Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for January 6th, 2011

“Bodies” Fill Underwater Sculpture Park

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011

Human sculptures in the

A snorkeler swims over life-size statues near Cancún, Mexico, in a late 2010 picture.

More than 400 of the permanent sculptures have been installed in recent months in the National Marine Park of Cancún, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc (map of the region) as part of a major artwork called “The Silent Evolution.” The installation is the first endeavor of a new underwater museum called MUSA, or Museo Subacuático de Arte.

via Pictures: “Bodies” Fill Underwater Sculpture Park.

Posted in Art | Leave a Comment »

Cell Phone Saves Club Valet From Bullet

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011

An observant police officer who quickly helped make an arrest after a midtown Atlanta night club shooting was upstaged by a cell phone that likely saved a man’s life.Sgt. Robert Altertini told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh he was patrolling near Sixth and West Peachtree Streets when he heard gunshots near Halo Night Club.

“Rarely do we hear the shots when they’re fired; we’re usually called to a scene,” said Altertini. “There were people running around. I radioed in that there were shots fired.”

Authorities said two men were kicked out of the club early Thursday, but returned with guns and opened fire. Witnesses pointed the men out to Altertini, who helped make the arrests.A valet from the club told police he was shot but not hurt. The bullet had actually hit the valet’s cell phone in a breast pocket and stopped, police said.

“It doesn’t usually end this way, he’s very lucky in fact,” said Alterini.

Police told Kavanaugh they pulled a pair of handguns from the suspects’ SUV.

Officers said they were not sure if the valet was the target of the gunfire or just hit by a random bullet.

via Cell Phone Saves Club Valet From Bullet – News Story – WSB Atlanta.

Posted in Strange, Survival | Leave a Comment »

What’s an invasivore?

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011

LionfishInvasivores eat invading species of plants and animals. In the Florida Keys, lionfish is being served up by local chefs. This striped invasive predator is taking over parts of the Caribbean and devastating the ecology of the marine system. It’s estimated that a single female lionfish can produce 2 million eggs a year.


Fortunately, lionfish taste good. One way of dealing with an unwanted rapidly growing population is to eat them. Those who eat lionfish specifically because they are an invasive species are becoming known as invasivores.


It’s not just invasive fish that are being eaten. It’s invasive plants, too. Edible weeds are being hunted and eaten as a way to stop them from invading further.


Invasivores seek the environmental benefits of their eating habits. Like a locavore that chooses locally grown food so that a minimum amount of energy is used to transport it, an invasivore chooses some of his foods to lessen the devastation that invasive species do to the local environment. Both types of eaters are motivated by their environmentalism.


Some take eating invasive species further than just eating things that don’t belong. They are eating animals that are a nuisance on their property — invading their backyards and gardens. Squirrels, rabbits and opossums can be considered fair game, as long as you kill them yourself.

via What’s an invasivore? | MNN – Mother Nature Network.

Posted in Biology, Food | 1 Comment »

Man grows horn on his head

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011

- Huang Yuanfan, 84, said the odd growth started two years ago as a small bump but just grew and grew.

The old goat said: ‘I tried picking at it and even filing it but nothing changed it. The horn just kept getting bigger.’

Yuanfan says it has now reached three inches and is showing no signs of stopping.

He added: ‘Doctors say they don’t know what caused it but if they try to take it off it will just come back. I try to hide it beneath a hat but if it gets much longer it will be sticking out the top.’

Not sufficiently grossed out yet? Another case of human-horn growing was confirmed in March, once again in the horny nation of China.

via Man grows horn on his head | Metro.co.uk.

Posted in Biology, Strange | Leave a Comment »

Rothberg Seeks to Make DNA Sequencing Common

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011

Jonathan M. Rothberg fancies himself the Steve Jobs of biotechnology. While much less known than the Apple leader, Dr. Rothberg is also a wealthy entrepreneur with a reputation as a visionary, a masterful promoter and a demanding boss.

