Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for April 7th, 2010

Stonehenge in 1877 before they re-contstructed it (photo)

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2010

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English  county of Wiltshire, about 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous prehistoric  sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. Archaeologists  believe that the standing stones were erected around 2200 BC  and the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 in a co-listing with Avebury henge monument, and it is also a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. Stonehenge itself is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust

Stonehenge today:

This is dated 1964:

This is one of the dark secrets of history archaeologists don’t talk about: The day they had the builders in at Stonehenge to recreate the most famous ancient monument in Britain as they thought it ought to look. …

From 1901 to 1964, the majority of the stone circle was restored in a series of makeovers which have left it, in the words of one archaeologist, as ‘a product of the 20th century heritage industry’. But the information is markedly absent from the guidebooks and info-phones used by tourists at the site. Coming in the wake of the news that the nearby Avebury stone circle was almost totally rebuilt in the 1920s, the revelation about Stonehenge has caused embarrassment among archaeologists. English Heritage, the guardian of the monument, is to rewrite the official guide, which dismisses the Henge’s recent history in a few words. Dave Batchelor, English Heritage’s senior archaeologist said he would personally rewrite the official guide. ‘The detail was dropped in the Sixties’, he admitted. ‘But times have changed and we now believe this is an important piece of the Stonehenge story and must be told’.

Cambridge University archaeological archivist and leading Stonehenge author Christopher Chippindale admitted: ‘Not much of what we see at Stonehenge hasn’t been touched in some way’. And historical research student Brian Edwards, who recently revealed that the nearby Avebury Monument had been totally rebuilt, has found rare pictures of Stonehenge being restored. He said: ‘It has been as if Stonehenge had been historically cleansed’. ‘For too long people have been kept in the dark over the Stonehenge restoration work. I am astonished by how few people know about it. It is wonderful the guide book is going to tell the full story in the future.’  – ufos-aliens

Posted in Archaeology | 2 Comments »

International team discovers element 117

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2010

An international team of scientists from Russia and the United States, including two Department of Energy national laboratories and two universities, has discovered the newest superheavy element, element 117.

The team included scientists from the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research (Dubna, Russia), the Research Institute for Advanced Reactors (Dimitrovgrad), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

http://bahai-library.org/bafa/r/randalp4.jpg“The discovery of element 117 is the culmination of a decade-long journey to expand the periodic table and write the next chapter in heavy element research,” said Academician Yuri Oganessian, scientific leader of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions at JINR and spokesperson for the collaboration.

The team established the existence of element 117 from decay patterns observed following the bombardment of a radioactive berkelium target with calcium ions at the JINR U400 cyclotron in Dubna. The experiment depended on the availability of special detection facilities and dedicated accelerator time at Dubna, unique isotope production and separation facilities at Oak Ridge, and distinctive nuclear data analysis capabilities at Livermore.

“This is a significant breakthrough for science,” LLNL director George Miller said. “The discovery of a new element provides new insight into the makeup of the universe and is a testimony to the strength of science and technology at the partner institutions.”

“This collaboration and the discovery of element 117 demonstrates the fundamental importance of scientists from different nations and institutions working together to address complex scientific challenges,” ORNL Director Thom Mason added.

The two-year experimental campaign began at the High Flux Isotope Reactor in Oak Ridge with a 250-day irradiation to produce 22 mg of berkelium. This was followed by 90 days of processing at Oak Ridge to separate and purify the berkelium, target preparation at Dimitrovgrad, 150 days of bombardment at one of the world’s most powerful heavy ion accelerators at Dubna, data analysis at Livermore and Dubna, and assessment and review of the results by the team. The entire process was driven by the 320-day half-life of the berkelium target material.

The experiment produced six atoms of element 117. For each atom, the team observed the alpha decay from element 117 to 115 to 113 and so on until the nucleus fissioned, splitting into two lighter elements. In total, 11 new “neutron-rich” isotopes were produced, bringing researchers closer to the presumed “island of stability” of superheavy elements.

