Surfing The Wierd

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Signs of and Solutions to World Water Crisis National Geographic = signs and solutions to water shortage Click on "interactive map" link Phot: Girl drinking bottled water

Interactive Map

Explore the signs of and solutions to the world’s water crisis.

Related Articles

Photo: Severely dry ground
The U.S. West will see devastating droughts as global warming reduces the amount of mountain snow and causes the snow that does fall to melt earlier in the year, a new study says.
Photo: Man drinking from hose
More than one billion people worldwide have no access to safe drinking water, leaving them vulnerable to any number of water-associated illnesses. Get the facts with this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site.
Photo: People waiting for water
Do you have all the facts about the water crisis facing our planet? Get more information, plus the latest water-related headlines, lesson plans, and much more from Water Partners International.
Photo: A woman gathers water from a river in Bangladesh.
Microscopic organisms that get their energy by inhaling metals in the ground play a key role in the arsenic poisoning of drinking water for millions of people in Bangladesh and West Bengal, according to a new study.
Photo: An Indian woman fills a bowl with water from a canal near the Hooghly River, in Calcutta.
Since its early days as a village, Kolkata's population has exploded, as has its need for water. Find out what life is like for those who live without an ample supply of fresh, clean water.


Sites For Prehistoric Worlds

CLICK HERE TO access site for slides of prehistoric world >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

About the Prehistoric World

Photo: T. rex skeleton on display in museum

Cretaceous Photo Gallery

Explore the age of reptiles.

Image: Precambrain age

Precambrian Time

Earth's earliest geologic age set the stage.

Image: Dinosaur extinction

Dinosaur Extinction

What killed the dinosaurs?

Image: Cambrian period

Cambrian Period

It produced Earth's greatest burst of life.

Did You Know?

Mountain Makers the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia were formed during the Ordovician period, when the landmasses of Avalonia and Laurentia collided.

Related Features

Image: A dinosaur

Extreme Dinosaurs

A bizarre gallery of Mesozoic monsters prompts John Updike to ask: What has evolution wrought?

Dinosaur Death Traps

In China's Gobi desert, paleontologists are uncovering pits of dinosaur fossils stacked five deep. What happened here? Learn more through videos and games from the National Geographic Channel.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

UFO-alleged order to shoot it

UK UFO files reveal alleged attempt to shoot UFO

LONDON – An American fighter pilot flying from an English air base at the height of the Cold War was ordered to open fire on a massive UFO that lit up his radar, according to an account published by Britain's National Archives on Monday.

The fighter pilot said he was ordered to fire a full salvo of rockets at the UFO moving erratically over the North Sea — but that at the last minute the object picked up enormous speed and disappeared. The account, first published in Britain's Daily Star newspaper more than 17 years ago and to this day unverified by military authorities, was one of many carried in the 1,500 pages the archives made available online.

The unnamed pilot said he and another airman were scrambled on the night of May 20, 1957 to intercept an unusual "bogey" on radars at a Royal Air Force Station Manston, an airfield at the southeastern tip of England about 75 miles from central London.

"This was a flying object with very unusual flight patterns," the pilot said, according to a typed manuscript of his account mailed to Britain's Ministry of Defense by a UFO enthusiast in 1988. "In the initial briefing it was suggested to us that the bogey actually was motionless for long intervals."

Ordered to fly at full throttle in cloudy weather, the pilot said he was given the order to fire a volley of 24 rockets at the mysterious object.

"To be quite candid I almost (expletive) my pants!" the pilot said, saying he asked for confirmation — which he received.

Retired U.S. airman Milton Torres told Britain's Sky News on Monday that he was the pilot and has spent 50 frustrating years attempting to uncover the truth of his mid-air encounter.

Speaking from his home in Miami, Florida, Torres said he never saw the UFO with his naked eye, but watched in awe as it appeared on his jet's radar and sped off before he had chance to fire.

"All of a sudden as it was coming in, it decided to take off and leave me behind ... The next thing I know it was gone," Torres told Sky News. "It was some kind of space alien craft. It was so fast, it was so incredible ... it was absolutely death defying."

In the newly published government file, the U.S. airman said the UFO appeared impossible to miss.

"The blip was burning a hole in the radar with its incredible intensity," the pilot said. "It was similar to a blip I had received from B-52's and seemed to be a magnet of light. ... I had a lock on that had the proportions of a flying aircraft carrier."

As he closed in on the object to prepare for combat, however, the object began to move wildly before fading off his radar. The target gone, the mission was called off, and he returned to base to an odd reception.

"I had not the foggiest idea what had actually occurred, nor would anyone explain anything to me," the pilot said. He said he was led to a man in civilian clothes, who "advised me that this would be considered highly classified and that I should not discuss it with anybody not even my commander."

