Thursday, December 31, 2009

10 Beautiful and Precious Phenomena

1. Ball Lightning

This bizarre electrical phenomenon usually occurs during thunderstorms and lasts for up to thirty seconds. Balls of lightening are said to behave in strange ways, hovering, rolling, hissing and sometimes passing through walls, in a way that seems completely unnatural. As a result, ball lightening has long been associated with aliens and ghosts, and the kind of pseudo-psychic head-cases who believe they can communicate with the other side. Thousands of people throughout history have reported seeing ball lightening, including Benjamin Franklin and my grandmother, but until recently their claims were largely ignored. However, with an increasing amount of photographic and video evidence available, scientists have now begun to take ball lightening seriously and are now attempting to recreate this entirely natural phenomenon within the confines of a laboratory.
2. Saint Elmo’s Fire

Described by scientists as a plasma phenomenon, St Elmo’s fire is caused by ionization in the atmosphere. Named for the patron saint of sailors, the phenomenon was historically witnessed emanating from the lightning conductors atop tall ships, however it can occur almost anywhere, particularly during thunderstorms. Whilst the phenomenon may appear to be flame-like when a lightening rod is it’s source, it has been more accurately described as a blue-green glow.
3. The Goat Suckers

Goat suckers, or Chupacabras, are the hypothetical creatures blamed for a recent series of cattle mutilations in South America. In the past decade hundreds of cattle have been found mutilated across Brazil alone. Often the cattle are found to have had huge amounts of blood drained from their bodies but other signs include the removal of the jaw, tongue or anus in startling similarity to cattle mutilations in the US.

The goat sucker myth began in Puerto Rico where a series of sightings during the 1970s first made headlines. At first it seemed that goats and sheep were the only item on the menu but this soon changed when the creatures were reported in Mexico two decades later and began attacking cattle. There are a number of theories explaining the sudden appearance of this critter in South America. Perhaps the most logical explanation is that their species is native to the Amazon and that deforestation has forced them to leave the rain-forest for the first time in search of food. Another popular, if somewhat unlikely explanation is that the goatsuckers are of extraterrestrial origin, owing to the fact that goat sucker attacks often coincide with UFO sightings.

Descriptions of goat suckers vary hugely and whether they actually exist is a matter of huge debate. Many say that predatory animals could be behind the rise of livestock mutilations or blame covert government experimentation, but the truth remains a mystery.
4. Spontaneous Human Combustion

This phenomenon is extremely rare and no plausible, scientific theory has yet been offered to explain how a person can suddenly burst into flames, but it would appear that some few unfortunate people have done exactly that.

Most deaths thought to be caused by spontaneous human combustion can be attributed to the “wick effect”, whereby a person’s body fat acts like candle wax, causing a person to burn in an intensely hot but extremely well contained fireball. Strangely, all that is left in most cases is the lower part of the victims legs, which contain little fat, and their feet, which are usually found to be still wearing slippers. This would seem to explain how homes are sometimes left undamaged after a victim’s body has been burned to cinders along with their favorite armchair. However, whilst the “wick effect” explains the way in which a human body might burn it offers no explanation for the cause of the fire.
5. Abduction

Whilst UFO sightings vary so widely in description that would seem to defy logic entirely, the amazing commonality between individual alien abduction stories would seem to suggest that more is at work here than a few over active imaginations. Psychologists have linked abduction stories to a deep routed fear of pregnancy in both men and women, explaining why so many self-proclaimed abductees claim to have been implanted with alien fetuses. Another well established theory behind alien abduction is that strong electromagnetic fields, perhaps occurring naturally, could cause a person to suffer an epileptic fit whilst simultaneously causing nearby electrical equipment (such as car radios) to malfunction. The person would subsequently see flashing lights before blacking out. Waking up from such an experience, the word “aliens”, would surely be the first on your lips.
6. Geo luminescence

It would seem rattling filing cabinets, burst gas pipelines and a five-star performance from Charlton Heston and Lorne Green are not the only signs that your home has been hit by an earthquake. Survivors of epic earthquakes have often reported strange flashing lights and even upward streaking bolts of lightening in the area around the epicenter of the quake. The earliest recorded example of this phenomenon was in ancient China and even a recent mini-quake in Lincolnshire, England has people talking about strange lights and the appearance of ball lightening. Scientists have theorized that these lights are the result of geo-luminescence, a phenomenon in which rocks actually produce light when exposed to extreme pressure, and that the lightening is the result of geological friction.
7. The Blood Monsoon

Between July 25 and September 23, 2001, it was reported that unusually discolored rain was falling in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The blood-red rain fell sporadically throughout the region and scientists rushed to the scene to analyze its composition. Upon further inspection it was discovered that microscopic particles present in the water, similar in appearance to human blood cells, were responsible for the discoloration.

