Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for March 24th, 2011

Acupuncture is equally effective with simulated needles

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011

Katarina Sternudd – Simulated acupuncture – sometimes referred to as placebo – is just as beneficial as real acupuncture for treating nausea in cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, according to a study from Karolinska Institutet and Linköping University in Sweden. Patients, who received only standard care including medications for nausea, felt significant more nausea than patients in both the acupuncture groups.”The beneficial effects seem not to come from the traditional acupuncture method, but probably from the patients’ positive expectations and the extra care that the treatment entails,” says Anna Enblom, physiotherapist and researcher at the Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine at Karolinska Institutet. “The patients communicated with the physiotherapists administering the acupuncture, received tactile stimulation and were given extra time for rest and relaxation.”

The study, which is published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, included 277 patients at Linköping and Lund university hospitals and Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, all of whom were undergoing radiotherapy of the abdomen or pelvic region for cancer. A selection of 215 patients from this group, were blindly assigned traditional or simulated acupuncture. The former group 109 patients had needles inserted into their skin to stimulate certain points, and the latter 106 patients had blunt telescopic placebo needles merely pressed against the skin. The acupuncture patients were then compared with 62 patients who had only received the standard care regime with medications for nausea and no acupuncture.

The results show that the patients who had received genuine or simulated acupuncture felt much less nauseous than those who had received standard care only. Of the patients who had had some form of acupuncture, only 37 felt nausea and seven per cent vomited, compared with 63 per cent and 15 per cent of the standard care group. However, no differences were observed between the two acupuncture groups, despite the fact that the placebo needle was applied to the skin for a total of only two minutes during the entire five-week treatment period.

The patients’ expectations seemed to be important for the effect: 81 per cent of those who expected to feel ill did so, in contrast to only 50 per cent of those who did not.

“It’s important to remember that the effects of the treatment are valuable to the patients, even if they can be said to have been caused by unspecific factors, such as the manner in which the patients were taken care of and their positive expectations,” says Dr Enblom. “So our next step is to study which part of the acupuncture procedure actually are of importance, to make possible the use of those components to further increase quality of care.” …

via Acupuncture is equally effective with simulated needles.

People have spent so many years learning meridians and energy points for nothing. Acupuncture works, but only thanks to the mind of the patient.

“About 5,000 years ago Chinese doctors mapped these meridian lines. The discovery and understanding of these pathways of energy led to the development of acupuncture to balance Chi.” – link

I suspect that “Chi” is also imagination. This type of “energy” is only in the mind. The map the 5,000 year old Chinese doctors made of energy pathways could be draw a billion different ways and none of the ways would be wrong.  The system probably works better because both the doctors and patients don’t realize that they are faith healing.

Posted in Health, Mind | 1 Comment »

High-temperature Superconductor Spills Secret: A New Phase of Matter

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011

The few high-temperature superconducting wires on the right conduct as much current as all the copper cables on the left. (Photo courtesy of American Superconductor.)

Scientists have found the strongest evidence yet that a puzzling gap in the electronic structures of some high-temperature superconductors could indicate a new phase of matter. Understanding this “pseudogap” has been a 20-year quest for researchers who are trying to control and improve these breakthrough materials, with the ultimate goal of finding superconductors that operate at room temperature. …

Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency, losing nothing to resistance. Currently used in medical imaging, highly efficient electrical generators and maglev trains, they have the potential to become a truly transformative technology; energy applications would be just one beneficiary. This promise is hampered by one thing, though: they work only at extremely low temperatures. Although research over the past 25 years has developed “high-temperature superconductors” that work at warmer temperatures, even the warmest of them—the cuprates—must be chilled half-way to absolute zero before they will superconduct. …

via March 24, 2011 – High-temperature Superconductor Spills Secret: A New Phase of Matter.

Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »

Integral spots matter a millisecond from doom

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011

ESA’s Integral gamma-ray observatory has spotted extremely hot matter just a millisecond before it plunges into the oblivion of a black hole. But is it really doomed? These unique observations suggest that some of the matter may be making a great escape.


No one would want to be so close to a black hole. Just a few hundred kilometres away from its deadly surface, space is a maelstrom of particles and radiation. Vast storms of particles are falling to their doom at close to the speed of light, raising the temperature to millions of degrees.

Ordinarily, it takes just a millisecond for the particles to cross this final distance but hope may be at hand for a small fraction of them.

Thanks to the new Integral observations, astronomers now know that this chaotic region is threaded by magnetic fields.

