Your Ad Here

Friday, December 23, 2011

'Space ball' drops on Namibia

A large metallic ball has fallen out of the sky on a remote grassland in Namibia, prompting baffled authorities to contact NASA and the European space agency.

The hollow ball with a circumference of 1.1 metres was found near a village in the north of the country some 750km from the capital, Windhoek, according to police forensics director Paul Ludik.

Locals had heard several small explosions a few days beforehand, he said. Advertisement: Story continues below With a diameter of 35cm, the ball has a rough surface and appears to consist of "two halves welded together". It was made of a "metal alloy known to man" and weighed six kilograms, said Ludik. It was found 18 metres from its landing spot, a hole 33 centimetres deep and 3.8 metres wide.

Several such balls have dropped in southern Africa, Australia and Latin America in the past 20 years, authorities found in an internet search. The sphere was discovered mid-November, but authorities first did tests before announcing the find. Police deputy inspector-general Vilho Hifindaka concluded the sphere did not pose any danger. "It is not an explosive device, but rather hollow, but we had to investigate all this first," he said. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Woolly Mammoth to be cloned

Within five years, a woolly mammoth will likely be cloned, according to scientists who have just recovered well-preserved bone marrow in a mammoth thigh bone.

Japan's Kyodo News first reported the find. Russian scientist Semyon Grigoriev, acting director of the Sakha Republic's mammoth museum, and colleagues are now analyzing the marrow, which they extracted from the mammoth's femur, found in Siberian permafrost soil. Grigoriev and his team, along with colleagues from Japan's Kinki University, have announced that they will launch a joint research project next year aimed at re-creating the enormous mammal, which went extinct around 10,000 years ago.

 Mammoths used to be a common sight on the landscape of North America and Eurasia. Many of our distant ancestors probably had regular face-to-face encounters with the elephant-like giants.

The key to cloning the woolly mammoth is to replace the nuclei of egg cells from an elephant with those extracted from the mammoth's bone marrow cells. Doing this, according to the researchers, can result in embryos with mammoth DNA. What's been missing is woolly mammoth nuclei with undamaged genes. Scientists have been on a Holy Grail-type search for such pristine nuclei since the late 1990s. Now it sounds like the missing genes may have been found.

In an odd twist, global warming may be responsible for the breakthrough. Warmer temperatures tied to global warming have thawed ground in eastern Russia that is almost always permanently frozen. As a result, researchers have found a fair number of well-preserved frozen mammoths there, including the one that yielded the bone marrow.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

UFO found on ocean floor?

An ocean exploration team led by Swedish researcher Peter Lindberg has found what some are suggesting is a crashed flying saucer. Lindberg's team, which has had success in the past recovering sunken ships and cargo, was using sonar to look for the century-old wreck of a ship that went down carrying several cases of a super-rare champagne. Instead, the team discovered what it claims is a mysterious round object that might (or might not) be extraterrestrial.

Lindberg explained to local media that his crew discovered, on the 300-foot-deep ocean floor between Finland and Sweden, "a large circle, about 60 feet in diameter. You see a lot of weird stuff in this job, but during my 18 years as a professional I have never seen anything like this. The shape is completely round."

Adding to the mystery at the bottom of the Gulf of Bothnia, Lindberg said he saw evidence of scars or marks disturbing the environment nearby, suggesting the object somehow moved across the ocean floor to where his team found it.

It's not clear what to make of this report, or the video of the sonar scan that shows the object, but Swedish tabloids and Internet UFO buffs have had a field day. Some suggest the object is a flying saucer of extraterrestrial origin (and the seafloor scars were dug up when it crashed), though of all the things that might create a round sonar signature, that seems to be among the more outlandish.

It might be a natural feature formation, or possibly a sunken, round man-made object. Lindberg's claim that the object "is perfectly round" may or may not be accurate; while it looks round from the information so far, the resolution of the sonar image was not high enough to verify that it is indeed round. And while the lines that appear to be leading to (or from) the feature may suggest some sort of movement, it's also possible they have nothing to do with the object.

