Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Are insects and fake meat the future of food?

Via theguardian.com by Damian Carrington

Insects and imitation meat are the best alternatives to real meat in tackling the huge and growing environmental impact of livestock on the planet, new research has shown.

The world’s appetite for meat is rising fast as incomes grow but the resulting greenhouse gas emissions, already 12% of the total, are also soaring and taming global warming will be impossible unless the trend is reversed. Rising demand is also leading to more of the world’s natural areas being converted to farmland, a key factor in the mass extinction of species currently unfolding.

Globally, twice as much land is used to raise cattle, pigs and other animals than is used to grow crops. Furthermore, a third of those crops harvested are fed back to livestock. The new research is the first systematic comparison of the environmental impact of various sources of food, and found that imitation meat and insects are vastly more efficient than raising livestock.

The work, published in the journal Global Food Security, found that if half of traditional animal products were replaced by imitation meat or insects the land required to produce the world’s food would be slashed by a third. However, the researcher found that another alternative – lab-grown meat – did not show such big advantages.

Real-life Darth Vader works at a hospital

Via huffingtonpost.com by Nina Golgowski

In a galaxy far, far away, Darth Vader rules as one of the most feared villains of all time. But here, in a Tennessee hospital, he’s known as a force for good, and not evil.

Darthvader Williamson, a 39-year-old surgery tech who was named after the famous “Star Wars” character, is being celebrated on behalf of this week’s geeky “holiday” May the Fourth — a pun based on the phrase “may the force be with you.”

In a video interview released by St. Francis Hospital-Bartlett, where he’s worked for the last 10 years, Williamson revealed that it was his father’s decision to name him after the famous Sith Lord, perhaps against his mother’s better judgment.

“When I was born, my mother wanted me to be named junior, which was after my father, Anthony Lee Williamson,” he said. “But with him being a ‘Star Wars’ buff, he was enamored by the character Darth Vader, he was like, ‘this would be one bad name for our son.’”

That’s bad, as in good.

Winchester Mystery House movie starts filming

Via mercurynews.com by Karen D'Souza

Helen Mirren usually reigns supreme at the cinema, but even the consummate actress may be upstaged by her intensely photogenic co-star this time around.

The Dame, an Oscar winner revered for everything from “The Queen” to “Prime Suspect,” must share the big screen with San Jose’s most iconic tourist magnet, the Winchester Mystery House, in an upcoming supernatural thriller.

Mirren and co-star Jason Clarke filmed scenes for “Winchester” Friday amid the byzantine 161-room Victorian mansion, one of the most popular haunted houses in the country. The major motion picture, which will spook theaters in spring 2018, is based on the chilling but true story of Sarah Winchester, the troubled widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, and her beloved monster house. The tourist site was closed to the public for three days during filming.

“She was a fascinating woman,” says Mirren of Winchester in her signature elegant manner, holding court in one of the house’s many parlors. “People say she was crazy. I don’t think she was crazy at all, I think she was troubled, and I think she was like an artist. She wished to live on her own terms. The house is her work of art.”

Top 10 Totally Unexpected Uses For Common Elements

Via listverse.com by Reuben Jacobs

In the 200 or so years that mankind has been arranging and grouping elements, we have discovered 118 of them, and we have figured out what most of them are good for. Oxygen is for breathing, helium is for having a good time without getting the police involved, gold is for hip hop artists, and curium is for, something, apparently. Some elements, however, can be used in alternative and often surprising ways. Here are ten elements with surprising applications.

10. Copper Has Antimicrobial Properties

Long ago, even before man knew what science was, they knew that copper could kill things that could kill you. That weird fuzzy thing growing on the water would meet its demise at the hands of copper. Ancient Egyptian texts[1] say copper was used to clean wounds, sterilize water, and treat a variety of other ailments, such as burns, headaches, weird growths, and leg ulcers.

Today’s studies have observed that copper does indeed kill bacteria in the awesomely named process of “contact killing.” What is even more awesome is the actual process of contact killing. Studies suggest that when bacteria comes into contact with copper’s surface, the bacterial membrane ruptures and copper ions enter the bacteria and disrupt life processes until they die. Copper and its alloys are now known for their danger to microbes, and as such continue to see use in this day and age as doorknobs and other such things that a lot of people come into contact with.

9. Phosphorus Can Be Used as a Deadly Weapon

Phosphorus is famous for almost nothing. It is used in matches and fertilizer, but that seems to be about it. The military, however, believed that phosphorus had not yet achieved its full potential as an element. Enter “white phosphorus.”

White phosphorus is made from a common allotrope of the element, and it is deadly. It was used in Vietnam, where it got the nickname “Willy Pete,” which in turn, came from military jargon. It rapidly oxidizes and ignites, which burns like hell, and ignites, fuel, clothes, ammunition, and burns deeply into skin.

