Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for January 25th, 2011

Worker accidentally bulldozed homes while tenants slept

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

A confused construction worker accidentally bulldozed a couple’s home while the owners were inside, asleep.

Bozena and Rudolf Hison were woken up on Saturday morning by the heavy noises of walls being demolished.

“At first we thought it was an earthquake. The worker who was manning the bulldozer almost killed us. I could not run outside through the door, so my neighbour had to pull me out,” said the 58-year-old Bozena who suffered injuries in the accident.

“It was an enormous shock.”

The worker – who arrived at the site at 5:30 in the morning – allegedly misunderstood exactly what he was supposed to demolish on that day, and destroyed four houses instead of the designated support wall.

“That man is insane! My husband was warning him. He was yelling at him to stop, that there are people in the house, but the man just shrugged his shoulders and continued to demolish. No one can tell us this was a mistake,” says Olga Zupan, another owner whose home was damaged.

Marko Banovic, the director of the company Boston Global Properties responsible for the accident apologized to the owners.

“This is a great shame. We are very sorry. But I intend to compensate the people for the damage,” he assured.

Some media claim that the destruction was not an accident as the supporting wall between the houses in question never existed. …

via Worker accidentally bulldozed homes while tenants slept – General News – Croatian Times Online News – English Newspaper.

See, this is why I never sleep with earplugs.

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Chopin’s hallucinations caused by epilepsy: scientists

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

In the great Polish composer, Frederic Chopin, towering genius combined with a wasted frame and a pallid face behind which lurked melancholy, a brooding over death, a disconnection from ordinary life and sometimes horrifying hallucinations.

A force that created this image was the French novelist George Sand, who described lyrically how her lover, cursed by prodigy and doomed by frailty to an early grave, would be shaken by ghostly visions.

“The phantoms called him, clasped him, and instead of seeing his father and his friend smile at him in the ray of faith, he repelled their fleshless faces from his own and struggled under the grasp of their icy hands,” wrote Sand.

But a study by a pair of Spanish neurologists tarnishes this compelling gothic tableau.

Chopin’s alienation and hallucinations probably had more to do with a medical condition than the burden of the Romantic artist, it suggests.

… one big suspect: epilepsy of the temporal lobes, whose seizures can unleash brief, stereotyped visions of the kind experienced by Chopin and a condition called “jamais vu,” or a dream-like disconnection from one’s surroundings. …

via Chopin’s hallucinations caused by epilepsy: scientists – Yahoo! News.

Posted in Health, History, Music | Leave a Comment »

Crop Circles Found in Indonesia Rice Field

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

People watch the 70-meter-wide (70-yard-wide) crop circle that appeared over the weekend in a rice field in Sleman, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. Thousands of curious onlookers are flocking to central Indonesia to look at the facture which looks like an intricately designed flower following rumors it was formed by a UFO.Indonesian rice farmers in Slemen, Yogyakarta, got quite a surprise Sunday morning when they discovered that overnight a large crop circle had mysteriously formed in one of their fields.

The circle, which also includes internal geometric patterns of a triangle and smaller circles, has an overall diameter of nearly 90 feet, according to The Jakarta Post.

One resident, Cahyo Utomo, speculated that the odd piece of rice field artwork wasn’t man-made. “The circles were there since yesterday morning. I think they were left by an alien spaceship,” he said.”It is impossible that this was made by the wind or any animal,” he added.

Whether crafted by humans or aliens, thousands of crop circles have been reported all over the world for many decades, but with a higher number recorded in England. And they’re not always circular, with some of the more intricate and complex ones looking like strange animals or even scientific symbols or DNA sequences.

The patterns are generally created by something that flattens various crops, like rice, wheat and rye, and they’re usually discovered by farmers in the early morning where they didn’t exist the night before.

via Crop Circles Found in Indonesia Rice Field.

Posted in Earth, Strange | Leave a Comment »

Laser pointings soar; O’Hare, LAX top list

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

More than 100 incidents occurred at Los Angeles International Airport last year in which the safety of planes was put at risk by people pointing at them with lasers, and nearly as many incidents at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, federal officials said Wednesday.

Overall, the number of incidents nationally in which people pointed lasers at planes and helicopters nearly doubled last year, from 1,527 incidents in 2009 to 2,836 incidents in 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Many of the incidents involve airliners that were in the midst of takeoffs or landings, critical phases of flight when pilots need to be at their most alert. Pointing lasers at cockpits can temporarily blind pilots or even permanently damage their eyesight. In some instances, pilots have had to relinquish control of their aircraft to another pilot.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the laser incidents “an unacceptable risk to passenger safety.”

FAA began keeping track of the incidents about five years ago, as Internet sales of new, more powerful handheld lasers began to increase. There were about 300 incidents reported in 2005.

