Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for January 15th, 2013

UFO Sightings At International Space Station On The Rise (And You Can Help Find Them)

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013

As 2012 ended and 2013 began, numerous UFOs were reported around the country — nothing earthshattering there — but what about alleged unidentified objects seen in space near the International Space Station (or ISS), a couple of hundred miles above Earth?

Videos have cropped up on YouTube showing images taken by NASA cameras of objects of different shapes, some moving very slowly, others rapidly hurtling through space.

What, exactly, are we looking at here? Alien spacecraft dropping by for a visit with the ISS? Reflections from ISS windows? Meteors? Or various types of orbiting or fast moving spacecraft-generated debris?

On Christmas Day, YouTube poster Streetcap1 recorded video of a silvery object, moving slowly near the curvature of Earth. At :46 into the following video, the object can be seen in faraway perspective.

Streetcap1 also recorded the following two objects — one circular, the other disc-shaped — outside the ISS on New Year’s Day. Could it be a mere window reflection?

“Spacecraft-generated ‘dandruff’ has been seen since the very first human spaceflights, when the non-intuitive relative motions and impossible-to-judge distances in the earthly environment of outer space tricked observers into misinterpreting visual stimuli,” according to James Oberg, a former space engineer who specialized in NASA space shuttle operations and is currently the NBC News Space Consultant.

“It shouldn’t be surprising that only half a century later, most folks watching YouTube videos are still totally flummoxed by what they understandably and excusably can’t comprehend,” Oberg told The Huffington Post in an email.

Oberg doesn’t give much credence to any speculation that unidentified flying objects near the ISS originate from an alien civilization. But he also feels it’s important for people to keep looking at camera feeds which may result in visual information that can help prevent potential technical problems for the ISS.

“It’s good to keep scanning space video for possible anomalies and reporting them quickly,” Oberg said. “The reason is, there is always a real chance that it could be a genuine anomaly, either a spacecraft malfunction or other threat, expected or unexpected. In the past, missions have failed because a clue that should have been seen out the window was overlooked.”

via UFO Sightings At International Space Station On The Rise (And You Can Help Find Them) (VIDEO).

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Losing Our Religion: The Growth Of The ‘Nones’

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013

This week, Morning Edition explores the “nones” —

Percentage Reporting

Americans who say they don’t identify with any religion. Demographers have given them this name because when asked to identify their religion, that’s their answer: “none.”

In October, the Pew Research Center released a study, ‘Nones’ on the Rise, that takes a closer look at the 46 million people who answered none to the religion question in 2012. According to Pew, one-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation, a trend that has for years been on the rise. (A more recent Gallup poll shows the uptick in religious nones slowed a bit from 2011 to 2012.)

In a nutshell, the group:

comprises atheists and agnostics as well as those who ally themselves with “nothing in particular”

includes many who say they are spiritual or religious in some way and pray every day

overwhelmingly says they are not looking to find an organized religion that would be right for them

is socially liberal, with three-quarters favoring same-sex marriage and legal abortion

Perhaps most striking is that one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation. When comparing this with previous generations under 30, there’s a new wrinkle, says Greg Smith, a senior research at Pew.

“Young people today are not only more religiously unaffiliated than their elders; they are also more religiously unaffiliated than previous generations of young people ever have been as far back as we can tell,” Smith tells NPR Morning Edition co-host David Greene. “This really is something new.”

But why?

According to Harvard professor Robert Putnam, who writes about religion, this young generation has been distancing itself from community institutions and from institutions in general.

“They’re the same people who are also not joining the Elks Club or the Rotary Club,” Putnam tells Greene. “I don’t mean to be casting that as a critique of them, but this same younger generation is much less involved in many of the main institutions of our society than previous younger generations were.” …

via Losing Our Religion: The Growth Of The ‘Nones’ : The Two-Way : NPR.

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Best Optical Illusion Award

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013


BAlFIUYCAAAtWC2.jpg:large (JPEG Image, 855 × 641 pixels).

Posted in Mind | 3 Comments »

Aliens found living in clouds may control Earth weather

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013

On a lazy summer day, you might look for animal shapes in the clouds, but you know they’re not real. There’s nothing alive up there but the occasional flock of airline passengers, right? Well, if you’ve ever had a microbiologist friend remark that a cloud reminded them of a bacterium, they were more right than you might have realized.

In turns out that microbes commonly hitch a breezy ride into the clouds. And while some organisms are simply biding their time, awaiting a return to familiar terra firma, others are actively going about their business despite their unorthodox surroundings. That’s no small feat considering the conditions—it’s extremely cold, UV radiation is intense, and the tiny droplets of water they often find themselves inside are acidic and chemically caustic.

Yet experiments have shown that bacteria appear to be active. And that might be important for more than just the microbes themselves. Lots of chemistry goes on in that cloud water that modifies the way clouds form and behave.