It is the subject of controversy and intense debate; some feel that it should be classified as a chemical weapon[2] and therefore banned. It was used in Iraq, most notably in Fallujah, and supposedly more recently in Gaza and the Ukraine. However, white phosphorus is not used exclusively as a weapon and can be used in tracer rounds and smoke screens because of the amount of smoke it produces.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Air Force's X-37B Space Plane Lands in Florida After Record-Breaking Secret Mission

Via space.com by Mike Wall

The record-shattering mission of the U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane is finally over.

After circling Earth for an unprecedented 718 days, the X-37B touched down Sunday (May 7) at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida — the first landing at the SLF since the final space shuttle mission came back to Earth in July 2011. The landing occurred at 7:47 a.m. EDT (1147 GMT).

"Today marks an incredibly exciting day for the 45th Space Wing as we continue to break barriers," Air Force Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, the 45th SW commander, said in a statement. "Our team has been preparing for this event for several years, and I am extremely proud to see our hard work and dedication culminate in today's safe and successful landing of the X-37B."

The just-ended mission, known as OTV-4 (Orbital Test Vehicle-4), was the fourth for the X-37B program. All four launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and the first three landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. But Air Force officials have said they want to consolidate X-37B launch and touchdown operations on Florida's Space Coast, so today's landing might be the first of many at the SLF.

Why did Agatha Christie disappear in 1926?

Agatha Christie, in her home, Greenway House, in Devonshire
Via telegraph.co.uk by Camilla Turner

It was the last great mystery that Agatha Christie left unsolved – claiming amnesia after she disappeared for 11 days in 1926.

Now writer Andrew Wilson has unveiled a new theory as to why she vanished with no explanation: that she had left her home intending to take her own life.

But after crashing her car she was overcome by her Christian belief that suicide was a sin, and felt so ashamed of herself that she constructed the idea that she suffered from memory loss, according to Wilson.

Wilson's new novel A Talent For Murder is fictional, but is based on his theory that the truth about Christie’s disappearance has been “hiding in plain sight”.

DARPA Wants to Hack Your Brain to Make You Learn Faster

Image: Warner Brothers
Via gizmodo.com by Kristen V. Brown

If the brain is just a bunch of wires and circuits, it stands to reason that those components can simply be re-wired in order to create a better, smarter us. At least, that’s the theory behind a new project from the military’s secretive DARPA research branch announced on Wednesday, which aims to enhance human cognitive ability by activating what’s known as “synaptic plasticity.”

Recent research has suggested that stimulating certain peripheral nerves—those that relay signals between the brain, the spinal cord and the rest of the body—can enhance a person’s ability to learn, by triggering the release of neurochemicals that reorganize connections in the brain. Through its new Targeted Neuroplasticity Training program, DARPA is is funding eight different research efforts that seek to enhance learning by targeting those nerves with electrical stimulation. The end goal is to translate those findings into real-world applications that boost military training regimens—allowing a soldier, to say, soak up a new language in months instead of years. Should DARPA figure out a way to do that, its efforts will likely go on to impact all of us.

“TNT aims to deliver new knowledge of the neural processes that regulate cognitive functions associated with learning,” Doug Weber, the program’s manager, told Gizmodo. In other words, DARPA wants to study the basic biology at work here, and eventually, design neurostimulation devices that exploit our biological wiring to enhance learning.

10 Gruesome Tales From The Dead House, AKA The Morgue

Via listverse.com by Elizabeth Yetter

Long before it was commonly called a morgue, it was called the dead house. The dead were kept inside until family claimed them or arrangements could be made for their burial. Sometimes, bodies were dissected in the dead house, and sometimes, those who were near death were placed inside to await the end.

The dead house held locals in morbid fascination. It was the center of entertainment for thrill seekers, and it was a place of gossip. Newspapers from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s often published stories about the inner workings and troubles within the gruesome walls.

10. Poor Conditions Of The Houses

For the “unfortunates” who died in Albany, Western Australia, in 1889, there was no dignity in their deaths. Their bodies were placed in a little shed on the prison grounds where water would rain down on their bodies from the leaky roof.

Upon entering the dead house, their bodies were placed on an old, wooden table. A small blanket was placed on them to cover their intimate bits until it was time to place them in an unnamed hole in the ground.

Sadly enough, the condition of the dead house at Albany was nothing compared to that in Beechworth, Victoria. In 1877, it was reported that the hospital’s dead house was dangerously unsafe.[1] Doctors claimed that it had accumulated “putrid matter of the very worst description.” Dr. Dobbyn said that it was “merely a place for bottling up the germs of disease.”

A committee decided that it was time to erect a new dead house in the vicinity. However, several doctors were worried about ripping up the old flooring and removing the dirt beneath the building because it could have released a deadly plague into the populace.

