|UFOs In Iran! |
Contrail Dangers, Frankenfish!
Neanderthals, Quantum Leap
Atlantis, Clone King & More!
|UFOs In Iran!|
|[The following reports trailed under a CNN broadcast the other night, but we didn't see anything else about it on any of the "big" networks or the BBC, so we thought we'd do a little investigating. Turns out Iran's UFOs could be The Russians? Read on, Alf. Ed.] |
UFOs In Iran?
Moscow April 27, 2004 (RBC) - The US Navy Department intends to subsidize the development of an advanced Russian aircraft, which will eventually be extinguishing forest fires on US territory, the Russia Journal reported. The flying machine is called the EKIP (Russian acronym, Ecology and Progress).
The Saratov factory was founded in 1929 as an agricultural machinery manufacturer. On October 28, 1938 the first Saratov-made airplane, R-10, took off the factory airfield. R-10 was used as a high-class scout plane and could fly at the amazing speed of 370 km/h.
During the WWII Saratov factory made over 13,000 Yak-1 and Yak-3 fighters.
Aerodynamic body of the vehicle combines the functions of the wing and fuselage enabling "Equip" to transport cargoes that are 8 to 10 times heavier and bigger in size than those modern airplanes can take on board.
This air-cushion vehicle can take off and land almost anywhere including the water surfaces. The use of efficient boundary layer control system ensures excellent aerodynamic qualities of "Equip".
National UFO Reporting Center - http://www.ufocenter.com
|Contrail Dangers: Is Aircraft Exhaust Warming US Climate?|
|NASA Press Release |
April 28, 2004 - NASA scientists have found that cirrus clouds, formed by contrails from aircraft engine exhaust, are capable of increasing average surface temperatures enough to account for a warming trend in the United States that occurred between 1975 and 1994.
"This result shows the increased cirrus coverage, attributable to air traffic, could account for nearly all of the warming observed over the United States for nearly 20 years starting in 1975, but it is important to acknowledge contrails would add to and not replace any greenhouse gas effect," said Patrick Minnis, senior research scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The study was published April 15 in the Journal of Climate. "During the same period, warming occurred in many other areas where cirrus coverage decreased or remained steady," he added.
"This study demonstrates that human activity has a visible and significant impact on cloud cover and, therefore, on climate. It indicates that contrails should be included in climate change scenarios," Minnis said.
Minnis determined the observed one percent per decade increase in cirrus cloud cover over the United States is likely due to air traffic-induced contrails. Using published results from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (New York) general circulation model, Minnis and his colleagues estimated contrails and their resulting cirrus clouds would increase surface and lower atmospheric temperatures by 0.36 to 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. Weather service data reveal surface and lower atmospheric temperatures across North America rose by almost 0.5 degree Fahrenheit per decade between 1975 and 1994.
Minnis worked with colleagues Kirk Ayers, Rabi Palinkonda, and Dung Phan from Analytical Services and Materials, Inc., of Hampton, Va. They used 25 years of global surface observations of cirrus clouds, temperature and humidity records from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis dataset. They confirmed the cirrus trends with 13 years of satellite data from NASA's International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project.
Both air traffic and cirrus coverage increased during the period of warming despite no changes in the NCEP humidity at jet cruise altitudes over the United States. By contrast, humidity at flight altitudes decreased over other land areas, such as Asia, and was accompanied by less cirrus coverage, except over Western Europe, where air traffic is very heavy.
Cirrus coverage also rose in the North Pacific and North Atlantic flight corridors. The trends in cirrus cover and warming over the United States were greatest during winter and spring, the same seasons when contrails are most frequent. These results, along with findings from earlier studies, led to the conclusion that contrails caused the increase in cirrus clouds.
NASA's Earth Science Enterprise is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth System Science to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space.
|Asthma Epidemic from Pollution|
|By Maggie Fox |
WASHINGTON April 30, 2004 (Reuters) — Poor and minority children are likely to develop asthma at worsening rates due to global warming and air pollution, environment experts predicted Thursday.
They released a report showing that as the climate gets warmer, allergens such as pollen and mold will flood the air, interacting with urban pollutants such as ozone and soot to fuel an already growing epidemic of asthma.
"It is affecting the trees, the molds, the subsurface organisms," Dr. Paul Epstein of Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, told a news conference.