This is the first time that magnetic fields have been identified so close to a black hole. Most importantly, Integral shows they are highly structured magnetic fields that are forming an escape tunnel for some of the doomed particles.

via ESA – Space Science – Integral spots matter a millisecond from doom.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

Cutting carbon dioxide helps prevent drying

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011

Recent climate modeling has shown that reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would give the Earth a wetter climate in the short term. New research from Carnegie Global Ecology scientists Long Cao and Ken Caldeira offers a novel explanation for why climates are wetter when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are decreasing. Their findings, published online today by Geophysical Research Letters, show that cutting carbon dioxide concentrations could help prevent droughts caused by global warming.

Cao and Caldeira’s new work shows that this precipitation increase is due to the heat-trapping property of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air higher in the atmosphere tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall.

As a result, an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide tends to suppress precipitation. Similarly, a decrease in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide tends to increase precipitation.

The results of this study show that cutting the concentration of precipitation-suppressing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would increase global precipitation. This is important because scientists are concerned that unchecked global warming could cause already dry areas to get drier. (Global warming may also cause wet areas to get wetter.) Cao and Caldeira’s findings indicate that reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide could prevent droughts caused by climate change.

“This study shows that the climate is going to be drier on the way up and wetter on the way down,” Caldeira said, adding:”Proposals to cool the earth using geo-engineering tools to reflect sunlight back to space would not cause a similar pulse of wetness.” …

via Cutting carbon dioxide helps prevent drying.

Posted in Earth | Leave a Comment »

Micro-RNA’s contribute to risk for panic disorder

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011

Studies in twin pairs suggest that 40% of the risk for panic disorder is heritable, yet the manner in which genes contribute to the risk for panic disorder is far from clear. To date, variations in a growing number of genes have been implicated in the risk for panic disorder, but the magnitude of the impact of each individual gene is relatively small.

The pattern of these implicated genes raises the question of whether there might be molecular “switches” that control the function of groups of genes in a coordinated fashion, which would help to explain the observed findings related to the genetics of panic disorder.

A new study published in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry now implicates one type of molecular switch, microRNAs (miRNAs), in panic disorder.

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is the immediate product of DNA. The most commonly discussed products of RNA are proteins, hence the common dictum “DNA makes RNA and RNA makes protein.” However, miRNAs are small bits of RNA that bind to DNA and control the expression of various genes. There are a large number of miRNAs that have diverse effects on gene expression.

Through case-control studies in three different populations, from Spain, Finland and Estonia, Muiños-Gimeno, Espinosa-Parrilla and colleagues found that at least four miRNAs (miR-22, miR-138-2, miR-148a and miR-488) may be involved in the pathophysiology of panic disorder. Their subsequent functional studies revealed that miR-138-2, miR-148a and miR-488 repress several candidate genes for panic disorder including GABRA6, CCKBR and POMC, respectively, and that miR-22 regulates four other candidate genes: BDNF, HTR2C, MAOA and RGS2. Their analysis also implicated miR-22 and miR-488 in the regulation of anxiety related pathways in the brain.

“These data provide important new evidence that variation in genes coding for miRNAs may coordinate the involvement of a number of risk genes and thereby contribute to the development of panic disorder,” commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.

via Micro-RNA’s contribute to risk for panic disorder.

Posted in Biology, Mind | Leave a Comment »

BrainGate neural interface system reaches 1,000-day performance milestone

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011

An investigational implanted system being developed to translate brain signals toward control of assistive devices has allowed a woman with paralysis to accurately control a computer cursor at 2.7 years after implantation, providing a key demonstration that neural activity can be read out and converted into action for an unprecedented length of time.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Demonstrating an important milestone for the longevity and utility of implanted brain-computer interfaces, a woman with tetraplegia using the investigational BrainGate* system continued to control a computer cursor accurately through neural activity alone more than 1,000 days after receiving the BrainGate implant, according to a team of physicians, scientists, and engineers developing and testing the technology at Brown University, the Providence VA Medical Center, and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Results from five consecutive days of device use surrounding her 1,000th day in the device trial appeared online March 24 in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

“This proof of concept — that after 1,000 days a woman who has no functional use of her limbs and is unable to speak can reliably control a cursor on a computer screen using only the intended movement of her hand — is an important step for the field,” said Dr. Leigh Hochberg, a Brown engineering associate professor, VA rehabilitation researcher, visiting associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, and director of the BrainGate pilot clinical trial at MGH. …

via BrainGate neural interface system reaches 1,000-day performance milestone | Brown University News and Events.

