Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for November, 2011

Native New Zealand albino snail discovery

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011

Albino snailIt’s the Milky Bar snail – a giant carnivorous albino Powelliphanta found living in New Zealand bush.

A group of trampers stumbled across the rare find – only the second recorded – during a trip though the Kahurangi National Park at the tip of the South Island.

“Our group had seen three or four snails already that morning as it had rained and they’d come out in the wet conditions,” said tramper Bill Brough, of Motueka.

“Then I saw the white snail and went wow! We were excited to see it, knowing how extraordinary it was.”

Powelliphanta snails are found only in New Zealand and are the giants of the snail world. They are carnivores, with their favourite prey being earthworms. They also eat slugs.

Photos taken by the Waimea Tramping Club show the Powelliphanta hochstetteri hochstetteri had a characteristic golden brown-spiralled shell but a body that was glowing white rather than the usual deep black colour. …

via Native New Zealand albino snail discovery | Stuff.co.nz.

A group of trampers?

Posted in Cryptozoology | 1 Comment »

Study: States That Legalize Medical Marijuana Reduce Traffic Fatalities

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011

Opponents of marijuana legalization often suggest that legalization would lead to an increased number of vehicle accidents. However, a new study from the Institute for the Study of Labor finds that states that legalized medical marijuana have seen a decline in traffic fatalities, the “leading cause of death for Americans age 35 and under.” According to researchers, states in which medical marijuana is legal saw a decline in alcohol use which, in turn, helped lower the number of traffic fatalities. “Specifically, we find that traffic fatalities fall by nearly 9 percent after the legalization of medical marijuana,” they said. As of now, 16 states have legalized medical marijuana and recent polls reveal that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe medical marijuana should be legalized.

via Study: States That Legalize Medical Marijuana Reduce Traffic Fatalities | ThinkProgress.

I’ve read that people are drinking alcohol less when they are driving after smoking pot, thus, the 9% fewer traffic deaths. But… we don’t need more stoned drivers. A better solution to reduce traffic fatalities would be to re-educate people to socialize unaltered. Why do we need a chemical excuse to have fun? Marijuana makes me nauseous, but it should be legal. Legalize it… and tax it like tobacco. That move might fix California’s economy over night.

Posted in Survival | Leave a Comment »

Most liveable alien worlds ranked

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011

Scientists have outlined which moons and planets are most likely to harbour extra-terrestrial life.

Among the most habitable alien worlds were Saturn’s moon Titan and the exoplanet Gliese 581g – thought to reside some 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra.

The international team devised two rating systems to assess the probability of hosting alien life.

They have published their results in the journal Astrobiology.

Gliese 581 system

In their paper, the authors propose two different indices: an Earth Similarity Index (ESI) and a Planetary Habitability Index (PHI).

“The first question is whether Earth-like conditions can be found on other worlds, since we know empirically that those conditions could harbour life,” said co-author Dr Dirk Schulze-Makuch from Washington State University, US.

“The second question is whether conditions exist on exoplanets that suggest the possibility of other forms of life, whether known to us or not.”

As the name suggests, the ESI rates planets and moons on how Earth-like they are, taking into account such factors as size, density and distance from the parent star.

The PHI looks at a different set of factors, such as whether the world has a rocky or frozen surface, whether it has an atmosphere or a magnetic field.

It also considers the energy available to any organisms, either through light from a parent star or via a process called tidal flexing, in which gravitational interactions with another object can heat a planet or moon internally.

And finally, the PHI takes into account chemistry – such as whether organic compounds are present – and whether liquid solvents might be available for vital chemical reactions.

The maximum value for the Earth Similarity Index was 1.00 – for Earth, unsurprisingly. The highest scores beyond our solar system were for Gliese 581g (whose existence is doubted by some astronomers), with 0.89, and another exoplanet orbiting the same star – Gliese 581d, with an ESI value of 0.74.

via BBC News – Most liveable alien worlds ranked.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

Why Does Evolution Allow Some People to Taste Words?