But what Dr. Rothberg really means is that he wants to do for DNA sequencing what Mr. Jobs did for computing — spread it to the masses.

Dr. Rothberg is the founder of Ion Torrent, which last month began selling a sequencer it calls the Personal Genome Machine. While most sequencers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are at least the size of small refrigerators, this machine sells for just under $50,000 and is the size of a largish desktop printer.

While not intended for the general public, the machine could expand the use of DNA sequencing from specialized centers to smaller university and industrial labs, and into hospitals and doctors’ offices, helping make DNA sequencing a standard part of medical practice.

“It’s the same 200 people around the world who buy all these machines,” Dr. Rothberg, who has a Ph.D. in biology, said of the sequencing centers. “I want to make this ubiquitous. I want to move this into the clinic.”

Rather than culturing a bug to identify what is infecting a patient, for instance, a hospital might determine its DNA sequence. Massachusetts General Hospital is already sequencing 130 genes from patient tumor samples, looking for mutations that might predict which drugs will work best. It has won an Ion Torrent machine in a contest and hopes to put it to that use.

“I think all the other technologies could not be easily implemented in a lab like ours,” said Dr. John Iafrate, director of molecular diagnostics at the hospital. Ion Torrent, he added, would “democratize” sequencing. …

via Rothberg Seeks to Make DNA Sequencing Common – NYTimes.com.

Posted in Biology, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Sabretooth cats threatened most ancient human ancestor

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011

Artist's impression of ToumaiHumankind’s oldest known ancestor probably lived in fear of several large sabretooth cats that roamed the same ancient lakeside habitat in Africa.

Palaeontologists have identified two new sabretooth species among fossils unearthed at Toros Menalla in Chad.

In 2001, a team unearthed remains of a seven million-year-old human-like creature – or hominid – known as “Toumai” at the central African site.

Its discoverers argue that Toumai is the oldest hominid known to science …

With our present data, we don’t know what precisely the interactions were between a primate and a big carnivore. But probably these interactions were not so friendly,” said Professor Vignaud.

He told BBC News: “Sabretooths hunted all mammals; bovids, equids… and primates. The interactions were also more ‘psychological’, exercising a stress on potential prey. We can’t prove it but it’s probably important because in that case, primates had to live near closed environments like gallery forest.”

While ancient primates like Sahelanthropus tchadensis gave sabretooth cats a wide berth, they may also have depended on these big carnivores – and others – for their survival.

Sabretooths would have hunted large herbivorous mammals, and probably left enough meat on their kills for scavengers like the jackal-sized Hyaenictherium and perhaps even primates like Sahelanthropus.

Some researchers have proposed that Toumai is more closely related to chimpanzees or gorillas. Even if this were the case, the discovery would be of great significance, as virtually no fossil ancestors of these great apes are known from Africa.

via BBC News – Sabretooth cats threatened most ancient human ancestor.

Posted in Archaeology, Biology | Leave a Comment »

How This Guy Discovered Four New Planets Without a Telescope

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011

How This Guy Discovered Four New Planets Without a TelescopePeter Jalowiczor is a gas worker from South Yorkshire, England. He’s also the discoverer of four giant exoplanets, according to the University of California’s Lick-Carnegie Planet Search Team. But he’s not an astronomer and he doesn’t even have a telescope.

He worked for three years on the discovery, analyzing data made public by the university using his two home computers, spending hundreds of hours of his spare time in the task. Jalowiczor, who has two science degrees but no formal astronomy training, used a process called doppler spectroscopy or radial velocity measurement. As he explains it:

I look for faint changes in stars’ behaviors that can only be caused by a planet or planets orbiting about them. Stars are incredibly far away and no telescope yet built can directly see their discs, let alone any planets going around them.