Several explanations for the blood-rain were circulated, including the theory that a meteorite, which had struck the atmosphere shortly before the monsoon began, had collided with a flock of bats and sprayed their blood into the atmosphere. Perhaps the most ambitious theory was that of scientists Godfrey Louis and Santhosh Kumar of the Muhatma Gandhi University in Karela. They speculated that the contaminating cells were extraterrestrial in origin and that they had been carried to Earth by a meteorite, confirming panspermia theory. The currently accepted, however, is that the contaminating particles are a type of marine algae but Louis and Kumar maintain that the cells have “unusual properties”.
8. The Taos Hum

The town of Taos, New Mexico, is the site of much scientific pondering. Residents in the town have long been perplexed by a distant hum, similar to that of a distantly idling diesel engine, the source of which has never been found. Strangely the sound has only ever been heard by around half of the people in the town and visiting scientists have failed to detect the sound with even the most sophisticated audio equipment. A similar hum in Hawaii has led some to speculate that it may be indicative of volcanic activity.
9. Foo Fighters

Before the flying saucer craze of the 1950s another strange phenomenon was the subject of huge debate for the US air force pilots of WWII. Strange balls of light were spotted flying over German airspace and the Pacific Ocean at high speed, causing frustration for both Allied and Axis pilots. Both became convinced that these “fire balls” were a type of experimental enemy aircraft. The US air force became increasingly concerned at how easily the foo fighters could outmaneuver their own aircraft. Despite never engaging in combat with aircraft the foo fighters were seen as a nuisance for the way they would ‘dance’ around and fly in close formation with US aircraft. Many pilots felt that the foo fighters were teasing them in some way. The name foo fighter came from the belief that the Japanese were responsible for this high speed taunting, although sightings continued after the conflict had ended. Cylindrical and disc shaped craft were also reported in the skies over Europe.
10. The Time Travelers

Ancient artifacts from as early as 10,000 BC have been found to show images of strange men wearing what would appear to be space suits. Sometimes alien, sometimes human, these figures are always depicted as wearing transparent helmets and can sometimes be seen to hold strange artifacts, perhaps guns or tools. Whoever these people were, are or will be, they seem to have woven their way into the cultures of ancient people across the world, appearing in cave drawings, Egyptian hieroglyphs and religious idles. Images of flying saucers, airplanes and helicopters have also been spotted on Egyptian artifacts, causing much head scratching amongst archaeologists. Was this prophecy, alien contact or will we one day develop the ability to travel through time?
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Extraordinary and Precious Usage For Lots of Coins

Extraordinary usage for lots of coins - without glue or scaffolding. Just very carefully put one coin on another. A few hours a day months of practice and maybe you will be able to do something similar to these structures? Amazing physical law showed in a different way.

Cool and Precious Transparent House

On occasion of Milan Design Week Italian company Santambrogiomilano showcased the evolution of the Simplicity project, which in 2009 set itself an ambitious goal: architecture. Glass, the absolute protagonist, shapes the load bearing beams, floors, roofs and the colorless walls, the material principle justifies the conception of the whole habitat. The glass reflects the flash of the flame, the green of the vegetable garden, the pink of the seafood, the red of the cuts of meat. A meeting of transparencies that heightens the senses!

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Virgin Atlantic unveils SpaceShipTwo, world's first ever commercial passenger spaceship

Virgin Atlantic has unveiled the world's first ever commercial passenger spaceship.

The sleek black-and-white vessel represents a gamble with a sky-high price tag to create a commercial space and tourism industry.

The company hopes the winged, minivan-sized SpaceShipTwo, will rocket space tourists into zero gravity within just two or three years

'This will be the start of commercial space travel,' Virgin Atlantic Airways founder and billionaire Richard Branson said at the launch in California's Mojave Desert.

'You become an astronaut.'