Posted in Biology, Technology | Leave a Comment »

RIP Elizabeth Taylor

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011


Posted in Art, History, Popular Culture | Leave a Comment »

Researcher claims to solve the mystery of El Chupacabra

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011

http://www.radfordbooks.com/press/images/large_fig6_species.jpgScientific paranormal investigator, Skeptical Inquirer magazine managing editor, and Discovery News columnist Benjamin Radford invites you to an online news conference where he will reveal the results of five years worth of investigation (including eyewitness accounts, field research, and forensic analysis) into the mystery of the Hispanic vampire beast el chupacabra, the third most famous unexplained creature in the world (after the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot).

During the news conference, which will be available at http://www.radfordbooks.com/press and Ustream on Tuesday, March 22 at noon eastern, Radford will definitively solve the mystery of the creature and explain exactly what it is. This is NOT just another DNA result from a dead Texas dog or coyote that has made news before: this is the complete solution to the origin and nature of this vampire beast. Additional materials, including b-roll video, photographs, and a downloadable presskit, will also be available.  … …

The chupacabra (“goat sucker” in Spanish) has been blamed for the mysterious deaths of thousands of animals since the 1990s. Originating in Latin America yet known worldwide, the chupacabra is a bizarre blend of vampire and chameleon, changing its appearance and characteristics depending on when and where it is seen. Rooted in conspiracy theory and anti-American sentiment, the beast is said to be the result of Frankenstein-like secret U.S. government experiments in the Puerto Rican jungles.

Additional facts about the chupacabra:

* Unlike other mysterious creatures such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, accounts of the chupacabra are relatively recent—dating back only to the early 1990s

* The earliest eyewitness account of the creature originates with a single individual, a “witness zero” from the town of Canóvanas in Puerto Rico

* While some sightings (and physical evidence) of the chupacabra can be explained as coyotes, wild dogs, or other known animals with severe parasite infections, the original and most popular (and alien) form of the creature has never been fully explained—until now ….


This “solution” fails to explain the real goats and real chickens that have real blood sucked out of them until they are real dead.

We are to believe that the death, the puncture marks and the loss of blood are all caused by a woman’s misinterpretation of a movie monster?

Even neglecting  the physical evidence that real animals are attacked and killed, correlation does not prove causation. How do you know that the person who made the “species” monster wasn’t influenced by hearing an earlier account of the real Chupacabra?

I’d buy that there are humans or some other animals doing the killing, which is why I did research myself. The people I talked to convinced me that there is a real animal, bipedal, about three feet high, with large wrap around eyes and three fingered claws.

I reported two different sightings in Calavaras County California, where there are lots of goats and caves. Take a look at the photos I took of a dog that was attacked in the area of the Chupacabra (and UFO) sighting and tell me if the wound was made by a fictional movie monster, and if not, what animal could do this kind of damage?

Read my article on El Chupacabra.

Now to be fair, here the description given of El Chupacabra by Ms. Tolentino. Compare it to the Species monster in the photo above.

Ms. Madelyne Tolentino and her husband, Mr. Jose Miguel Agosto, are interviewed by Lucy of the Puerto Rican Research Group on March 20th, 1996 in Barrio Campo Rico in Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. The sighting was second week of August 1995 about 4 PM.

Madelyne Tolentino: “… It would seem that when the creature became aware of the car it didn’t want to get too close to it, and stood in front of the window through which I was looking outward.

Lucy: Was the creature aware that you were looking at it?

MT: At first, no. Later, I noticed that it was indeed looking back at me by its eye movements.

Lucy: What change did you observe in its eyes?

MT: It moved them constantly, side to side. It dawned on me that it had no whites to its eyes.

Lucy: What color were they?

MT: Dark gray.

Lucy: Did you notice anything else about them?

MT: They were damp and protruding, running up to its temples, spread to the sides.

Lucy: How tall was the creature?

MT: Some 4 feet, more or less. At the time it was walking like a human, on both legs. Its arms were drawn back into an attack position, as though it was a monster.

Lucy: How many fingers did it have?

MT: It had three long, skinny fingers. The arms were also very long. They were drawn back, but I had the impression that they were very long.

Lucy: And its hair?

MT: Rather short and close to its body, rather well-combed, in fact. …

To me, MT is clearly NOT describing the metallic hairless suit worn by the creature in the movie Species here. She continues with more vivid and specific detail. I guess I’ll rent Species to see if the monster had purple skin.

… I noticed that it had apparently been burned by something. It had some round things on its body and the region seemed ashen as if something had burned it right there. The burn mark revealed pinkish-purple skin, as if the top layer had fallen off.

