Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for July, 2010

Japanese Researchers Invent Holograms You Can Touch

Posted by Anonymous on July 31, 2010

Holograms you can touchWe’re still waiting for flying cars, laser guns and teleportation devices, but it looks like we can scratch one childhood dream off the list: touchable holograms. According to the NTDTV report posted after the jump, researchers at Japan’s Tokyo University have managed to concoct holograms that not only react to touch, but that also create the sensation of touch, itself. Apparently, and not surprisingly, an integral part of the system is Nintendo’s Wiimote technology, which senses user input. That’s right nerdlings, with this contraption, you could not only talk to that Princess Leia hologram, but you could actually lovingly caress her cinnamon bun-like tresses. If that ain’t progress, we don’t know what is. [From: LiveLeak, via: Billionaire Boys Club]

via Japanese Researchers Invent Holograms You Can Touch.

One more step towards the holy holodeck. This was posted September 16, 2009 on youtube:

“Up until now, holography has been for the eyes only, and if you’d try to touch it, your hand would go right through. But now we have a technology that also adds the sensation of touch to holograms.” The technology consists of software that uses ultrasonic waves to create pressure on the hand of a user touching the projected hologram. Researchers are using two Wiimotes from Nintendos Wii gaming system to track a users hand.  The technology was introduced at SIGGRAPH, an annual computer graphics conference, and has so far only been tested with relatively simple objects. But its inventors have big plans for touchable holograms in the future.

[Hiroyuki Shinoda, Professor, Tokyo University]:

Posted in Technology | Leave a Comment »

Mars site may hold ‘buried life’

Posted by Anonymous on July 31, 2010

Nili Fossae trough on Mars (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)Researchers have identified rocks that they say could contain the fossilised remains of life on early Mars.

The team made their discovery in the ancient rocks of Nili Fossae.

Their work has revealed that this trench on Mars is a “dead ringer” for a region in Australia where some of the earliest evidence of life on Earth has been buried and preserved in mineral form.

They report the findings in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

The team, led by a scientist from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (Seti) in California, believes that the same “hydrothermal” processes that preserved these markers of life on Earth could have taken place on Mars at Nili Fossae.

The rocks there are up to four billion years old, which means they have been around for three-quarters of the history of Mars.

When, in 2008, scientists first discovered carbonate in those rocks the Mars science community reacted with great excitement; carbonate had long been sought as definitive evidence that the Red planet was habitable – that life could have existed there.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

This is the place that we should be checking out for life on early Mars”

End Quote Adrian Brown Seti Institute

Carbonate is what life – or at least the mineral portion of a living organism – turns into, in many cases, when it is buried. The white cliffs of Dover, for example, are white because they contain limestone, or calcium carbonate.

The mineral comes from the fossilised remains shells and bones and provides a way to investigate the ancient life that existed on early Earth. …

via BBC News – Mars site may hold ‘buried life’.

Mars has been abandoned for a long time… at least that’s how it seems on the surface. Richard Hoagland has some of the most entertainingly different ideas about Mars.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

Data Leak: Galaxy Rich in Earth-Like Planets

Posted by Anonymous on July 31, 2010

NASA didn’t plan it this way, but earlier this month a co-investigator on the Kepler satellite mission in the hunt for other Earth-like planets announced to a conference in Oxford, England, that “planets like our own Earth are out there. Our Milky Way galaxy is rich in this kind of planet.” The announcement—which wasn’t getting out until conference organizers posted a video online last week—was especially striking because it was largely based on Kepler data that team members had been allowed to keep to themselves for further analysis until next February. So, traditionally, such data would be released formally with all involved scientists onboard.

The all-too-public leak came from astronomer and Kepler co-investigator Dimitar Sasselov of Harvard University at the annual TEDGLobal conference, a production of the nonprofit TED.