"He disappeared without so much as a goodbye and that was that, as far as I was concerned," the pilot said, according to the account.

Britain's military said it had no record of the incident, according to the files. Neither did the U.S. military. The second pilot's account, also included in the files, paints a somewhat different picture of events, saying there were not one but several "unknowns" and that he did not remember being contacted by anyone about staying quiet. He did not mention the targets' size.

"I know this is not a very exciting narrative but it is all I can recall," the second pilot said.

His name, like his colleague's, was redacted from the files.

David Clarke, a UFO expert who has worked with the National Archives on the document release, said it was one of the most intriguing stories he had culled from the batch of files released Monday.

He said that the CIA once had a program intended to create phantom signals on radar — and that this may have been an exercise in electronic warfare. Whatever the case, Clarke argued that "there's no doubt something very unusual happened."

Clarke said the batch of files released Monday — which include witness accounts, investigations, and sketches — was part of a three to four year program intended to make a total of 160 UFO-related files available to the public.


On the Net:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Amazing Water Bears

Water Bears Amaze Scientists - Yahoo! News

  1. News. Space Flight. Science. Technology. Entertainment. SpaceViews. Night Sky. Video. Community ... with survival features like those used by water bears could ... - 63k - Cached
'Alien' Water Bears Amaze Scientists By Lee Pullen Astrobiology Magazine posted: 16 October 2008 06:56 am ET

Astrobiologists work at the cutting edge of scientific research, investigating the possibility of life elsewhere in our universe. They are, however, plagued by a single, potentially critical problem: a lack of samples. Studying alien organisms is naturally difficult when none have been discovered.

Some scientists have taken a novel approach to circumventing this issue. Life on Earth is abundant, and often very hardy. Extremophile creatures exist in places we would consider as exceptionally hostile, such as deep in the ocean floor or areas where even a drop of water is almost impossible to find. Similarly, some of the potential places for life elsewhere in our solar system, such as the planet Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa, or Saturn's moon Titan, have conditions that are viewed as extremely hostile but still potentially survivable. So extremophile organisms are studied in lieu of genuine extraterrestrial samples, to see if they could survive the rigors of life beyond the Earth.

Nearly indestructible

Dr. Daiki Horikawa from NASA Ames Research Center has been examining strange creatures called tardigrades for the last seven years. He explains, "tardigrades are small invertebrate animals, 0.004 to 0.04 inches (0.1 to 1.0 mm) in body length, that live in terrestrial mosses, soil, or lichens. They also inhabit ocean and polar regions." Often known by their nickname, "water bears," studies of these bizarre creatures have surprised scientists.

Recent research has shown that water bears can survive the dangerous conditions of space. Previously, the only organisms that have been exposed to the radiation and vacuum of space and lived to tell the tale are certain types of bacteria and lichen. That simple animals like tardigrades also can survive gives more credence to the theory of panspermia, which claims that organisms could move from world to world after travelling though space.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of tardigrades is their ability to enter a suspended animation-like state when they cannot find enough water. In this kind of survival mode they become very resistant to harsh environments. When they encounter water they awaken and become active again.

Horikawa realised that if he wanted to produce worthwhile, reproducible studies, he would have to raise samples of water bears in laboratory conditions. Those collected from their natural habitat can be quite different to one another because of climate variations, nutritional differences and other environmental considerations. So Horikawa raised a collection on agar plates with green algae for food. Although labor-intensive, this produced uniform water bears which were then separated into groups and exposed to various stresses to see how tough they really are.

A barrage of tests

First they were heated up to sizzling temperatures of 194 F (90 C). Then a group was frozen at -321 F (-196 C). The next batch was given a dose of radiation similar to what they would receive in space — around 4,000 times stronger than that which would make humans ill. The last selection was covered in a dissolving chemical (99.8% acetonitrile, a chemical which may be present in Titan's atmosphere).

The results, published in a recent issue of the journal Astrobiology, were that water bears in their suspended animation state survived everything that was thrown at them. Active creatures were less fortunate, but some did tolerate the extreme conditions. Now their tolerances to specific stresses are known, plans are underway to expose them to many harsh environments simultaneously.

If extraterrestrial life is as tough and resilient as water bears, then other worlds could be inhabited. "It's a possibility that water bear-like creatures could survive and thrive on other planets despite harsh environments," says Horiwaka. "Judging from data of the planets in our solar system, there could even be some in their suspended state on Mars." There is a chance that Earth-based water bears could be transported to other worlds via meteorite impacts, but more research is required before this is known for sure.

Self-repairing DNA

Horikawa plans on continuing his research, particularly looking at the ability of water bears to repair DNA after being exposed to high levels of radiation. As he says, "the most fascinating feature of tardigrades for me is their ability to survive complete dehydration of the body and high tolerance to radiation exposure which must cause critical DNA damages."