Astronomers therefore have to devise other indirect techniques of detection. If a planet orbits a star it causes a tiny wobble in the star’s motion and this wobble reveals itself in the star’s light. Special software works out the properties about the planet’s orbit and precise measurements of the star taken over many years enable scientists to build up profiles of systems as planets are gradually revealed.

According to the Lick-Carnegie Planet Search Team, the gas worker is the co-discoverer of gas planets HD31253b, HD218566b, HD177830c and HD99492c, which is the closest of the four, 58 light years away. [The Star via Mail Online]

via Gizmodo: How This Guy Discovered Four New Planets Without a Telescope.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

Partial solar eclipse and transit of the Space Station from Oman

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011

Image of the solar transit of the International Space Station (ISS), taken from the area of Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman on January 4th 2011 at 9:09 UT, during the partial solar eclipse. Takahashi FSQ-106ED refractor on EM-10 mount, Canon 5D mark II. 1/5000s exposure at 100 iso.

Transit forecast calculated by http://www.calsky.com (many thanks to Arnold Barmettler for his help).

Transit duration: 0.86s. ISS distance to observer: 510 km. Speed in orbit: 7.8km/s (28000 km/h or 17000 mph).

The image shows three planes in space: the Sun at 150 million km, the Moon at about 400000 km and the ISS at 500 km.

via Thierry Legault – Partial solar eclipse and transit of the Space Station from Oman.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

$295 due for California Vehicle Registration Fees?!

Posted by Anonymous on January 6, 2011

This is pissing me off.  Talk about highway robbery. In one sentence they tell us our fees are supposed to DECREASE each year and in the next they tell us they are actually going to INCREASE, which they have. At whom do we throw rotten eggs? Where do we protest? How do we vote to get this reversed!? Who can afford this?

Q What is Vehicle License Fee (VLF) and how is the amount determined?
A The VLF was established by the Legislature in 1935 in lieu of a property tax on vehicles. The formula for VLF assessment established by the Legislature is based upon the purchase price of the vehicle or the value of the vehicle when acquired. The VLF decreases with each renewal for the first 11 years. The VLF is part of the total fees due upon initial and annual vehicle registration renewal. This amount will temporarily increase to 1.15 percent for most vehicles effective May 19, 2009.

Q Where does the money go?
A The DMV returns almost all vehicle license fee revenue to the cities and counties. For more details on how your VLF money is used, contact your local city or county government officials.
The VLF revenue of 0.65 percent will continue to be distributed to cities and counties and deposited into the Local Revenue Account and Motor Vehicle License Fee Account in the Transportation Tax Fund. The VLF increase of 0.50 percent will be allocated as follows:

  • 0.35 percent to the General Fund
  • 0.15 percent transferred to the Local Safety and Protection Account established in the Transportation Tax Fund.

Q Why is the vehicle license fee (VLF) increasing?
A The VLF increase is part of the budget plan designed to reduce California’s $42 billion deficit. The new budget includes spending reductions, revenue increases, economic stimulus, and government efficiency.
Q How much is the VLF increase?
A The current VLF rate is 0.65 percent and will increase to 1.15 percent for most vehicles, an increase of 0.5 percent.
Q When does the increase go into effect?
A The increase does not apply to fees which become due prior to May 19, 2009, whether for original registration or renewal, regardless of when the fees are paid.

Q Which vehicles are affected by the change?
A Most vehicles with fees due on or after May 19, 2009, are subject to the VLF increase. This includes automobiles; commercial vehicles with a declared gross operating weight under 10,001 pounds, motorcycles, and trailer coaches. …

Q Can I pay my fees early to avoid the increase?
A No. The increase is based on the vehicle registration expiration date. Affected vehicles with a fee due date of May 19, 2009, or later will pay the increase regardless of when payment is received.
Q How long does the increase last?
A The increase will be through June 30, 2011, but may be extended to
June 30, 2013.

via DMV

Posted in Crime, Politics, Travel | Leave a Comment »


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