The island of stability is a term in nuclear physics that refers to the possible existence of a region beyond the current periodic table where new superheavy elements with special numbers of neutrons and protons would exhibit increased stability. Such an island would extend the periodic table to even heavier elements and support longer isotopic lifetimes to enable chemistry experiments.

Element 117 was the only missing element in row seven of the periodic table. On course to the island of stability, researchers initially skipped element 117 due to the difficulty in obtaining the berkelium target material. The observed decay patterns in the new isotopes from this experiment, as close as researchers have ever approached the island of stability, continue a general trend of increasing stability for superheavy elements with increasing numbers of neutrons in the nucleus. This provides strong evidence for the existence of the island of stability.

“It fills in the gap and gets us incrementally closer than element 116 – on the edge of the island of stability,” said Ken Moody, one of the LLNL collaborators and a long term veteran of superheavy element research. “The experiments are getting harder, but then I thought we were done 20 years ago.”

This discovery brings the total to six new elements discovered by the Dubna-Livermore team (113, 114, 115, 116, 117, and 118, the heaviest element to date). This is the second new element discovery for Oak Ridge (61 and 117). In addition, Oak Ridge isotopes have contributed to the discovery of a total of seven new elements.

Since 1940, 26 new elements beyond uranium have been added to the periodic table.

“These new elements expand our understanding of the universe and provide important tests of nuclear theories,” said Vanderbilt University Professor of physics Joe Hamilton. “The existence of the island of stability, a pure theoretical notion in the 1960s, offers the possibility of further expansion of the periodic table with accompanying scientific breakthroughs in the physics and chemistry of the heaviest elements.”

via International team discovers element 117.

A note about Element 115  (which I call boblazarium ) :

… Element 115 did not exist in 1989. Now, however, it does.

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore Lab created a miniscule amount of 115 last year. A profound development, but the material decayed almost instantly. So where did the government get 500 pounds of the stuff, which is what Lazar claimed long ago?

Lazar says, “It has to come from some place where it’s natural, like from a super nova.”

In other words, it comes from a solar system other than ours. Lazar’s critics say the fact that 115 as created in a lab is unstable and fleeting proves Lazar is a liar. Lazar says the first batch was only a starting point and that he will be proven right in the long run.

“I’d like to see them continue to work and produce different isotopes of 115 because they’re gonna come up with a handful of different varieties and they’re gonna come up with a stable isotope, and that’s what we’re interested,” he countered.

By no means does he dwell on being proven right. He and his wife have left the UFO crowd far behind and could care less, they say. Lazar stands by his original story, but says, “I can’t say I would do it again. I would probably keep my mouth shut this time.” … – lasvegasnow

Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »

Jesus was son of an architect, book claims

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2010

http://biblical-studies.ca/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/Lev_septuagint.jpgThe book- The Jesus Discovery- claims that Jesus rose to become the most senior Rabbi of his time, thus explaining how he was able to exert such influence and why his teachings became such a concern to the authorities.

Author Dr Adam Bradford, who works as a GP, drew his conclusions after studying and comparing the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures, as well as using human psychology to analyse the behaviour towards Jesus as depicted in the Bible.

Biblical scholar Dr Bradford said: “Jesus’s high ranking position as a Jew seems to have been written out of history but in fact it makes more sense of the Bible.

‘If Jesus was the son of a poor itinerant carpenter with some radical ideas nobody would have been that concerned about what he said.

‘But, because Jesus was trained up to become the most educated Jew of his time it gave him the chance to exert extraordinary influence and let him get away with acts that normal Jews would have been imprisoned or chastised for.

‘For example, when Jesus turned the money changers out of the temple there is no mention in the Bible of the police guards getting involved or there being a backlash. The money changers were an essential part of gaining revenue for the Temple so if Jesus was an ordinary Jew he would have been arrested or physically attacked.

‘Christ enjoyed social privileges that would not have been available to an uneducated itinerant carpenter. Not only was he able to clear the official Temple market on two occasions without interference but he was also able to teach unhindered in the Temple courts and synagogues.