Very small particles in the atmosphere serve as “cloud condensation nuclei”—the seeds that can facilitate the formation of the droplets that make up visible clouds. Within these tiny spheres of water, dissolved substances can interact and affect the physical properties of the droplet—from the way it reflects light to the likelihood that the droplets will grow large enough to cause precipitation. Reactions can also form new particles with the ability to act as cloud condensation nuclei if the droplet evaporates instead of falling to Earth.

Past research has found that bacteria (which can serve as condensation nuclei themselves) in cloud water are capable of taking part in that chemistry, despite the cold temperatures and ultraviolet radiation. However, the experiments done so far have left out an important ingredient in the harsh cloud water cocktail—the hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals produced by UV light. These chemicals are toxic to cells.

To take the next step, a group of French researchers collected cloud water samples from high atop Puy de Dôme, a volcanic peak in central France. Half the samples were filtered to remove organisms, to serve as a baseline for comparison. Some of the samples were exposed to ultraviolet light (to drive the creation of free radicals) and the others were kept in the dark.

The chemistry of the water was analyzed every 12 hours for a week. Measurements of ATP and ADP, components of the metabolic energy cycle of bacteria, showed that the organisms were indeed alive and well throughout the week despite the caustic chemistry.

In all the samples, hydrogen peroxide declined over time. (Even without ultraviolet light to split it, hydrogen peroxide will react with other compounds.) However, it was clear that the bacteria were breaking down a significant amount of the hydrogen peroxide themselves. This is likely a kind of coping mechanism—cells chemically stressed in this way produce an enzyme that helps neutralize oxidants like hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals.

… So then, it’s likely that bacteria really are active in clouds. And they’re not just bit players—they have a significant effect on the chemistry of cloud water. They’re controlling the concentration of hydroxyl radicals and forming particles that could be future condensation nuclei (making clouds that would be more reflective and less likely to generate precipitation). In order to fully understand the behavior of clouds, researchers are going to have to pay attention to the vagabond microbes eking out a living at 5,000 feet.

via The clouds are alive as microbes fly unfriendly skies | Ars Technica.

On this site I use the word “aliens” interchangeably with “bacteria” due to my belief that bacteria came to Earth from space.

Posted in Biology, Earth | Leave a Comment »

Japanese hacker continues to taunt police with clue strapped to cat

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013

Police in Japan have recovered a memory card from the collar of a cat found wandering on an island near Tokyo — the latest bizarre turn in their hunt for a hacker, one who has been taunting them with clues for several months.

In December 2012 the National Police Agency (NPA) — Japan’s central law enforcement body, comparable to the FBI in the United States — offered a bounty of ¥3m (£21,000) for a hacker who had been sending emails from computers around the country containing bomb threats against schools and kindergartens, including one attended by the grandchildren of Emperor Akihito.

Emails to public authorities and media organisations, as well as messages posted on public forums, have led the Japanese police on a fruitless and embarrassing chase around the country. The latest twist came after newspapers and TV stations received emailed riddles on New Year’s Day from someone claiming they were “an invitation to a new game”, one that would lead to the “chance for a big scoop”.

It’s the first time that a bounty has been offered for cybercrime in Japan, and it reflects how frustrated the NPA has been in its investigation. Members of the public have been asked to look out for someone who would have been able to program the “iesys.exe” virus using C#, and who also knows how to browse the web without leaving any trace. The hacker in question is said to use a method known as the “Syberian Post Office” to make anonymous posts to the message board site 2channel, which (as best we can figure out) appears to be a way of getting around IP blocks through some kind of proxy.

Understandably, however, the fact that these skills are extremely common among the computing community hasn’t helped the investigation. The NPA did arrest four people in 2012 and announce that it had “extracted confessions” from them, reports AFP, but as the messages and emails continued to appear the police were forced into admitting they’d made a rather humiliating mistake.

The memory card found strapped to the collar of the cat is said to contain information about the iesys.exe virus that only its creator would know. Dubbed the “Remote Control Virus” by the Japanese authorities, it’s allowed its creator to send out threats from computers located across the country, giving the police no clue as to where their hacker’s real location might be.

via Japanese hacker continues to taunt police with clue strapped to cat (Wired UK).

Posted in Crime, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Star Wars ‘hyperdrive’ space flight explored by physicists

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013

… if it were possible, the reality of interstellar travel would be a lot less spectacular, according to a group of student physicists.

The ”hyperdrive” featured in Star Wars enables Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon spaceship to take short cuts between stars through a higher dimension of space.

Racing through hyperspace at near light speed, the ship’s crew sees the stars appear to radiate out from a central point and stretch past them.

But in reality, the view through the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit window would probably consist of a fuzzy luminous fog surrounding a bright central disc.

There would be no sign of stars because the wavelength of their light would be shortened to the invisible X-ray range, say the team of four young scientists from the University of Leicester.