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011

A neural condition that tangles the senses so that people hear colors and taste words could yield important clues to understanding how the brain is organized, according to a new review study.

This sensory merger, called synesthesia, was first scientifically documented in 1812 but was widely misunderstood for much of its history, with many experts thinking the condition was a form of mild insanity.

“It’s not just that the number two is blue, but two is also a male number that wears a hat and is in love with the number seven,” said study co-author David Brang, of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

“We’re not sure if these personifications are [also a symptom of] synesthesia, but we think this is what derailed a lot of scientists from being interested in it. … They thought these people were making it all up.”

(Related: “Ball Lightning May Be All in Your Head.”)

Over the past 30 years, though, a growing body of evidence has shown that synesthesia has a physical basis—for example, the brains of synesthetes are wired differently, and the condition is highly heritable, which indicates there is a genetic component.

In fact, the study authors think it’s possible such a strange phenomenon has survived in an evolutionary sense because it offers people certain benefits to creative thinking.

“Ninety-five to ninety-nine percent of synesthetes love their synesthesia and say it enhances their lives,” Brang said. …

Synesthesia a Boon to Creativity?

Studies today indicate that synesthesia is about seven times more common in artists, poets, and novelists than in the rest of the population, and some scientists have hypothesized that synesthetes are better at linking unrelated ideas.

“We worked with a novelist years ago who swore that her synesthesia helped her pick metaphors,” Brang said. “She said she would know what color a word should be even before she knew what the word was.”

Some savants with synesthesia have been known to perform amazing feats of memorization, such as remembering the value of pi to 22,514 digits. Other synesthetes are able to distinguish between very similar colors or have a heightened sense of touch. …

via Why Does Evolution Allow Some People to Taste Words?.

Posted in Biology, Mind | Leave a Comment »

Indefinite Domestic Military Detentions?

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011

Congress is now considering legislative language to mandate indefinite military detentions of US citizens suspected of present or past associations with alleged terrorist groups, with or without evidence to prove it. More on that below.

The 2006 Military Commissions Act authorized torture and sweeping unconstitutional powers to detain, interrogate, and prosecute alleged suspects and collaborators (including US citizens), hold them (without evidence) indefinitely in military prisons, and deny them habeas and other constitutional protections.

Section 1031 of the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Act contained the 2009 Military Commissions Act (MCA). The phrase “unprivileged enemy belligerent” replaced “unlawful enemy combatant.”

Language changed but not intent or lawlessness. Obama embraces the same Bush agenda, including keeping Guantanamo open after promising to close it, allowing torture there and abroad, and treating US citizens as lawlessly as foreign nationals.

MCA grants sweeping police state powers, including that “no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause for action whatsoever….relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission (including) challenges to the lawfulness of (its) procedures….”

MCA scraped habeas protection (dating back to the 1215 Magna Carta) for domestic and foreign state enemies, citizens and non-citizens alike.

It says “Any person is punishable… who….aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures,” and in so doing helps a foreign enemy, provide “material support” to alleged terrorist groups, engages in spying, or commits other offenses previously handled in civil courts. No evidence is needed. Those charged are guilty by accusation. …

via poorrichards blog: Indefinite Domestic Military Detentions.

Posted in Control Freaks, Crime, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Fish? What fish?

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011


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

Ways to Inflate Your IQ

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011

Many people think of IQ as a genetic trait, like brown eyes or short legs: You’re born with it and you’re stuck with it. Now, a growing body of research is showing that a person’s IQ can rise—and even fall—over the years.

Scores can change gradually or quickly, after as little as a few weeks of cognitive training, research shows. The increases are usually so incremental that they’re not immediately perceptible to individuals, and the intelligence-boosting effects of cognitive training can fade after a few months.

In the latest study, 33 British students were given IQ tests and brain scans at ages 12 to 16 and again about four years later by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London; 9% of the students showed a significant change of 15 points or more in IQ scores.

