Thursday, January 28, 2010

At Cambridge Alien Conference, Scientists Warn Of An Invisible Earth and Hostile ETs

The Allen Telescope Array Radio? What is this, the 1930s? Aliens, hit us back on Twitter. We're @Earth284. SETI, via MSNBC
This week, scientists from around the globe converge on Cambridge University in England to discuss mankind's relationship with intelligent life from beyond the stars. So far, the news is not promising. Already, scientists at the conference have warned that the government has no practical plan to handle first contact, aliens may well be as warlike as us, and the switch from analog to digital signals may make the Earth invisible to aliens anyway.

To start off the proceedings, Frank Drake, the father of SETI, worried that the switch from analog television and radio signals to digital cable and satellite radio would render Earth invisible to aliens looking for other life. Right now, the Earth is surrounded by a 50-light-year thick cloud of radiation, starting with Hitler's opening address at the 1936 Olympics, and ending with this morning's broadcast of the Rachael Ray Show. But as more and more people receive their media beamed down to them from digital satellites, not up to them from analog radio towers, that signal slowly fades away, drastically reducing the chance that aliens might detect our tiny blue rock.

But according to Simon Conway Morris, a professor of evolutionary paleobiology at Cambridge University, that might be a good thing. Morris told the conference that emotions are part of the evolution of intelligent thought, so aliens may likely be as greedy, egocentric, and bellicose as humans. Add significantly more advanced technology, and you've got a recipe for Independence Day, not Avatar.

And regardless of whether the aliens come in peace, or for our tasty, tasty flesh, we won't know what to do. Martin Dominik, an astrophysicist at the University of St Andrews in the UK who organized the conference, told the audience that no government has a plan for dealing with first contact. Dominik then advocated that the United Nations develop the plan, since "it's too important for any one country."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sheep Gives Birth to Human-Faced Lamb in Turkey

By Pravda.Ru writer Dmitry Sudakov

A sheep gave birth to a dead lamb with a human-like face. The calf was born in a village not far from the city of Izmir, Turkey.

Erhan Elibol, a vet, performed Cesarean section on the animal to take the calf out, but was horrified to see that the features of the calf’s snout bore a striking resemblance to a human face.

“I’ve seen mutations with cows and sheep before. I’ve seen a one-eyed calf, a two-headed calf, a five-legged calf. But when I saw this youngster I could not believe my eyes. His mother could not deliver him so I had to help the animal,” the 29-year-old veterinary said.

The lamb’s head had human features on – the eyes, the nose and the mouth – only the ears were those of a sheep.

Veterinaries said that the rare mutation most likely occurred as a result of improper nutrition since the fodder for the lamb’s mother was abundant with vitamin A, reports.

In Zimbabwe, a goat gave birth to a similar youngster in September 2009. The mutant baby born with a human-like head stayed alive for several hours until the frightened village residents killed him.

The governor of the province where the ugly goat was born said that the little goat was the fruit of unnatural relationship between the female goat and a man.

"This incident is very shocking. It is my first time to see such an evil thing. It is really embarrassing," he reportedly said. "The head belongs to a man while the body is that of a goat. This is evident that an adult human being was responsible. Evil powers caused this person to lose self control. We often hear cases of human beings who commit bestiality but this is the first time for such an act to produce a product with human features," he added.

The mutant creature was hairless. Local residents said that even dogs were afraid to approach the bizarre animal.

The locals burnt the body of the little goat, and biologists had no chance to study the rare mutation.

Ekaterina Bogdanova
Komsomolskaya Pravda

Monday, January 25, 2010

The search for aliens should start on Earth not outer space, says scientist

The search for alien life forms should be conducted here on Earth rather than in outer space, scientists have claimed.

The search for aliens should start on earth not outer space, says scientist
Prof Davies said: We need to give up the notion that ET is sending us some sort of customised message and take a new approach Photo: GETTY

Professor Paul Davies, a physicist at Arizona University will tell a meeting at the Royal Society that the best way of proving that extra-terrestrial life exists elsewhere in the universe is to use evidence from earth.
The meeting at the Royal Society, which will include representatives from Nasa, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer space Affairs marks the 5th anniversary of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme. Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society will also lead one of the sessions.
Prof Davies said: We need to give up the notion that ET is sending us some sort of customised message and take a new approach."

