Panicked shoppers fled a US retail park when a disorientated bear wandered into a department store and ran up and down the aisles, it has emerged.
The female black bear had apparently made its way into the Pittsburgh Mills centre through automatic doors.
“It darted past several people. They didn’t even know it was a bear,” shopper Matt Marcinik told local media.
The animal was eventually shot with a tranquiliser dart and taken away by Pennsylvania wildlife officials.
The young bear, weighing only about 125lb (57kg), growled at customers before getting stuck between double doors.
Workers in the Sears department store first alerted shoppers to the bear’s presence.
Michelle Eckert, who was in the store at the time, said everyone was walking out casually at first.
“As we got to the exit, one employee says: ‘There’s a bear!’ And we all look at each other, and we just run out,” she told broadcaster CBS.
The entire shopping centre was then evacuated before wildlife officials were able to sedate the animal.
Experts said it was rare for a bear to make its way into a shopping centre, and they are now investigating how it ended up in the area.
Archive for July 23rd, 2012
Posted by Xeno on July 23, 2012
Posted by Xeno on July 23, 2012
A man spotted dressed in a goat suit among a herd of wild goats in the mountains of northern Utah has wildlife officials worried he could be in danger as hunting season approaches.
Phil Douglass of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said Friday the person is doing nothing illegal, but he worries the so-called “goat man” is unaware of the dangers.
“My very first concern is the person doesn’t understand the risks,” Douglass said. “Who’s to say what could happen.”
Douglass said a man hiking Sunday along Ben Lomond peak in the mountains above Ogden, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, spotted the person dressed like a goat among a herd of real goats. The person provided some blurry photographs to Douglass, who said they did not appear to have been altered.
Wildlife officials now just want to talk to the man so that he is aware of the dangers. There’s no telling what his intentions are, Douglass said, but it is believed he could just be an extreme wildlife enthusiast.
“People do some pretty out there things in the name of enjoying wildlife. But I’ve never had a report like this,” Douglass said. “There’s a saying we have among biologists – You don’t go far enough, you don’t get the data. You go too far, you don’t go home. The same is true with some wildlife enthusiasts.”
Douglass said 60 permits will be issued for goat hunting season in that area, which begins in September. He worries the goat man might be accidentally shot or could be attacked by a real goat.
“They may get agitated. They’re territorial. They are, after all, wild animals,” he said. “This person puts on a goat suit, he changes the game. But as long as he accepts responsibility, it’s not illegal.” …
He’s the white thing near tbe bottom of the photo… I think.
Posted by Xeno on July 23, 2012
As we count down to the much-anticipated landing of NASA’s six-wheeled Mars Science Lab (MSL) on Aug. 5/6th, it’s noteworthy that 36 years ago today mankind made the first successful touchdown on the Red Planet.
The nuclear-powered Viking 1 lander settled down in a burst of retrorocket fire on a smooth circular plain close to the great volcanic Tharsis Bulge on July 20, 1976. Four billion years ago this region may have been a water-filled bay on Mars.
Viking’s first black-and-white image (above) of a footpad resting on an alien planet transfixed the world.
Viking 1 was shutdown in 1982, but its legacy is as alive as ever today. Viking 1, and its sister robot, Viking 2, were the only two spacecraft ever dispatched to Mars with miniature onboard biological laboratories that performed the first in-situ experiments to find extraterrestrial life.
Though sending such a payload to what was then a largely unknown planet seemed premature, it does reflect NASA’s aggressive spirit of exploration from the glory days of the 1960s and early 70s.
One out of three independent miniature experiment labs aboard the Vikings yielded positive results, as established by the rules of its builders.
The Viking lab measured a rapid increase in oxygen, carbon dioxide and some nitrogen when a soil sample was saturated with liquid nutrients that astrobiologists thought would be tasty to Mars microbes. The out-gassing from the damp soil was like an Alka Seltzer tablet bubbling away. This reaction did not happen in samples that were sterilized by heat as a control. The second Viking lander recorded similar results 4,000 miles away.
However, the findings were dismissed almost immediately because no organic compounds were detected on the Martian surface by another Viking instrument. The building blocks of life as we know it apparently weren’t there. It was like hearing music, but not finding the orchestra.
The apparent false positive in the Labeled Release experiment was attributed to peculiar properties of the Martian soil. Hydrogen peroxide in combination with other chemicals in the Martian surface had been theorized to produce false life signals. But lab experiments on Earth have never precisely duplicated the Viking data. …
The Viking debate aside, we’ve learned a lot more about Mars since 1976. With each mission the circumstantial evidence for life has ratcheted up. Today we know that Mars has the energy, water and the chemical resources for supporting life.
