Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for January 31st, 2013

Drones to Watch Over US Highways

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013

Drones could help human workers safeguard the 4 million miles of U.S. highways crisscrossing the country. The flying robots could inspect bridges and roads, survey lands with laser mapping, and even alert officials to traffic jams or accidents.

One such project focused on studying the use of drones recently received $74,984 from the Federal Highway Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation. Researchers plan to spend the next year figuring out how drones could help workers as they go about inspecting and maintaining the safety of public roads and highways.

“Drones could keep workers safer because they won’t be going into traffic or hanging off a bridge,” said Javier Irizarry, director of the CONECTech Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “It would help with physical limitations of the human when doing this kind of work.”

Georgia represents one of several states considering how civilian drones could do some jobs for transportation departments, the police and firefighters. The state is also competing to become one of several flight-test regions for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration — a step in the FAA’s plan to open up U.S. civilian airspace to drones by 2015.

Drones of all sizes and shapes could help safeguard state roads and bridges, Irizarry said. Small drones with cameras might take off vertically from the back of a truck to help inspect a bridge.

The larger, aircraft-size Reaper or Global Hawk drones could spend hours surveying traffic conditions or carry light detection and ranging (LIDAR) equipment that can map terrain with millions of laser pulses. That could potentially replace the expensive use of manned helicopters doing the same job.

Irizarry gave the example of the spherical drones that mapped a huge alien base in the 2012 science fiction film “Prometheus” as an analogy for how today’s larger drones could aid in above-ground laser mapping. He has also enlisted the help of Eric Johnson, an aerospace engineer at Georgia Tech, to figure out the best role for drones.

“We’re going to look at the different divisions that [DOT] has and see how they do things like surveying, safety monitoring or using traffic cameras,” Irizarry told TechNewsDaily. “Maybe they could be using drone technology for a similar purpose.”

via Drones to Watch Over US Highways – Yahoo! News.

Once again, offering to protect us to death. No thanks.  No mention of the 1,900 to 3,000 people killed by drones so far in Pakistan.

Posted in Technology | 2 Comments »

Student says his camera shot “giant ghost”

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013


A Saudi nursing student said his camera captured what he described as a “giant ghost” by accident while filming the night moon near a beach in the Gulf Kingdom.

His photograph published by a Saudi newspaper showed a large ghost-like image, which the shocked student said shot above him at a lightning speed.

Ibrahim bin Abdullah Al Aini, who is studying nursing at a private college in the Western Red Sea port of Jeddah, said he was walking near the beach at night this week when he decided to take shots of the moon with his mobile phone.

“I aimed my mobile phone at the moon and started photographing…suddenly an image shot through and was instantly captured by my camera…It was really frightening as it looked like a giant ghost,” he said, quoted by the Arabic language daily Sabq.

Aini said he had seen news that the “giant ghost” had been sighted in other countries but no one had been able to capture a clear shot of it. He said he would try to use that image to enter Guinness book of records as “the first clear shot of the giant ghost. …

via Student says his camera shot “giant ghost” – Emirates 24/7.

Awesome UAV camouflage. See this.

Posted in Strange, UFOs | Leave a Comment »

Miniature Star Trek-Style ‘Tractor Beam’ Created in Lab

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013

Star Trek's 'tractor' beam created in miniature by researchers …A group of scientists from Scotland and the Czech Republic says it’s managed to drag around teeny-tiny objects using nothing more than a beam of light.

That’s essentially how it worked when the crew of the starship Enterprise periodically unleashed its tractor beam to tug derelict vessels (and once even the captain himself, snared by an interstellar disco-light show). Unfortunately, the no-longer-science-fiction light beam is currently limited to yanking around microscopic matter. …

How’d they do it? According to Phys.org, researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the Institute of Scientific Instruments in the Czech Republic figured out a way to reverse what’s known as the “radiation pressure” of light — that is, the actual force exerted by electromagnetic radiation on matter.


Shine a light source at something and the photons in the beam exert a force on the object. It’s minuscule force — if we’re talking about a flashlight pointed at a refrigerator, forget about it — but examine what’s happening at microscopic levels and you find those photons are acting on objects in quantifiable ways. In fact an MIT graduate student recently proposed using this force as a way to deflect Earth-threatening asteroids by bombing them with clouds of white paint (think “cosmic paintball gun”); because brighter colors reflect more light than darker ones, the sun’s photons can — over the course of many, many years — gradually nudge the asteroid into a non-lethal trajectory.


