Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for May 24th, 2011

Weather satellites capture shots of volcanic plume blasting through clouds

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

Just in case you forgot that the Earth is one of the most geologically active worlds in the solar system*, the Icelandic volcano Grimsvötn has sent a very loud reminder: after seven years of relative inactivity, the volcano woke up on Saturday, rocketing a plume 11 kilometers (7 miles) into the air. The ash column blasted through the cloud layer, and was seen by weather satellites in space! Check out this amazing animation:

via Weather satellites capture shots of volcanic plume blasting through clouds | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine.

Posted in Earth | Leave a Comment »

Brazilian Thief Steals Woman’s ‘Virgin’ Hair

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

Brazil Bus StopBrazilian police say a thief cut off and stole a woman’s long hair while she waited at a bus stop.

Police say the hair was virgin, meaning it had not been chemically treated, and will probably be sold for the production of wigs.

Inspector Jose Carlos Bezerra da Silva said Friday to Globo TV’s G1 website that the woman was waiting for a bus in the central city of Goiania when the man used a knife-like weapon to cut the hair, which reached past her waist. She said she thought the man was going to steal her purse so she turned her back to him.

Silva said he’d never seen a theft like it in 20 years.

He said the 24-year-old woman reported the case to police because she is evangelical and had to explain to her pastor why her hair wasn’t long anymore.

via Brazilian Thief Steals Woman’s ‘Virgin’ Hair in Goiania.

Posted in Crime, Strange | Leave a Comment »

VietNam: Mystery beast causing panic

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

According to Cao Tan Son, police chief of the Binh Dong Commune, these mysterious incidents have been occurring since May 7 at the foot of Dinh Mountain in Son Tra Commune.

However, no one has seen the strange creature that could have caused such large footprints measuring almost 12-15cm. Over 20 dogs have also been killed in the area and now around 280 households of the commune are living in panic.

Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, a 70-year-old woman was the first to find her dead pet dog on the night of May 7. She said that her dog was found without its head and some body organs.

On the same night, four dogs were also found dead in the same manner, approximately 15-20 kilograms from Ngoc’s neighborhood.

Many households living near the Dinh Mountain said they had heard very loud roaring sounds.

In related news, in the border districts of Si Ma Cai and Muong Khuong in the northwestern province of Lao Cai, people have repeatedly seen strange species of dog like animals.

The strange creatures have bitten about 15 people in Ban Me, Thao Chu Phin, Quang Than San and Si Ma Cai communes in the two districts.

According to local residents, the strange doglike creatures have slender, long bodies, slanting red eyes and their fur coat is marked with white spots, black and white spots or yellow stripes.

They are seen wandering in the villages trying to prey on housedogs or attacking other domestic bred animals like chickens, pigs, goats and horses. They attack any person who tries to drive them away. …

via VietNamNet – Mystery beast causing panic in Quang Ngai province | Mystery beast causing panic in Quang Ngai province.

Posted in Cryptozoology | 1 Comment »

Inca success in Peruvian Andes ‘thanks to llama dung’

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

A man dressed in a typical Inca attire participates in a practice session atop of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu on 19 April, 2011One of the world’s greatest ancient civilisations may have been built on llama droppings, a new study has found.

Machu Picchu, the famous Inca city set in the Peruvian Andes, celebrates the centenary of its “‘discovery” by the outside world this July.

Dignitaries will descend on site for a glitzy event in July marking 100 years since US explorer Hiram Bingham came upon the site, but the origins of Machu Picchu were far less glamorous.

According to a study published in archaeological review Antiquity, llama droppings provided the basis for the growth of Inca society.

It was the switch from hunter-gathering to agriculture 2,700 years ago that first led the Incas to settle and flourish in the Cuzco area where Machu Picchu sits, according to the study’s author Alex Chepstow-Lusty.

Mr Chepstow-Lusty, of the French Institute of Andean Studies in Lima, said the development of agriculture and the growing of maize crops is key to the growth of societies.

“Cereals make civilisations,” he said.

Mr Chepstow-Lusty has spent years analysing organic deposits in the mud of a small lake, “more of a pond really,” called Marcaccocha on the road between the lower-lying jungle and Machu Picchu.

His team found a correlation between the first appearance of maize pollen around 700BC – which showed for the first time that the cereal could be grown at high altitudes – and a spike in the number of mites who feed on animal excrement.

They concluded that the widespread shift to agriculture was only possible with an extra ingredient: organic fertilisers on a vast scale.

In other words, lots of llama droppings. …

via BBC News – Inca success in Peruvian Andes ‘thanks to llama dung’.

