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Archive for May, 2013

VIDEO: COSMIC SWIRLY STRAWS FEED GALAXY


MASSIVE HURRICANE ON SATURN

Thanks to NASA’s Cassini spacecraft scientists have caught the first glimpse of a hurricane 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) wide within an ambiguous six-sided weather pattern known as the hexagon. The eye alone is twenty times larger than any storm ever recorded on Earth with wind speeds reaching 330mph (150 meters per second), swirling around Saturn’s north pole. Scientists will be studying the storm closely in an effort to find a deeper understanding of Earth’s own hurricanes. While there is no actual body of water near to this particular storm the study will be based on the way in which Saturn’s atmosphere uses the water vapor contained within it.

Last week on the NASA website, Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena stated, “We did a double take when we saw this vortex because it looks so much like a hurricane on Earth. But there it is at Saturn, on a much larger scale, and it is somehow getting by on the small amounts of water vapor in Saturn’s hydrogen atmosphere.”

The intense similarities between Earth’s hurricanes and the storms on Saturn are striking, even given the vast difference in the atmospheric compositions of the two planets. Saturn’s atmosphere is primarily made of the simple molecules hydrogen and helium. There is also a large quantity of sulfur, which gives the planet its yellowish hue. The storm spied by Cassini on Saturn has been in rotation since at least 2004, when the spacecraft first arrived at the planet. The hurricane appears to be stuck at the north pole. Without a major change in the atmosphere of the planet, it is anyone’s guess just how long it will remain.

For more information about Cassini and its mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

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MAYAN PYRAMID BULLDOZED FOR GRAVEL

67589214_templeThis is one of those stories that makes me cringe at the idea of such a piece of history being destroyed so carelessly. A pre-Columbian Mayan temple in Belize was bulldozed by a road construction crew on a quest for gravel for road-filler.

The Noh Mul temple was one of the country’s largest pyramids, estimated to be nearly 2,300 years old. After the destruction, only the very core of the temple remains, an epic loss for archaeological world.

“It is incredible that someone would actually have the gall to destroy this building out here,” said Dr. John Morris of the Belizean Institute of Archaeology. “There is absolutely no way that they would not know that these are Maya mounds.”

While the ruins lay on private land, under Belizean law, any pre-Hispanic ruins come under government protection. Police are investigating and possible criminal charges are to be leveled against the construction company.


BIGFOOT SHOT BY TURKEY HUNTER

The guys over at Ghost Theory spied an unusual police report siting the shooting of “Bigfoot” by a Pennsylvanian turkey hunter. The report was accompanied by a photo taken on May 14, 2013 of the footprint which led the hunter to believe that it was indeed the legendary Sasquatch. We’ll be following this report through the Pennsylvanian Bigfoot Society for updates.

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MASSIVE FLORIDA PYTHON CAPTURED

One of the largest Burmese Python in recorded history was captured and killed in the Florida Everglades this week. The female snake weighed in at a whopping 128 pounds with a length of 18 feet, 8 inches. Jason Leon spied the snake in a rural area southeast of Miami-Dade County and decided to take it upon himself, with the assistance of his friend Veronica, to kill the snake using a knife.

Wildlife officials have battled the growing epidemic of wild Burmese Pythons in Florida, an unfortunate problem stemming from people releasing their pets into the wild when they are unable to care for them any longer. The snakes have begun breeding at an alarming rate, threatening the local wildlife they prey on. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee have recently sanctioned the hunting of wild pythons in the million-acre Everglades. 63 pythons were captured as 1,600 people took part in the month-long hunt. Until now, the largest recorded python measured 17 feet, 7 inches.

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BRIGHT EXPLOSIONS ON THE MOON


MINE-HUNTING HONEYBEES

honey-beeCroatian researchers are training honeybees to locate the 750 landmines along the country’s borders left over from the Balkan Wars. Professor Nikola Kezic of Zagreb University has discovered a way to utilize the honeybee’s powerful sense of smell in order to hone in on mines buried in the ground. By placing a mixture of sugar and TNT near various feeding points, the bees learn to associate food with the scent of explosives. Nearly 466 square miles are thought to still contain landmines—since 1991, over 2,500 people have been killed by landmines in Croatia.