The lasers are many times more powerful than the laser pointers typically used by lecturers. Stargazers use them at night to point to celestial objects. The introduction of green lasers, which are more powerful and more easily seen than red lasers, has also fueled sales.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt urged pilots to immediately report laser incidents to air traffic controllers, who can then report the incidents to police. It’s a violation of federal law to shine a laser at an aircraft. Some cities and states also have laws making it illegal to shine lasers at aircraft.

In 2009, an Orange, Calif., man was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for aiming a laser at two Boeing jets as the passenger planes were about to land at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif. A Parsippany, N.J., man received two years’ probation in 2006 after admitting to shining a laser at a plane approaching Teterboro Airport that temporarily blinded the two pilots. …

via Laser pointings soar; O’Hare, LAX top list – Chicago Breaking News.

Posted in Crime, Strange, Technology, Travel | Leave a Comment »

Couple defies huge odds after all their children born at 7:43

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

Gaby Leslie – A couple are celebrating after their third child was born at 7:43 – exactly the same time as their two older children were born, several years apart.

According to hospital records, all three siblings from Salford, Greater Manchester, were coincidentally born at 7:43 – beating odds of 300 million to one.

The rare occurrence comes after parents Matt Rigby and partner Lowry Dairsley celebrated the arrival of Harrison at 7:43am on 20 January.

Harrison’s older sisters Ella and Evie were born at 7:43am in October 2005 and 7:43pm on Boxing Day 2007.

Lowry, 26, told The Sun newspaper last night: “When we found I was pregnant with Harrison we joked that it would be incredible if the same happened. When I went into hospital at 5pm on Wednesday we forgot about it and concentrated on the labour.”

“At 6.30am I felt the urge to push and when we next looked at the clock it was 7.41am.I was asked to wait for the next contraction by the midwife before she delivered him two minutes later. The doctors and midwives were speechless.”

Stunned father, Matt, 31, has a tattoo with the numbers 7 4 3 on his arm and added: “I looked up at the clock and it was 7.43. We couldn’t believe the coincidence.”

via Couple defies huge odds after all their children born at 7.43 – Yahoo! News UK.

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Iran’s endangered cheetahs are a unique subspecies

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

An Iranian cheetah (c) Arash Ghoddousi / IRIran DOE / CACPIran’s critically endangered cheetahs are the last remaining survivors of a unique, ancient Asian subspecies, genetics experts reveal.New analysis confirms Iran’s cheetahs belong to the subspecies Acinonyx jubatus venaticus.DNA comparisons show that these Asiatic cheetahs split from other cheetahs, which live in Africa, 30,000 years ago.Researchers suggest that Iran’s cheetahs must be conserved to protect the future of all cheetahs.

Cheetahs formerly existed in 44 countries in Africa but are now only found in 29.

Historically, they were also recorded across southwest and central Asia but can now only be found in Iran.

Scientists have previously said that cheetahs have low genetic variability, theorising that a “population crash” approximately 10,000 years ago led to inbreeding in the species.

Despite this, five ‘different’ subspecies are currently described according to where they live. …

via BBC – Earth News – Iran’s endangered cheetahs are a unique subspecies.

Posted in Biology | Leave a Comment »

A Private Space Shuttle Replacement

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

Once the space-shuttle program ends this year, the only way to get people into orbit and to the International Space Station will be to buy seats on Russia’s three-person Soyuz capsules. So NASA, through its Commercial Crew Development program, has given $50 million in grants to companies developing new spacecraft capable of carrying people and supplies into orbit and to the space station.

The recipient of the biggest chunk of this money was the Sierra Nevada Corporation, which received $20 million to develop the Dream Chaser. This spacecraft, the size of a business jet, will take cargo and up to eight people into low Earth orbit, where the space station is located, and then return and land on commercial airport runways.

The company reached all its development milestones for the Dream Chaser last year and is now finishing a battery of tests on the craft’s carbon-composite frame. The shell of the spacecraft must be able to endure heavy loads and intense vibrations. So the Dream Chaser frame has been mounted on an earthquake simulator in a lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder. So far, the design has performed as expected, says Mark Sirangelo, head of Sierra Nevada’s Space Systems division.

via A Private Space Shuttle Replacement – Technology Review.

Posted in Space, Technology, Travel | Leave a Comment »

Mars Crew on 500 day simulation trip

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

blog post photo

The Mars-500 crew and its make-believe spaceship — a set of three culvert-like steel cylinders housed in Russia’s Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) – is due to enter orbit around the Red Planet on Feb. 1. After the crew carefully simulates the activation of their mock lander, two of the volunteers – Alexander Smoleevsky and Diego Urbina — will go inside and explore a simulated Martian surface that already has been used to test a small rover mockup.