Mounting geologic evidence points to Mars starting out as a habitable planet. But it grew colder and drier as its water froze, much of the atmosphere was ablated away by the solar wind, and a protective magnetic field fizzled away. Darwinian evolution should have ensured that primeval life, perhaps spawned in a great polar ocean, would find innovative ways to adapt and survive on a slowly dying world. ….
Posted by Xeno on July 23, 2012
Most any chemistry student when asked, will say that there are just two ways atoms bond to make molecules: covalent and ionic. In the former, atoms are bonded together by sharing electrons, in the latter it’s due to the transfer of electrons from one atom to another leading to a Coulombic attraction between the ions. Now however, it appears there is a third kind of bond, though it doesn’t exist here on Earth. E. I. Tellgren, Kai K. Lange, T. Helgaker and M. R. Hoffmann from the University of Oslo, Norway and the University of North Dakota in the US have found that some molecules can form and hold together due to extremely high magnetic fields. As they write in their paper published in the journal Science, their calculations suggest that such molecules likely exist near white dwarf stars.
Because it’s impossible, at least at this time, to create a magnetic field anywhere near as strong as that found near a white dwarf star, the researchers turned to quantum chemical simulations (full configuration-interaction) focusing on hydrogen atoms and the simple hydrogen molecule H2. At extremely hot temperatures, such as would exist near a white dwarf, the covalent bond that normally holds the molecule together wouldn’t survive and the molecule would come apart. But if there were a strong enough magnetic field (such as exists near a white dwarf) the spin states of the two atoms could align with the magnetic field (rather than exist as opposed) the molecule could bond and continue to stay that way. And that’s exactly what the team’s calculations showed, they’re calling it – perpendicular paramagnetic bonding.
To further test their ideas, the team also ran helium through the simulations and found that they too could form perpendicular paramagnetic bonding of He2 molecules, though they were less stable.
The researchers note that because of the different characteristics of hydrogen or helium molecules bonded together through magnetic forces near white dwarf stars, their spectrum should be different as well, which means that they should be detectable using telescopes tuned properly, assuming they exist in sufficient numbers.
And just because such a strong magnetic field cannot currently be created in the lab, it doesn’t mean it can’t ever happen. If it does become possible, not only would magnetically bonded molecules be observable, but they might also be controllable by adjusting the amount of magnetism, paving the way perhaps to a quantum memory computer. …
Smarter than the average ape: Astonishing pictures of the young gorillas who worked together to dismantle the poachers trap that killed their friends
Posted by Xeno on July 23, 2012
Just days after a poacher’s snare had killed one of their own, two young mountain gorillas have been spotted working together to take apart poachers traps.
Staff at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund were stunned when they spotted the plucky young duo, called Dukore and Rwema, destroying a trap in their forest home.
‘Today our field staff observed several young gorillas from Kuryama’s group destroying snares!’ Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center, which is in the reserve where the event took place, blogged.
‘John Ndayambaje, our field data coordinator, reported that he saw one snare very close to the group; since the gorillas were moving in that direction, he decided to deactivate it.
‘Silverback Vuba pig-grunted at him (a vocalization of warning) and at the same time juveniles Dukore and Rwema together with blackback Tetero ran toward the snare and together pulled the branch used to hold the rope.
‘They saw another snare nearby and as quickly as before they destroyed the second branch and pulled the rope out of the ground.’
Vecellio said the behaviour was unheard of. ‘This is absolutely the first time that we’ve seen juveniles doing that,’ she told National Geographic.
‘I don’t know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares. ‘We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that.
”Today we can proudly confirm that gorillas are doing their part too!’
Staff at the park were still reeling from the death last week of a young gorilla called Ngwino who was caught in a snare. The young animal was found too late by workers from Karisoke, and died of snare-related wounds. Her shoulder had been dislocated during escape attempts, and gangrene had set in after the ropes cut deep into her leg.
Bush-meat hunters set thousands of rope-and-branch snares in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, where the mountain gorillas live. The traps are intended for antelope and other species but sometimes capture the apes. Poachers build the snares by tying a noose to a branch or a bamboo stalk, Vicellio said. Every day trackers from the Karisoke center comb the forest for snares, dismantling them to protect the endangered mountain gorillas, which the International Fund for Nature (IUCN) says face ‘a very high risk of extinction in the wild.’
She believes the snare busting team must have dismantled other traps.
‘They were very confident,’ she said. “They saw what they had to do, they did it, and then they left.
Posted by Xeno on July 23, 2012
Identical twins aren’t perfect carbon copies of each other even at birth.Twins emerge from the womb carrying different chemical marks on their DNA that influence the activity of individual genes, a new study shows. Known as epigenetic markers, these alterations don’t change the underlying genetic information. But by regulating the activity of certain genes, they can profoundly influence how the DNA blueprint is used to create and operate a living organism.Past research has shown that identical twins bear some differences in epigenetic markers. But those differences were thought to arise after birth, as twins have different life experiences and encounter different environments.