“Our basic conclusion is that the bees can clearly detect this target, and we are very satisfied,” said Kezic. The main issue in the training of honeybees resides in the mastery of the entire colony as opposed to just a few lone bees.

Kezic is also one of the leaders of a larger multimillion-euro program called “Tiramisu,” to detect land mines. Once the reliability of trained honeybees is confirmed, they will be utilized to uncover the mines otherwise missed by de-miners in an area. In the past, dogs and rats have been used. However, their bodyweight would often detonate the mines. Bees, on the other hand, are light enough to not disturb the explosives and their movements can be tracked with heat-seeking cameras.


THE MAN WITH HALF A HEAD

Carlos “Halfsy” Rodriguez is being called the new anti-drug poster boy after a horrific drug and alcohol-related car accident forced doctors to remove half of his skull.

“I was barred out on drugs. I was driving and I hit a pole and flew out the front window and landed on my head,” Carlos Rodriguez said in a new warning message on You Tube.

At the age of fourteen, Carlos Rodriguez found himself in a high-speed car chase in a stolen car with his cousin and their mutual friend. The impact of the accident caused surgeons to remove large sections of flesh and bone in order to save Rodriguez’s life. Unfortunately it seems that the grisly near-death experience has not altered his behavior. Rodriguez still partakes daily of illegal substances such as marijuana.

Well, if losing half of your head doesn’t sober you up, nothing will.

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BETTY STEFLIC BUBBLE CREATURES

bubblecreatureOne adventurous nature buff at the Betty Steflic Nature Preserve in Flagler Beach, Florida spied a bizarre creature undulating within a shallow saltwater cove at low tide. What YouTuber NightfallFXANS is now calling “Bubble Creatures” resemble a cross between a jellyfish and a large amoeba.

One explanation presented was that these are actually Bryozoans. Bryozoans are a rare phylum of aquatic invertebrate commonly referred to as “moss animals.” These filter feeders are found in a wide range of environments from the poles to brackish marine waters, siphoning their food through a crown of tentacles lined with cilia. The creatures were originally called “Polyzoa”, but was renamed “Bryozans” in 1831.

However, after further research, Doug Smith from the UMass Biology Department has determined that the “Bubble Creatures” are actually single-celled algae containing gas. Now, this may seem even more innocuous than a menacing unknown species lurking in the shallows of the Floridian nature preserve, but no. According to an article on Science Daily these little creatures can be quite the players of the microbial world! Perhaps these seemingly harmless “Bubble Creatures” are up to up to no good after all? I knew those amoebas looked shifty.

I think we’ll keep our eye on these little guys for the time being, just to be on the safe side…


INSECTS BY STORM

180294Several nights ago, my coworker Teebo and I were prepared for a busy night at the Museum of the Weird, when a freak electrical storm decided to strike Austin. The storm brought little rain, but remained hunkered over the central downtown area for hours where its spectacular displays of sideways lightning illuminated the skyline until the wee hours of dawn. At approximately 11pm is when the bugs began to swarm. Flying tree roaches, to be exact, demurely labeled in the South as “Palmetto Bugs.”

I returned from conducting one of the final tours of the night to find Teebo poised with the broom over one arm like she was waiting for the zombie hordes to stagger in through the front door.

Wild-eyed she exclaimed, “You missed it!”

“Missed what?” I asked, frozen in place.

“The roaches! Hundreds of them! They were coming in the door from the street in a flood,” she proclaimed. “See! There’s another one!”

Teebo swung the broom with killer efficiency, bringing about the deaths of several more flying tree roaches as I screamed like a little girl (not my finest moment).

After the adrenaline began to subside and the swarms lessened to a few dazed and confused bugs staggering as drunkenly through the door as the late-night patrons, I started to think about the cause of the sudden infestation.

There is a scientific connection between insects and electrical fields. Ants swarm around electrical lines and have been found to play house in the back of television sets, lamp sockets, and computers. I personally lost an expensive Mac in college when ants decided to have a Burning Man party in the tower. There are several theories as to why insects are attracted by the electrical frequencies put out by our human technology. Perhaps these frequencies are more attuned to the white noise of their own insect chatter and, thus, they are drawn to it, believing it to be the source of a larger hive?