At 8:15 into his 18-minute talk, Sasselov showed a bar graph of planet size. Of the approximate 265 Kepler planets represented on the graph, about 140 were labeled “like Earth,” that is, having a radius smaller than twice Earth’s radius. “You can see here small planets dominate the picture,” said Sasselov. Until now, astronomers’ exoplanet finds had been more like gas giant Jupiter than rocky little Earth. Even Kepler investigators had refrained from discussing any Earth-size finds.

Sasselov did emphasize that these are candidates, not confirmed exoplanets. With further observation, half of them could well turn out to be false alarms. Many could also be Earth-like in size but orbiting so close to their stars that nothing but their size would be Earth-like. Sasselov said that astronomers will be able to identify at least 60 Earth-like planets. So the unauthorized presentation of preliminary results would seem to confirm that Kepler has succeeded in showing that Earth is no fluke.

NASA has yet to comment.

via Data Leak: Galaxy Rich in Earth-Like Planets – ScienceInsider.

The universe is  such a big place that we could each have our own planet. Ours, for example, has been owned for the last 2.2 million years by an alien named Resubius Krobs. As a landlord, we could do worse, but Krobs almost always ignores my requests. He never fixes things, but he always gets paid.  I may move.

Posted in Aliens, Space | Leave a Comment »

Police seize ‘ancient’ bus on the road for more than 1.1 million miles

Posted by Anonymous on July 29, 2010

Photo: DPABerlin police have impounded an “ancient” Latvian tour bus they found creaking along the streets of the capital with a whopping 1.8 million kilometres on the odometer, they announced Wednesday.Officers pulled over the double-decker bus at about 3 pm Tuesday in the southwestern district of Wilmersdorf, the police said in a statement. They quickly established it had driven 1.8 million kilometres – enough to circle the earth 45 times or drive to the moon and back – twice.

Even on a cursory examination, they found numerous defects with the old vehicle, including faulty brakes, tyres worn down to the fabric, a cracked windscreen and major rusting to load-bearing parts of the chassis. They also found a spare fuel tank mounted in the luggage compartment.

The driver was the only person in the bus at the time it was pulled over. He was relieved of responsibility of the vehicle, which was immediately impounded.

via Police seize ‘ancient’ bus after 1.8 million kilometres – The Local.

Posted in Strange, Travel | Leave a Comment »

Woman killed by superstitious husband who believed she was possessed by “a demon”

Posted by Anonymous on July 29, 2010

clark-david-janFor the past 29 months, Jan David Clark has sat in an isolation cell in the Ector County Detention Center wondering how things could have gone so awry.

Though he admits to killing his wife during an attempted exorcism in February 2008, he maintains he never intended to harm the woman he “loved and spoiled” for 17 years.

“That was not a willing thing that took place,” Clark, 63, recalled in a jailhouse interview Tuesday. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s still a supernatural thing.”

After more than two years of delays, Clark is scheduled to be tried this fall on murder charges in connection with the death of 59-year-old Susan K. Clark. About two dozen subpoenas were mailed Tuesday to various investigators and law enforcement officials, ordering them to appear for trial Sept. 13 in Judge Stacy Trotter’s 244th District Court.

Clark was unaware of the trial date before the interview but said he is more than ready. “I’ve waited long enough,” he said, adding he has not ruled out testifying in his own defense.

Authorities say Clark killed his wife in their Ferguson Avenue home in West Odessa. According to court filings, Clark told investigators he held his wife’s face to the floor of their bathroom when the exorcized spirit from her body entered his, causing him to kill his wife.

Investigators found Susan Clark wrapped in a bed sheet on her back with a cross and a sword atop her body. Preliminary autopsy results revealed she had been suffocated, court documents show.

Clark said he regrets attempting the exorcism alone, noting a group effort would have been more appropriate.

“My intention was to confront a demon I thought she had,” Clark said. “I had a pretty arrogant attitude about the whole thing.”

Clark acknowledged Tuesday that he did not have “all my oars in the water” at the time of his arrest. But he insisted that murder is the wrong charge because he “did not willingly” kill his wife. …

via Clark maintains innocence | clark, innocence, maintains – Local News – Odessa American Online.