Throughout the Bible he is addressed with formal titles of Rabbi and Doctor of the Law- the highest position in Jewish society, even by his enemies.’

To find out more about the life of Jesus as an historical figure, Dr Bradford- who runs an NHS practice in inner-city London – first decided to try and discover more about Christ’s father, Joseph.

In the English translation of the Bible Joseph has always been described as a ‘just man’. Dr Bradford discovered that the word ‘man’ has been added and is not in the original Greek text at all. He also found that the origins of the word translated into ‘just’ more accurately translates to describe Joseph’s position in society- most likely as a scholar who helped teach the Torah and was involved in the judiciary.

Further to this, Dr Bradford re-examined Joseph’s position as a carpenter. Again, he concluded there had been a mistranslation and that the Greek word ‘tekton’- which describes Joseph’s work- more accurately means master builder or architect.

Dr Bradford claims this would explain why Jesus, who would have been brought up in his father’s trade, made so many references to building in his teachings.

Crucially, Dr Bradford says that it is Joseph’s position as an architect that would have first Christ brought him into contact with the Temple authorities.

In about 22BC, King Herod ordered that a gigantic Jewish temple should be built in Jerusalem, the remains of which makes up the Wailing Wall. Because only Jewish priests could build the sacred parts of the building, Herod conscripted ten thousand skilled craftsmen to assist and instruct one thousand Jewish priests in the skills of master craftsmen.

Dr Bradford said: ‘Statistically, given that ten thousand skilled craftsmen were employed there is every likelihood that Joseph, who was a devout Jew, was one of these ‘tektons’, skilled at working with large structures of stone and wood..

‘Three times a year, Joseph would have taken Jesus to the major Jewish festivals in Jerusalem and pointed out various aspects of the Temple’s construction that he had overseen.

‘When Jesus got lost at the age of 12 during one of his family’s visits to a festival and was found at the Temple he said to his parents: ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my father’s house. I believe this has a double meaning referring to the fact Joseph helped build the temple as well as to God.’ The priests who Joseph had trained would have looked after the boy Jesus for the five days until his parents found him.

It is from this point, when Jesus was 12 years of age, that very little is known of his life until he was 30 years old.

via Jesus was son of an architect, book claims – Telegraph.

That’s funny. He said “my father’s house” and meant the house his actual father build. The whole divinity thing may have been a misunderstanding. Follow the gourd! … if he even existed at all, that is.

Posted in History, Religion | 6 Comments »

Evidence that nanoparticles in sunscreens could be toxic if accidentally eaten

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2010

Scientists are reporting that particle size affects the toxicity of zinc oxide, a material widely used in sunscreens. Particles smaller than 100 nanometers are slightly more toxic to colon cells than conventional zinc oxide. Solid zinc oxide was more toxic than equivalent amounts of soluble zinc, and direct particle to cell contact was required to cause cell death. Their study is in ACS’ Chemical Research in Toxicology, a monthly journal.

Philip Moos and colleagues note that there is ongoing concern about the potential toxicity of nanoparticles of various materials, which may have different physical and chemical properties than larger particles. Barely 1/50,000 the width of a human hair, nanoparticles are used in foods, cosmetics and other consumer products. Some sunscreens contain nanoparticles of zinc oxide. “Unintended exposure to nano-sized zinc oxide from children accidentally eating sunscreen products is a typical public concern, motivating the study of the effects of nanomaterials in the colon,” the scientists note.

Their experiments with cell cultures of colon cells compared the effects of zinc oxide nanoparticles to zinc oxide sold as a conventional powder. They found that the nanoparticles were twice as toxic to the cells as the larger particles. Although the nominal particle size was 1,000 times larger, the conventional zinc oxide contained a wide range of particle sizes and included material small enough to be considered as nanoparticles. The concentration of nanoparticles that was toxic to the colon cells was equivalent to eating 2 grams of sunscreen — about 0.1 ounce. This study used isolated cells to study biochemical effects and did not consider the changes to particles during passage through the digestive tract. The scientists say that further research should be done to determine whether zinc nanoparticle toxicity occurs in laboratory animals and people.

via Evidence that nanoparticles in sunscreens could be toxic if accidentally eaten.