"The combination of air pollutants, aeroallergens, heat waves, and unhealthy air masses — increasingly associated with a changing climate — causes damage to the respiratory systems, particularly in growing children, and these impacts disproportionately affect poor and minority groups in the inner cities," the report reads.
The report finds that asthma among U.S. preschool children, ages 3 to 5, grew 160 percent between 1980 to 1994.
"This is a real wake-up call for people who think global warming is only going to be a problem way off in the future or that it has no impact on their lives in a meaningful way," said Christine Rogers, a senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The problem is here today for these children, and it is only going to get worse."
Rogers, Epstein, and the American Public Health Association worked together on the report.
Most climate experts agree that the world is becoming steadily warmer and that human activity is much to blame. Burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas releases carbon dioxide into the air.
The carbon dioxide forms a kind of invisible blanket that traps the sun's radiation.
While average temperatures warm, the effects are not predictable and even. Storms may become more severe and some areas may get colder weather. The report finds that in some regions, winter is ending weeks earlier than before and plants are releasing their pollen earlier than ever, accelerating the hay fever season.
Pollen and fungal spores can worsen asthma, a serious medical condition whose symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, chest pain, or tightness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 9 million U.S. children have been diagnosed with asthma and more than 4 million have had an asthma attack in the past 12 months. It says 4,487 people died from asthma in 2000, most of them adults.
Asthma affects blacks more than any other group and affects 16 percent of children from poor families, as opposed to 11 percent of children living above the poverty line.
The CDC also says 9 million U.S. children were reported with respiratory allergies in 2002.
The report makes clear links among asthma, allergies, and urban air pollution.
"Rising levels of carbon dioxide, in addition to trapping more heat, promote pollen production in plants, increase fungal growth, and alter species composition in plant communities by favoring opportunistic weeds like ragweed and poison ivy," the report reads. "Diesel particulates help deliver and present pollen and mold allergens to the immune system in the lungs," it adds.
"The good news is we can do something about this," Epstein said. "Green" buildings with roof gardens to keep them cool and insulation to keep heat from leaking would help, as would improving public transport and encouraging the use of hybrid vehicles that rely less on fossil fuels.
|Son of Frankenfish?|
|By Bryan Sears |
BALTIMORE April 30, 2004 (Reuters) — Maryland state workers plan to drain a suburban lake after the discovery of the same voracious, "walking" fish that two years ago prompted them to poison a smaller body of water, officials said Thursday.
In what some locals are calling the "return of Frankenfish," a northern snakehead fish — a top predator in China known for its voracious appetite and ability to "walk" on land using its fins — was pulled this week from a lake near Washington, D.C.
Workers dumped 100 gallons of poison into a Maryland pond in 2002 in a bid to eradicate a colony of snakeheads, which are capable of devouring all native species. There are concerns that if left unchecked, the fish could upset the local ecosystem.
Marion Joyce, community relations manager for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, said crews could begin pumping Pine Lake as soon as Thursday if state and federal officials approve.
Workers earlier this week sent electric shocks through the five-acre lake in an effort to stun fish to the surface, but the procedure did not reveal any additional snakeheads. Workers also erected barriers to keep the fish from spreading into nearby waterways.
The northern snakehead eats smaller fish, crustaceans, and even frogs or other small amphibians. Females lay as many as 15,000 eggs up to five times per year. Those eggs hatch as little as 28 hours later.
Normally at home in the rivers and lakes of Asia where they are a delicacy, snakeheads found their way to Maryland several years ago when a local resident bought the fish from a live seafood market in New York to make soup for a sick relative.
The soup was never made and the man dumped the fish into the Crofton pond, where they bred rapidly. About 100 baby snakeheads were later found in the pond.
|Killing 20,000 Australian Koalas?|
|SYDNEY April 30, 2004 (Reuters) - A koala population explosion on an Australian island has prompted calls for 20,000 of the furry, native marsupials to be shot to stop them destroying their island habitat and end a koala famine. |
Some 30,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island, off the coast of the state of South Australia, are stripping the island of its native gum trees, destroying the ecosystem and causing a koala famine, say environmentalists and national parks officials.
"We are talking thousands of starving koalas," said Sandra Kanck from the Australian Democrats, Australia's third major political party.
"While they may be cute and cuddly we need to get beyond emotion to reality...my suggestion is professional shooters do it quickly and cleanly," Kanck told Reuters on Friday of the proposed cull.
