Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chief of Dinosaurs Fossil Found in Argentina

A new giant, plant-eating dinosaur has been found in Argentina by paleontologists. Called Futalognkosaurus dukei, it is believed to be one of the largest dinosaurs that ever existed. It also has one of the most difficult-to-remember names. Alive, it would have measured at least 32 meters in length, or 105 feet. The bones found showed evidence of being chewed upon by carnivores. The name is inspired by the native Mapuche people's words for "giant chief of the lizards." Director Jorge Calvo of the paleontology center at the National University of Comahue in Argentina says the find is one of the most complete of the dinosaur giants that exist. The image on top is an artist's rendition of how Argentina may have looked like 80 million years ago with F. dukei on the left.

The pictures are from the British Broadcasting Corporation site.

For a video of the fossils, jump here to i-Mash.

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Spare Body Parts from Skin Cells Breakthrough

Scientists in the United States and Japan have made simultaneous breakthroughs which may finally ease the ethical problem of using stem cells from human embryos for medical treatment.

Stem cells are the precursor cells of specialized cells in the body that differentiate during embryonic growth to become bones, internal organs, the brain, etcetera. Stem cells are said to be the solution to many medical problems that lead to loss of organs and other essential internal body parts like the liver and the heart. By harvesting and growing stem cells into different body parts, humans can have replacements at hand without the need for donors.

Stem cells were originally harvested from human embryos, and religious and political groups and certain parties have criticized this as immoral even if the process can save and improve lives. Fortunately, the process of getting stem cells from skin cells has been given support by the Catholic church.

To view a video of the news on how scientists are now using skin cells to make stem cells, jump to i-Mash here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

First Photo of Lunar Surface by Chang'e 1 Unveiled

This is the first photograph made by the Chinese Chang'e 1 lunar satellite of the Moons surface. The unveiling was controversial as the photograph was claimed by some to be the same one taken by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) spacecraft in 2005. This was denied by Chinese officials, who said that the same site would naturally produce a similar image. They did, however, note a difference in the number of craters in one part, although the details are sketchy. Jump here to i-Mash for the details.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Yeti Footprint Found Near Everest

A supposed footprint of the mythical Yeti creature of the Himalayas has been cast by a Destination Truth television crew and shown to the public. The foot clearly shows what appear to be five toes. Strangely, they are splayed out and appear to be in the wrong angles. Logically, this flat, triangular arrangement would suit well for walking on snow, but biologists should really take a look at it to see if it is anatomically sound. Theorists have claimed that most Yeti footprints are the result of animal tracks which have merged together to form a single, large impression which appears humanoid in nature. Television host Josh Gates (face not shown) displays the cast of the footprint.

Jump here to i-Mash for related news on the whopping auction sale of a Yeti footprint depiction.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Good Nutrition Advice for Pregnant Women Needed

If you don't know this already, the consumption of fish is limited by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to no more than 12 ounces a week. Why? They say that fish is contaminated by mercury, a toxic metal substance that can cause developmental problems in an unborn child and can also, of course, make the mother, or anyone else who gets too much of it in his or her system, terribly sick.

Yet, strangely, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, which is made up of health-care groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Public Health Association, has recommended more fish for pregnant women. Their reason? Omega-3 fatty acids which are abundant in fish. This substance, for one, is recommended for good heart health. But is it the only reason? Reports from the New York Times say that the Healthy Mother's Group received a grant of $60,000 from the National Fisheries Institute.

With such issues about fish consumption, the question now is: Is more fish for pregnant women really better or not? Such inconsistencies in statements can be confusing to people who don't know the difference between omega-3 and the Omega Man. But organizations like the Nutrition Advisors' Network by BitWine, give a perfect solution for those seeking reliable nutrition advice. All one has to do is go to the site choose one of the registered dieticians available and talk to that person in real time over the Internet through Skype. You only pay as you go and you don't have to bother leaving your house to go to an expert's office. Those interested may learn more here.