Imagine that force operating in reverse and you have a sense for how this micro-scale “tractor beam” works: A laser beamed through a lens strikes a mirror, causing it to fire back and across the oncoming beam in a vaguely X-like configuration. The photons in the reflected beam then interfere with the oncoming one, ultimately shoving the particles of matter being “tractored” backwards.

So how long before we’re running around with gravity gunsHalf-Life 2 style? Probably never: According to study lead Dr. Tomas Cizmar, the light particles still transfer energy to the object — scale up the laser’s power, in other words, and you’ve just turned your innocuous ultra-cool tractor beam into an ultra-fiery death ray. …

via Miniature Star Trek-Style ‘Tractor Beam’ Created in Lab | TIME.com.

Posted in Physics | Leave a Comment »

DeLorean Hovercraft goes for a spin

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013

The craft is the creation of Matthew Riese, who raised money on Kickstarter to fund his “Back to the Future” homage. Deciding he doesn’t need roads, Riese has taken the hovercraft to several Bay Area spots, including the waters near Emeryville and McCovey Cove during a Giants game.

DeLorean Hovercraft goes for a spin – YouTube.

Posted in Science Fiction | Leave a Comment »

Ukrainian teen solves deep-sea mystery

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013

a1-0127-hagfish-clr.jpgA Ukrainian teen enthralled by live images from an underwater camera off Vancouver Island has helped unravel the mystery of how deep-diving elephant seals eat a seemingly inedible fish.

At first, Kirill Dudko of Donetsk, Ukraine, didn’t know what he had seen.

The 14-year-old was watching live Internet video of a hagfish slide toward a camera in Barkley Canyon when a nose and whiskers appeared in the frame and something inhaled the hagfish.

“It was like a horror film,” the biology enthusiast wrote in an email to the University of Victoria, the dry-land home of the NEPTUNE Canada deep-sea camera network.

“This creature wasn’t like a fish and I realized it was a mammal because of the nose and moustache.”

In an email to the Times Colonist, Dudko said he was perplexed because he did not think any mammal except a whale could dive to such a depth — the camera is 894 metres under the sea.

“But it did not look like a whale,” he said.

Kim Juniper, NEPTUNE associate science director, said the encounter could easily have been missed without Dudko’s keen eye.

“He was clever enough to know he had seen something unusual,” said Juniper, adding that the NEPTUNE program encourages citizen scientists to help sift through massive amounts of data collected from the 800-kilometre undersea loop of fibre-optic cable.

“But we didn’t expect that a 14-year-old would be making a discovery like this on his own,” he said.

After looking at the video, Juniper consulted marine mammal experts at Fisheries and Oceans and Oregon State University and concluded that the mysterious diver was a female northern elephant seal.

“They are the only seals known to dive that deep,” he said. “They’re not so much a diving seal as a surfacing seal. They spend 90 per cent of their time under the water.”

Although GPS transmitters have recorded the deep dives, the video is the first visual evidence of how they spend their time underwater, Juniper said.

But what has caught scientists’ attention is how the seal ate the hagfish, an eel-like, eyeless, mucous-producing creature that even sharks and conger eels are unable to eat it because it clogs their gills.

“They secrete so much slime that it turns water in a five-gallon bucket into jelly,” Juniper said.

The slime-producing pores help the hagfish worm into the bodies of injured and dead whales and large fish, which it then eats from the inside out.

“It’s not a pretty sight,” Juniper said.

Hagfish have been found in the bellies of dead elephant seals before, but it was not known how the seals eat them without gagging on the slime — until now.

“Now we know she didn’t bite or chew, she inhaled it,” Juniper said. “She created a low-pressure vacuum around her mouth.”

The ocean at that depth is dark, and elephant seals would usually use their whiskers as sensors. But the one in the video had the sense to hang around when the lights were turned on briefly for the camera, Juniper said.

The area is lit up for only five minutes every two hours to avoid creating artificial conditions. “Otherwise it would be a bit like watching bears at the dump,” he said. …

via Ukrainian teen solves deep-sea mystery off Vancouver Island – Local – Times Colonist.