Posted in Archaeology | Leave a Comment »

Scientists find odd twist in slow ‘earthquakes’: Tremor running backwards

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

Earthquake scientists trying to unravel the mysteries of an unfelt, weeks-long seismic phenomenon called episodic tremor and slip have discovered a strange twist. The tremor can suddenly reverse direction and travel back through areas of the fault that it had ruptured in preceding days, and do so 20 to 40 times faster than the original fault rupture.

“Regular tremor and slip goes through an area fairly slowly, breaking it. Then once it’s broken and weakened an area of the fault, it can propagate back across that area much faster,” said Heidi Houston, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences and lead author of a paper documenting the findings, published in Nature Geoscience.

Episodic tremor and slip, also referred to as slow slip, was documented in the Pacific Northwest a decade ago and individual events have been observed in Washington and British Columbia on a regular basis, every 12 to 15 months on average. …

via Scientists find odd twist in slow ‘earthquakes’: Tremor running backwards.

Posted in Earth | Leave a Comment »

Teaching algae to make fuel

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

Many kinds of algae and cyanobacteria, common water-dwelling microorganisms, are capable of using energy from sunlight to split water molecules and release hydrogen, which holds promise as a clean and carbon-free fuel for the future. One reason this approach hasn’t yet been harnessed for fuel production is that under ordinary circumstances, hydrogen production takes a back seat to the production of compounds that the organisms use to support their own growth.

But Shuguang Zhang, associate director of MIT’s Center for Biomedical Engineering, and postdocs Iftach Yacoby and Sergii Pochekailov, together with colleagues at Tel Aviv University in Israel and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, have found a way to use bioengineered proteins to flip this preference, allowing more hydrogen to be produced.

“The algae are really not interested in producing hydrogen, they want to produce sugar,” Yacoby says — the sugar is what they need for their own survival, and the hydrogen is just a byproduct. But a multitasking enzyme, introduced into the liquid where the algae are at work, both suppresses the sugar production and redirects the organisms’ energies into hydrogen production. The work is described in a paper being published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and was supported in part by a European Molecular Biology Organization postdoctoral fellowship, the Yang Trust Fund and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Adding the bioengineered enzyme increases the rate of algal hydrogen production by about 400 percent, Yacoby says. The sugar production is suppressed but not eliminated, he explains, because “if it went to zero, it would kill the organism.”

The research demonstrates for the first time how the two processes carried out by algae compete with each other; it also shows how that competition could be modified to favor hydrogen production in a laboratory environment. Zhang and Yacoby plan to continue developing the system to increase its efficiency of hydrogen production.

“It’s one step closer to an industrial process,” Zhang says. …

via Teaching algae to make fuel.

Posted in Alt Energy, Biology | Leave a Comment »

Studies show no meaningful difference between high fructose corn syrup and sucrose

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

The Corn Refiners Association would like you to know that…

David Knowles – A comprehensive review of research focusing on the debate between High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and other sweeteners presented today finds there is no evidence of any significant variation in the way the human body metabolizes HFCS as opposed to standard table sugar, or any difference in impact on risk factors for chronic disease.

James M. Rippe, MD, founder and director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Central Florida, presented a summary of recent research entitled — “High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sucrose and Fructose: What Do We Really Know?” – at the American Society of Hypertension (ASH) Annual Meeting in New York City. Dr. Rippe was invited to present his findings on a panel focusing on nutrition and cardiovascular prevention, an issue that ASH recognizes as important on the subject of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Based on Dr. Rippe’s review of a series of randomized, prospective studies, there is no evidence of adverse impacts from consumption of normal levels of either sucrose or HFCS on weight, ability to lose weight, or increased risk factors for chronic disease, nor were other differences found between the two sugars. Furthermore, a review of current research in this area shows that an individual is no more likely to experience obesity or chronic diseases by consuming HFCS as opposed to other sweeteners such as table sugar. …

via Studies show no meaningful difference between high fructose corn syrup and sucrose.

Posted in Food, Health | 5 Comments »

PBDEs can cause developmental malformations, changes in behavior and death

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

A new study by Baylor University environmental health researchers found that zebra fish exposed to several different technical mixtures of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) – a common fire retardant – during early development can cause developmental malformations, changes in behavior and death.

The study will appear in the June issue of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and is the first to test multiple PBDE mixtures for changes in behavior, physical malformations and mortality on zebra fish.