Lucy: As if it had been shot?

MT: No, no, no, not a shot. It looked like it had burned itself with something, and among the ashes you could see this pinkish-purple skin.

…. MT: There’s a gentleman named Daniel Prez who once ran for mayor of Canvanas. He’s a serious and well-educated man. It was around the time of the primary elections, I’m not exactly sure when. He had to go supervise the polling places when he heard that “ssssssssss” sound and saw the creature drop out of the sky onto a rock. He let out a scream. He says he was shouting to his wife: “Brunilda, a Chupacabras!”

Lucy: How did he know it was a Chupacabras?

MT: Because he had already seen the sketches and knew what it looked like. He says the creature stood on the rock for a while and then suddenly leaped through two dense trees without damaging a single leaf …

Another point: The species creature has tentacles, something no Chupacabra has ever been described with, AFAIK. Species is a 1995 American science fiction horror film.

MT’s sighting was the 2nd week of August 1995. Species was released July 7, 1995, so the timing is right. If MT saw Species she may indeed have confused details about her own sighting with the movie monster, but this still does not explain what she and her husband saw or what is out there sucking the goats.

The first reported attacks occurred in March 1995 in Puerto Rico. In this attack, eight sheep were discovered dead, each with three puncture wounds in the chest area and completely drained of blood. A few months later, in August, an eyewitness, Madelyne Tolentino, reported seeing the creature in the Puerto Rican town of Canóvanas, when as many as 150 farm animals and pets were reportedly killed. In 1975, similar killings in the small town of Moca, were attributed to El Vampiro de Moca (The Vampire of Moca). Initially it was suspected that the killings were committed by a Sataniccult; later more killings were reported around the island, and many farms reported loss of animal life. Each of the animals had their bodies bled dry through a series of small circular incisions.

via wikipedia

A conclusion is just where you get tired of thinking.

Posted in Cryptozoology | Leave a Comment »

Once Upon a Time, the Universe Was Really Weird

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011

Universe-dimensionsToday, looking out across a seemingly boundless cosmos filled with an unimaginable variety of exotic objects, it’s easy to forget that the Universe we currently admire is the product of a violent event that occurred 13.75 billion years ago.

As we know, the leading theory for universal birth is the Big Bang, where everything came from nothing, in a single energetic burst of inexplicable creation. So, if we turn back the clock back 13.75 billion years, what would we see?

My instinct would be to say “energy, the Universe was filled with pure, violent energy,” but according to some mind-bending work by Jonas Mureika from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif., and Dejan Stojkovic from SUNY at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, the answer may be a little more complicated than that. In fact, it may be so weird that we can’t even imagine what it would have been like.

According to an interview with PhysOrg.com, Mureika and Stojkovic have calculated that the early universe didn’t only possess a hot, energetic primordial state of matter, but it also had a primordial state of dimensions.

If they’re correct, the three dimensions of space and one dimension of time that make the four-dimensional spacetime we live in today isn’t how it’s always been — the Universe may have existed in a lower dimensional state in the past. …

via Once Upon a Time, the Universe Was Really Weird : Discovery News.

Posted in Space | 1 Comment »

Alien Earths — 2 billion of them are out there

Posted by Anonymous on March 24, 2011

Roughly one out of every 37 to one out of every 70 sunlike stars in the sky might harbor an alien Earth, a new study reveals.

These findings hint that billions of Earthlike planets might exist in our galaxy, researchers added.

These new calculations are based on data from the Kepler space telescope, which in February wowed the globe by revealing more than 1,200 possible alien worlds, including 68 potentially Earth-size planets. The spacecraft does so by looking for the dimming that occurs when a world transits or moves in front of a star.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., focused on roughly Earth-size planets within the habitable zones of their stars — that is, orbits where liquid water can exist on the surfaces of those worlds.

After the researchers analyzed the four months of data in this initial batch of readings from Kepler, they determined that 1.4 percent to 2.7 percent of all sunlike stars are expected to have Earthlike planets — ones that are between 0.8 and two times Earth’s diameter and within the habitable zones of their stars.

“This means there are a lot of Earth analogs out there — 2 billion in the Milky Way galaxy,” researcher Joseph Catanzarite, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Space.com. “With that large a number, there’s a good chance life and maybe even intelligent life might exist on some of those planets. And that’s just our galaxy alone — there are 50 billion other galaxies.” …

via Alien Earths — 2 billion of them are out there – Technology & science – Space – Space.com – msnbc.com.

Posted in Aliens, Space | 2 Comments »


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