Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for April 27th, 2011

Science Fiction Timeline of Inventions (Listed by Publication Date)

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

Most of these items are linked to information about similar real-life inventions and inventors; click on an invention to learn more about it.

Date Device Name (Novel Author)
1726 Laputa – a floating island (from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1726 Bio-Energy – produce electricity from organic material (from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1726 Knowledge Engine – machine-made expertise (from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1726 Geometric Modeling – eighteenth century NURBS (from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift)
1828 Barrels of Air (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1828 Steam-Propelled Moving Houses (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1828 Stage Balloon (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1828 Mail-Post Letter-Ball (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Henry Loudon)
1866 Paper Steel (from Robur-the-Conqueror by Jules Verne)
1867 Weightlessness – true science fiction discovery (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867 Retro-Rockets – Verne invented them! (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867 Light Pressure Propulsion – first use of this idea (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867 Water-Springs (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867 Spashdown – the original idea (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867 Launching Facility – in Florida (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867 Projectile-Vehicle – Verne’s spacecraft (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867 Free Return Trajectory – first mention (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867 Communicate with Extraterrestrials – first use of concept (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1867 Columbiad – 900 foot cannon (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
1869 Flywheel Launcher (from The Brick Moon by Edward Everett Hale)
1875 Nautilus – Captain Nemo’s ride (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
1875 Diving Apparatus – scuba diving in the 19th century (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
1875 Electrify the Rail – repel boarders! (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
1875 Leyden Ball – grandfather of the taser (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
1875 Undersea Mining (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)

via Science Fiction Timeline of Inventions (Listed by Publication Date).

Many more at the link.

Posted in Science Fiction, Technology | Leave a Comment »

How Bacteria Could Generate Radio waves

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

Can bacteria generate radio waves?

On the face of it, this seems an unlikely proposition. Natural sources of radio waves include lightning, stars and pulsars while artificial sources include radar, mobile phones and computers. This is a diverse list. So it’s hard to see what these things might have in common with bacteria that could be responsible for making radio waves.

But today, Allan Widom at Northeastern University in Boston and a few pals, say they’ve worked out how it could be done.

They point out that many types of bacterial DNA take the form of circular loops. So they’ve modelled the behaviour of free electrons moving around such a small loop, pointing out that, as quantum objects, the electrons can take certain energy levels.

Widom and co calculate that the transition frequencies between these energy levels correspond to radio signals broadcast at 0.5, 1 and 1.5 kilohertz. And they point out that exactly this kind of signal has been measured in E Coli bacteria.

Let’s make one thing clear: this is a controversial area of science. The measurements of bacterial radio waves were published in 2009 by Luc Montagnier, who won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2008 for the discovery of HIV. However, Montagnier is a controversial figure and it’s fair to say that his claims are not accepted by most mainstream biologists.

However, one of the criticisms of the work was that there is no known mechanism by which bacteria can generate radio waves. That criticism may now no longer hold.

That means Widom and co may be able to kickstart more work in this area. It is well known that bacterial and other types of cells use electromagnetic waves at higher frequencies to communicate as well as to send and store energy. If cells can also generate radio waves, there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t exploit this avenue too.

via How Bacteria Could Generate Radio waves – Technology Review.

Posted in Biology, Physics | Leave a Comment »

Bacteria Grow Under 400,000 Times Earth’s Gravity

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

Bacteria grown under normal gravity for four hours (left) and at 134,425 Gs of gravity for 48 hours (right).Proving that you don’t have to be big to be tough, some microbes can survive gravity more than 400,000 times that felt on Earth, a new study says.

Most humans, by contrast, can tolerate forces equal to about three to five times Earth’s surface gravity (g) before losing consciousness.

The extreme “hypergravity” of 400,000 g is usually found only in cosmic environments, such as on very massive stars or in the shock waves of supernovas, said study leader Shigeru Deguchi, a biologist at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.

Deguchi and his team were able to replicate hypergravity on Earth using a machine called an ultracentrifuge.

The scientists rapidly spun four species of bacteria—including the common human gut microbe Escherichia coli—to create increasingly intense gravity conditions.

The bacteria clumped together into pellets as the gravity increased, but their forced closeness didn’t seem to deter growth: All four species multiplied normally under thousands to tens of thousands of times Earth’s gravity.

Two of the species—E. coli and Paracoccus denitrificans, a common soil bacteria—grew under the strain of 403,627 g. …

via Bacteria Grow Under 400,000 Times Earth’s Gravity.

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Crop Circle at Innage, nr Chepstow. Gwent Wales. Reported 22nd April   2011.