This is due to the Doppler effect – the same effect that causes a police car siren to increase in pitch as it approaches.

The luminous disc would be due to Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation being shifted into the visible part of the light spectrum.

The CMB is radiation left behind by the Big Bang that gave birth to the universe.

As a result of the Doppler shift the spaceship would be bombarded by intense X-rays, exerting a pressure strong enough to slow it down. The ship’s engines would need extra power to overcome this pressure, the calculations suggest.

One of the students, Riley Connors, 21, from Milton Keynes, said: ”If the Millennium Falcon existed and really could travel that fast, sunglasses would certainly be advisable. On top of this, the ship would need something to protect the crew from harmful X-ray radiation.”

The findings appear in the University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics. …

via Star Wars ‘hyperdrive’ space flight explored by physicists – Telegraph.

Posted in Physics, Science Fiction, Space | 1 Comment »

More Evidence Emerges That “Hobbits” Were A Separate Species

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013

… Frodo fans can delight in new evidence that hobbits did in fact belong to the extinct species Homo floresiensis.

A study published in Journal of Human Evolution last week shows hobbit wrists were markedly different from humans’, lending credence to the theory that they were a separate species from Homo sapiens. After studying the differences between the carpal bones of the Homo floresiensis remains discovered in 2004 and modern human and Neanderthal wrists, scientists says that hobbits weren’t just abnormally small humans.

Being different comes at a price, though. Because hobbit wrists weren’t well shaped to bear loads equally on both sides of the arm, hobbits probably couldn’t grip very well, or at least were subject to more frequent fractures and arthritis. Although researchers have exacted basic stone cutting tools from up to 800,000 years ago on Flores, the structure of their wrists probably restricted hobbits’ ability to make and use tools.

Hobbits reached Indonesia by 1 million years ago, and went extinct 17,000 years ago. Some researchers contend that rather than being a separate species, hobbits were deformed humans with a developmental disorder that would account for their small stature and brain. …

via More Evidence Emerges That “Hobbits” Were A Separate Species | Australian Popular Science.

Posted in Archaeology | Leave a Comment »

Genomes link aboriginal Australians to Indians

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013

Some aboriginal Australians can trace as much as 11% of their genomes to migrants who reached the island around 4,000 years ago from India, a study suggests. Along with their genes, the migrants brought different tool-making techniques and the ancestors of the dingo, researchers say1.

This scenario is the result of a large genetic analysis outlined today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1. It contradicts a commonly held view that Australia had no contact with the rest of the world between the arrival of the first humans around 45,000 years ago and the coming of Europeans in the eighteenth century.

“Australia is thought to represent one of the earliest migrations for humans after they left Africa, but it seemed pretty isolated after that,” says Mark Stoneking, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who led the study.

Irina Pugach, a postdoctoral researcher in Stoneking’s laboratory, discovered signs of the Indian migration by comparing genetic variation across the entire genomes of 344 individuals, including aboriginal Australians from the Northern Territory, highlanders from Papua New Guinea, several populations from Southeast Asian and India and a handful of people from the United States and China.

Pugach confirmed an ancient association between the genomes of Australians, New Guineans and the Mamanwa — a Negrito group from the Philippines. These populations diverged around 36,000 years ago, suggesting that they all descended from an early southward migration out of Africa.

But Pugach also found evidence of more recent genetic mixing, or gene flow, between the Indian and northern Australian populations — taking place around 141 generations ago. This gene flow could not have occurred during the initial wave of migration into Australia because it is absent from New Guinean and Mamanwa genomes, and it is too uniformly spread across the northern Aboriginal genomes to have come from European colonists.

The genetic mingling coincided with the arrival in Australia of microliths — small stone tools that formed the tips of weapons — and the first appearance in the fossil record of the dingo, which most closely resembles Indian dogs. All of these changes may be related to the same migration, the researchers say.

“There have been very few genetic studies of Australians,” Stoneking says, “and not anything like the dense, genome-wide study we carried out.” A few smaller studies of mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome have hinted at recent gene flow between India and Australia2, 3, but a genome-wide study in 2010 missed it by not including any Indian populations4, and a project that sequenced a full Aboriginal genome dismissed signs of gene flow from India as a spurious result5. …

via Genomes link aboriginal Australians to Indians : Nature News & Comment.

Posted in Biology, History | Leave a Comment »

Federal Court Admits Hepatitis B Vaccine Caused Fatal Auto-Immune Disorder

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013

In our society today, newborns are injected with loads of chemicals nearly as soon as they enter the world. In the name of “prevention”, we give them vaccines that we aren’t even sure are safe. As a matter of fact, in many cases, we know them to be unsafe. This is the case with the hepatitis B vaccine, approved for infants at birth but admittedly responsible for causing serious illness and even death.

