazy.’’
Ever since humans began telling stories, they have spun yarns involving life forms that tower above mere mortals, whether it’s the giant of “Jack and the Beanstalk’’ fame, or Goliath, or Frankenstein.
Bigfoot has been a perennial for generations, with hundreds of purported sightings (many of them of supposed footprints), most prevalent in the Pacific Northwest but also popping up in states as disparate as Rhode Island, Illinois, and Alabama.
The myth grew in popularity in 1967, when two men in California filmed what appeared to be a huge and hairy biped walking into the woods, at one point turning its head to glance dramatically at the camera.
In Bigfoot circles, the footage is referred to as the “Patterson-Gimlin film,’’ named for its makers.
In less admiring circles, the short, fuzzy clip is cited as nothing short of poppycock.
Willard knows about the film, and most everything else Bigfoot-related, all of which he’s happy to share at any time, sometimes to the annoyance of his wife, Jeanean, who is prone to blurt out, “Okay, the conversation will have to change.’’
Saturday, June 5, 2010
"Bat Creature" by SW
MUFON Case 23617
2010-05-14 at 02:45
I had taken my dogs for a run early in the morning - about 2:30 on May 14th 2010. I was southeast of Lodi on Live Oak Road where the road to the winery intersects. There are outside lights and I saw something crouched in the road which I thought at first was a coyote eating something. Then it stood up and was about 4 1/2 feet tall so I knew it wasn't a coyote. It stooped back down and appeared to gather up whatever it had been eating; gave a little hop and soared away over the grapevines in an up down, up down motion. The wings sort of glistened in the light and did not seem to have feathers. I thought it looked like a gigantic bat, but have never heard of a bat that big. The dogs seemed to be frightened and jumped into the car. I was so amazed at what I saw.
(Bat People; Night Flyers)
GIANT BAT PEOPLE: Sightings of mysterious human-sized bats have been reported in all corners of the world. They are described as having black or gray fur, a monkey-like face, clawed feet and a 10-15 foot wingspan. In Brazil they are called "bat people." In Mexico, an ancient Mayan cult worshiped the "death bat." The rainforests of Java echo the cries of a bat creature called the "Athol" because of its distinct "a-hool" vocalization. In Vietnam they are known as "night flyers." These winged humanoids are generally 5 feet tall with eerie feminine features. They are known to swoop down on their victims and attack several times.
AFRICAN CAVE DEMONS: The continent of Africa has reported many sightings of bat-like beasts. In Cameroon, it is called the "Olitiau," an immense bat creature that was seen by famed naturalist Ivan T. Sanderson in 1932 while on expedition. In Senegal, the creature is called "Guiafairo." In Ghana, the bat-like creature is called "Sasabonsam." A similar creature exists in Madagascar and is called the "Fangalabolo," and in Indonesia, tales of the "Organ-Bati" abound where the creature is said to roost in an extinct volcano and snatch children.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Class Investigates Things That Go Bump in the Night
Newswise - When Mark Henn was in high school, he and one of his pals decided that a particularly foggy patch of swamp land on a particularly curvy road near a particularly creepy cemetery was the perfect place to invent a ghost. On one particularly dark night later, the story of the ghost of Dead Man’s Curve was born.
As Henn, who teaches psychology at the University of New Hampshire, and his friend recounted their frightening tale to classmates, an interesting thing happened. Although there had never been reports of ghost sightings there before, some of their friends started reporting that they, too, had seen the ghost of Dead Man’s Curve. And then more classmates experienced sightings. By the time Henn’s younger brother graduated from high school a few years later, spending the night at the cemetery to record sightings of the ghost had become a rite of passage.
What Henn experienced as a teenager demonstrates how people can come to believe something that does not exist. This summer, UNH students will study this psychological event in Henn’s class, “Scientific Perspectives on Belief in the Paranormal Phenomena.”
“Inventing a ghost is one thing. Having others see it is another thing. In this class, we will look at how to approach belief in something, especially when we want to believe it. In these instances, the easiest person to fool is yourself,” Henn says.
“I chose paranormal belief for the subject of this class because it is, on its face, so unbelievable and yet upwards of 80 percent of people in the United States do believe in some version of the paranormal. If we can see why we would believe in something like that, it’s a lot easier for us to understand why we believe in other things,” he says.
Henn’s course will examine open-mindedness and skepticism, with the benefit of the psychological perspective and the use of the scientific method. In the class, students will learn about the long history of the interaction between psychology and the supernatural, definitions of science and commonalities among sciences, methodology and experimental controls, and how to have an open mind and be skeptical.
Students will look at various toolkits used for critical examination, such as Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit. Using these toolkits and a deeper understanding of why people hold on to extraordinary beliefs, students will evaluate various conspiracy theories and the belief in the paranormal.
Finally, students will learn how the field of psychology has contributed to the study of belief by investigating reconstructive and recovered memories, sensation and perception, physiological psychology, social cognition, and the contributions of personality, developmental psychology, and behaviorism.
“We are designed psychologically to see patterns to help us live and survive. Sometimes we see patterns where there aren’t any, and that’s what gets us in trouble,” Henn says.
“There are people who have irrational beliefs that are not backed up by evidence. We have parents who are not vaccinating their children based on an irrational belief and as a result, they are putting their children’s health at risk,” he says.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling more than 12,200 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students.
Prof. Mark Henn discusses why he chose paranormal belief as the subject of his class.
Haunted Lady Gaga Ghostbuster
newsoxy-Lady Gaga admits that she bought a Ghostbuster kit. Gaga uses the Ghostbuster device for regular sweeps to fend off evil spirits that are haunting her. Gaga admits that the problem started a few weeks ago and is convinced that she needs the Ghostbuster kit to fight against negative forces.