The South Australian state government has rejected calls for a cull, preferring sterilization and relocation.
The Australian Koala Foundation also opposes a cull of the koalas, which on the Australian mainland are struggling to survive as urban development destroys their habitat.
Kangaroo Island tourist operators say a koala cull would severely damage the island's tourist industry.
"The koalas are so hungry they are eating pine needles," said Kanck. "What will tourists think of a habitat of denuded trees with desperate, starving koalas roaming the damaged landscape?"
|Neanderthals Were Adults at 15|
|By Paul Rincon |
BBC News Science Staff
Europe April 28, 2004 (BBC) - Neanderthals reached adulthood at the tender age of 15 according to a report in the journal Nature.
French and Spanish researchers analysed growth records preserved in the teeth of Neanderthals, modern humans and two other human species.
Breaks in the deposition of crown enamel reveal how fast teeth grow. Neanderthals formed their crowns 15% quicker than we do, reaching adulthood when modern humans of the same age were still floundering in adolescence.
Perikymata are disturbances in the deposition of crown enamel which are preserved on the tooth's surface as a series of horizontal ridges.
More closely spaced perikymata indicate a slower rate of growth, while more widely spaced perikymata point to faster growth.
In modern humans (Homo sapiens), tooth growth slows dramatically after the formation of the top half of the crown. This leads to more closely spaced perikymata in the bottom half of the crown.
In the Nature report, Fernando Ramirez Rozzi and Jose Bermudez de Castro analysed incisors and canines from 119 individual human remains from Europe spanning a time period of about 800,000 years.
They found that perikymata were generally more widely spaced in primitive humans such as Neanderthals, Homo heidelbergensis and Homo antecessor than in our own species.
But Neanderthals had the most widely spaced perikymata of all.
The authors argue that this indicates Neanderthals grew more rapidly overall. This rapid rate of growth could have been an evolutionary outcome of high adult mortality in Neanderthal populations, they claim.
But the Neanderthals seem to follow a reverse evolutionary trend, with fast growth and a big brain. The results might suggest this trend could be completely random, said Dr Ramirez Rozzi.
They must have had a very high-calorie diet to fuel their rapid growth and sustain such a large brain.
|Controlling Pain with Your Brain|
|By Helen Phillips |
San Francisco May 1, 2004 (New Scientist) - It could be bad news for the makers of painkillers. A small study suggests people can learn to suppress pain when they are shown the activity of a pain-control region of their brain.
This new biofeedback technique might also turn out to be useful for treating other conditions.
Biofeedback techniques based on electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings of brainwave patterns, in which electrodes are placed on the scalp, are used with some success to treat epilepsy and attention problems such as ADHD.
But no one has found a way to use this method for controlling pain in people, says Peter Rosenfeld of Northwestern University in Chicago, one of the pioneers of biofeedback.
Twenty years ago Rosenfeld found that he could change the pain threshold in mice by training them to alter their brainwave patterns through a process called conditioned learning, where an altered brainwave state was rewarded by direct stimulation of the reward centers in their brains. Since this meant placing an electrode into the brain, however, his team never tried the technique on people.
Now Fumiko Maeda, Christopher deCharms and their colleagues at Stanford University in California have tried showing people real-time feedback from a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.
The difference between EEGs and fMRI, says Rosenfeld, is that fMRI allows you to show volunteers how much activity there is in specific areas of their brains. "From scalp recordings, you don't really know what you are recording," he says.
The eight volunteers saw the activity of a pain-control region called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex represented on a screen either as a flame that varied in size, or as a simple scrolling bar graph.
This brain region is known to modulate both the intensity and the emotional impact of pain. During the scans the volunteers had to endure painful heat on the palm of their hand. They were asked to try to increase or decrease the signal from the brain scanner and to periodically rate their pain sensations.
It took just three 13-minute sessions in the scanner for the eight volunteers to learn to vary the brain activity level, and thus to develop some control over their pain sensations, the researchers reported at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting in San Francisco last week.
The effect seemed to last beyond the sessions in the scanner, although the researchers have yet to determine how strongly and for how long. The volunteers could not explain how they did it. The researchers ruled out other explanations for the effect through a series of controls. They gave people false feedback data, no feedback at all, or feedback from a part of the brain unrelated to pain control. They also sometimes asked people to pay attention to the pain or distracted their attention away from it.