The new study — the first to measure epigenetic profiles in newborns — suggests that subtle differences in conditions within the womb can leave marks on fetal DNA that may have long-term consequences for adult health. These differing chemical tags may help explain why identical twins look slightly different, have their own personalities and may have different susceptibility to diseases. Jeffrey Craig, a molecular and cell biologist at Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Parkville, Australia, and his colleagues report the findings online July 15 in Genome Research.Identical twins are on average more epigenetically similar than fraternal twins, the researchers found. The similarity was probably not due to sharing a womb, but could be attributed partially to genetics and partially to chance, they suggest.
Arturas Petronis, an epigenetics researcher at the University of Toronto, has another idea about why identical twins are more epigenetically similar than fraternal twins. It’s not because they have the same genes, but because they inherit the same epigenetic signature. Just as eggs and sperm carry different combinations of parental genes, the cells are also marked with different DNA tags. So identical twins, which result when a single embryo splits, start out with the same epigenetic tags. Fraternal twins, who are the product of separate fertilization events, begin with slightly different epigenetic signatures, Petronis says.Craig and his colleagues found that some of the greatest epigenetic differences between twins were near genes involved in development and metabolism. Birth weight was associated with differing epigenetic tags on genes involved in metabolism, growth and cardiovascular disease. Low birth weight has previously been shown to be a risk factor for obesity and heart disease in adults.Factors in the womb that also influence how well fetuses grow, such as the size of the umbilical cord, may create epigenetic discrepancies between twins, Craig says. In the study, identical twins who shared a placenta were more epigenetically different than twins who each had their own, probably because one twin got slightly more nutrition from the single source, he says. …
Posted by Xeno on July 23, 2012
Fire officials in California say at least 21 people were treated for burns after attendees of an event for motivational speaker Tony Robbins tried to walk on hot coals.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that at least three people went to a hospital and most suffered second- or third-degree burns.
Jonathan Correll, 25, told the paper that he heard “screams of agony.”
“It was people seriously hurting, like they were being tortured,” he told the paper. “First one person, then a couple minutes later another one, and there was just a line of people walking on that fire. It was just bizarre, man.”
Robbins was hosting a 4-day gathering called “Unleash the Power Within” at the San Jose Convention Center. Witnesses say on Thursday, a crowd went to a park where 12 lanes of hot coals were on the grass.
Robbins’ website promotes “The Firewalk Experience” in which people walk on super-heated coals.
Fire Capt. Reggie Williams says organizers had an open fire permit and emergency personnel were on standby.
Other attendees reportedly successfully walked over the coals and called the experience life-changing.
mid inspirational talk, chanted mantras and shouts of victory at a late-night firewalking event attended by thousands Thursday came agonized shrieks from followers whose soles were scorched by the superheated coals, witnesses said.
At least 21 people were treated for burn injuries after taking part in the crowning event of the first day of a Tony Robbins function downtown, including at least three who went to the hospital, a San Jose fire captain said.
The people who suffered various second- and third-degree burn injuries were among more than 6,000 who attended the motivational speaker’s event at the San Jose Convention Center called “Unleash the Power Within.”
After the event, which ended about 11 p.m., the crowd walked across the street to the park, where 12 lanes of hot coals measuring 10 feet long and 2½-feet wide rested on the grass.
Jonathan Correll, 25, decided to check out what was going on when “I heard wails of pain, screams of agony.” He said one young woman appeared to be in so much pain “it was horrific.”
“It was people seriously hurting, like they were being tortured,” he said. “First one person, then a couple minutes later another one, and there was just a line of people walking on that fire. It was just bizarre, man.”
Correll, a San Jose City College student, said he saw between 10 and 15 people being treated. He said he videotaped the scene for about 5 minutes before an event staffer told him to put the camera away.
But on a break from day two of the four-day event Friday night, others who walked on the coals said it was nothing short of life-changing.
Henry Guasch, 19, of Mountain View, said that after crossing the coals while chanting his mantra of “Cool moss,” he felt powerful.
“Overcoming something like that, it’s a breakthrough,” he said, adding that he did slow his pace in the middle of the field and got a minor burn.
Guasch and Andrew Brenner, another fire walker, both said that the keys to not getting singed are faith and concentration.
“I did it before, didn’t get into the right state and got burned,” Brenner said. “I knew I wasn’t at my peak state. I didn’t take it as serious.”
He said his feet blistered after the walk about eight months ago at another Robbins event, but he didn’t need medical attention.