The United States Court of Federal Claims sided with the estate of Tambra Harris, who died as a result of an auto-immune disease called systemic lupose erythematosus (SLE). The court awarded $475,000 following her death after finding the hepatitis vaccine caused her injury in the form of SLE. But this near-admittance of a cause-effect relationship between the vaccine and the illness and subsequent death isn’t enough. No, we still give the shot to babies.

So, what is hepatitis B and why are we told that it is so important that newborn infants are vaccinated against it? Hepatitis B is not pleasant and can be deadly. But newborns (and the vast majority of people at any age) aren’t at risk of contracting the disease. It’s spread by contact with bodily fluids, as in through unprotected sex or dirty needles.

The risks associated with the hepatitis B vaccine are far more pressing than the risk of contracting the disease, says Dr. Jane Orient of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). “For most children, the risk of a serious vaccine reaction may be 100 times greater than the risk of hepatitis B.”

Still, newborns are given the vaccine within moments of entering the world.

Considered by many to be crimes against infants, the hep-b vaccination, the vaccine has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune disorders. Many experts have questioned the prolific use of the vaccine since it stepped on the scene a few decades ago. What’s more, many parents are starting to question the need for the vaccine.

via » Federal Court Admits Hepatitis B Vaccine Caused Fatal Auto-Immune Disorder Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

Examine the research, read the reports by a number of doctors, and educate before you vaccinate.



via Natural News

Posted in Health | Leave a Comment »

Don’t read my lips! Body language trumps the face for conveying intense emotions

Posted by Anonymous on January 15, 2013

Be it triumph or crushing defeat, exhilaration or agony, body language more accurately conveys intense emotions, according to recent research that challenges the predominance of facial expressions as an indicator of how a person feels.

Princeton University researchers report in the journal Science that facial expressions can be ambiguous and subjective when viewed independently. The researchers asked study participants to determine from photographs if people were experiencing feelings such as loss, victory or pain from facial expressions or body language alone, or from both. In some cases, a facial expression associated with one emotion was paired with a body experiencing the opposite emotion.

In four separate experiments, participants more accurately guessed the pictured emotion based on body language — alone or combined with facial expressions — than on facial context alone. Senior researcher and Princeton Professor of Psychology Alexander Todorov said that these results challenge the clinical — and conventional — presumption that the face best communicates feeling. Indeed, despite the findings, a majority of the study’s participants sided with the face when asked how they gauge feelings, a misconception the researchers referred to as “illusory facial affect.”

“We find that extremely positive and extremely negative emotions are maximally indistinctive,” said Todorov, who worked with first author Hillel Aviezer, a psychology professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem who conducted the work as a postdoctoral researcher under Todorov, and Yaacov Trope, a psychology professor at New York University.

“People can’t tell the difference, although they think they can,” Todorov said. “Subjectively people think they can tell the difference, but objectively they are totally at [random] chance of determining correctly. The message of this research is that there is a lot of information in body language people aren’t necessarily aware of.”

The paper in Science counters popular theories holding that facial expressions are universally consistent indicators of emotion. The most prominent, Todorov said, have been developed by psychologist and University of California-San Francisco professor emeritus Paul Ekman, whose work was fictionalized in the television series “Lie to Me.”

Instead, facial movements may be “much blurrier” than those theories account for, Todorov said. In particular, he and his colleagues suggest that when emotions reach a certain intensity, the intricacies of facial expressions become lost, similar to “increasing the volume on stereo speakers to the point that it becomes completely distorted,” he said. …

For their study, the Princeton researchers used stock photos of people at six emotional “peaks”: pain, pleasure, victory, defeat, grief and joy. In the first experiment, three groups of 15 people were shown only the facial expression, the body position or the face and body together, respectively. Participants who saw the face only had a 50-50 chance of being correct, whereas those who only saw a body or the face and body together were far more accurate.

Yet, these respondents also exhibited a high degree of illusory facial affect: 53 percent of people who saw the body-and-face photos said they relied on the face. Of a group for whom the pictures were described but not shown, 80 percent said they would rely solely on the face when determining the emotion pictured, while 20 percent they would look to the face and the body together. No one indicated they would judge by body language alone.

In the second experiment, photos were manipulated so that faces from one emotional peak such as victory were spliced onto a body from an opposing peak such as defeat. In those cases, participants more often determined the emotion to be that associated with the body.

For the third experiment, participants rated a variety of faces that fell with in the six emotional categories with ambiguous results. In fact, the authors report, respondents interpreted the positive faces as negative more than they did the negative faces. Those faces were then randomly put upon bodies in a situation of victory or pain, and victory or defeat. Again, study participants typically guessed the situation in accordance with what they gleaned from the body rather than the face….

via Princeton University – Don’t read my lips! Body language trumps the face for conveying intense emotions.

Posted in Mind | Leave a Comment »


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