One study has shown that bees use a flower’s electrical field to locate the pollen and vice versa. Flowers emit an electrical frequency designed to assist an insect’s internal navigation system. The voltage changes to signify when the nectar or pollen levels are low. This research was conducted by a team from the University of Bristol, which studied almost 200 bees collecting pollen from petunias.
In an article in the UK Daily Mail, PhD student Dominic Clark, from the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, said, “Flowers are like giant advertising billboards for bees. We have known for a long time that flowers use colour and smell to advertise to their pollinators. More recently though, it is being discovered that flowers take advantage of more and more of their pollinators’ senses to send their messages.”

It has also been proven that a bee’s buzz creates an electric current which allows them to communicate with other bees. An article in the Huffington Post quotes, “Tests show that the electric fields, which can be quite strong, deflect the bees’ antennae, which, in turn, provide signals to the brain through specialized organs at their bases.”

How do electrical fields from pollinating flowers relate to the swarming palmetto bugs? Massive, highly charged electrical storms emit frequencies far beyond an insect’s own natural frequencies or those of manmade electrical structures, charging the air and driving insects into frenzies of unnatural behavior. What we witnessed was an example of the bizarre behavior that freak electrical storms can cause in the bug world.

Of course, this is just my personal theory based on what I’ve read and observed. They could have been fleeing a psychotic ally cat, for all I know. If it ever happens again, however, Teebo and I are prepared. We’ll just whip out one of the giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches we keep to feed Torgo, the 30-pound Nile Monitor Lizard upstairs, and show these Texas bugs what a real roach looks like.


VIDEO: ROBOTIC JELLYFISH

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HAUNTING IMAGES OF THE PAST

Scott McMan, a staff writer for the prominent paranormal website Ghost Theory, has put together an impressive collection of eerie photos claiming to have captured images of ghosts and other phenomenon.

Scott states in his article, “The following pictorial is a gallery of nothing but (alleged) ghosts. Yes, you may have seen some of them and of course, a couple have been maligned as being hoaxes, but there are plenty which are unexplained to this day.”

He doesn’t point out which ones have been labeled truth or fiction, but they all are incredibly eerie. I’ve posted one example below.

To check out the rest of the images visit http://www.ghosttheory.com/2013/05/10/some-of-the-most-hair-raising-photos-youve-ever-seen.

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BACON SALVATION

Astonished old grandmother lost her dentures while she try to blowing out the candles on the cake for her birthday. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.I’m not sure if this will be “weird news” worthy, but it is definitely going to be further fuel for the pro-bacon camp that steadfastly stands by their salty delight. One centenarian is swearing by her daily consumption of fried pork products as the key to her impressive longevity.

A 105-year-old Texan (why do these stories always originate in the South?) by the name of Pearl Cantrell, has come forth with an affirmation that bacon is not the devil’s delight, but a godsend. A widow since the age of 38 and a mother of 7, she has been a hard-working woman her entire life with labor-intensive jobs including both being a hay-bayler and a cotton-picker.

“I love bacon. I eat it everyday,” Pearl Cantrell told NBC affiliate KRBC. “I don’t feel as old as I am. That’s all I can say,” Cantrell added.

The centenarian still regularly waltzes and two-steps, and recently attended her birthday with a guest-list of over 200 people. Though the local papers still say that her active lifestyle, including mowing her own lawn until the age of 100, most likely is the cause of her unusual longevity, Cantrell still swears by bacon.

The scientific and medical communities are still on the fence about the pro’s and con’s of fried pork products in one’s health regiment. An over consumption, they have found, can decrease one’s lifespan by up to 20%, while a moderate intake has proven to actually increase one’s lifespan by nearly 3%. And, by “moderate” we’re talking a pat-of-butter-sized portion. That’s quite a big difference between life and death timelines. Perhaps, it all goes back to the simple mantras of “everything in moderation” and “remember to enjoy your life.”