Horikawa's method of rearing water bears in the laboratory could lead to many more studies of these amazing animals, and may help astrobiologists in their search for genuine extraterrestrial life.

Knowing the survival tricks of water bears also could one day be a key component in enabling the human exploration of the universe.


Some water bears eat microscopic animals, while others consume algae. Credit: Daiki Horikawa, NASA Ames
Water bears are fundamentally aquatic animals, using their eight legs to walk in liquid. Credit: Daiki Horikawa, NASA Ames
Alien creatures with survival features like those used by water bears could exist on other worlds. Credit: Daiki Horikawa, NASA Ames
Eight-Legged Space Survivor Gives 'Panspermia' New Life
Creature Survives Naked in Space
Video - Looking for Life in All the Right Places
NASA scientists pick spots to search for signs of extraterrestrial life. Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech
  1. 'Alien' Water Bears Amaze Scientists. Stowaways Could Ruin Mars Missions ... Site Map | News | SpaceFlight | Science | Technology | Entertainment ... - 59k - Cached
Astronaut Gloves Tested for Biological Contamination By Staff posted: 25 March 2009 09:34 am ET

Astronauts recently had their gloves swabbed in an early effort to develop planetary protection measures that prevent humans from accidentally contaminating the moon or Mars on future missions.

The crew of space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station used a new laboratory device to examine biological material on the gloves of astronauts servicing the space station. Such tests could help NASA understand and plan around how to prevent the spread of Earth life to other planets.

"This simple approach, designed to monitor the spread of biological material in space, takes very little crew time to perform and could prove to be a useful step in planning future human missions to the moon and Mars," said Jake Maule, a geophysicist with BAE Systems.

The space station's Lab-on-a-Chip Portable Test System, or LOCAD-PTS, can rapidly detect and identify a variety of biological materials relating to bacteria and fungi, and has been on the space station since March 2007.

A recent spacewalk on March 19 provided the opportunity for astronaut Sandy Magnus to swab the spacesuit gloves of STS-119 mission specialists Steve Swanson and Richard Arnold, both before they exited the space station airlock and after they returned.

The spacewalkers installed a solar array truss segment (S6), which had been sampled and analyzed with LOCAD-PTS prior to launch with Discovery on March 15. NASA clean room procedures ensured that most surfaces of the hardware remained clean, but the lab device did detect small levels of fungi — especially in the fabric gap spanners, or safety elements that connect handrails and allow astronauts to move safely around the outside of the space station as they work.

Dead or live bacteria or fungi that remained on the S6 segment would have likely ended up on the spacewalker gloves. An analysis by LOCARD-PTS will likely turn up results after the space shuttle undocks for the journey home.

"These guys were the first guys to put their hands on it since it's been in space, so we were swabbing their gloves and so we'll know what's just out there in space versus when we go looking for life on other places," said Tony Antonelli, shuttle pilot for Discovery.

Any life that survives in space may also evolve in unexpected ways. Studies from two recent space shuttle missions showed that Salmonella bacteria, which cause food poisoning on Earth, became more virulent in the space station's microgravity environment. Tiny creatures called water bears have also demonstrated the ability to survive exposure in the harsh vacuum of space.

LOCAD-PTS should help develop procedures and tools to keep an eye on biological contaminants that might creep aboard expeditions to the moon or Mars, said Mike Effinger, a LOCAD project manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

"Because spaceflight currently is limited to low Earth orbit, requirements don't exist yet in regard to biological contamination of other planetary surfaces by human missions," Effinger said. "This study seeks to begin development of test procedures that can be further developed on the moon in preparation for the human exploration of Mars."


Deepest Living Fish Discovered

** 'Deepest ever' living fish filmed ** The deepest ever living fish are discovered 7.5km down, scientists say.



Deepest Fish

The world's record holder for deepest fish goes to the brotulid* family, about which scientists know almost nothing. These fish are benthopelagic, living at depths of 7000 meters or more. The world's deepest fish (Abyssobrotula galatheae) was found in the Puerto Rican Trench at a depth of 8,372 meters (that's over five miles down!).

Their eyes appear to be virtually nonexistent. Maybe it's because there is never enough light for the fish to see, so why bother with the eyes? After all, eyes in most organisms are designed for gathering light in the creature's visual field and transmitting it to the brain - giving it useful information about its environment. In a world where no sunlight ever penetrates there's probably little use for eyes. The brotulids probably have other, highly developed senses to compensate for their lack of vision, which help them to find their way around in the dark depths. Maybe YOU could be the scientist who studies this species and unravels its mysteries.


Blue Planet - pt 1


Blue Planet - pt 2

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Great photos of deep sea creatures. Non-Muslim believers may ignore religious text but do view God's handiwork. CLICK HERE to view fantastic photos of deep sea creatures.