Posted in Crime, Religion, Strange | Leave a Comment »

Revered Chinese Panda Quan Quan Dies From Gas Poisoning

Posted by Anonymous on July 29, 2010

Chinese police have detained a man in connection with the gas poisoning death of Quan Quan, revered as “the heroic mother” zoo panda who had given birth to seven cubs.

The 48-year-old man, identified only by his surname Yang, had hired workers to disinfect a former air raid shelter he had leased to grow mushrooms, the state news agency Xinhua reported today.

The shelter was near the Jinan Zoo’s panda house in eastern Shandong Province, and toxic gas used by the workers leaked through an air pipe used to cool the pandas, fatally poisoning Quan Quan.

Quan Quan was 21 years old, the equivalent of more than 70 in human terms, the agency said. Once she became ill after inhaling carbon monoxide and chlorine she was taken to a hospital, but died Thursday after three hours of emergency treatment.

According to a spokeswoman for the local civil air defense office, which owns the shelter, it was not aware that the air pipe existed because it “was not included in the facility’s design paper.” …

via Revered Chinese Panda Quan Quan Dies From Gas Poisoning.

Posted in Strange | Leave a Comment »

Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm

Posted by Anonymous on July 29, 2010

Microscope picture of planktonThe amount of phytoplankton – tiny marine plants – in the top layers of the oceans has declined markedly over the last century, research suggests.

Writing in the journal Nature, scientists say the decline appears to be linked to rising water temperatures.

They made their finding by looking at records of the transparency of sea water, which is affected by the plants.

The decline – about 1% per year – could be ecologically significant as plankton sit at the base of marine food chains.

This is the first study to attempt a comprehensive global look at plankton changes over such a long time scale.

“What we think is happening is that the oceans are becoming more stratified as the water warms,” said research leader Daniel Boyce from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

“The plants need sunlight from above and nutrients from below; and as it becomes more stratified, that limits the availability of nutrients,” he told BBC News.

Phytoplankton are typically eaten by zooplankton – tiny marine animals – which themselves are prey for small fish and other animals.

via BBC News – Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm.

Posted in Biology, Earth, Food | Leave a Comment »

Quantum fractals at the border of magnetism

Posted by Anonymous on July 29, 2010

U.S., German and Austrian physicists studying the perplexing class of materials that includes high-temperature superconductors are reporting this week the unexpected discovery of a simple “scaling” behavior in the electronic excitations measured in a related material. The experiments, which were conducted on magnetic heavy-fermion metals, offer direct evidence of the large-scale electronic consequences of “quantum critical” effects.

The experimental and theoretical results are reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by physicists at Rice University in Houston; the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, both in Dresden, Germany; and the Vienna University of Technology in Austria.

“High-temperature superconductivity has been referred to as the biggest unsolved puzzle in modern physics, and these results provide further support to the idea that correlated electron effects — including high-temperature superconductivity — arise out of quantum critical points,” said Rice physicist Qimiao Si, the group’s lead theorist.

“Our experiments clearly show that variables from classical physics cannot explain all of the observed macroscopic properties of materials at quantum critical points,” said lead experimentalist Frank Steglich, director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids.

The experiments by Steglich’s group were conducted on a heavy-fermion metal containing ytterbium, rhodium and silicon that is known as YbRh2Si2 (YRS). YRS is one of the best-characterized and most-studied quantum critical materials.

Quantum criticality refers to a phase transition, or tipping point, that marks an abrupt change in the physical properties of a material. The most common example of an everyday phase change would be the melting of ice, which marks the change of water from a solid to a liquid phase. The term “quantum critical matter” refers to any material that undergoes a phase transition due solely to the jittering of subatomic particles as described by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Heavy-fermion metals like YRS are one such material class, and considerable evidence exists that high-temperature superconductors are another.

Scientists are keen to better understand high-temperature superconductivity because the technology could revolutionize electric generators, MRI scanners, high-speed trains and other devices. …

via Rice University | News & Media.

Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »

Meet the Zedonk, a Zebra Donkey hybrid

Posted by Anonymous on July 29, 2010

Zebra, donkey hybrid born in DahlonegaIn all his years running the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, C.W. Wathen has never seen it happen. But five days ago, a zedonk was born.

“The animals have been running (in the fields) together for more than 40 years, but this is the first time that this has happened here,” said Wathen, the preserve’s founder and general manager. “We never suspected that they (had mated), so it was quite a surprise when the zedonk was born.”

The animal is a mix between a zebra and donkey. With black stripes prominently displayed on her legs and face, her zebra heritage is readily apparent, but her slender face and spindly legs are more donkeylike.

“White tigers are more of our calling card, but this is one of the most unique animals that has ever been born here,” Wathen said.

While she was born to a donkey mother, the baby zedonk’s instincts are all zebra.

“Usually, a foal will lay over on its side, sunning itself,” Wathen said. “But the zedonk sits up at all time — like she’s on alert looking out for predators. She’s still got some of her wild instincts.”

Although it’s uncommon for donkeys and zebras to mate, it isn’t unheard of. In 2005, a zebra gave birth to a zedonk in Barbados, according to the news website, Science Daily. And in the 1970s, three zedonks were born at a European zoo to a donkey mother, according to the Colchester Zoo’s website.

In about two weeks, the 5-day-old zedonk will begin roaming the property with the rest of the animals — including a camel, a donkey sibling, her zebra father and a 40-year-old miniature donkey.

Once the zedonk gets a little older, Wathen said she’ll be able to go out for off-site visits like some of the other animals on the preserve.

“The kids (visiting the preserve) have been going crazy about the zedonk,” he said. …

via gainesvilletimes.com. Local news, sports and lifestyles from Northeast Georgia.

Posted in Cryptozoology | Leave a Comment »

Santa Claus, an Ordained Anglican Bishop, Rips Catholic Church

Posted by Anonymous on July 29, 2010

Bishop Santa ClausTalk about piling on — now even Santa Claus is taking shots at the Catholic Church.

An explanation, of course, is in order. It’s not the jolly old elf who lives at the North Pole with toy-crafting elves and flying reindeer. No, Virginia, this is a decidedly more politicized Claus, an ordained bishop from Nevada with the likeness and legal name of his famous doppelganger.

And this Santa Claus is angry. Last week, in a scathing, widely distributed press release, Claus called out the church for its failure to institute sufficient reform in the wake of clergy sex abuse scandals. He also suggested that he may sue the church to force change.”Bishop Santa intends ‘to explore and utilize a variety of legal means,'” the statement read in part, “‘to hold the Roman Catholic Church, especially the pope and Vatican, accountable for the suffering of many thousands of vulnerable children at the hands of clergy, straight and gay, young and old, celibate or not.'”

But sue the Catholic Church? Who is this Santa Claus?

According to Washoe County, Nev., he’s 63-year-old Thomas O’Connor, a Lake Tahoe man who legally changed his name to Santa Claus (no middle initial) in 2005. A look at his website — yes, Virginia, Claus has a website — reveals that he was recently elevated to the title of missionary bishop in the Apostles’ Anglican Church, an ecumenical Christian denomination based in Ohio and Michigan.

AOL News spoke with the presiding bishop of the Apostles’ Anglican Church, Bishop Lawrence Cameron, and confirmed that Claus is, indeed, a bishop. As a missionary bishop, Claus does not preside over a geographical territory or diocese.

AOL News also contacted representatives for two of the nation’s largest governing bodies of Anglicanism — the Anglican Church in North America and the Episcopal Church — and neither had heard of Claus’ organization.

In an interview with AOL News, Claus explained why a man of his name and position would target the Catholic Church. “No one’s stepped up to the plate. Of all people, why not Santa Claus?” …

via Santa Claus, an Ordained Anglican Bishop, Rips Catholic Church.

Posted in Religion | Leave a Comment »


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