The 500-day test is designed to gauge how a crew would handle the isolation and cramped quarters on a comparable mission to Mars. Researchers at IBMP have run other tests of this nature, going back to Soviet days, but Mars-500 is the most elaborate yet.

Unlike the Spartan early simulations, IBMP designers have taken pains to make the interior as comfortable as possible, starting with wood paneling in place of bare steel, and private rooms.

The IBMP/Mars-500 website includes a detailed virtual tour of the facility, which is accessible here.

If all goes as planned, and none of the volunteers exercises his right to leave whenever he likes, the six Mars-500 crewmen will “return to Earth” in November.

via Isolation Chamber.

Posted in Earth, Space, Travel | Leave a Comment »

Toxic Ash Clouds Might Be Culprit in Biggest Mass Extinction

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

Tiny particles embedded in ancient Canadian rocks have provided new clues about what might have triggered Earth’s deadliest mass extinction. The ultimate cause, researchers say, might be globe-smothering clouds of toxic ash similar to that spewed by modern-day coal-fired power plants.

The die-off, which occurred worldwide about 250 million years ago at the end of the Permian period, was even more extensive than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. More than 90% of marine species went extinct, and land-based ecosystems suffered almost as much. Scientists have long debated the reasons. Favorite hypotheses include an asteroid impact, massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia, and toxic oceans. Geochemist Stephen Grasby of the Geological Survey of Canada in Calgary and colleagues report online today in Nature Geoscience a new twist on the volcano notion.

Rocks that now make up the northernmost islands of the Canadian Arctic formed millions of years ago as seafloor sediments off the northwestern coast of a supercontinent called Pangaea. When Grasby and his team analyzed rocks from just before the Permian mass extinction, they noticed unusual microscopic particles. Besides the usual miniscule clumps of organic matter, they also found tiny bubble-filled particles called cenospheres. These frothy little blobs form only when molten coal spews into the atmosphere, the researchers say. Today, the fly ash produced by coal-fired power plants brims with cenospheres, but they are largely trapped by pollution-control equipment before they escape the smokestack. Millions of years ago, they must have been created when massive amounts of molten rock—more than 1 trillion metric tons—erupted through overlying coal deposits in Siberia to form lava deposits known as the Siberian Traps.

Because the late Permian cenospheres are approximately the same size and likely about the same weight as the smallest particles of volcanic ash, they could have easily risen to an altitude of about 20 kilometers in the atmosphere and then been swept around the world by jet stream winds. And like coal ash produced today, the particles would have been loaded with toxic metals such as chromium and arsenic. When the ancient cenospheres eventually dropped into the seas, they would have converted surface waters into a toxic soup, the researchers speculate. Then, they say, after most life died, decomposition would have robbed the water of its dissolved oxygen, smothering many of the survivors. …

via Toxic Ash Clouds Might Be Culprit in Biggest Mass Extinction – ScienceNOW.

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

Ancient Transylvanians Rich in Gold, Treasure Shows

Posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2011

An ancient gold Dacian bracelet.Ancient Transylvanians likely controlled untold riches in gold, suggests a new study of a cache of priceless, snake-shaped bracelets.

Showing “no economy of gold at all,” craftsmen shaped each spiral cuff from an entire ingot, study author Bogdan Constantinescu said.

Most of the 2,000-year-old accessories tip the scales at about 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) each, more than some laptops—a heft that materials scientist Paul Craddock found “surprising.”

“Yes,” Craddock concluded, “they did have a lot of gold.”

“They” are the Dacian people, mysterious contemporaries of the ancient Romans. Ruling Transylvania centuries before Bram Stoker dreamed up Dracula, the Dacians left behind no writings but, the bracelets suggest, were apparently flush with treasure—as historians have long suspected, given the mineral wealth of the region’s mountains and rivers.

Looters unearthed some two dozen of the bracelets—12 have now been recovered by authorities—about ten years ago at the Sarmizegetusa Regia archaeological site in Romania‘s Transylvania region (pictures).

Perhaps hoping to avoid stiff penalties for archaeological plunder, the men claimed that a now dead comrade had made the bracelets out of melted-down ancient Greek coins—leading many experts to doubt the cuffs’ authenticity.

The new study, though, points out that Greek coins are made of purer gold than the Sarmizegetusa (SAHR-mee-sheh-jeh-TOO-sha) hoard.  …

Furthermore, the bracelets were found to be at least 2,000 years old.

Among the evidence of their age are dark blotches indicative of many years underground, researchers say. Also, the bracelets were found with coins produced between roughly 100 B.C. and 70 B.C., which suggests the cuffs were buried—if not necessarily created—during that time frame. …

via Ancient Transylvanians Rich in Gold, Treasure Shows.

Posted in Archaeology | Leave a Comment »


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