Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2295 on: Dec 22nd, 2010, 08:48am »
Major flooding in Laguna Beach, mudslides in canyons as storm bears down on L.A. [Updated] December 22, 2010 | 6:03 am
A week of heavy rains has caused flooding and overnight landslides as another storm moves into Southern California.
Most of downtown Laguna Beach was closed by police after streets were inundated with floodwaters, and Laguna Canyon Road was shut down.
[Updated at 6:15 a.m.: Laguna Beach police reported rockslides in canyon areas and urged residents to remain in their homes for now and avoid downtown, portions of which were under several feet of water.]
Numerous Orange County roads were partially or fully closed, including Ortega Highway, the toll road California 241 and Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach.]
In Silverado Canyon, the Orange County Fire Authority was responding to reports of rock and boulder slides. Silverado has experience major flooding and rock slides in previous heavy downpours.
A transition road to the 10-71 interchange in Pomona was closed after being hit by mud and rockslides.
A mudslide has closed Metrolink tracks between San Juan Capistrano and Oceanside.
The incidents came as Los Angeles braced for another powerful storm. Wednesday's storm was projected to be the most intense of the week, the result of a powerful, cold storm from the Gulf of Alaska colliding with a river of subtropical moisture from the western Pacific Ocean.
"When you get the very cold air mixing in with the very warm air, it can be quite volatile," said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada-Flintridge. Forecasters said the system could produce lightning and possibly waterspouts offshore and small tornadoes on land.
Patzert said Wednesday was "definitely going to be the main event." Rainfall rates were expected to be as high as three-quarters of an inch to 1 1/2 inches per hour, which could cause flooding not only in foothills and mountains but also in low-lying areas, said Stuart Seto, a specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
-- Louis Sahagun, Richard Winton and Rong-Gong Lin II
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2296 on: Dec 22nd, 2010, 08:52am »
"Call of Duty: Black Ops" sets record for Activision LOS ANGELES Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:29pm EST
(Reuters) - Activision Blizzard Inc has raked in more than $1 billion in worldwide sales of "Call of Duty: Black Ops," the latest installment of the U.S. game publisher's most successful franchise.
That performance built on the previous benchmark of $650 million of sales in the game's first five days, which set a five-day global record for a movie, book or videogame, the company said.
"In all of entertainment, only 'Call of Duty' and 'Avatar' have ever achieved the billion dollar revenue milestone this quickly," Activision Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick said in a statement, referring to the blockbuster alien epic helmed by James Cameron.
Wall Street's expectations run high for Activision's holiday quarter, based also on the company's latest "World of Warcraft" installment.
But sales in the $50 billion U.S. video game industry -- which has been slow to bounce back from the recession -- are down 5 percent for the year to November 30.
Despite a strong November, research group NPD estimates that overall sales of gaming hardware and software for 2010 are likely to range from $18.8 billion to $19.6 billion, the top of which would be roughly flat with last year.
(Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2297 on: Dec 22nd, 2010, 08:59am »
Universe's Most Massive Stars Can Form in Near Isolation, New Study Finds
ScienceDaily (Dec. 21, 2010)
New observations by University of Michigan astronomers add weight to the theory that the most massive stars in the universe could form essentially anywhere, including in near isolation; they don't need a large stellar cluster nursery.
Left: Star 302, as viewed from the ground. Right: Star 302 as viewed through the Hubble Space Telescope, which can zoom in roughly 40 times closer. From the ground, everything within the circle appears to be one star. (Credit: Courtesy of Joel Lamb)
This is the most detailed observational study to date of massive stars that appear (from the ground) to be alone. The scientists used the Hubble Space Telescope to zoom in on eight of these giants, which range from 20 to 150 times as massive as the Sun. The stars they looked at are in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy that's one of the Milky Way's nearest neighbors.
Their results, published in the Dec. 20 edition of The Astrophysical Journal, show that five of the stars had no neighbors large enough for Hubble to discern. The remaining three appeared to be in tiny clusters of ten or fewer stars.
Doctoral student Joel Lamb and associate professor Sally Oey, both in the Department of Astronomy, explained the significance of their findings.