On a scale where 90 to 110 is considered average, one student’s IQ rose 21 points to 128 from 107, lifting the student from the 68th percentile to the 97th compared with others the same age, says Cathy Price, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the center and co-author of the study, published last month in Nature. Another student’s score skidded out of the “high average” category, to 96 from 114.

Swings in individual IQ scores are often written off as the product of measurement error or a test subject having a bad day. But MRIs in this study showed changes in gray matter in areas corresponding to fluctuations in the kids’ skills, Dr. Price says. Although the sample size is small, the study drew wide attention because it is among the first to show how changes in IQ scores may be reflected in actual shifts in brain structure.

… There are practical steps people can take to see longer-term IQ changes. A 30-year study at the National Institute of Mental Health found that people whose work involves complex relationships, setting up elaborate systems or dealing with people or difficult problems, tend to perform better over time on cognitive tests. Test scores of people whose jobs are simple and require little thought actually tend to decline, according to the research, published in 1999 in Psychology and Aging.

New tasks stimulate the brain most. When researchers at the University of Hamburg subjected 20 young adults to one month of intense training in juggling, they found an increase in the corresponding gray matter in the brain as early as seven days after the training began. The added gray matter receded when the training was stopped, although the participants were still able to juggle, says the study, published in 2008 in PLoS One. …

via Ways to Inflate Your IQ – WSJ.com.

Posted in Mind | Leave a Comment »

Jackson doctor Conrad Murray sentenced to four years

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011

Conrad Murray, the US doctor convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of pop superstar Michael Jackson, has been sentenced to four years in county jail.

Murray was found guilty earlier this month after a six-week trial.

Judge Michael Pastor told the court that while Murray was legally eligible for probation, he did not think his actions showed he was suitable.

He said the evidence in the case showed a “continuous pattern of lies and deceit” by the disgraced physician.

The legal teams will return in January 2012 to discuss the prosecution’s request for Murray to pay restitution to Jackson’s family.

While the prosecution successfully argued for the maximum term, Murray’s lawyers asked that he be kept on probation, saying he is serving “a lifetime sentence of self-punishment”.

Defence lawyer Ed Chernoff said he would already be punished for life by being known as “the man who killed Michael Jackson”.

In addition, Murray could still lose his licence to practice medicine. …

There is no law against administering propofol, but the prosecution’s case rested on the argument that Murray was grossly negligent by doing so outside a hospital setting and without the proper monitoring equipment. …

via BBC News – Jackson doctor Conrad Murray sentenced to four years.

Posted in Music, Popular Culture | Leave a Comment »

El Dorado Hills boy dies after being shot with pellet gun

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011

An El Dorado Hills boy has died after being shot with a pellet gun. El Dorado County sheriff’s deputies responded about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to a report of a shooting on Waterman Court in El Dorado Hills.According to preliminary information, the youth was shot by another juvenile in the neighborhood while playing at the neighbor’s residence, officials said. The juvenile who was shot ran back to his residence and told family members what had happened, then collapsed, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release. Family members administered first aid and medics responded. The youth was transported to Mercy Folsom Hospital, where he died of his injuries. Sheriff’s officials said no further details were available. Detectives have launched an investigation.

via El Dorado Hills boy dies after being shot with pellet gun – Sacramento News – Local and Breaking Sacramento News | Sacramento Bee.

I had a twilight zone moment reading this. As a boy I was shot by another boy with a pellet gun while playing at a neighbor’s residence… but I was in a different town. Still, I had a feeling reading this like perhaps my entire life since then, including writing this post, is just a dying dream. I guess it wouldn’t matter. Some dreams are amazingly vivid and seem to last for years.  Rest in peace … and dream a long happy life in your last few seconds, son.

Posted in Strange | Leave a Comment »

Body image correction web site

Posted by Anonymous on November 30, 2011

Check out mybodygallery.com and you may discover that you should be eating more or exercising more. Interesting idea… Women, did it help with better self acceptance?


Posted in Mind | 1 Comment »


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