"When I took the order for the kit I had no idea who it was for. But then I checked the listings and saw who was playing the O2. Her aide said the gear had to be robust as they were taking it on the road. So they must be doing this everywhere [...] Gaga is performing," Ghostbuster firm owner Dan Webb said in a statement. The kit she bought includes electro-magnetic field readers.
Gaga, 24, is terrified of "bad energy" and hired Dan Webb's firm to do a complete cleansing behind the stage at London's O2 Arena. Gaga originally thought she was experiencing a mental breakdown, or hallucinations, that usually come with skitzophrenia. However, she is still convinced that unseen forces are haunting her.
If the reports are true, Gaga wouldn't be the first celebrity to admit ghost sightings. Several Hollywood legends have their own story to tell after experiencing similar paranormal activity. While the subject is always up for debate, the activity is still unexplained and why it happens in the first place.
Topnews-UK: A new testing method can be used to detect accurately the indications sent out by an individual's immune system to be something as cancerous.
Early research is of the suggestion that the indications can be detected up to five years prior to a tumor is spotted, offering doctors and patients a fundamental headstart in treating the sickness.
The test, which has been developed by clinicians in Nottingham and Kansas over a period of 15 years, is to be introduced in America in the later part of this month.
It initially had been devised, in order to detect lung cancer and is put in usage alongside conventional screening.
The technology had been developed by scientists at the University of Nottingham and Oncimmune, a medical research corporation.
The test works by recognising how the immune system reacts to the first molecular signs of cancer development.
Cancerous cells generate little amounts of protein material named as antigens, which prompts the immune system to generate great amounts of auto-antibodies.
Professor John Robertson, a Breast Cancer Specialist who led the research, said that the earliest cancer that has been seen by him and his team has been detected and yet biologically, that proved to be quite late in the road of cancer development.
Researchers develop nanorobots to detect and kill cancer cells
Eureka-UK: Researchers are developing a molecular sized 'DNA robot' to detect disease markers on a cell, diagnose it and deliver a 'cargo of cancer killing drugs'.
Prof Milan Stojanovic at Columbia University, New York, developed the molecular sized robot to resemble a spider, with the ability to use its 'tentacles' for self propulsion. During its early development, it was capable of 'walking' though a field of DNA molecule, cutting and bonding with them to propel itself. By programming the environment with 'breadcrumbs', the robot was able to follow an established trail.
At such tiny scales, proteins like the DNA itself remained the best bet for creating such a trail. The team found the material it needed in the work of CalTech Prof Paul Rothemund, who had invented what he named DNA origami. Using 'sequence-recognition in base pairs', DNA origami are 'folded' from a long single strand of DNA, with several shorter helper strands that 'staple' the long strand into the desired shape.
Stojanovic's team made its own DNA origami bread crumbs, each measuring 2nm thick and 100nm long, programmed with a specific instruction to any walker that happens by. Together, the DNA origami bread crumbs were formed into a path that allowed Stojanovic's team to lead their DNA robots to a goal.
OUHSC scientists seek vaccine that may prevent HIV, cancer
Oklahoma Daily: Examining different parts of the immune system, OU Health Sciences Center and Washington University in St. Louis researchers are creating a new vaccine using a protein instead of creating antibodies.
Using T-cells in the immune system, the T-cell vaccine can potentially treat and prevent applications for cancer, tuberculosis, HIV and several other viral diseases, according to a press release from OUHSC.
“No one has ever done this with a T-cell vaccine, so we’re learning; but now we are starting to get some traction. We are finding that a T-cell vaccine can work,” said William Hildebrand, the lead researcher on the project and microbiology and immunology professor.
Until now, vaccines have focused on generating antibodies in the immune system to prevent illness. Over time, the dependence on antibodies has prompted some viruses to evolve past the antibody immunity, lessening the effective of the vaccine to some viruses, according to the press release.
To develop the vaccine, Hildebrand and his team began by determining how the immune system distinguishes between a virus-infected or cancerous cell and a healthy cell.
“What are T-cells using to discriminate the healthy cell from a diseased cell? That is what we want to know in my lab,” he said.
Unlike antibody vaccines, a T-cell vaccine would be able to activate another arm of the immune system to target a specific virus in the body and kill it, as they are responsible with killing virus-infected cells in the body and can kill cells that become cancerous.
The goal is to create viable targets for vaccines that activate T-cells in the immune system, said Hildebrand.
“In the past, vaccine development hasn’t been extremely systematic or well-defined,” he said. “Vaccines have worked to raise protective T-cells but we don’t know how.”
Researchers started working with West Nile virus affect on the immune system since it doesn’t change like the flu or develop resistance like cancer or HIV. After developing the target, researchers at the HSC worked with colleagues at Washington University to create a vaccine, the release stated.
“We found a target, we put it into a vaccine and we got protection,” Hildebrand said. “Is it going to save everybody from West Nile Virus? No, but it saves maybe half the people.”
The process is now being repeated in other areas, such as cancer, where activating T-cells can be difficult.
“Now that we have demonstrated the feasibility of developing a T-cell-specific vaccine, we intend to use the same process to discover other reliable targets, validate them and develop additional vaccines,” Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand said there is still a lot of room to grow in this research area.
“I think it’s still version 1.0,” he said. “The final version will be version five or six.”
The research appears in the latest issue of The Journal of Immunology and is funded by grants and contracts totaling $15 million from the National Institutes of Health, according to the release.