PBDEs are found in many common household products from blankets to couches to food wrappers. Lab tests have shown that PBDEs have been found in human breast milk and cord blood. Previous studies have showed children with high levels of PBDEs in their umbilical cord at birth scored lower on tests between one and six years of age. In 2006, the state of California started prohibiting the use of PBDEs.

The family of PBDEs consists of more than 200 possible substances, which are called congeners. Congeners are considered low if they average between 1 to 5 bromine atoms per molecule.

The Baylor researchers tested six PBDE congeners for developmental effects on embryonic zebra fish. Changes in behavior, physical malformations and mortality were recorded daily for seven days.

The results showed:

• Lower brominated congeners were more toxic than higher brominated congeners.

• Embryos were most sensitive to two particular types of PBDE exposures, the two lowest brominated congeners of the six tested. Both induced a curved body axis and eventually death.

• In all, four of the six congeners tested caused developmental malformations, such as a curved body axis and pulmonary edema. Five of the six caused alterations in behaviors, such as decreased swimming rates and increased spontaneous movement in the embryo.

“While most PBDEs have either been banned or phased out throughout the world, it may be more beneficial to identify congeners of concern rather than replacing these compounds with chemicals of unknown biological interactions,” said Dr. Erica Bruce, assistant professor of environmental science at Baylor who is an expert in environmental chemicals and their effects on public health. “Alterations in early behavior may potentially be due to disruption of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones play a vital role in the development of the cholinergic system and this study gives insight into biological interaction within a few hours of exposure. The observed hyperactivity may be due to overstimulation of the cholinergic system,” Bruce said.

via Baylor University || Marketing & Communications || News.

Posted in Biology, Health | Leave a Comment »

How to Learn a Star’s True Age

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

… how can we tell if a star is one billion or 10 billion years old? Astronomers may have found a solution – measuring the star’s spin.

“A star’s rotation slows down steadily with time, like a top spinning on a table, and can be used as a clock to determine its age,” says astronomer Soren Meibom of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Meibom presented his findings today in a press conference at the 218th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Knowing a star’s age is important for many astronomical studies and in particular for planet hunters. With the bountiful harvest from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft (launched in 2009) adding to previous discoveries, astronomers have found nearly 2,000 planets orbiting distant stars. Now, they want to use this new zoo of planets to understand how planetary systems form and evolve and why they are so different from each other.

“Ultimately, we need to know the ages of the stars and their planets to assess whether alien life might have evolved on these distant worlds,” says Meibom. “The older the planet, the more time life has had to get started. Since stars and planets form together at the same time, if we know a star’s age, we know the age of its planets too.”

Learning a star’s age is relatively easy when it’s in a cluster of hundreds of stars that all formed at the same time. Astronomers have known for decades that if they plot the colors and brightnesses of the stars in a cluster, the pattern they see can be used to tell the cluster’s age. But this technique only works on clusters. For stars not in clusters (including all stars known to have planets), determining the age is much more difficult.

Using the unique capabilities of the Kepler space telescope, Meibom and his collaborators measured the rotation rates for stars in a 1-billion-year-old cluster called NGC 6811. This new work nearly doubles the age covered by previous studies of younger clusters. It also significantly adds to our knowledge of how a star’s spin rate and age are related.

If a relationship between stellar rotation and age can be established by studying stars in clusters, then measuring the rotation period of any star can be used to derive its age – a technique called gyrochronology (pronounced ji-ro-kron-o-lo-gee). For gyrochronology to work, astronomers first must calibrate their new “clock.” …

They begin with stars in clusters with known ages. By measuring the spins of cluster stars, they can learn what spin rate to expect for that age. Measuring the rotation of stars in clusters with different ages tells them exactly how spin and age are related. Then by extension, they can measure the spin of a single isolated star and calculate its age.

To measure a star’s spin, astronomers look for changes in its brightness caused by dark spots on its surface – the stellar equivalent of sunspots. Any time a spot crosses the star’s face, it dims slightly. Once the spot rotates out of view, the star’s light brightens again. By watching how long it takes for a spot to rotate into view, across the star and out of view again, we learn how fast the star is spinning. …

via CfA Press Room.

Posted in Space | Leave a Comment »

The Great Triangular UFO Invasion of May 23rd, 2011

Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2011

Well, here is one anyway. Perhaps I’ll find more…

Yes, here is another one posted on “unexplained mysteries” (Posted 23 March 2011 – 01:11 AM)

Here are more. Triangle UFOs were reported 2011-05-23 in Texas, and in Tricities Washington. There was one the night before in Florida.

Posted in - Video, UFOs | 1 Comment »

 
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