Posted in Biology | Leave a Comment »

New Alien Planet ‘Habitable Zone’ Rules

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013

http://i.space.com/images/i/000/025/603/original/HZ_distance.jpg?1359476982…  scientists have redefined the boundaries of the habitable zone for alien planets, potentially kicking out some exoplanaets that were thought to fall within it, and maybe allowing a few that had been excluded to squeeze in.

“This will have a significant impact on the number of exoplanets that are within habitable zone,” said research team leader Ravi Kumar Kopparapu of Penn State University.

The habitable zone defines the region where a planet might be able to retain liquid water on its surface. Any closer to the star and water would vaporize away; any farther, and it would freeze to ice. But water in its liquid state is what scientists are after, since that is thought to be a prerequisite for life.

The new definition of the habitable zone is based on updated atmospheric databases called HITRAN (high-resolution transmission molecular absorption) and HITEMP (high-temperature spectroscopic absorption parameters), which give the absorption parameters of water and carbon dioxide — two properties that strongly influence the atmospheres of exoplanets, determining whether those planets could host liquid water. [9 Exoplanets That Could Host Alien Life]

The scientists cautioned that the habitable zone definition still does not take into account feedback effects from clouds, which will also affect a planet’s habitability.

The previous habitable zone definitions were derived about 20 years ago by Penn State researcher James Kasting, who was also part of the team behind the updates.

“At the time when he wrote that paper no exoplanets were discovered,” Kopparapu told SPACE.com. “In 20 years, hundreds, maybe thousands have been discovered.”

The new definition isn’t radically different from the old one. For example, in our own solar system, the boundaries of the habitable zone have shifted from between 0.95 astronomical units (AU, or the distance between Earth and the sun) and 1.67 AU, to the new range of 0.99 AU to 1.7 AU.

“It’s a surprise that Earth is so close to the inner edge of the habitable zone,” said astronomer Abel Méndez of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, who was not part of the team behind the redefinition.

Méndez manages a list, called the Habitable Exoplanet Catalog, off all the known planets beyond our solar system that could be habitable to life. The new study will necessitate some adjustments to the catalog, he said.

via New Alien Planet ‘Habitable Zone’ Rules | Extraterrestrial Life | Space.com.

Posted in Aliens, Space | Leave a Comment »

Green ‘fireball’ flashes across the night sky in Lincolnshire

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013

Sightings have been reported of a green ‘fireball’ flashing across the sky over Lincolnshire last night.

Lincoln City goalkeeper Paul Farman was among those who saw the phenomenon and wrote on Twitter at about 9pm that he’d seen a meteoroid or a shooting star.

“It is difficult to say whether this was a chunk of man-made space debris or a piece of asteroid,” he said.

“Images and eyewitness reports will be collated by the British Astronomical Association and some months down the line they may get an idea of what it actually was.”

Astronomer Philip Norton, of Thirsk Drive, North Hykeham, said: “From the description on the web it sounds like a lump of rock about the size of a football hit the atmosphere. This is not uncommon. It just never seems to happen over the UK when the sky is clear.

“What is more interesting is asteroid 2012 DA14. At teatime on February 15 it will pass by only 17,000 miles above the surface.

“This is below the orbits of the TV satellites. Asteroid 2012 DA14 is a little guy, compared to some asteroids, although its size has not been pinned down precisely.

“It is thought to be about 150 feet across, with an estimated mass of about 130,000 metric tonnes. If it hit the Earth it would form a crater several miles across. It will only be visble in binoculars.” …

via Green ‘fireball’ flashes across the night sky in Lincolnshire | This is Lincolnshire.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

Area 51 Batplane Caught On Video

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013

A super secret airplane filmed over Area 51 in Nevada looks more like something out of a Batman movie than Jane’s Defense Weekly. The image here was caught on video by a man who lives near Groom Lake, Nevada, and has a remote cabin situated near the landing strip for the Air Force’s research and development complex.

The man lives in the cabin which is nestled between several mountainous peaks. That makes it difficult for civilians to capture images of secret aircraft for more than a few seconds at a time.

In this case, the video lasts about 45 seconds and reveals enough detail to see what the military is up to in aircraft design these days.

The jet looks like the swept, forward-facing wing type made famous in the Batman movies. It’s bristling with missiles and clearly shows an advanced, rear engine design along with an oddly shaped nose and weird vents along the side hull.

No wonder so many people claim to see UFOs in the area. …

via Area 51 Batplane Caught On Video – News – Bubblews.