The technique might prove useful not only for training patients to control pain, but perhaps also for treating other illnesses where brain activity is altered, such as depression or dementia. It might even help boost normal brain function. It could also prove a valuable research tool, helping establish links between specific patterns of brain activity and behavior. But its use is likely to be limited by the high cost of fMRI scanners.
New Scientist - http://www.newscientist.com
|Quantum Leap for Quantum Computers|
|Purdue University News Release |
WEST LAFAYETTE April 29, 2004 – A new breed of faster, more powerful computers based on quantum mechanics may be a step closer to reality, report scientists from Purdue and Duke universities.
Future computers that use quantum dots to store and process digital information might outperform conventional computer circuits because of both the new transistors' smaller size and their potential to solve problems that would take centuries on today's machines.
"We believe this research will allow large numbers of quantum-dot switches to work together as a group, which will be necessary if they are ever to function as a computer's brain, or memory.
Because a quantum computer would require all its qubits to behave according to quantum rules, its processor could itself serve as a laboratory for exploring the quantum world.
|EPA Delays Mercury Rule|
|By Chris Baltimore |
WASHINGTON April 30, 2004 (Reuters) — The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday delayed finalizing rules to reduce harmful mercury emissions from aging power plants until March 2005 to consider whether stricter rules are needed.
The EPA faced a Dec. 15 legal deadline to finalize the rules, which, as written, would require utilities to reduce mercury emissions by 70 percent by 2018. Mercury contaminates water and seafood and has been linked to neurological disorders in infants.
EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt said final rules will be delayed by four months because of "the complexity of the issue and the desire to assure that it's done in the proper and informed way." The agency extended a public comment period set to end on Friday.
Democrats and environmental groups have complained that the rules are weak and make too many concessions to industry.
The delay stems from an offer this week from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the environmental group that sued the EPA in 1997. That lawsuit spurred the EPA to draft its mercury proposal.
The NRDC said it would permit a delay if the agency would rethink the proposal it originally released in late January.
The nation's 1,100 coal-burning power plants emit about 48 tons of mercury each year, the largest unregulated U.S. source.
The EPA had proposed two possible ways to reduce emissions: a cap-and-trade system and requiring utilities to install "maximum achievable control technology" at plants.
Both options are still under consideration, Leavitt said. "We will do what analysis is needed to assure that the proper decision is made," he told reporters on a telephone call.
Critics say the Bush administration shunned traditional rule-writing procedures and allowed utility officials to dictate terms to the detriment of public health.
"The rule wasn't even written by the EPA; it was written on K Street," said Sen. James Jeffords, Vermont independent, referring to the Washington street lined with lobbyist offices. "The Bush Administration has lost sight of its obligation to protect public health and safeguard the natural environment," Jeffords said, calling for tighter standards.
Utility lobbyists cautioned the EPA not to enact rules that were too strict.
"We think a two-thirds reduction in a decade and a half is a pretty steep cut in (mercury) emissions," said a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, a utility lobbying group.
|In Search of Atlantis|
|Cyprus Atlantis Expedition 2004 Press Release |
Cyprus April 30, 2004 - After several weeks of successful lecture tours and fundraising in Cyprus this Spring, American author Robert Sarmast is this week launching the official Atlantis Expedition Programme.
At exactly midnight on Friday, on board ship 5 hours out from Limassol harbour, his international launch team will send a capsule containing the Cyprus, EU and specially created Atlantis flags one mile down to the sea floor at the edge of the submerged continental shelf which Sarmast believes was once the plain of Atlantis.
"As Cyprus celebrates being put on the European map, we this week wish to share in the celebrations and launch what we believe will put Cyprus right at the centre of the world map - forever", said Sarmast today.
He has pledged to remain at his Limassol base in Cyprus for several months to see through the fulfillment of the project which will cost a total of at least 100,000cyp and which has taken 10 years of his life to prepare.
With growing support from the Government and with partial funding now secure, the team anticipate that the expedition proper - which will involve using ROV, multi-beam and side-scan technology to film the sea bed - will take place soon once the remaining funds are secured through corporate and private sponsorship.
With tourism standing to benefit considerably, the official Cyprus Tourist Organisation (CTO) has already committed some funding to the programme and is sending a representative to the pre-launch press conference - which will be held on board ship this Thursday 29th at the New Port of Limassol at 11am.