"My dad used to fish in a tiny pond on his grandma's farm," Lamb said. "One day he pulled out a giant largemouth bass. This was the biggest fish he's caught, and he's fished in a lot of big lakes. What we're looking at is analogous to this. We're asking: 'Can a small pond produce a giant fish? Does the size of the lake determine how big the fish is?' The lake in this case would be the cluster of stars.
"Our results show that you can, in fact, form big stars in small ponds."
The most massive stars direct the evolution of their galaxies. Their winds and radiation shape interstellar gas and promote the birth of new stars. Their violent supernovae explosions create all the heavy elements that are essential for life and the Earth. That's why astronomers want to understand how and where these giant stars form. There is currently a big debate about their origins, Oey said.
One theory is that the mass of a star depends on the size of the cluster in which it is born, and only a large star cluster could provide a dense enough source of gas and dust to bring about one of these massive stars. The opposing theory, and the one that this research supports, is that these monstrous stars can and do form more randomly across the universe -- including in isolation and in very small clusters.
"Our findings don't support the scenario that the maximum mass of a star in a cluster has to correlate with the size of the cluster," Oey said.
The researchers acknowledge the possibility that all of the stars they studied might not still be located in the neighborhood they were born in. Two of the stars they examined are known to be runaways that have been kicked out of their birth clusters. But in several cases, the astronomers found wisps of leftover gas nearby, strengthening the possibility that the stars are still in the isolated places where they formed.
The research is funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2299 on: Dec 22nd, 2010, 11:35am »
More now, on the New Zealand release of UFO files:
New Zealand military releases UFO files
From: AFP December 22, 2010 7:52PM
THE New Zealand military has released hundreds of previously classified reports detailing claims of unidentified flying object sightings and alien encounters.
The reports, dating from 1954 to 2009, were released today under freedom of information laws after the New Zealand Defence Force removed names and other identifying material.
In about 2000 pages of documents, members of the public, military personnel and commercial pilots outline close encounters, mostly involving moving lights in the sky.
Some of the accounts include drawings of flying saucers, descriptions of aliens wearing "pharaoh masks" and alleged examples of extraterrestrial writing.
Before their release, Air Force squadron leader Kavae Tamariki said the Defence Force did not have the resources to investigate UFO sightings and would not be commenting on the files' contents.
"We've just been a collection point for the information. We don't investigate or make reports, we haven't substantiated anything in them," he told the Dominion Post.
One of the most comprehensive files concerns two sightings of strange lights off the South Island town of Kaikoura in 1978, one of which was captured by a television crew aboard a plane in the area.
The incident made international headlines at the time, but a contemporary Air Force report found it could be explained by natural phenomena such as lights from boats being reflected off clouds or an unusual view of the planet Venus.
The original documents on which the reports released today were based will remain sealed in the national archive, some until 2080.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2305 on: Dec 22nd, 2010, 2:48pm »
Now here is a Mayor who is missing the bigger picture! In the U.S., someone would consider this a fantastic business opportunity.....
Mayor of French village threatens to call in army to deal with influx of UFO hunters who believe nearby mountain is 'alien garage'
By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 4:07 PM on 22nd December 2010
The mayor of a tiny French village has called for the army to seal it off from a swathe of UFO hunters and rapture believers who believe it is one of the few places on Earth that will survive Armageddon.
Picturesque Bugarach is located in the Aude region of southwest France and is home to just 189 people.
But in the last few months it has been inundated by ET enthusiasts who believe the Pic de Bugarach, a 4,000ft mountain at whose base the village sits, is an 'alien garage'.
Bugarach, in the Corbieres region of southwest France, has been inundated by UFO hunters who believe a nearby mountain will escape the end of the world in 2012.
According to some, aliens have been biding their time beneath the mountain waiting for end of the world, when they will leave taking some lucky humans with them.
The end date of the ancient Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012, is taken by many to refer to the date of Armageddon when human civilisation will cease to exist.
End of the world? A UFO report for Bugarach claimed someone had seen aliens there and heard the humming of spacecraft underneath the Pic de Bugarach mountain People who have flocked to the French village believe Bugarach is one of several 'sacred mountains' which will be spared from destruction.