The picture on the left shows pregnant actress Marcia Cross of Desperate Housewives. How much fish does she eat? Where does she get expert nutrition advice? For more on the Healthy Mother's Group issue, jump to i-Mash. For entertainment news, go to Hots Up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hobbit Remains Determined to Be Related to Humans

In 2003, the remains of a small hominid, Homo floresiensis, was discovered in Indonesia in the Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores. The remains are only about a meter in height and were likened to be hobbit-like, in reference to author J.R.R. Tolkien's diminutive race of characters in the Lord of the Rings series. The remains do not really have similarities to dwarf or midget physical structures.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Indonesian hobbit lived between 95,000 and 13,000 years ago. Arguments abounded concerning the find which includes tools said to have been used by the little hominid. Some said its brain was too small to have allowed tool-creation and use. Others said the hominid was simply a different type of modern humans, as other inhabitants of the island are also small. But recent studies of the wrist bones of the hominid reveal that it's related to modern humans, but not modern. The picture on the left compares a Homo floresiensis skull with a modern/typical sized one.

Jump to i-Mash for a video of the latest examination of the bones.

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

China Goes for Second Phase of Lunar Program

With the successful launch of China's first unmanned lunar satellite (Chang'e 1) mission, it now goes ahead for the next phase of its lunar program which will eventually lead to the sending of the first Chinese taikonaut to Earth's nearest neighbor. While it has no timetable for this milestone, Luan Enjie, the chief commander of the country's lunar orbiter project, says there are big hurdles to go over, like technical problems, and lots of money to spend. Luan says there is yet no timetable as to when that will be. I guess that means other countries like Japan can still try to be the first from East Asia.

Coincidentally, a Chinese company called Lunar Embassy has begun to sell real estate property on the moon. For those in the know, there is also a company in the US with the same name that also has the same business. What's the relation of the two companies? Well, the owner of the Chinese company, Li Jie (sounds like Jet Lee), says he had already spoken to the owner of the US company, Dennis Hope, before. There seems to be no conflict of interest in selling the same thing to different people, but then again, it's just the fancy "land title" certificate that people pay for anyway. You can't really claim land on the moon or any other body in space.

In more serious matters, Google, which has developed an online cartographic service of the Earth and the Moon (Google Earth and Google Moon), has launched a contest with a $30 million pot money to whoever gets a robot on the moon. Click here to find out more.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Japan's First Moon Probe Reaches Destination

Japan is going where no Japanese has gone before with its first lunar probe now orbiting the Moon. The Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE), is considered the biggest lunar mission undertaking since the Apollo missions of the United States. It cost $279 million to launch. It uses two sub-satellites for the polar regions. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes that the new probe will help shed light on the Moon's origins. The picture above is an artist's rendition of the successful mission.

In related news, Star Trek actor George Takei, now 70, was honored with an asteroid bearing his name (7307 Takei). The asteroid, which was discovered by two Japanese astronomers in 1994 (hence its original name, 1994 GT9) follows a list of others named after people involved in the famous science-fiction series, like creator Gene Roddenberry (4659 Roddenberry), and Enterprise communications officer actress Nichelle Nichols (68410 Nichols).

It was astronomy professor Tom Burbine, of the Massachusetts Mt. Holyoke College who lobbied for naming an asteroid after Takei, who is now known for his work on Howard Stein's radio show and in civil rights groups.

More on Star Trek and the latest movie by J.J. Abrams.

Martian Dust Devils Caught By Spirit

Ever wonder what a dust devil (small tornado) on Mars looks like. Wonder no more. Here are a handful caught on a sequence of images by the roving robot explorer Spirit, the sister of Opportunity, another robot on Mars. Click on the black and white image to view the video. This wind phenomenon is believed to cause warming of Mars as it exposes dark soil underneath the lighter sand. Being on Mars is like going up to an altitude of 100,000 feet here on Earth, where the air is thin and cold. The colored picture above was also taken by Spirit on the 486th day of the Martian year (Sol 486).

Click here for a video on the latest images of the Martian surface from the robots.

Translucent Frog Developed for No-dissection Study

Biologists from Hiroshima University Institute for Amphibian Biology in Japan have developed a transparent (actually translucent) frog which they hope can be used for education. They say the frog no longer needs to be dissected due to its semi-transparent skin. Lead scientist Masayuki Sumida says the new frog can help in scientific research. Naturally translucent frogs also exist, like the Translucent Reed Frog below.

Click here for a video of the genetically-engineered frog.