He suggested that the search could focus on deserts, volcanic vents, salt-saturated lakes and the dry valleys of Antarctica - places where ordinary life struggles to survive - to find "weird" microbes that belong to a "shadow biosphere".

Felissa Wolfe-Simon, from the US Geological Survey, is currently looking at the possibility that arsenic, found in contaminated places such as the Mono Lake in California, might support forms of life in the same way as other life forms use phosphorous.

However, Professor Colin Pillinger, who led the Beagle 2 Mars landing mission remains sceptical. He said: "I prefer to deal in scientific fact - this is wildly science fiction. You'd be off your trolley to go searching for arsenic-based life."

Prof Pillinger argues that Mars is the most likely place to find alien life. The conference will also discuss how humans might respond to the discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence.Albert Harrison, the from University of California, said: "It is easy to imagine scenarios resulting in widespread psychological disintegration and social chaos. but historical prototypes, reactions to false alarms and survey results suggest that the predominant response to the discover of a microwave transmission from light years away is likely to be equanimity, perhaps even delight."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Confucius says no to ‘subversive’ blockbuster Avatar

(20th Century Fox)
The state-run China Film Group has instructed cinemas nationwide to stop showing the ordinary version of Avatar from January 23

Here is the choice: a blockbuster involving noble aliens, evil humans and stunning effects that is breaking cinematic records all over the world. Or a patriotic film featuring the life of Confucius.

In China the public may not be given the choice at all. Despite long queues for tickets to see Avatar — which was expected to earn more than 500 million yuan (£45 million) at the Chinese box office — reports claim that the film will be removed from screens for being subversive.

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that the state-run China Film Group had instructed cinemas nationwide to stop showing the 2-D version of Avatar from January 23 on orders from Beijing’s propaganda chiefs.

It is not just the desire to entertain the masses with a Chinese movie that has prompted the censors to step in and pull James Cameron’s hit from 2-D screens. The Government fears that too many citizens might be making a link between the plight of Avatar’s Na’vi people as they are thrown off their land and the numerous, often brutal, evictions endured closer to home by residents who get in the way of property developers.
The newspaper said: “Reportedly, the authorities have two reasons for this check on Avatar: first, it has taken in too much money and has seized market share from domestic films, and second, it may lead audiences to think about forced removal, and may possibly incite violence.”

China’s favourite blogger, Han Han, a twentysomething writer and racing-car driver, was among those who quickly spotted the similarity between the film’s plot and real life. He wrote: “For audiences in other countries, such brutal eviction is something beyond their imagination. It could only take place on another planet — or in China.”

Popular views of the film as an allegory for predatory property developers across China will not have gone down well with the Propaganda Department in Beijing. Blogs are buzzing with the news of Avatar’s imminent disappearance. The film opened on January 4 and soon drew lengthy queues despite one of the coldest winters in years. Box-office takings hit a record 56 million yuan for a single day and IMAX cinemas which show the full 3-D version are booked up for weeks. The film had been due to play until February 28, well past the Chinese new year holiday, which begins on February 14.

In the southern city of Wuxi, a multiple-screen cinema warned on its website that Avatar would now finish on Saturday and those with tickets beyond that date would be refunded. “We ask for your understanding! To satisfy the viewing needs of the audience, the cinema will add midnight showings from the 21st and 22nd. Grab them quickly,” it advised. The notice was soon removed, however, as the cinema said that only 2-D screens would stop showing the film.

China has only 550 3-D cinema screens, which means that holiday audiences will have no choice but flock to see Confucius, featuring the Hong Kong gangster star Chow Yun-Fat as the eponymous philosopher.
When his film premiered last week Mr Chow said he expected Confucius to put up a good fight against James Cameron’s science fiction fantasy. He may find it a lot easier now. 