The building was so disgusting that doctors also believed that the hospital might be committing murder by sending men in to demolish the old dead house. Instead, it was recommended that the ground beneath the building not be disturbed.

9. Rat Infestation 

In 1911, there was a discussion on what to do about the dead house in Bantry, Ireland. As it turned out, the dead were being housed in a workhouse chapel before families could claim them and prepare them for burial.

The main problem with the dead house was that it was more like a rat house. The rat infestation in the chapel was so terrible that large stones had to be placed over the coffins to prevent the rats from getting at the corpses and eating them.

The debate over what to do about the problem was rather heated, with at least one person seeing no issue with rats eating the dead.[2]

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Californians reported the most UFO sightings in recent years

Via cbsnews.com

For Californians, the truth is out there. “UFO Sightings Desk Reference,” a new book on reported UFO sightings, found that California had the most reports of visual encounters with unidentified objects in the United States. This includes hundreds of reported sightings, CBS San Francisco reports.

The book analyzed more than 120,000 reports of UFOs and found more Californians believed they’d come in contact with extraterrestrial life than anyone else in the country.

“We found that UFOs were sighted in every county in the United States. Every county had at least one sighting sometime in the past 15 years,” the book’s co-author, Cheryl Costa, explained.

Virgin Galactic Aims to Fly Space Tourists in 2018, CEO Says

Via space.com by Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is on track to begin commercial passenger spaceflights before the end of next year, the company's chief executive said.

For years, Branson has been optimistically forecasting the start of rides aboard SpaceShipTwo, an air-launched suborbital spaceplane that is designed to carry six passengers and two pilots to an altitude of about 62 miles (100 kilometers).

During the suborbital hop, passengers will be able to experience a few minutes of microgravity and see the limb of Earth set against the blackness of space.

Branson has been more circumspect in his schedule projections since an October 2014 fatal accident during a test flight of Virgin's first vehicle. But in an interview with The Telegraph earlier this month, the billionaire entrepreneur said he'd be "very disappointed" if the program isn't well underway by the end of next year.

'Deadly spiders' in banana force family from County Durham home

Via bbc.com

A woman and her seven-month-old baby were forced to vacate their home for more than three days after hundreds of tropical spiders were found in a banana.

Gemma Price, 30, was mid-mouthful of the banana when she made the discovery.

Pest controllers, called in by Asda where the fruit was bought from, told Ms Price they were possibly Brazilian wandering spiders.

Gemma's baby boy was sleeping next to her when the spiders appeared.

Wildlife expert Geoff Grewcock, of Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, said a bite from this type of spider "could kill you".

Top 10 Horrifying Facts About The Topeka Insane Asylum

Via listverse.com by Elizabeth Yetter

The Topeka State Hospital, often referred to as the Topeka Insane Asylum, opened its doors in 1872 to the medically and criminally insane. For over 100 years, reports of abuse and murder came out of the hospital, and it eventually closed its doors in 1997 due to the abuse and overcrowding.

During its operation, the state hospital was infamous for its forced sterilization program, the use of hydrotherapy, and castration to treat “imbeciles.” Numerous reports detailed patient neglect, rape, and beatings. The most unbelievable thing was that no one was able to do anything about the atrocities within the hospital because the workers and doctors were protected by the Kansas state government.

Nothing remains of the original hospital, and while many people felt that the building was haunted, it was torn down and removed in 2010. The crew even went as far as to remove the concrete slabs so that the spot where the hospital once stood would be completely devoid of any sign that there was once a building there.

10. Topeka State Hospital Room 18

Newspapers from the late 1800s were filled with reports on the abuses happening inside the insane asylum at Topeka State Hospital. In one particular case, a witness came forward with information about an inmate named Dodd.

The witness claimed that he had seen an attendant kick Dodd on numerous occasions. Dodd was often knocked to the ground, and the attendant would jump up and down on the inmate’s chest. Sometimes, Dodd would be strangled.

On his final beating, Dodd was knocked down, and the witness stated that Dodd was dragged into room 18. The door was shut, and the witness heard noises that sounded like a struggle. Finally, he heard a groan from within the room, and Dodd was eventually carried out, dead from whatever had happened inside the room.

A county attorney tried to take action against the attendant, but the governor of Kansas refused to launch an investigation into the death, and the matter was dropped.

9. Killing Off Old Soldiers

In 1896, reports came out that “old soldiers” were being killed off in Kansas state asylums. It should have been a scandal, but instead of being investigated, the whole thing was covered up.

According to one newspaper report, Gust Mauer, an inmate at the Topeka State Hospital, “was sent home [ . . . ] with two black eyes, a broken nose and a broken neck, his body being accompanied by a certificate from the Superintendent that he had died of apoplexy, yet no effort was ever made to right the wrong, and the Superintendent is still in office.”