Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for the ‘Survival’ Category

Japanese government seeks approval to dump Fukushima groundwater into sea

Posted by Anonymous on February 5, 2014

20140205-081416.jpgThe government on Monday sought approval of a nationwide fisheries federation to dump groundwater at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex into the sea on condition that the water’s contamination level is far below the legal limit.

During talks with the head of the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, industry ministry officials explained that they plan to set “strict” operational procedures for the pump system to allay the concerns of fishermen who think the move could deal a blow to their business.

Groundwater will be pumped out before it gets mixed with highly radioactive water accumulating at the basement of reactor buildings, and will be directed to the adjacent Pacific Ocean.


How about no? Dig down to the magma and pump the contaminated water all down there. We’ve killed the ocean enough already. We need it to survive.

Posted in Earth, Health, Radiation, Survival | 1 Comment »

Salty soil can suck water out of atmosphere: Could it happen on Mars? -

Posted by Anonymous on February 2, 2014

A new study, led by an Oregon State University geologist, has found that that the salty soils in the region actually suck moisture out of the atmosphere, raising the possibility that such a process could take place on Mars or on other planets.

The study, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, has been published online this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, and will appear in a forthcoming printed edition.

Joseph Levy, a post-doctoral researcher in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, said it takes a combination of the right kinds of salts and sufficient humidity to make the process work. But those ingredients are present on Mars and, in fact, in many desert areas on Earth, he pointed out.

“The soils in the area have a fair amount of salt from sea spray and from ancient fjords that flooded the region,” said Levy, who earned his doctorate at Brown University. “Salts from snowflakes also settle into the valleys and can form areas of very salty soil. With the right kinds of salts, and enough humidity, those salty soils suck the water right out of the air.

“If you have sodium chloride, or table salt, you may need a day with 75 percent humidity to make it work,” he added. “But if you have calcium chloride, even on a frigid day, you only need a humidity level above 35 percent to trigger the response.”

Once a brine forms by sucking water vapor out of the air, Levy said, the brine will keep collecting water vapor until it equalizes with the atmosphere.

“It’s kind of like a siphon made from salt.”

Levy and his colleagues, from Portland State University and Ohio State University, found that the wet soils created by this phenomenon were 3-5 times more water-rich than surrounding soils — and they were also full of organic matter, including microbes, enhancing the potential for life on Mars. The elevated salt content also depresses the freezing temperature of the groundwater, which continues to draw moisture out of the air when other wet areas in the valleys begin to freeze in the winter.

Though Mars, in general, has lower humidity than most places on Earth, studies have shown that it is sufficient to reach the thresholds that Levy and his colleagues have documented. The salty soils also are present on the Red Planet, which makes the upcoming landing of the Mars Science Laboratory this summer even more tantalizing.

via Salty soil can suck water out of atmosphere: Could it happen on Mars? — ScienceDaily.

This is from February 27, 2012. Calcium chloride is so hygroscopic that it  is a deliquescent salt, meaning that in a humid environment, it removes sufficient water from the air to dissolve itself and form a solution. Other deliquescent salts include calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, zinc chloride, potassium carbonate, potassium phosphate, carnallite, ferric ammonium citrate, potassium hydroxide, and sodium hydroxide.




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Texas Skydiver Falls 3,000ft And Survives

Posted by Anonymous on February 2, 2014

Makenzie Wethington with her fatherMakenzie Wethington after her injuryA 16-year-old girl from Texas has survived a fall of more than 3,000ft in a skydiving accident in Oklahoma.

Makenzie Wethington is in good condition, despite multiple injuries, including to her liver, pelvis lumbar spine in her lower back, shoulder blade and several ribs, trauma surgeon Jeffrey Bender said.

“I don’t know the particulars of the accident, as I wasn’t there. But if she truly fell 3,000 feet, I have no idea how she survived,” the surgeon from Oklahoma said.