Jean-Pierre Delord told The Daily Telegraph: 'If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope.
'I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012.'
He added to RTL radio: 'There are already some websites in the U.S. with some people selling tickets for trips to Bugarach.
'They are doing some business, and people are already organising visits and prayer and meditation workshops.' Mr Delord said people had been coming to the village for the last 10 years after a UFO report by a local man.
He said: 'He claimed he had seen aliens and heard the humming of their spacecraft under the mountain.'
Nostradamus, the 16th century French apothecary known for apocalyptic prophecies, is believed to have stayed in the area and rumours of mysterious Nazi digs in the area have also surfaced.
Some enthusiasts have even bought properties at the base of the mountain and UFO courses have been offered.
Valerie Austin, who moved from Newcastle 22 years ago, told the newspaper: 'It's a beautiful area, but now you find people chanting and lying around meditating.
'It has a magnetic force in the scientific sense of the word. There is a special feeling here, but if I really believed the world were about to end, I'd have a whale of a time over the next two years rather than look for salvation.'
Sigrid Benard, who runs the Maison de la Nature guesthouse, said: 'At first, my clientele was 72 per cent ramblers. Today, I have 68 per cent "esoteric visitors".'
The myth of a 2012 doomsday originates from claims that a planet apparent discovered by the Sumerians is heading towards the Earth, according to the Nasa. That theory then became linked to dates in the Mayan calendar.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2307 on: Dec 22nd, 2010, 7:28pm »
Life's Building Blocks Found on Surprising Meteorite
Published December 22, 2010 Space.com
Scientists have discovered amino acids, the building blocks of life in a meteorite where none were expected.
The finding adds evidence to the idea that some of life's key ingredients could have formed in space, and then been delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite impacts.
The meteorite in question was born in a violent crash, and eventually crashed into northern Sudan. "This meteorite formed when two asteroids collided," said Daniel Glavin of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The shock of the collision heated it to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit [1,093 degrees Celsius], hot enough that all complex organic molecules like amino acids should have been destroyed, but we found them anyway."
Amino acids are the molecules used to build the proteins that are essential to life.
"Finding them in this type of meteorite suggests that there is more than one way to make amino acids in space, which increases the chance for finding life elsewhere in the universe," Glavin said in a statement.
The proteins created from amino acids are used in everything from structures like hair to enzymes, the catalysts that speed up or regulate chemical reactions. Just as the 26 letters of the alphabet are arranged in limitless combinations to make words, life uses 20 different amino acids in a huge variety of arrangements to build millions of different proteins.
In previous missions, scientists found amino acids in samples of Comet Wild 2, and in various carbon-rich meteorites. Finding amino acids in these objects supports the theory that the origin of life got a boost from space.
But when Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., and NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., approached NASA with the suggestion to search for amino acids in the carbon-rich remnants of asteroid 2008 TC3, most scientists expected none to be found.
Because of an unusually violent collision in the past, this asteroid's amino acids were scrambled and now mostly in the form of graphite.
A meteorite sample was divided between the Goddard lab and a lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
"Our analyses confirm those obtained at Goddard," said Jeffrey Bada of Scripps, who led the study there. The extremely sensitive equipment in both labs detected small amounts of 19 different amino acids in the sample, ranging from 0.5 to 149 parts per billion.
The team had to be sure that the amino acids in the meteorite didn't come from contamination on Earth, and they were able to do so because of the way amino acids are made.
Amino acid molecules can be built in two ways that are mirror images of each other, like your hands. Life on Earth uses left-handed amino acids, and they are never mixed with right-handed ones, but the amino acids found in the meteorite had equal amounts of the left and right-handed varieties.
The sample had various minerals that only form under high temperatures, indicating it was forged in a violent collision.
It's possible that the amino acids are simply leftovers from one of the original asteroids in the collision — an asteroid that had better conditions for amino acid formation.
Jennifer Blank of SETI has done experiments with amino acids in water and ice, showing they survive pressures and temperatures comparable to a low-angle comet-Earth impact or asteroid-asteroid collisions.