Oceans of Liquid Diamond May Exist On Neptune and Uranus

January 18, 2010 by John Messina Diamond
When scientists melted diamond under ultra high temperatures and pressure and reduced both temperature and pressure the solid diamond chunks floated on top of liquid diamond. Credit: Getty Images

( -- Scientist explains how it may be possible for the planets Neptune and Uranus to contain liquid diamond oceans.
The research was conducted by taking detailed measurements of the melting point of diamond. When diamond is melted it behaves like water during freezing and melting, with solid forms floating atop liquid forms. Diamond is a very hard material which makes it difficult to melt. Measuring the melting point of a diamond is very difficult because when it's heated to very high temperatures the diamond changes to graphite.

Since it's the graphite and not the diamond that turns to liquid, scientist are faced with the problem of melting the diamond without it turning to graphite.

Scientists can get around this problem by exposing the diamond to extremely high pressures by blasting it with lasers. The diamond is liquefied at pressures 40 million times greater than that found at Earth's sea level.
Oceans of Liquid Diamond May Exist On Neptune and Uranus

Neptune: By Neptune's diamond oceans! NASA
When the pressure is lowered to 11 million times greater than Earth's and the temperature drops to about 50,000 degrees, chunks of diamond start to appear. 
Scientists discovered something they didn't expect, after the pressure kept dropping the temperature of the diamond remained the same, with more chunks of diamond forming. The chunks of diamond did not sink but floated on top of the liquid diamond, creating diamond icebergs.

These ultrahigh temperatures and ultrahigh pressures are found in huge gas giant like and Uranus.

Neptune and Uranus are estimated to be made up of 10% carbon. A large ocean of liquid diamond could deflect or tilt the out of alignment with the rotation of the planet.
The only way scientists can know for sure if liquid diamond exists on these gas giant planets is either by sending a scientific to one of them or by simulating the conditions on earth. Both methods would be very expensive and take years to prepare.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Egypt tombs suggest pyramids not built by slaves

In this undated photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities on AP – In this undated photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, …
CAIRO (Reuters) – New tombs found in Giza support the view that the Great Pyramids were built by free workers and not slaves, as widely believed, Egypt's chief archaeologist said on Sunday.

Films and media have long depicted slaves toiling away in the desert to build the mammoth pyramids only to meet a miserable death at the end of their efforts.

"These tombs were built beside the king's pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves," Zahi Hawass, the chief archaeologist heading the Egyptian excavation team, said in a statement.
"If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king's."

He said the collection of workers' tombs, some of which were found in the 1990s, were among the most significant finds in the 20th and 21st centuries. They belonged to workers who built the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre.

Hawass had earlier found graffiti on the walls from workers calling themselves "friends of Khufu" -- another sign that they were not slaves.

The tombs, on the Giza plateau on the western edge of Cairo, are 4,510 years old and lie at the entrance of a one-km (half mile)-long necropolis.

Hawass said evidence had been found showing that farmers in the Delta and Upper Egypt had sent 21 buffalo and 23 sheep to the plateau every day to feed the builders, believed to number around 10,000 -- or about a tenth of Greek historian Herodotus's estimate of 100,000.

These farmers were exempted from paying taxes to the government of ancient Egypt -- evidence that he said underscored the fact they were participating in a national project.

The first discovery of workers' tombs in 1990 came about accidentally when a horse stumbled on a brick structure 10 meters (yards) away from the burial area.

(Writing by Marwa Awad; Editing by Alison Williams and Michael Roddy)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Astronomers on Verge of Finding Habitable Worlds

The discovery of an Earth-like, extrasolar planet could happen sooner than you think.

Fri Jan 8, 2010 12:01 PM ET | content provided by Seth Borenstein, Associated Press
A Habitable, Earth-Like Exoplanet?

If there were an Earth-like body in the area Kepler is searching, the telescope would find it.

Astronomers say they are on the verge of finding planets like Earth orbiting other stars, a key step in determining if we are alone in the universe.