Makenzie is expected to leave the intensive care unit soon, he said.

The teenager’s parents had allowed her to take the jump but father Joe has now said the skydiving company should not have allowed it.

The company involved has defended its decision, saying the father went up with his daughter and was the first to jump.

Robert Swainson, instructor and owner of the company involved, said Makenzie’s parachute had opened as it should have done but she began to spiral downward when the chute went up but not out.

He said skydivers were given instruction during a six-to-seven-hour training session on how to deal with such problems.

The instructor also said Makenzie had a radio hookup in her helmet through which someone gave her instructions.

“It was correctable, but corrective action didn’t appear to have been taken,” he said.

Mr Swainson said he did not jump out to help Makenzie because there was no way he could have reached her.

Also, he explained, another jumper had become scared and refused to make the jump so it was protocol for him to remain with the frightened person because instructors do not know what that person will do.

“The most I could have done is screamed,” he said.

Nancy Koreen, director of sport promotion at the US Parachute Association, said its safety requirements allow someone who is 16 to make a dive with parental consent, though some places set the age higher.

via Texas Skydiver Falls 3,000ft And Survives.

Amazing. Makenzie, hang in there. Wishing you as full a recovery as is humanly and medically possible. I hope we can see you up and walking around within a year! Take it slow.

Posted in Survival | 2 Comments »

Severe Drought Has U.S. West Fearing Worst

Posted by Anonymous on February 2, 2014


The punishing drought that has swept California is now threatening the state’s drinking water supply.

With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. State officials said that the number was likely to rise in the months ahead after the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, announced on Friday that it did not have enough water to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that provide water to an additional 25 million people. It is first time the project has turned off its spigot in its 54-year history.

State officials said they were moving to put emergency plans in place. In the worst case, they said drinking water would have to be brought by truck into parched communities and additional wells would have to be drilled to draw on groundwater. The deteriorating situation would likely mean imposing mandatory water conservation measures on homeowners and businesses, who have already been asked to voluntarily reduce their water use by 20 percent.

“Every day this drought goes on we are going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing” said Gov. Jerry Brown, who was governor during the last major drought here, in 1976-77.

“We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years,” said B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.This latest development has underscored the urgency of a drought that has already produced parched fields, starving livestock, and pockets of smog.

Already the drought, technically in its third year, is forcing big shifts in behavior. Farmers in Nevada said they had given up on even planting, while ranchers in Northern California and New Mexico said they were being forced to sell off cattle as fields that should be four feet high with grass are a blanket of brown and stunted stalks.

Fishing and camping in much of California has been outlawed, to protect endangered salmon and guard against fires. Many people said they had already begun to cut back drastically on taking showers, washing their car and watering their lawns.

Rain and snow showers brought relief in parts of the state at the week’s end — people emerging from a movie theater in West Hollywood on Thursday evening broke into applause upon seeing rain splattering on the sidewalk — but they were nowhere near enough to make up for record-long dry stretches, officials said.

“I have experienced a really long career in this area, and my worry meter has never been this high,” said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, a statewide coalition. “We are talking historical drought conditions, no supplies of water in many parts of the state. My industry’s job is to try to make sure that these kind of things never happen. And they are happening.”


Reduce use of washing machines. Take navy showers: Use water only to get wet, then turn the water off for soaping, then only on again briefly to rinse off. Turn automated watering systems off or down. Add a brick to the reservoir tank of your toilet so each flush uses less water. Buy or build a machine to extract water from the air. What else?

To check in the drought, go to


Posted in Earth, Survival | Leave a Comment »

Drinking water from air humidity

Posted by Anonymous on February 1, 2014

090605091856-largeNot a plant to be seen, the desert ground is too dry. But the air contains water, and research scientists have found a way of obtaining drinking water from air humidity. The system is based completely on renewable energy and is therefore autonomous.