However, the team thinks it's unlikely amino acids could have survived the conditions that created the meteorite, which endured higher temperatures — more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (over 1,100 degrees Celsius) — over a much longer period.
"It would be hard to transfer amino acids from an impactor to another body simply because of the high-energy conditions associated with the impact," Bada said.
Instead, the team believes there's an alternate method of creating amino acids in space.
"Previously, we thought the simplest way to make amino acids in an asteroid was at cooler temperatures in the presence of liquid water. This meteorite suggests there's another way involving reactions in gases as a very hot asteroid cools down," Glavin said.
The team is planning experiments to test various gas-phase chemical reactions to see if they generate amino acids.
Fragments of 2008 TC3 are collectively called "Almahata Sitta" or "Station Six" after the train stop in northern Sudan near the location where pieces were recovered. They are prized because they are Ureilites, a rare type of meteorite.
"An interesting possibility is that Ureilites are thought by some researchers to have formed in the solar nebula and thus the findings of amino acids in Almahata Sitta might imply that amino acids were in fact synthesized very early in the history of the solar system," Bada said.
The study is detailed in the Dec. 15 edition of the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #2309 on: Dec 22nd, 2010, 8:03pm »
Phantoms and Monsters
Wednesday, December 22, 2010 Holiday Humanoid Encounter Reports
The following is a collection of early humanoid sightings and reports from the 1930s-50s that occurred during the Thanksgiving - Christmas holiday season:
George Adamski was a Polish-born American citizen who became widely known in ufology circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed ships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien "Space Brothers", and to have taken flights with them. The first of the so-called contactees of the 1950s, he styled himself to be a "philosopher, teacher, student and saucer researcher."
Adamski claimed that he had been contacted by the Venusian occupant of a flying saucer that landed in the California desert November 20, 1952. Subsequently Adamski claimed to have had contact with spacemen from Mars and Saturn and to have traveled 50,000 miles into space in their craft. After Adamski's revelations, the convention of spaceman contacts, messages from outer space, and warnings about the welfare of the cosmos became firmly established.
Near Blythe, California - November 20 1952 - 11:00 am
“Attempting to establish a contact,” George Adamski and 6 others drove into the desert, and were eating lunch when a cigar shaped ship was seen hovering. This departed, but after they had driven half a mile and got out, there appeared a saucer hovering, which he photographed. Then he saw a man beckoning, 1/4 mile away, and Adamski walked up to him. He was wearing a one-piece brown coverall without seams, and had shoulder length hair and a very high forehead. Adamski asked him by signs what planet he came from; he replied by indicating the second orbit and speaking, “Venus,” as Adamski had done. “He made me understand that their coming was friendly,” and that, they were concerned about atomic explosions (nodding or shaking his head in response to Adamski’s questions accompanied by mental pictures) an extended partly telepathic conversation is recounted. The visitor indicated his feet; his shoes left footprints containing mysterious markings. He conducted Adamski to the saucer, but not into it, it was translucent and hovering close to the ground. Then he returned to it, and it took off. Adamski was apart from his companions for 1 hour, but they could watch by binoculars.
Later in Palomar Gardens, California - December 13 1952 - 9:00 am
At Palomar Gardens, where Adamski had set up his telescope, he was able to make 3 photographs of a saucer as it approached. It came within 100 ft; “one of the portholes was opened slightly, a hand was extended, and the film holder which my spaceman friend had carried away on November 20 was dropped to the ground.” When developed, it showed not the original saucer photo, but numerous mysterious blurry signs.
Okinawa, Japan - late December 1953 - late night
The witness, a soldier, had just returned to his barracks and had gone to bed when he suddenly found himself in the middle of the airfield standing near a landed object. He was then guided through a blue haze into the object and into a large circular room, there several humanoids, described as five-foot tall, with short blond hair, blue eyes and wearing tight fitting metallic outfits communicated with the witness by using telepathy. He was reassured and was apparently given a short trip on which he saw through a large round glass window what appeared to be the earth, as it would have looked at the “beginning.” The aliens finally brought him back and gave him the following message, “Trust only in our return and we shall deliver yours.”