Posted in Health | Leave a Comment »

Flying through the aurora at 28,000 kph

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2010

This may seriously be my favorite picture ever taken from space: the view from inside the International Space Station as it heads toward the aurora at 28,000 kilometers per hour:


This picture was taken by Soichi Noguchi looking out of the newly installed ISS cupola, which provides dramatic vistas of space from inside the station. You can see the Soyuz module that carried astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson on board– incidentally, with Discovery on its way to the ISS carrying three women, this will be the first time fo

This may seriously be my favorite picture ever taken from space: the view from inside the International Space Station as it heads toward the aurora at 28,000 kilometers per hour:

This picture was taken by Soichi Noguchi looking out of the newly installed ISS cupola, which provides dramatic vistas of space from inside the station. You can see the Soyuz module that carried astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson on board– incidentally, with Discovery on its way to the ISS carrying three women, this will be the first time four women will have been in space simultaneously. [Update: According to commenter Ben Honey, that’s actually a Progress capsule, and not the Soyuz. The profile does match a Progress, so I assume he’s right. I stand corrected.]

This image is simply fantastic. The aurora, commonly called the northern lights, are caused by subatomic particles slamming into our atmosphere and ionizing the oxygen and nitrogen atoms there like shrapnel from bullets hitting a target. Guided by the Earth’s magnetic field, these particles tend to hit at high latitudes. The glow itself is similar to that of a neon sign: when the wayward electrons recombine with the atoms, they give off light. The colors are characteristic of the atom in question, and can be used to identify the atmospheric constituents.

The green glow is actually much lower than the ISS; that part of the aurora is usually at a height of 100 or so kilometers (60 miles), while ISS is at 400 km (240 miles). The red glow can reach higher, to more than 500 km (300 miles), so when Soichi says he is flying through the aurora he is literally correct. The fantastic speed of the ISS is apparent in the trailing of the stars in the image, and the streaking of the purple clouds below.

Astonishing, lovely, poetic, beautiful… and Holy Haleakala, real. When we humans want and choose to, we can fly through the northern lights. What else can we accomplish when we set our minds to it?

via Flying through the aurora at 28,000 kph | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

Wikileaks Better at Finding Classified Pentagon Videos Than Pentagon

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2010

Wikileaks Better at Finding Classified Pentagon Videos Than PentagonYou know that disturbing video of U.S. helicopters shooting civilians and journalists in Iraq leaked by Wikileaks? Turns out the Pentagon couldn’t have released it even if they wanted to. They have no idea where their copy is.

According to an AP report:

Capt. Jack Hanzlik, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said that the military has not been able to locate the video within its files after being asked to authenticate the version available online.

“We had no reason to hold the video at (Central Command), nor did the higher headquarters in Iraq,” Hanzlik said in an e-mailed statement. “We’re attempting to retrieve the video from the unit who did the investigation.”

And on Tuesday, when questions were raised about why the Pentagon didn’t release the video itself at the time it issued its official report, “officials said they were still looking for it and weren’t entirely sure where it was.”

Ah, the old “lost incriminating classified video tape” excuse. “So, the last time we saw the helicopter video, it was in a box under Lt. Sanchez’s bed. But then he broke up with his girlfriend and moved out. We’re pretty sure he’s still got a couple of boxes in the attic over there, but she was like, if he didn’t come over in two months she was putting them on the sidewalk. And that was maybe three months ago? So, yeah, we are not entirely sure where it is…”

via Wikileaks Better at Finding Classified Pentagon Videos Than Pentagon – wikileaks – Gawker.

People I know say things like, “I support what our troops are doing over there.” What are they doing over there?