Cracks permeate the dried-out desert ground, the landscape bears testimony to the lack of water. But even here, where there are no lakes, rivers or groundwater, considerable quantities of water are stored in the air. In the Negev desert in Israel, for example, annual average relative air humidity is 64 percent – in every cubic meter of air there are 11.5 milliliters of water.

Research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart working in conjunction with their colleagues from the company Logos Innovationen have found a way of converting this air humidity autonomously and decentrally into drinkable water.

“The process we have developed is based exclusively on renewable energy sources such as thermal solar collectors and photovoltaic cells, which makes this method completely energy-autonomous. It will therefore function in regions where there is no electrical infrastructure,” says Siegfried Egner, head of department at the IGB.

The principle of the process is as follows: hygroscopic brine – saline solution which absorbs moisture – runs down a tower-shaped unit and absorbs water from the air. It is then sucked into a tank a few meters off the ground in which a vacuum prevails. Energy from solar collectors heats up the brine, which is diluted by the water it has absorbed.

Because of the vacuum, the boiling point of the liquid is lower than it would be under normal atmospheric pressure. This effect is known from the mountains: as the atmospheric pressure there is lower than in the valley, water boils at temperatures distinctly below 100 degrees Celsius. The evaporated, non-saline water is condensed and runs down through a completely filled tube in a controlled manner. The gravity of this water column continuously produces the vacuum and so a vacuum pump is not needed.

The reconcentrated brine runs down the tower surface again to absorb moisture from the air.

“The concept is suitable for various sizes of installation. Single-person units and plants supplying water to entire hotels are conceivable,” says Egner. Prototypes have been built for both system components – air moisture absorption and vacuum evaporation – and the research scientists have already tested their interplay on a laboratory scale. In a further step the researchers intend to develop a demonstration facility. …


If we are going to extract water from the air, we need to do it sustainably and this seems like one of the best ways. Here’s another:

Airdrop is a low-cost, self-powered solution to growing crops in arid regions.

Inspired by Australia’s worst drought in a century, Mr Linacre – a former student at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne – turned to nature to find ways of capturing moisture from air.

He studied the Namib beetle, an ingenious species that lives in one of the driest places on earth.

With half an inch of rain per year, the beetle can only survive by consuming the dew it collects on the hydrophilic skin of its back in the early mornings.

Airdrop uses the same concept, working on the principle that even the driest air contains water molecules that can be extracted by lowering the air’s temperature to the point of condensation.

It pumps air through a network of underground pipes, to cool it to the point at which the water condenses, delivering water directly to the roots of plants.

James Dyson said: ‘Biomimicry is a powerful weapon in an engineer’s armoury. Airdrop shows how simple, natural principles like the condensation of water, can be applied to good effect through skilled design and robust engineering.



Cool. I wonder if I could combine the two ideas. I like the AirDrop device because it is small. That little bulb is an air turbine powered by a solar panel on top. Air enters the underground housing where water condenses out on copper wool-filled copper tubing. Where can I buy one?

Posted in Survival, Technology | 2 Comments »

Bill Gates predicts an end to poverty in 20 years

Posted by Anonymous on January 22, 2014

[Billionaire Bill Gates] writes: ‘I am optimistic enough about this that I am willing to make a prediction.

‘By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. (I mean by our current definition of poor.)

‘Almost all countries will be what we now call lower-middle income or richer.’

Gates said around 70 per cent of countries will have a higher per-person income by 2035 than China does now. Nine out of ten countries will be above today’s average income levels in India in two decades time, the tech mogul also claims. …

Despite his optimistic take on the world, Gates admits that inequality will exist in every region. However he admits that some countries will be held back by war and politics, citing North Korea as an example. Geography will also hinder certain nations like the landlocked states of central Africa.

Today, China’s income per person has increase by eightfold and India’s has quadrupled; Brazil’s has gone up five times and Botswana has seen an incredible 30-fold increase in earnings.