Monday, September 24, 2007

3D Technology Enters the Home Without the Glasses

Philips is going where no television has gone before, or at least commercially. It will soon be making available, the first 3D mass-market television that allows viewers to watch shows in three dimensions. That's right. It would be as if there's a real scene and objects inside your television that you can just reach out to and touch!

Actually, it was launched back in 2005, but as you can tell, it still has to make waves, and I'll bet that's soon. The technology works by showing the same picture shown in different angles in layers, which are then "translated" into 3D with a lenticular screen. This new TV will have applications not only for entertainment but for advertising and medicine as well.

I'd like to thank Jim Dorey for taking me to his blog, which has a lot of good stuff on 3D entertainment.

Check out this really weird headset TV which makes you look like the Marvel villain, Mysterio.

Jump to i-Mash for news on 3D and DLP technology.

3-D DLP TV with the glasses

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Planes Are Said to Contribute to Global Warming: Germans Urged to Quit Flying

Flying is perhaps the only way to get from one side of the gobe to the next very quickly. But there are tradebacks, one of which is the fact that plane exhust, courtesy of jet fuel, releases tons of carbon dioxide into the air, contributing to the greenhouse effect which traps heat in the atmosphere.
While it may be an extreme move for some, quitting or refusing to fly when travelling is said to lessen one's carbon (dioxide) footprint, thereby helping to mitigate the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Some environmentalists have pushed for a reduction in flights and have suggested other means of transportation. Germans, for instance, have been advised to substitute exotic travel destinations for more local and less exotic Baltic sea destinations. "In the near future, people are going to become increasingly aware that aircraft emit vast amounts of greenhouse gases, far more than cars or trains," said Manfred Stock, a climate researcher in Potsdam near Berlin.
Still, even if you take a ship or a car to get from point A to point B, you would still use fuel and release carbon dioxide, unless the vehicle you're riding in is some kind of next-generation transport that does not use fossil fuel.

Large Meteorite Falls on Peruvian Village and Sickens People

In a scene typically witnessed in a movie, residents of the Puno village in the Desaguadero region of Peru suddenly got sick after a large meteorite struck and left a hundred-foot-wide and twenty-foot-deep crater. Experts and rescue workers were dispatched to the impact site where people witnessed boiling water coming out of the crater. There were also reports of rock and cinder particles in the area.

Residents thought an airplane had crashed after people saw an explosion and a fireball. They then complained of a strange odor which caused them to vomit and get nauseated. Policemen who went to investigate had to be given oxygen to breathe and were later hospitalized. Much about the fumes and the meteorite that caused them are still a mystery as of press time. The meteorite is likely part of the Perseid shower which comes from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which is in an orbit that is expected to intersect that of Earth's, although not in the next thousand years. The photo of Swift-Tuttle above is by Gerald Rhemann.

For more news and a video of the impact site, jump to i-Mash.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Melting Arctic Opens Northwest Passage

The shrinkage of Arctic ice has freed "iced" water to allow ships to use the Northwest passage and cut trips times between North America, Russia, and Asia. Arctic ice has melted to the lowest level since the late 1970s when satellite photos of the top of the world were taken. It is believed that global warming due to anthropogenic (man-made) emissions of carbon dioxide is the cause of the shrinkage.

It is believed that vast resources of oil and other fossil fuels exist underneath the Arctic, and nations like Canada, The United States, and Russia are scrambling to be the first to make the discovery and claims. A Russian submarine has already planted a flag underneath the North Pole. Ironically, the discovery and use of more carbon-dioxide-releasing fossil fuels will theoretically only contribute more to global warming and ice-melt.

The picture above shows how much the Arctic has shrunk, enough to allow ships to pass along its fringes during the summer season. Some believe that the whole of the Arctic will be free of ice in fifty years' time.

Jump to i-Mash for the news video and more.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

An Island Is Born and Dies in the South Pacific

Swedish sailor Fredrick Franson first came upon what looked like a great desert in the middle of the ocean in Home Reef. “We looked out, and in front of us it was as if there was no more sea,” he said. “It was like the Sahara, with rolling hills of sand as far as the eye could see.” But the yacht he was on, the Maiken, wasn't anywhere near land. The "desert" he was describing was actually a "sea" of floating pumice stones. Some distance away was an underwater volcano erupting and giving birth to a new island. “Then we saw a black pillar shooting up into the air, and we understood that it had to be a volcano.” He described the island as a "kind of a smoldering, smoky stuff. It looked like coal, and when there was an eruption, we could see the new material piling up on it.”
Franson reported the discovery and scientists immediately had satellites zooming in on the new island as it was being born. It was the first time that such an island birth was studied in detail. When volcanologist Scott Bryan personally visited the site, he saw that the island was gone, as it was made up only of deposited material that easily washed away. The life of the island lasted only a few months. Bryan believes that a high sea mount was all that's left of it. The pumice stones left behind by the eruption became home to animals like barnacles that hitch a ride as they float to wherever the ocean currents would take them.