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

Well done to Olivier Morel and Francine Blake’s group for photographing this aerial shot of the formation at Innage, nr Chepstow. Gwent. Wales. Reported 22nd April. We know this was a long and expensive flight due to this there was great reluctance by other photographers to take to the air.

via Crop Circle at Innage, nr Chepstow. Gwent Wales. Reported 22nd April   2011..

Posted in Art, Strange | Leave a Comment »

Escaped Egyptian tycoon attempts to smuggle out tons of antiques

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

SalemAirport Customs stopped yesterday evening 100 parcels allegedly belonging to Egyptian tycoon Hussein Salem, which were headed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The parcels weighed three tons together and included paintings, antiques, carpets, gold plated trays, gold statues, expensive watches, clocks, clothes and items that may be subject to the Egyptian Law for the Protection of Antiquities.

Sayed Ibrahim, the head of customs, said that airport officials became suspicious when they realised how heavy the packages were and decided to check their contents. He added that the parcels belong to an export company and included papers associated with a Saudi Prince and were heading to Jeddah. The bags were being smuggled by a person holding a Palestinian passport.

Ibrahim informed the airport’s prosecution office who revealed that the items belong to a businessman who is trying to smuggle them out of the country. Ibrahim adds that the items included photos of Salem with Arab leaders and kings, as well as with ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his former chief of staff Zakaria Azmi, along with a carpet with Salem’s name written on it. This led airport officials to believe that they belonged to the businessman, and a committee was formed to investigate the matter.

Salem is one of the closest friends of Mubarak and owns a significant number of touristic sites in Sharm El-Sheikh and shares in the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) which exports gas to Israel. On 10 March, the Cairo Criminal Court confirmed a decision to freeze all his personal and family assets. Salem fled the country on 26 January, one a day after the revolution began.

via Escaped Egyptian tycoon attempts to smuggle out tons of antiques – Politics – Egypt – Ahram Online.

Posted in Archaeology, Crime | Leave a Comment »

Factory Uses Robots To Grow Human Skin

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

Factory Uses Robots To Grow Human SkinScientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology in Germany oversee a skin-making process controlled by robots. They currently produce 5,000 penny-sized disks of tissue every month, at around $72 per unit. It is hoped that in the future there will be many similar factories, mass-producing skin at a low cost for use in clinical testing and transplants in humans.

With robots and computers controlling the process, this maintains a sterile and climate-controlled environment for the skin to be developed, reducing the risk of contamination. Successfully engineered tissue for humans has been achieved but it is very costly and labor-intensive. Using robots as automated manufacturers would reduce both the cost and the manpower needed, enabling the efficient production of tissue, cartilage and even entire organs.

via Factory Uses Robots To Grow Human Skin – PSFK.

Posted in Biology, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Lost City Revealed Under Centuries of Jungle Growth

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

An archaeologist inside a tunnel at a Mayan site.Archaeologist Brigitte Kovacevich in a looters’ tunnel inside the pyramid at the Head of Stone site.

Hidden for centuries, the ancient Maya city of Holtun, or Head of Stone, is finally coming into focus.

Three-dimensional mapping has “erased” centuries of jungle growth, revealing the rough contours of nearly a hundred buildings, according to research presented earlier this month.

Though it’s long been known to locals that something—something big—is buried in this patch of Guatemalan rain forest, it’s only now that archaeologists are able to begin teasing out what exactly Head of Stone was.

Using GPS and electronic distance-measurement technology last year, the researchers plotted the locations and elevations of a seven-story-tall pyramid, an astronomical observatory, a ritual ball court, several stone residences, and other structures. …

From about 600 B.C. to A.D. 900, Head of Stone—which is about three-quarters of a mile (1 kilometer) long and a third of a mile (0.5 kilometer) wide—was a bustling midsize Maya center, home to about 2,000 permanent residents.

But today its structures are buried under several feet of earth and plant material and are nearly invisible to the untrained eyed.

Even Head of Stone’s three-pointed pyramid—once one of the city’s most impressive buildings—”just looks like a mountain enveloped in forest,” said study leader Kovacevich, who presented the findings at a meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento, California. …

via Lost City Revealed Under Centuries of Jungle Growth.

Posted in Archaeology | Leave a Comment »

A Star as Old as the Universe Found in Milky Way — A Galactic Mystery

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

6a00d8341bf7f753ef0147e2b4fb81970b-800wi“This star likely is almost as old as the universe itself.”