The Gates report points out that although the percentage of very poor people has dropped by more than half since 1990, there is still one billion people existing in extreme poverty.

With a lot of work still to do, Gates nevertheless says that there are improvements for people across the world which are undeniable.

He writes: ‘There is a class of nations in the middle that barely existed 50 years ago, and it includes more than half of the world’s population.’

The foundation is committed to improving the lives of people in Third World countries. Bill Gates has donated $28 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which funds projects across the world in agriculture, education and health.

For example, across Africa, the Gates’ foundation provides vaccine delivery and treatments for HIV, malaria and polio along with family planning and agricultural development.

According to a report by Oxfam this week, Gates and the other 84 richest people in the world now have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest put together.


Cool. Go Bill, go. Just handing over wealth is not the answer, you have to build infrastructure, teach new ways, and then we can sell computers to a billion more people. … But first, people need food, water, shelter, jobs… And what about ending war while we are at it?

Posted in Food, Survival | Leave a Comment »

New calculations: Entire Universe could collapse quickly at any time

Posted by Anonymous on December 18, 2013

All things being equal, the universe is set to continually expand, eventually ripping itself to shreds in about 22 billion years. But Danish scientists say an expanding bubble of existential doom could crush the Universe into a tiny ball. And crazily, the odds of this collapse is higher than previously thought.

This theory isn’t actually new. But the scientists who conducted the new study say previous calculations were incomplete. Their new, more precise calculations, now show that (1) the universe will probably collapse, and (2) a collapse is even more likely than the old calculations predicted.

To reach this conclusion, researchers from the University of Southern Denmark analyzed three equations that drive the theory, including beta functions (which are used to determine such things as the strength of interactions between light particles and electrons, or Higgs bosons and quarks). But instead of working with one equation at at time, they applied these equations together, revealing a higher probability of a collapse.

This particularly collapse theory — which predicts a cataclysmic disruption to standard model vacuum stability — is distinct from the old Big Crunch theory. It suggests that there will eventually be a radical shift in the forces of the universe such that every single particle within it will become extremely heavy. Yes — everything. The particles in the Sun, in your body, and in your smartphone. And we’re not just talking a little bit heavier; models predict a weight increase on the order of millions of billions times heavier than they are now.

To say that this would have disastrous consequences would be a gross understatement. Owing to tremendous gravitational forces, everything within the Universe would be squeezed into a tiny, hot, and heavy ball. For all practical purposes, it would be the end of the Universe.

This phase transition could happen if a bubble is created where the Higgs-field associated with the Higgs-particle reaches a different value than the rest of the universe.

Should the new value create lower energy, and if the bubble is large enough, it will expand outwards in all directions at the speed of light. Everything caught inside this bubble will experience dramatic weight gain and collect into supermassive centers. In turn, these centers will attract each other, and on and on until we get our tiny, hot, and heavy ball of utter uselessness.

And here’s what’s even more crazy: This could be happening as we speak.

“The phase transition will start somewhere in the universe and spread from there,” says Jens Frederik Colding Krog, PhD student at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics Phenomenology (CP3) and co-author of an article on the subject that appears in the Journal of High Energy Physics. “Maybe the collapse has already started somewhere in

the universe and right now it is eating its way into the rest of the universe. Maybe a collapse is starting right now, right here. Or maybe it will start far away from here in a billion years. We do not know.” The comments were made in a recent statement.

Krog says that the whole thing could be canceled if there are other elementary particles out there that we don’t know about. …

via New calculations suggest the Universe could collapse at any time.

Perhaps aliens aren’t visiting us because they have bigger things to do. We can only hope that there are some Type III civilizations working on this because we can barely get off our own planet. We couldn’t even defend our world from a killer asteroid.