Awesome. I love a good Bat Jet. I hope they use it wisely.

Posted in UFOs | Leave a Comment »

High School To Collect Students’ Hair For Mandatory Drug Testing

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013

A Kansas City high school will begin collecting hair from students to conduct mandatory drug tests.

KSHB-TV reports that Rockhurst High School will start the random drug testing during the 2013-14 school year.

“Our point is, if we do encounter a student who has made some bad decisions with drugs or alcohol, we will be able to intervene, get the parents involved, get him help if necessary, and then help him get back on a path of better decision making, healthier choices for his life,” Rockhurst Principal Greg Harkness told KSHB-TV.

The school will collect 60 strands of hair from the student and test for several types of drugs, including marijuana and cocaine. If a student comes back with a positive drug test, that student will have 90 days to get drug-free. KSHB-TV reports the file will be destroyed for a student who tests positive after graduation and colleges and universities will never know about the failed test.

Matthew Brocato, the school’s junior class president, told The Kansas City Star that the mandatory drug testing is not to punish students who fail.

“When you hear ‘drug testing,’ you think cops,” Brocato told the Star. “At first you’re taken aback. Is it for the better?”

Officials decided to start drug testing during the next school year after a recent survey conducted to their students.

“What was most alarming for us is that when you asked our students if everyone else is doing it, they said, ‘Yes.’ But, in fact, they weren’t,” Harkness told KSHB-TV. “It’s that perception I think among teenagers today that fuels the peer pressure – that there’s this idea that ‘Everyone is doing it, so I guess I have to do it myself.’”

Parents are also backing the school’s decision.

“We’ve had lots of conversations – that’s the thing I like most about it – it has opened up conversations around the dinner table with both my boys, and that’s been great for our family,” mother Tammy Privitera told KSHB-TV. …

via High School To Collect Students’ Hair For Mandatory Drug Testing « CBS St. Louis.

Posted in Crime | Leave a Comment »

Fish Caught Near Fukushima Shows 2,500+ Times Legal Radiation Limit

Posted by Anonymous on January 31, 2013

photoThe two-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is rapidly approaching, and the waters around the crippled plant are still highly contaminated with radiation, according to new reports. A fish caught as part of an ongoing Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) seafood monitoring program recently tested at levels of 254,000 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of radioactive cesium, or roughly 2,540 times higher than the maximum legal limit of 100 Bq/kg established by the government for seafood.The contaminated fish, which has been dubbed “Mike the Murasai,” was caught in ocean waters fairly close to the shuttered plant nearly 24 months after the catastrophe, raising fresh concerns about the safety of seafood off the coast of Japan. Though the fish itself did not show visible signs of deformation or other radiation-induced damage, according to reports, the level of radiation detected in its tissue is high enough to suggest that the Fukushima plant is more than likely still releasing extremely high levels of nuclear radiation directly into the ocean. …

Radiation levels actually appear to be increasing around Fukushima

The high levels of radiation detected in Mike the Murasai would not necessarily be as big of a concern if they were less than previously detected levels. But according to reports, the 254,000 Bq/kg of cesium identified is nearly 10 times higher than the amount detected in scorpion fish caught last August, suggesting that radiation pollution is increasing in the area, despite continued reassurances by TEPCO and government officials that the situation is under control.

It was also confirmed back in November by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), an independent oceanographic research institution based in the U.S., that nearly half of all sea creatures living in the waters near the Fukushima plant are still contaminated with levels of radioactive cesium that greatly exceed government safety limits. And as the radioactive particles continue to sink in ocean waters, the problem is only expected to worsen, particularly for bottom-feeding fish.

“We can’t sell any of these fish,” explained Kozo Endo, a local fisherman, about the dire situation. “We can only catch them for radiation sampling. Those that are left over — well, all of us working on the boat take them home to eat.”

Both TEPCO and the Japanese government continue to change their respective stories surrounding the disaster. In the past, the two entities tried to deny that Fukushima was still leaking radiation into the ocean. After this was shown to be false, they then tried to claim that radiation levels were minimal, and that particles were sinking into the ocean floor where they would be unable to cause further damage. Now, the story has changed again, and TEPCO is allegedly taking more drastic measures to contain radioactive fish.

via » Fish Caught Near Fukushima Shows More than 2,500 Times Legal Radiation Limit for Human Consumption Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

Posted in Food, Health, Radiation | Leave a Comment »


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