Anna Frebel, astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Astronomers have discovered a relic from the early universe — a star that may have been among the second generation of stars to form after the Big Bang. Located in the dwarf galaxy Sculptor some 290,000 light-years away, the star has a remarkably similar chemical make-up to the Milky Way’s oldest stars. Its presence supports the theory that our galaxy underwent a “cannibal” phase, growing to its current size by swallowing dwarf galaxies and other galactic building blocks.

Dwarf galaxies are small galaxies with just a few billion stars, compared to hundreds of billions in the Milky Way. In the “bottom-up model” of galaxy formation, large galaxies attained their size over billions of years by absorbing their smaller neighbors.

“If you watched a time-lapse movie of our galaxy, you would see a swarm of dwarf galaxies buzzing around it like bees around a beehive,” explained Frebel. “Over time, those galaxies smashed together and mingled their stars to make one large galaxy — the Milky Way.”

If dwarf galaxies are indeed the building blocks of larger galaxies, then the same kinds of stars should be found in both kinds of galaxies, especially in the case of old, “metal-poor” stars. To astronomers, “metals” are chemical elements heavier than hydrogen or helium. Because they are products of stellar evolution, metals were rare in the early Universe, and so old stars tend to be metal-poor. …

via A Star as Old as the Universe Found in Milky Way — A Galactic Mystery.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

China confirms plans to build own orbital station

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

Shenzhou 7Chinese space officials have confirmed plans to build a 60-ton space station by 2020 and develop a space freighter for hauling supplies to the station, the China Daily newspaper said on Tuesday.

The China Manned Space Engineering Office unveiled on Monday a blueprint of the future orbital station, which will comprise an 18.1-meter core module and two 14.4-meter lab modules.

“The 60-ton space station is rather small compared to the International Space Station (419 tons), and Russia’s Mir Space Station (137 tons), which served between 1996 and 2001,” China Daily quoted Pang Zhihao, a space researcher and deputy editor-in-chief of the Space International magazine.

“But it is the world’s third multi-module space station, which usually demands much more complicated technology than a single-module space lab,” the researcher said.

China’s ambitious space program enjoyed a sound success in the past decade, including putting a human into orbit and launching a lunar probe.

In preparation for the construction of the orbital station, Beijing is planning to launch the space module Tiangong-1 and the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft in the second half of this year on the first unmanned rendezvous and docking mission.

Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 spacecraft are expected to dock with Tiangong-1 in 2012.

via China confirms plans to build own orbital station | World | RIA Novosti.

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Lemming hordes perish in Swedish roadside ‘massacre’

Posted by Anonymous on April 27, 2011

Swedish lemmings 'no risk for public' according to expertHordes of lemmings have been spotted leaving the safety of the mountains to make their way down to more inhabited areas, falling victim to traffic and being preyed upon by other animals.“I must have seen a thousand just since Saturday. They are absolutely everywhere. They are swimming about in the lake close to our house, they jump on the ice floes, and they scurry around the outside of our house,“ said holiday-maker Magnus Lundberg, to the local Östersundsposten (ÖP) daily.

Road users are reportedly struggling to avoid the advancing lemming hordes with many of the small furry animals ending up as road kill in what has been described as a real massacre on the roads.

However, Sweden’s pets and wild animals alike stand to gain as the lemming-strewn roads present a veritable feast for hungry predators.

Favourable weather has created the conditions for 2011 to become what Swedes call “a real lemming year”.

According to Birger Hörnfeldt, of the department of wildlife, fish and environmental studies at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå, these traditionally occur every 3-4 years.

But the last three decades have seen such unfavourable weather that the number of lemmings had diminished considerably. …
Lemmings have traditionally been believed to undertake the occasional mass exodus, sometimes to meet their death by following each other off a cliff.

However, today this kind of migration behaviour is believed by experts to be a myth based on lies or at least highly exaggerated.

According to Bengt Landström of the mountain unit at the County Administrative Board in Norrbotten, this may well be a record year for lemmings, but he does not believe in a bona fide ‘lemming exodus’, where the lemmings blindly follow one another to their death.

“No, that kind of lemming migration is just a fairy tale, a tall story,“ he told local paper Piteå Tidningen.

Unfortunately, exodus or no exodus, the move from the mountaintops often means that the little rodents go to their death.

If they are not hit by cars wild or domestic animals are very keen to get their paws on them.

“Our dogs are eating the lemmings while we are out walking. It is not much we can do about it. The dogs just bite down on them, throw them up in the air and then swallow them almost whole. They probably devour between five and ten a day,” Magnus Lundberg told ÖP.  …

via Lemming hordes perish in Swedish roadside ‘massacre’ – The Local.

Posted in Biology | Leave a Comment »


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