The $450million (£274million) project would see a fleet of six commercial spaceships rocket passengers to the edge of space.
They would be high enough to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of Earth set against the backdrop of space.

A twin-hulled aircraft named Eve would carry SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of about 60,000 feet (18,288m) before releasing it.

The spaceship would then fire its onboard rocket engines, which would thrust it to about 65 miles (104 km) above Earth.

The trip would take only two and a half hours and give passengers about five minutes of weightlessness.

Some 300 aspiring astronauts have put down deposits for the $200,000 (£122,000) ride, which includes three days of training.

Virgin Galactic, the offshoot of Virgin Atlantic that is marketing space travel, hopes to eventually cut the ticket price to be competitive with that of air travel between the United States and Australia.

The unit is also considering providing suborbital travel between destinations to cut the journey time between the United States and Australia to about 90 minutes from about 15 hours or more.

Other potential business ventures include flying scientists and research experiments and using the carrier aircraft to launch small payloads into space.

Branson hired aircraft designer Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites to build the commercial spaceship fleet after a Rutan prototype named SpaceShipOne won the $10million (£6.08million) Ansari X Prize in 2004 for the first private piloted spaceflight.

Commercial space flight has been a dream for decades. But the 2004 flight was the first proof that industry might be able to achieve it without the help of government, which historically has dominated space travel.

A lethal 2007 explosion during a rocket engine test by Scaled Composites, however, illustrated the danger and risk to creating a safe and profitable venture.

'If you ask a group of people if there's a market for this, they say, "Oh, the answer is obvious,'" said John Olds, the founder and chief executive of SpaceWorks Engineering who is leading a study group on suborbital point-to-point travel.

'Half say "Of course there's a market." The other half says "Of course not.'"

SpaceShipOne, which is on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, made three suborbital flights.

'It's been a tough five years, but we are finally there,' Branson said. 'Hopefully over the next decades, tens of thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - of people will have the chance to go to space.'

A 10-month atmospheric test flight program is expected to begin on Tuesday and would be followed by extensive test flights into space before passenger travel is scheduled to begin in 2011 or 2012.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ancient human burial site shows evidence of mass cannibalism: 'Slaves were skinned and butchered like animals'

Evidence of mass cannibalism, in which men, women and children were on the menu, has been unearthed in Germany.

The 'intentionally mutilated' remains of up to 500 people were found in 7,000-year-old pits near the village of Herxheim in the south-west of the country.

Marks on the bones show that the bodies were skinned and the flesh removed using techniques normally used to butcher animals.

Some of the bones may have been smashed to allow the living to suck the marrow out of the dead, others were chewed and one researcher even believes the victims could have been 'spit-roasted'.

So far, the remains of 10 people - eight adults and two children aged around 6 and 16 - have been analysed.

But with around 500 bodies already dug up and many more waiting to be recovered, the journal Antiquity reports that the true figure could be much higher.

Archaeologist Bruno Boulestin said: 'We see patterns on the bones of animals indicating they have been spit-roasted.

'We have seen some of these patterns on the human bones.

'It is highly probable that a great number of the thousand or so individuals deposited in Herxheim were subjected to cannibalism.'

Dr Boulestin, of Bordeaux University in France, suspects the deaths - and feasts - took place over just a few decades.

It is thought that the remains belong either to people eaten in victory celebrations after being killed in wars, or to people slaughtered and consumed in ritual sacrifices.

It is also possible that the cannibalism was carried out when the early farming society suffered famine.

Further evidence of Neolithic cannibalism comes from 6,000-year-old bones unearthed in a French cave and analysed in the 1980s.

But other experts say the dead of both locations may simply have been given ritual burials, in which the flesh was removed as part of the ceremony.

The awe-inspiring night sky that makes even Mount Everest look small

Very few sights could make mighty Mount Everest seem insignificant, but this could be one of them - an awe-inspiring image of the stars in the night sky casting their glow from inconceivable distances onto the world's highest peak.

The photograph shows the constellation Auriga looming above Everest, seen to the left of its smaller Himalayan neighbour Lhotse, while in the foreground stands a stupa - a Buddhist monument.

The celestial scene was pictured late last month near Namche Bazar, Nepal, above the gateway to the mountain range.