Ms. Pearl Cantrell continues to stand by her processed pork products and was given a ride in Oscar Meyer’s Wienermobile through the streets of her hometown of Richland Springs, Texas, as well as a special pork delivery.

To each their own oink. Personally, I’ll take mine covered in chocolate.

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**Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post


TRIANGULAR UFOS OVER TENNESSEE AND COLORADO

tr3bbelgium89300On April 27, residents of Pleasant Hill, Tennessee and Denver, Colorado reported two separate sightings of a similar triangular UFO. The accounts happened within hours of one another, though 1,200 miles separated them. The Pleasant Hill witness claims to have seen the anomaly while driving down Highway 70, at exactly 9:59 p.m. ET, as they returned from a shopping trip in Crossville.

“I noticed a large triangular type shape with a big lit circle in the middle of it,” they stated in a testimony to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). “I could only see the underneath because I was passing under it. I couldn’t believe it was hovering over me a bit to the left and over the power lines. I observed the power lines were just a few inches underneath the object.”

They went on to describe the object in more detail. “I noticed four beams of light that went from one side to the other of the object and pulsed about four times on and off. The lights were about 6 to 8 feet across — larger than the circular light in the middle.”

Later that evening, at 10 p.m. MT, an Arapahoe County resident, just east of Denver, reported a similar experience while they were lying on their back porch gazing up at the night sky.

“I had just focused my eyes on an airplane when suddenly a giant white, triangular-shaped object appeared,” they said in Case 47032. “It was directly above me. It was enormous and it was moving amazingly fast. It traversed the entire sky – horizon to horizon in about two seconds. It was hard to reference the size, exactly, but I got the sense that it was a very large object very far away.”

No images or video of either account were captured.


A DRUID PRIEST EXPLAINS STONEHENGE

Stonehenge


BEWARE THE MIGHTY BEAVER

Image by True Wildlife

Image by True Wildlife

Honey badgers step aside. The beaver is the new bad ass of the animal kingdom.

One unfortunate man in Belarus found out the hard way that beavers are not fans of the paparazzi. According to Sky News, the man was on a fishing trip to Lake Shestakov when he and his traveling companion spied the wild animal on the side of the road. In an attempt to seize a quick pic with the creature, the man approached and tried to pose with the beaver. The beaver had other plans, however, and promptly sank its fangs into the man’s thigh twice, severing his femoral artery, causing him to bleed to death in a matter of minutes.

“It was early morning and already light when they saw a beaver by the road, which was unusual because beavers are nocturnal,” Sergei Shtyk, the deputy head of the region’s wildlife inspectorate, told The Daily Telegraph.

“One of them went up to be photographed with it, and the animal attacked him and bit him twice, cutting an artery in his thigh, before running away.”

Beware the mighty beaver! They have work to do building dams and little time for photo ops.


A BUG-EYE VIEW

Photo by Thomas Shahan

Photo by Thomas Shahan

A research development team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has created a new digital camera composed of 180 individual lenses to mimic an insect’s intricate eyesight. The initial images are low resolution, but display an immense depth-of-field. It is the hopes of the research team that this new technology will eventually be used in surveillance and for endoscopic investigations of the human body. Such cameras could also be used in insect-sized aerial robots. At the moment, while complex, the imaging system is only comparable to that of an ant or beetle.

“The compound design of the fly’s eye incorporates perhaps 28,000 small eyes, or ommatidia,” explained team-member Dr Jianliang Xiao from the University of Colorado at Boulder, US. “That’s the direction we want to move in,” he told BBC News.

According to the report on BBC News, the digital “bug eye” camera is designed to reflect the structure of an insect’s corneal lens with a crystalline cone and light-sensitive organ at the base. Together these sections of the bug’s eye form a “picture” of the world pieced together from the various sensory inputs. In the robotic adaptation, microlenses are positioned above photodetectors. Proprietary software designed for the bug-eye camera is used to sync the information and piece together the signals to form a full image. The initial image is flat and then stretched over a hemispherical shape to give the impression of a 180-degree view.

“Picture the following: a palm-sized micro aerial vehicle uses an artificial faceted eye to navigate autonomously through a collapsed building while other sensors onboard scan the environment for smoke, radioactivity or even people trapped beneath rubble and debris,” the research team reported in the Nature journal article.