Skeptics may be impressed by the fact that several accomplished international salvage experts and deep-sea divers have been willing to stake their reputations on becoming involved with the Expedition Team.
Whether Sarmast will succeed where others have failed - persuading the seabed to yield up the Holy Grail of Archaeology - time alone will tell. But with so much at stake for Cyprus in this expedition, Sarmast is calling upon the people of Cyprus to help him raise the remainder of the funds.
|Genre News: Clone King, Tru Calling, Angel, Charmed, Serenity, Van Helsing, Wicked, Philo Farnsworth & More!|
|Kill Ugly TV: The Clone King |
"Every time you think television has hit its lowest ebb, a new program comes along to make you wonder where you thought the ebb was." - Art Buchwald.
New York May 1, 2004 (eXoNews) - I am a long-time TV viewer and it takes a lot to shock me, but I saw an ad for 20/20 this week that stopped me cold. I was amazed that even ratings-loser ABC and Barbara Walters would stoop so low as to mount a reality show based on child adoption.
Now ABC claims their ads were all a "mistake" and Walters echoes: "This is not one of those scripted 'reality shows' -- it is reality." [See news report below. Ed.]
There are far too many "news magazine" programs serving far too little hard news. There are far too many game shows tagged with the word "reality". There is far too little original, unique entertainment on TV networks. Network "comedies" are 99% talking heads. Most "dramatic programming" just means cops chasing.
Walters called the promotions a "mistake."
Hollywood May 1, 2004 (eXoNews) - The Tru Calling finale, two excellent hours on Fox last Thursday, failed to score any last minute surge with a mere 3.6/5 overnight rating. Tru won only 4.43 million viewers and pulled a 1.9/5 share of adults in the hallowed 18-49 age demographic. (That's a lower overnight than the most recent Angel episode on The WB - not good for the Zorro Network.)
Good setup for a second season as well.
We figure we'll all know before too long.
Angel Fan Choice Marathon
Canada May 1, 2004 (eXoNews) - Nope. Not on The WB. Unlike Angel's home network (or former home network, depending on how pessimistic you are about "possible Angel TV movies" aired on The WB), Canada's SPACE Network will give Angel fans a chance to relive the past and choose their favorite 10 Angel episodes off all time.
Charmed Ones Last Spell?
The WB has already announced Charmed's renewal for a seventh season, but the current rise of dumbed down network "reality" programming is killing off genre shows.
Charmed is a survivor, so far.
"I think we all feel like we want to go out on top," Milano told TVG's Lauren Kanter.
"So if our ratings are as strong as they are this year, we'll probably go for an eighth season. And if it starts to slip, we'd all decide to end after the seventh season."
Official Charmed - http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0,7353,||156,00.html
Hollywood April 30, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - Zoic Studios has been recruited to produce the visual effects for Joss Whedon's upcoming "Serenity" for Universal Studios. Zoic creative director Loni Peristere will serve as the visual effects supervisor for the sci-fi feature.
Hollywood April 30, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - Shuler Hensley (Frankenstein's monster) and Will Kemp (Wolf Man) told SCI FI Wire that their performances in the upcoming monster movie Van Helsing don't incorporate much from previous movie versions of their iconic characters.
"It was one of the first books I read as a kid."
LOS ANGELES April 29, 2004 (Zap2it.com) - Nicholas Brendon, Xander to a legion of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fans, announced on Wednesday (April 28) that he has voluntarily entered an undisclosed alcohol treatment center.
Wicked of Oz Scores Top Nominations
New York April 30, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - "Wicked," a musical that looks at the early history of some of the characters in "The Wizard of Oz," scored a leading 11 nominations for the 49th annual Drama Desk Awards, announced Thursday.
"Assassins" also got noms for lighting design (Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer) and sound design (Dan Moses Schreier).
West Wing's Father of TV
Hollywood April 28, 2004 (Variety) - In their first project since exiting "The West Wing," Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme will join forces at New Line on "The Farnsworth Invention," a drama about how Philo Farnsworth invented TV technology and was robbed of the glory by broadcast pioneer David Sarnoff.
That led to a skirmish with rival scientist Vladimir Zworykin, who years earlier had filed a patent for the technology even though he hadn't made it work until Farnsworth's invention.
" They are adversaries, but it is subtle and sophisticated. It is a compelling drama that will have the feel of 'Seabiscuit' in that it covers one of those periods in the country where everything changed."
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