Videos of an island volcano erupting in India and the science behind eruption-prediction in i-Mash, after the jump.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Remains of Mythical Chupacabra Creature Found?

This woman, Phylis Canion, who has been a hunter all her life and had lived in Africa collecting head trophies of various wildlife, claims to have found roadkill near her Texas ranch, 80-miles southeast of San Antonio and believes them to be the remains of the fabled chupacabra creature which is said to kill livestock and drink their blood until the body is dry. There were three bodies of the strange animal found over four days and each one weighed about 40 pounds, and had ash-blue skin that was practically hairless. Canion said she had saved the head of the one she found to save it for posterity and to have the DNA tested. She believes the creatures are the ones that killed 26 of her chickens in the past two years. The bodies of the chickens weren't eaten, but were drained of blood.

Veterinarian Travis Schaar of the Main Street Animal Hospital in neighboring Victoria thinks the remains are of a strange breed of dog which may be the result of a mutation. Oh, well. Whatever. The pictures do remind me of the zombie dogs in the movie Resident Evil. For more movie and other entertainment news, go to Hots Up. Read about the new supernatural reality show Destination Truth and how it may finally disclose the truth behind the fabled El Chupacabra. The study that deals with "hidden" or mythical animals is cryptozoology.

FLASH! The identity of this chupacabra is revealed, along with a close up picture of the head,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lightsaber-Inspired Weapon in the Works

A non-lethal weapon inspired by the lightsaber of Star Wars is being developed in the U.S. Unlike the one seen in the science-fiction movie series, it won't really have a laser blade that slices. Instead, it will be like a pulsing powerful flashlight that causes disorientation and nausea. It is thought to be useful for crowd control and other anti-personnel purposes. Human rights groups have expressed fear that it will be sold in the black market and used illicitly. In spite of this, research on the weapon continues.

On the left is a diagram of the fictional lightsaber of the Star Wars universe. Jedis can make these themselves, just like what Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) did.
There's more about this new weapon on i-Mash.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Glowing Rings of Uranus Pictured

This is the planet Uranus in pictures taken with it's rings on edge from the Earth's point of view. These were taken from the Keck observatory in Hawaii. The series of images show how the rings have changed in the past few years.

In related astronomy news, Queen guitarist Brian May finishes thesis for astronomy doctorate after 30 years.

For more news on entertainment and movies, go to Hots Up.

Mean Monster Shrimp Found in Mid Atlantic Ridge

This is one of the strange deep sea creatures found by a team of scientists in a recent underwater expedition to the deep sea mountain range of the Mid Atlantic Ridge. It is called a Phronima---transparent with its insides visible---in order to be practically invisible to predators. Still, it looks pretty mean by itself. It's head is reminiscent of a baboon's.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Google Earth Takes Off to Google Sky

Google is taking it's online services to extremes. If you think Google Earth is unbelievable, well, prepare to suspend your disbelief once more because now there's Google Sky! With it, you can go to any part of the sky and zoom in, just like what you can do on Google Earth. This will be a special treat for the armchair astronomer!

Read more and see a video demonstration of Google Sky in i-Mash.

Astronomers Find Nothing in Space

Astronomers have found an unbelievably vast region of space where there's nothing, as in there's no matter or even evidence of dark energy. It's like an abscess in space---a very big one!

Lawrence Rudnick, together with Shea Brown and Liliya R. Williams, all from the University of Minnesota, have reported the find. The researchers came to their conclusion using data from the NRAO VLA Sky Survey (NVSS), which imaged the whole of the sky visible to the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope.