Almost directly over Everest is the dazzling star Capella. While in astronomical terms it is relatively close to our own solar system, its distance is still a mind-boggling 42.2 light years - that's 248 trillion miles - making Everest's five-mile height seem minuscule.
Though to our eyes it appears as a single star - the third brightest in the Northern sky - Capella is actually a complicated system of four stars revolving in two binary pairs. Auriga means 'charioteer' and to the ancient Greeks it represented either the lame god Hephaestus or his son, the inventor of the four horse chariot which earned him a place of honour in the sky.

Also visible in the photograph is Aldebaran, the 'bull's eye' of the constellation Taurus, and above it the famous 'seven sisters' of the Pleiades.

What might appear to be a fallen star nestling in the folds of the mountains is in fact the brightly lit monastery of Tengboche.

Friday, December 4, 2009

First direct image of planet orbiting a star similar to our Sun

An international team of scientists has made the first direct observation of a planet-like object orbiting a star similar to our Sun.

The finding marks the first discovery made with the world's newest planet-hunting instrument on the Hawaii-based Subaru Telescope.

The object, known as GJ 758 B, could be a large exo-planet although it may also be a 'failed star,' known commonly as a brown dwarf.
The faint companion to the sun-like star GJ 758 is estimated to be 10 to 40 times as massive as Jupiter and is a 'near neighbor' in our Milky Way galaxy, hovering 300 trillion miles from Earth.

'It's a groundbreaking find because one of the current goals of astronomy is to directly detect planet-like objects around stars like our sun,' said Dr Michael McElwain, from Princeton University.

'It is also an important verification that the system - the telescope and its instruments - is working well.'
mages of the object were taken in May and August during early test runs of the new observation equipment.

The team has members from Princeton, the University of Hawaii, the University of Toronto, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. The results will be published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

'This challenging but beautiful detection of a very low mass companion to a sun-like star reminds us again how little we truly know about the census of gas giant planets and brown dwarfs around nearby stars,' said Alan Boss, from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington.

'Observations like this will enable theorists to begin to make sense of how this hitherto unseen population of bodies was able to form and evolve.'

Brown dwarfs are stars that are not massive enough to sustain fusion reactions at their core, so they burn out and cool off as they age.
He added that the discovery also emphasizes that this new method of finding exoplanets - direct detection - is 'really hitting its stride.'

Finding these planets is a crucial step in answering the age-old question of the existence of extraterrestrial life.

The planet-like object is currently at least 29 times as far from its star as the Earth is from the sun, approximately as far as Neptune is from the sun. However, further observations will be required to determine the actual size and shape of its orbit.

At a temperature of only 600F, the object is relatively "cold" for a body of its size. It is the coldest companion to a sun-like star ever recorded in an image.

The fact that such a large planet-like object appears to orbit at this location defies traditional thinking on planet formation. It is thought most larger planets are formed either closer to or farther from stars, but not in the location where GJ 758 is now. Discoveries such as this one could help theorists refine their ideas.

Telescope images also revealed a second companion to the star, which the scientists have called GJ 758 C. More observations, however, are needed to confirm whether it is nearby or just looks that way.
Aided by new varieties of viewing techniques, scientists started finding extrasolar planets (planets beyond the solar system) in 1992 and have located more than 400 planet-like objects so far.

Most, however, have not been directly observed, but inferred from viewing the star around which the planet orbits.

GJ 758 B is one of the first planet-like objects to be directly seen. Of the others that have been directly viewed, most have been on larger orbits than the distance between GJ 758 B and its star, or around stars with temperatures far above the average temperature of GJ 758 or our sun.

Scientists were able to spot the object even though it was hidden in the glare of the star it orbits by subtracting out that brighter light.

To do this, they used a special advanced image attached to the Subaru Telescope. Known as HiCIAO, it is part of a new generation of instruments specially made to detect faint objects near a bright star by masking its far more intense light.

'It's amazing how quickly this instrument has come online and burst into the forefront,' said Marc Kuchner, an exoplanet scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre.

'I think this is just the beginning of what HiCIAO is going to do for the field.'
'It looks very promising,' said Christian Thalmann, one of the team's lead scientists.

If it should turn out to be a second companion, he said, that would make both of them more likely to be young planets rather than old brown dwarfs, since two brown dwarfs in such close proximity would not remain stable for such a long period of time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Driver unearths giant skull of 6ft 'cow' which roamed the country 7,500 years ago

The enormous skull of an ancient cow-like beast that stood higher than a man has been uncovered in a quarry.