Posted in Space, Survival | Leave a Comment »

Surprising diversity in aging revealed in nature

Posted by Anonymous on December 9, 2013

For several species mortality increases with age — as expected by evolutionary scientists. This pattern is seen in most mammal species including humans and killer whales, but also in invertebrates like water fleas. However, other species experience a decrease in mortality as they age, and in some cases mortality drops all the way up to death. This applies to species like the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) which experiences the highest mortality early on in life and a steadily declining mortality as it ages. Many plant species, e.g. the white mangrove tree (Avicennia marina) follow the same pattern.

Amazingly, there are also species that have constant mortality and remain unaffected by the aging process. This is most striking in the freshwater polyp Hydra magnipapillata which has constant low mortality. In fact, in lab conditions, it has such a low risk of dying at any time in its life that it is effectively immortal.

\”Extrapolation from laboratory data show that even after 1400 years five per cent of a hydra population kept in these conditions would still be alive,\” says Owen Jones.

Several animal and plant species show remarkably little change in mortality throughout their life course. For example, these include rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum), great tit (Parus major), hermit crab (Pagurus longicarpus), common lizard (Lacerta vivapara), collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis), viburnum plants (Viburnum furcatum ), oarweed (Laminaria digitata), red abalone (Haliotis rufescens), the plant armed saltbush (Atriplex acanthocarpa), red-legged frog (Rana aurora) and the coral red gorgonian (Paramuricea clavata).

When you look at the fertility patterns of the 46 surveyed species, there is also a great diversity and some large departures from the common beliefs about aging. Human fertility is characterized by being concentrated in a relatively short period of life, and by the fact that humans live for a rather long time both before and after the fertile period.

A similar pattern of a concentrated fertile period is also seen in other mammals like killer whales, chimpanzees, and chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), and also in birds like sparrow hawks (Accipiter nisus).

However, there are also species that become more and more fertile with age, and this pattern is especially common in plants such as the agave (Agave marmorata) and the rare mountain plants hypericum (Hypericum cumulicola) and borderea (Borderea pyrenaica).

On the contrary fertility occurs very early in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Actually this species starts its life with being fertile, then it quite quickly and quite suddenly loses the ability to produce offspring.

To sum up there is no strong correlation between the patterns of aging and the typical life spans of the species. Species can have increasing mortality and still live a long time, or have declining mortality and still live a short time.

“It makes no sense to consider aging to be based on how old a species can become. Instead, it is more interesting to define aging as being based on the shape of mortality trajectories: whether rates increase, decrease or remain constant with age,” says Owen Jones.

via Surprising diversity in aging revealed in nature | e! Science News.

If scientists are correct, jellyfish may hold the key to immortality.

That’s the premise of a New York Times Magazine article that examines a species of jellyfish (appropriately) nicknamed the “immortal jellyfish.”

Known officially as Turritopsis nutricula (and sometimes as Turritopsis dohrnii), the minute creature has the ability to transform its cells back into a youthful state. As National Geographic puts it, the jellyfish transforms “into a blob-like cyst” that grows into a polyp colony — the first stage of life.

From there, the jellyfish continues a conventional lifecycle, maturing and mating. Instead of dying, however, the immortal jelly reverts, time and again, back into the polyp colony. That ability “allows the jellyfish to bypass death, rendering [it] biologically immortal,” notes Hongbao Ma, a researcher at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

According to a study published in “Nature and Science,”the jellyfish accomplishes this unique feat via “transdifferentiation.” Essentially, the creature absorbs its cells, then transforms them into cells of any other type.