The empty region has been called the WMAP Cold Spot since it stood out like a sore thumb in the map of the Cosmic Background (CMB) radiation of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotopy Probe (WMAP) satellite. It is some six to ten billion light years from Earth and a billion light years across. The nearest void to us is only 2 million light years away and it is thousands of times smaller.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Batteries that Draw on Body Heat for Power Coming for Cell Phones

Remember the movie trilogy of The Matrix, where people are used by machines as betteries? The idea of the body used as a source of power may not be only found in the realm of science-fiction. German scientists are already devising ways to enable small circuits to work with just enough electricity generated by heat from the body. They say that what's important is the difference between the temperature of the body and the environment. This way, a cellphone may be charged by just keeping it close to the body or warming it with the hands. For movie news, go to Hots Up.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

China Moves in on the Moon

The Moon is a favorite place to go to for countries who gain the economy, technology, and will to do so. It happened to the United States and Russia. Now, China plans to survey the whole of the Moon, land a rover on it, bring back samples, and then send taikonauts there and back all within 20 years. India and Japan have their own plans as well. It seems competition will keep the hands of the United States space program full again.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Eight Million Year Old Cypress Trees Found in Turkey with Perfectly Preserved Wood

Miners digging for lignite, a type of coal, discovered a patch of cypress forest that's eight million years old. The palaeontological site is in Bukkabrany in northeastern Hungary, and it has been luring scientists because of the perfect preservation of the wood of the trees, which, logic would dictate, should have been petrified after so long.

The state of the trees may give climatologists clues to what happened to the region at that time, when the Pannonian lake, which submerged much of Hungary began to retreat and caused much of the Mediterranean sea to dry up.

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Bulusan Volcano Erupts in the Philippines Again

Bulusan volcano in Sorsogon in the Philippines erupts anew, endangering nearby towns. If things get worse, an evacuation of the vicinity will be undertaken.

This satellite image on the left, depicted in exaggerated, elevated 3D shows the Bulusan landscape. The volcano itself is 1,559 meters high. It has a 1,000-foot-diameter crater.

The ash spewed by the eruption, if massive enough, like what Mt. Pinatubo ejected, can theoretically become distributed around the globe and help cool the atmosphere to counter global warming.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturn's Rings from Different Perspectives

The rings of Saturn represents perhaps the most awe inspiring structure in the solar system. See a couple of views of them by the Cassini spacecraft. The upper photo shows giant Titan and Ephemesus while the lower one includes shepherd moons Prometheus and Pandora with Mimas in the distance.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mars Warming in the Past May Not Have Been Caused by Carbon Dioxide

This is Mars as it would look if it had flowing water like on Earth. Water on Mars is not possible because it is dry and cold. But based on the photographs and studies from several planetary probe data since the 1970s, Mars was most likely wet and warm in the past. The plentiful clay deposits and flow patterns left on the surface suggest that water was responsible for shaping the landscape in the past. It suggests that carbon dioxide may have been thicker and more active in creating a greenhouse effect in the Martian atmosphere just like what is happening today on Earth. What happened between then and now is a mystery. Scientists have discovered water on Mars, but it's frozen. However, there are indications of temporary flows, like what's imaged below. As for the carbon dioxide, it's now taking up 95% of the atmosphere. Yet in spite of this, it's cold. It's likely due to the fact that the atmospheric pressure is not enough to produce any significant warming effect and water vapor in the atmosphere, which also traps heat, is also largely absent.

But scientists have discovered something lately which puts the theory of carbon dioxide as the cause of the warm phase of Mars, called the Noachian period, at risk. It's the fact that there are no carbonates on the surface---or at least none have been found yet. Carbonates are a byproduct of clay formation in a carbon-doxide-rich environment. Vincent Chevrier of the University of Arkansas and Jean Pierre Bibring of the University Paris-Sud say that with a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide, there should be abundant carbonates, which is the case on Earth.

So, if the carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere did not cause the Noachian period, as depicted above in an artist's rendering, what did? And what caused Mars to cool up in spite of an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide? Is it its distance from the Sun? Is it a thinning of the atmosphere? Maybe these questions will be answered as humans explore more of the Red planet. In the process, we might learn something about what's happening to the Earth's own climate and if global warming is really something serious to worry about.
Above is a picture of a section of the Martian canyon Valles Marineris, which shows evidence of ancient "plumbing" through which may have flowed liquid water or carbon dioxide, leaving white mineral depisits. Click here for the full news.
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