Lindberg himself did not offer an extraterrestrial origin, though he did speculate it might be a "new Stonehenge." This is not the first time a sunken object has been presented as the solution to a mystery. Take, for example, the famous underwater mystery of the "Bimini Road," a rock formation in the Caribbean near the Bahamas that resembles a road or wall. Many New Agers and conspiracy theorists claimed the rocks are too perfectly shaped to be natural, and either were made by an unknown civilization or are possibly a relic from the lost city of Atlantis. In fact, geologists have identified the blocks as unusually shaped, but perfectly natural, weathered beach rock.

It's also worth noting that UFOs may not be saucer-shaped. The famous "flying saucer" description of the first UFO has since been revealed as a reporting error. Lindberg said his team has neither the interest nor the resources to further investigate the anomaly. Deep ocean research is time-consuming and expensive. If the object were indeed a flying saucer, recovering it could potentially be worth millions or billions of dollars. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

FBI wants public help solving encrypted notes from murder mystery

The FBI is seeking the public's help in breaking the encrypted code found in two notes discovered on the body of a murdered man in 1999.

The FBI says that officers in St. Louis, Missouri discovered the body of 41-year-old Ricky McCormick on June 30, 1999 in a field and the clues regarding the homicide were two encrypted notes found in the victim's pants pockets.

The FBI says that despite extensive work by its Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU), and the American Cryptogram Association, the meanings of those two coded notes remain a mystery and McCormick's murderer has never been found.

From the FBI: "The more than 30 lines of coded material use a maddening variety of letters, numbers, dashes, and parentheses. McCormick was a high school dropout, but he was able to read and write and was said to be 'street smart.' According to members of his family, McCormick had used such encrypted notes since he was a boy, but apparently no one in his family knows how to decipher the codes, and it's unknown whether anyone besides McCormick could translate his secret language. Investigators believe the notes in McCormick's pockets were written up to three days before his death."

"Standard routes of cryptanalysis seem to have hit brick walls," said CRRU chief Dan Olson in a statement. To move the case forward, examiners need another sample of McCormick's coded system-or a similar one-that might offer context to the mystery notes or allow valuable comparisons to be made. Or, short of new evidence, Olson said, "Maybe someone with a fresh set of eyes might come up with a brilliant new idea."

If you have an idea how to break the code, have seen similar codes, or have any information about the Ricky McCormick case, write to CRRU at the following address:

FBI Laboratory
Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit
2501 Investigation Parkway
Quantico, VA 22135
Attn: Ricky McCormick Case

There is no reward being offered, just the knowledge that you may be solving an intriguing murder mystery, the FBI stated.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Russian geneticists suggest breeding mammoths to fight crisis

Russian geneticists are working to resurrect the mammoth, the enormous cold-tolerant mammoth is an ideal animal for agricultural breeding, they say. "Our studies dedicated to decoding the mammoth's genome will soon allow us to resurrect this long extinct animal," Alexei Tikhonov, secretary for the National Mammoth Committee told MosNews reports.

"There are twoways to restore a species: the first one is cloning, but it requires a fully intact cell from the animal. When there is no cell left intact, but an animal can be recreated by decoding its genom," Tikhonov explained. According to researchers, by combining the genome of the mammoth and the Indian elephant, they will be able to create a transgenic animal.

Today, a mixed team of Russian and American scientists have almost completed decoding the mammoth's genetic identity.

"We already have the DNA from the hair of the famous Yukagir mammoth, found in Yakutia," Tikhonov said.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see a living mammoth in the very near future, although a lot depends on the funding, of course," he said.

In times of financial crisis, mammoth farms could be a real blessing, scientists say, as they would produce cheap meat, skins and precious mammoth ivory.

One average-sized mammoth of four or five tons would provide enough meat for a hundred people for a whole year.

Researchers also think the mammoth meat should have an excellent taste, as prehistoric people took pains to hunt the dangerous animals instead of opting for easier prey.