You don’t know. There is a media black out, still, after all these years. Media Matters says this:

For instance, over the last seven weeks ABC’s Nightline, the network’s signature, long-form news program, did not air a single substantive report about Iraq. Not one among the 100-plus news segments the program aired during the stretch was about the situation in Iraq. (That, according to a search of Nightline‘s transcripts via Nexis.) For instance, on the night after the mammoth suicide bomb blasts in Iraq on August 14, Nightline aired reports about a Mexican stem cell doctor, lullaby singer Lori McKenna, and soccer star David Beckham. That week, Nightline did two separate reports about the earthquake in Peru that killed approximately 500 civilians. But nothing that week from Nightline about the suicide blasts in Iraq that also killed approximately 500 civilians.

Instead of Iraq, here are some of the news stories Nightline staffers devoted time and energy to during that seven-week summer span:

  • The popularity of organic pet food.
  • The favorite songs of Pete Wentz, bassist for the pop/rock band Fall Out Boy.
  • The folding of supermarket tabloid, The Weekly World News.
  • The rise of urban McMansions.
  • The death of the postcard.
  • The commercial battle between Barbie and Bratz dolls.
  • The nerd stars of the movie Superbad.

Bring our troops home. America is on the wrong path. We took a wrong turn.  We should be using our power to make new friends. We should be using our energy to find better ways to thrive and survive as a species.  We need a Department of Peace with a bigger budget than the Department of Defense.  The problems the world faces, limited resources, political tyrants, religious zealotry, these are problems of the human mind, problems of communication.  Only by improving ourselves as individuals and by bettering our interactions with those who differ from us can we evolve.

Do your part, however small.

Posted in War | Leave a Comment »

Researchers track cyber-espionage ring to China

Posted by Anonymous on April 7, 2010

http://brightcove.vo.llnwd.net/d7/unsecured/media/44140130/44140130_18052581001_0330dv-can-china-hacker-SJ-s260608AT1VW104.jpgResearchers in the U.S. and Canada have tracked and documented a sophisticated cyber-espionage network based in China, dubbed Shadow, that targeted computers in several countries, including systems belonging to the Indian government and military.

The Shadow network of compromised computers was detailed in a report released Tuesday by the Information Warfare Monitor — a project involving researchers at the University of Toronto’s Munk Center for International Studies and The SecDev Group — and the Shadowserver Foundation. Information Warfare Monitor is the group that uncovered and documented GhostNet, a similar cyber-espionage ring, last year.

The release of the latest report, which details the scope of the Shadow network and discusses some of the Indian government documents that were stolen, was first covered by The New York Times.

“We were able to document another network of compromised government, business, and academic computer systems in India, the Office of the Dalai Lama, and the United Nations as well as numerous other institutions, including the Embassy of Pakistan in the United States,” wrote Nart Villeneuve, the SecDev’s chief research officer and a research fellow at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk Center for International Studies, in a blog post.

Shadow is the latest example of cyber-espionage efforts linked to China. Others include attacks on Google’s Gmail system that ultimately led the company to close the censored search engine it built for China. Like other such networks, such as GhostNet, targeted malware is believed to have allowed the attackers to compromise specific computer systems.

The cyber-espionage ring behind the Shadow network, which was traced to Chengdu, in China’s Sichuan province, used social media and blogs to control computers they had compromised using malware.

“In total, we found three Twitter accounts, five Yahoo Mail accounts, 12 Google Groups, eight Blogspot blogs, nine Baidu blogs, one Google Sites and 16 blogs on blog.com that were being used as part of the attacker’s infrastructure,” the report said, noting that those services were being misused but were not compromised.

The attackers used those services to circumvent security systems that might otherwise have blocked their access to compromised computers.

“The use of social networking platforms, blogs and other services offered by trusted companies allows the attackers to maintain control of compromised computers even if direct connections to the command and control servers are blocked at the firewall level,” it said.

The primary focus of the attackers appears to be the Indian government.

The “vast majority” of the 44 compromised computers identified by the researchers are either in India or belong to Indian government and military organizations, the report said, citing an analysis of stolen documents recovered from the Shadow network. …

via Update: Researchers track cyber-espionage ring to China.

Posted in Technology, War | Leave a Comment »


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