Excavator driver John Rutherford was on a routine shift at a riverside pit in Northumberland when he unearthed the incredible bones with his digger.

They belonged to a species of wild cattle called an auroch, that had roamed Britain more than 7,500 years ago.

Aurochs stood 6ft at the shoulder and became extinct in the UK around 4,000 years ago.

The skull has been radiocarbon dated to 5670-5520 BC, when northern Britain would have been sparsely occupied by mobile groups of hunter and gatherer peoples.

Two red deer antlers were also found in the same area as the auroch skull and one produced a similar radiocarbon date.

The startling discovery was made at Thompsons of Prudhoe's Haughton Strother quarry near Humshaugh.
'If the excavator bucket had been 10 centimetres either side it would have smashed the skull,' said Robin Taylor-Wilson, director of Durham-based Pre-Construct Archaeology, who advise Thompson's of Prudhoe.

'It is very rare to find a complete auroch skull, but it came out hanging off the bucket from a wet area as if it was meant to be.

'The find is of an animal which lived thousands of years before that, and one which would have been a prize capture for dinner for the hunter gatherers of the time.'

It is now hoped that the skull will go on show at the Great North Museum in Newcastle.

Ryan Molloy, development and environmental manager at Thompsons of Prudhoe, said: 'The way the skull came out in perfect condition was unbelievable.

'It is a wet working quarry and the skull had been preserved in a peat pocket for 7,000 years.

'Normally, only fragments of bone are found from this time, so to get a skull in such pristine condition was incredible, and a lot of credit has to go to the driver who immediately reported it.'

Nick Best, assistant Northumberland county archaeologist, said: 'We thought there might be the potential of finding something there as the river would attract animals and people. The skull is an important discovery.'

He added that among the factors believed to be behind the extinction of aurochs in the Bronze Age were the clearance of their woodland habitat by people and hunting.

Archaeological monitoring was part of the planning conditions the authorities imposed on the quarry, which has been worked for the last three years.

Aurochs may be the ancestors of Northumberland's Chillingham white cattle.

'This a very interesting find,' said Philip Deakin, chairman of the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association.

The Chillingham herd now stands at a record 90, with another 30 in the reserve herd in Scotland.

Aurochs were much larger than modern cattle. Bulls had long horns which pointed forwards rather than swept out to the side. Ancient Greek and Roman writers describe the aurochs as a very aggressive animal.

In the 1920s two German zoo directors Heinz and Lutz Heck tried to bring aurochs back through a selective breeding program using domestic cattle descendants.

They believed a species was not 'extinct' as long as all its genes were still present in a living population. The resulting breed was called 'Heck cattle' or 'Recreated Aurochs' and though impressive they did not reach the same stature as their ancestors.

Hottest star in the galaxy pictured for the first time

One of the hottest stars in the galaxy has been discovered by astronomers.

The dying star at the centre of the Bug Nebula is 35 times hotter than the sun with a surface temperature of 200,000 degrees.

This is the first time the star has been pictured despite numerous attempts by stargazers across the world.

Astronomers at The University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics were amazed to find they had captured the central star using the recently refurbished Hubble Space Telescope.

'This star was so hard to find because it is hidden behind a cloud of dust and ice in the middle of the nebula,' explained Professor Albert Zijlstra from The University of Manchester.

'Planetary nebulae like the Bug form when a dying star ejects much of its gas back into space and are among the most beautiful objects in the night sky.'

The Bug Nebula is about 3500 light years away in the constellation Scorpius.
The images were taken to show off the new improved HST, which space shuttle astronomers installed with a new Wide Field Camera earlier this year.

Cezary Szyszka, lead author on the paper and a research student at the University of Manchester currently working at the European Southern Observatory, said: 'We are extremely lucky that we had the opportunity to catch this star near its hottest point, from now on it will gradually cool as it dies. This is truly an exceptional object.'

Our own sun is expected to cool, and die in the same way in about five billion years time.

Professor Zijlstra added: 'It's extremely important to understand planetary nebulae such as the Bug Nebula, as they are crucial to understanding our own existence on Earth.'

The images will be published in the Astrophysical Journal next week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Precious And Natural Spider Web and Droplet

Precious And Amazing Natural Spider Web and Droplet

A Precious Space Shuttle take off Photos

Space Shuttle take off


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