A top NASA official and other leading scientists say that within four or five years they should discover the first Earth-like planet where life could develop, or may have already. A planet close to the size of Earth could even be found sometime this year if preliminary hints from a new space telescope pan out.
At the annual American Astronomical Society conference this week, each discovery involving so-called "exoplanets" -- those outside our solar system -- pointed to the same conclusion: Quiet planets like Earth where life could develop probably are plentiful, despite a violent universe of exploding stars, crushing black holes and colliding galaxies.

NASA's new Kepler telescope and a wealth of new research from the suddenly hot and competitive exoplanet field generated noticeable buzz at the convention. Scientists are talking about being at "an incredible special place in history" and closer to answering a question that has dogged humanity since the beginning of civilization.

"The fundamental question is: Are we alone? For the first time, there's an optimism that sometime in our lifetimes we're going to get to the bottom of that," said Simon "Pete" Worden, an astronomer who heads NASA's Ames Research Center. "If I were a betting man, which I am, I would bet we're not alone."
Even the Roman Catholic Church has held scientific conferences about the prospect of extraterrestrial life, including a meeting last November.We are at a very special moment in the history of mankind."

Monday, January 4, 2010

The moment comet was eaten up after orbiting too close to the sun

By Scott Warren
Last updated at 1:42 AM on 05th January 2010

A comet has been captured by NASA being 'eaten' as it flies too close to the sun.
The space agency's solar-focused agency - Solar and Helioscopic Observatory (SOHO) - captured footage of the Kreutz Sungrazer as it made its fateful approach.
The footage has proven popular on YouTube and scientific and astronomical websites and blogs.

Scroll down to see video footage

Final approach: Clockwise from below left, the Kreutz comet enters the frame, makes its approach to the sun, then disappears with only its trail still visible
Final approach: Clockwise from below left, the Kreutz comet enters the frame, makes its approach to the sun, then disappears with only its trail still visible

Kreutz comet
kreutz comet
Caught on camera: The footage was recorded using a Coronagraph, which blocks out the brightest object in an image, enabling other activity to be viewed
Kreutz Sungrazers are characterised by orbits taking them extremely close to the Sun.
They are believed to be fragments of one large comet that broke up several centuries ago and are named after German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who first worked out that they were related.
A SOHO spokeswoman said the agency gathered the footage using a Coronagraph, which blocks the brightest object in an image.
This allows activity around the sun - such as the comet's approach - to be viewed.
It is known as a 'false eclipse' and displays the actual footage of the comet's final seconds, presented in a way that it can be seen by the naked eye.

Hundreds of Kreutz comets, some only a few metres in diameter, have been discovered since the launch of the SOHO satellite in 1995.

Like the comet captured in these images, none have survived the section of their orbit closest to the sun.
Experts say a new cluster of Kreutz comets will approach the sun over the next few decades, treating stargazers  to more spectacular shows.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Moon hole might be suitable for colony

January 1, 2010 1:03 p.m. EST
Scientists report finding a lunar hole that might make a good candidate for a moon colony.
Scientists report finding a lunar hole that might make a good candidate for a moon colony.
  • Scientists find deep hole on moon that could be suitable for colony
  • Discovery of "lava tube" is published in journal of American Geophysical Union
  • Lava tubes have been found before, but this one is protected by "lava sheet"
  • Report says that shield protects hole from meteorites and harsh temperatures

(CNN) -- Building a home near a moon crater or a lunar sea may sound nice, but moon colonists might have a much better chance of survival if they just lived in a hole.

That's the message sent by an international team of scientists who say they've discovered a protected lunar "lava tube" -- a deep, giant hole -- that might be well suited for a moon colony or a lunar base.
The vertical hole, in the volcanic Marius Hills region on the moon's near side, is 213 feet wide and is estimated to be more than 260 feet deep, according to findings published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

More important, the scientists say, the hole is protected from the moon's harsh temperatures and meteorite strikes by a thin sheet of lava. That makes the tube a good candidate for further exploration or possible inhabitation, the article says.

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