A little buzz-worthy news about technological advancements, I’d say!


A CHUNK OF GRANITE OR, ATLANTIS?

AtlantisTheMythThe search for the legendary lost city of Atlantis has been humanity’s quest since Plato first mentioned it in the philosophical musings of his work, “Antiquity.” The elegant, utopian society romanticized by poets and playwrights has propelled the underwater archaeological efforts of scientists and explorers for centuries. Generation after generation has clung to the hopes of discovering proof of its existence and, once again, another team of researchers has come forth with what they claim to be evidence of Atlantis.

Recently, a large mass of granite was discovered at the bottom of the sea near Rio de Janeiro by a manned Shinkai 6500 Japanese submersible. Granite only forms on the surface of the Earth. Thus, the formation would have been above water at some point in history, giving rise to the theory that there was once a continent in the area, which eventually broke apart and sank into the ocean. The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and the Brazilian government have since confirmed that the granite mass has actually been submersed for nearly ten million years. There has been no evidence of manmade structures located on or near the formation.

Regardless, the discovery is an interesting archaeological find and gives a further insight into the Earth’s history. A large volume of quartz sand and basalt rock, both of which could not have been formed below sea-level, have been detected in the formation linking it to the Rio Grande Rise, which would have been the only plausible location from which the segment could have been attached.

Shinichi Kawakami, a professor at Gifu University, theorizes, “South America and Africa used to be a huge, unified continent. The area in question may have been left in water as the continent was separated in line with the movements of plates.”

The search for the lost city of Atlantis continues.


STONEHENGE A SETTLEMENT 3,000 YEARS BEFORE ITS CONSTRUCTION

stonehengeIn Amesbury, in Wiltshire, archaeologists have unearthed new evidence that points to a human settlement that existed on the site nearly 3,000 years before the construction of Stonehenge. One mile from the location of the stone ring, archaeological remains of a human occupation dating back to 7,500BC were recently excavated. The dig was supported by Dr Josh Pollard from Southampton University and led by Open University archaeologist David Jacques, along with his team of volunteers, utilizing a small budget of redundancy money.

The project has been a quest of David Jacques since his time as a student at Cambridge University. During that time he spied an, until then, unnoticed “blind spot” in aerial-view photographs of Stonehenge taken in 1906 that showed a site referred to as Vespasian’s Camp a mile away. The area, at the time, was thought to have been landscaped during the 18th century. Thus, a full archaeological investigation of the area had never been conducted.

“The whole landscape is full of prehistoric monuments and it is extraordinary in a way that this has been such a blind spot for so long archaeologically,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “But in 1999 a group of student friends and myself started to survey this area of Amesbury.”

Due to the location of the site near a natural spring, it was only logical to Jacques that this would have been the ideal location for a human settlement at the time. He began his investigation by first exploring areas where he thought animals would visit in search of food and fresh water, which his reasoning predicted would also be the same locations for human settlements to form. His assumptions proved correct. Since first beginning to pursue the dig artifacts from one of the earliest semi-permanent settlements in the Stonehenge area (7,500 to 4,700BC) have been unearthed. Carbon dating of these relics revealed people resided in the area every other millennium during the Mesolithic era.

Sometimes it is the smaller projects that uncover the greatest mysteries. David Jacque’s excavation project is certainly a great example of this. Leading archaeologists around the world are abuzz with the news and its historical implications.

In the same article on the BBC website, Professor Peter Rowley-Conwy, from Durham University, said: “The site has the potential to become one of the most important Mesolithic sites in north-western Europe.”

The investigation of the site continues as additional funding is sought for a more in-depth pursuit. According to Dr Pollard of the Stonehenge Riverside Project this should hopefully prove easier going forth since “being able to demonstrate that there were repeated visits to this area from the 9th to the 5th millennia BC” is a crucial aspect of humanity’s history that has yet to be explored and further unravels the enigma that is Stonehenge. A deeper look at the people who resided in the area before its construction will give the world insight into its construction and its true purpose throughout the ages.