With life skills this advanced, it’s no surprise the jellyfish has populated the globe in what’s been termed “a worldwide silent invasion,” the Telegraph notes. ..

via http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/29/immortal-jellyfish-lives-forever-reverts-stage-life_n_2207583.html

Posted in Biology, Survival | Leave a Comment »

Vast Freshwater Reserves Discovered Under Ocean Floor

Posted by Anonymous on December 9, 2013

Massive reserves of “freshwater” are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world, including off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.This is the conclusion of a new study by a team of Australian scientists that appears in this week’s issue of the journal, Nature.Based on an analysis of seafloor water studies conducted for oil and gas exploration purposes, the study showed that an estimated that 500,000 cubic kilometers of low-salinity water is trapped in aquifers under the ocean floor.“The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century since 1900,” said Vincent Post, a groundwater hydro geologist from Flinders University in Adelaide and the new study’s lead author.This new freshwater resource could give regions suffering with limited access to freshwater more options for combating the impact of droughts and alleviating the impact of water scarcity on future generations.By 2030, nearly 50% of the planet’s population will exist under

conditions of high water stress, according to the United Nations.The new study undercuts the conventional wisdom on undersea freshwater reserves, which until now were considered to be rare.“By combining all this information we’ve demonstrated that the freshwater below the seafloor is a common finding, and not some anomaly that only occurs under very special circumstances,” said Post.

via Vast Freshwater Reserves Discovered Under Ocean Floor, Scientists Say – Forbes.

“The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century since 1900,” Post said in a statement. “Knowing about these reserves is great news because this volume of water could sustain some regions for decades.”

While he said that groundwater scientists were aware that there was freshwater located beneath the ocean seafloor, they believed that it only happened in a handful of places and only under special conditions. However, their new research has revealed that these types of aquifers “are actually quite a common phenomenon.”

According to Forbes contributor William Pentland, the United Nations warns that nearly half of the global population will live under

conditions of high water stress by the year 2030. Post’s team’s findings could help delay that looming water crisis, while also providing potential relief for drought-stricken regions.

The discovery was the result of a review of seafloor water studies conducted for scientific or petroleum exploration purposes, Post told AFP. The newly-discovered freshwater deposits were reportedly formed over hundreds of thousands of years, during a time where lower sea levels meant that the regions that are now under the ocean had been exposed to precipitation. That rain would have been absorbed into the underlying water table.

“Freshwater under the seabed is much less salty than seawater,” he said. “This means it can be converted to drinking water with less energy than seawater desalination, and it would also leave us with a lot less hyper-saline water.”

“Freshwater on our planet is increasingly under stress and strain so the discovery of significant new stores off the coast is very exciting. It means that more options can be considered to help reduce the impact of droughts and continental water shortages,” Post continued, adding that it was now important to care for the seabed. “For example, where low-salinity groundwater below the sea is likely to exist, we should take care to not contaminate it.” …

via http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113022834/freshwater-reserves-found-under-ocean-floor-120913/

Is fresh water still the new oil?

Posted in Earth, Survival | Leave a Comment »

Scientists isolate new human pluripotent stem cells

Posted by Anonymous on October 31, 2013

One of the obstacles to employing human embryonic stem cells for medical use lies in their very promise: They are born to rapidly differentiate into other cell types. Until now, scientists have not been able to efficiently keep embryonic stem cells in their pristine stem state. The alternative that has been proposed to embryonic stem cells – reprogrammed adult cells called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) – have similar limitations. Though these can differentiate into many different cell types, they retain signs of “priming,” – commitment to specific cell lineages.

A team at the Weizmann Institute of Science has now taken a large step toward removing that obstacle: They have created iPS cells that are completely “reset” to the earliest possible state and maintained them in that state. Among other things, this research may, in the future, pave the way toward the ability to grow transplant organs to order.

Since they were first created in 2006, iPS cells have been touted as an ethical and practical substitute for embryonicstem cells. They are made by inserting four genes into the genomes of suchadult cells as skin cells. This turns back the developmental clock almost all the way – but not completely – to an embryonic-stem-cell-like state. Dr. Jacob Hanna of the Institute’s Molecular Genetics Department and his team, including research students Ohad Gafni and Leehee Weinberger and researchers in the Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine, realized that inserting genes to reset the stem cells was not enough. One also has to put the cells’ drive to differentiate on hold.


Posted in Biology, Survival, Technology | Leave a Comment »


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