Kim, a 22-year-old who didn’t want her last name used because she is still attending the event, said her two friends who did the walk seemed fine at first, but their feet started to blister about 10 minutes later. She said other people had similar problems, and a number of them were soaking their feet in a fountain at the park.
“It seemed abnormal that so many got hurt,” she said, adding that many attendees Friday complained about blisters, and a woman sitting near her had both feet completely bandaged.
David Willey, a physics instructor at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in Pennsylvania, has published a text and video on the physics of firewalking and stated that it “does not need a particular state of mind.”
“Rather, it is the short time of contact and the low thermal capacity and conductivity of the coals that is important,” he wrote. He added that ash that builds up on coals can provide further insulation.
It took about 90 minutes for everyone to walk across the coals, fire officials said. It is not known how many of the people who attended the conference took part in the firewalk.
San Jose Fire Department Capt. Reggie Williams said event organizers had emergency personnel on standby and had obtained an open fire permit from the San Jose Fire Department, Williams said. A fire inspector from the department was at the event to make sure there was no accidental fire.
A statement released Friday from Robbins Research International, said, “We have been safely providing this experience for more than three decades, and always under the supervision of medical personnel … We continue to work with local fire and emergency personnel to ensure this event is always done in the safest way possible.”
On the Tony Robbins website, he promotes “The Firewalk Experience,” a process where people walk across coals between 1,200 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
But that’s not something the San Jose Fire Department recommends, Williams said,
“We discourage people from walking over hot coals,” Williams said.
Gullible morons. Successful fire walking does not work due to the power of your mind. It works because the people who prepare the fire make sure the ash builds up to protect your feet from the heat. It’s a trick, but they screwed it up this time and the people who walked in the wrong spots got burned.
“… it is the low thermal conductivity of ash, wooden coals, charcoal, or rocks that the firewalker traverses in their journey. Even though the temperatures are extremely high (on the order of 500-800 degrees Fahrenheit), the low thermal conductivity means the rate at which heat will transfer from the hot material to the walker’s feet is very slow. This is why when you check out a baking cake in the oven it is okay to touch the batter but not the metallic pan – the thermal conductivity of the cake batter is low whereas that of the metal pan is very high!” – link: Firewalking is Just Physics
To repeat, it was which coals they stepped on, not their faith that caused the burns or not.
I’ve burned my bare foot on a hot coal by accidentally standing for 2 seconds on a place where someone had buried a cook fire. It was the most horrific experience, one of the most painful ever.
Posted by Xeno on July 23, 2012
Scientists in the US have created a free swimming artificial jellyfish.
The team members built the replica using silicone as a base on which to grow heart muscle cells that were harvested from rats.
They used an electric current to shock the Medusoid into swimming with synchronised contractions that mimic those of real jellyfish.
The advance, by researchers at Caltech and Harvard University, is reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
The finding serves as a proof of concept for reverse engineering a variety of muscular organs and simple life forms.
Because jellyfish use a muscle to pump their way through the water, the way they function – on a very basic level – is similar to that of a human heart.
“I started looking at marine organisms that pump to survive,” said Kevin Kit Parker, a professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Harvard.
“Then I saw a jellyfish at the New England Aquarium, and I immediately noted both similarities and differences between how the jellyfish pumps and the human heart.
“The similarities help reveal what you need to do to design a bio-inspired pump.”
The work also points to a broader definition of “synthetic life” in an emerging field of science that has until now focused on replicating life’s building blocks, say the researchers.
Prof Parker said he wanted to challenge the traditional view of synthetic biology which is “focused on genetic manipulations of cells”. Instead of building just a cell, he sought to “build a beast”.
The two groups at Caltech and Harvard worked for years to understand the key factors that contribute to jellyfish propulsion, including the arrangement of their muscles, how their bodies contract and recoil, and how fluid dynamics helps or hinders their movements.
Once these functions were well understood, the researchers began to reverse engineer them.
They used silicone to fashion a jellyfish-shaped body with eight arm-like appendages.
Next, they printed a pattern made of protein onto the “body” that resembled the muscle architecture of the real animal.
They grew the heart muscle cells on top, with the protein pattern serving as a road map for the growth and organisation of the rat tissue. This allowed them to turn the cells into a coherent swimming muscle.
When the researchers set the Medusoid free in a container of electrically conducting fluid, they shocked the Medusoid into swimming with synchronised contractions. The muscle cells even started to contract a bit on their own before the electrical current was applied.
“I was surprised that with relatively few components – a silicone base and cells that we arranged – we were able to reproduce some pretty complex swimming and feeding behaviours that you see in biological jellyfish,” said John Dabiri, professor of aeronautics and bioengineering at Caltech. …