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‘Mind-reading device’ recreates what we see in our heads

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Mind reading could become a reality after scientists unveiled a device which translates what we are seeing in our heads onto a screen.

By monitoring the brain activity of people while they watched Hollywood movie trailers, researchers were able to recreate a moving picture similar to the real footage being played.

While the technology is not yet capable of reading our thoughts, it could eventually lead to ways of translating our dreams and memories onto screen.

If it is refined enough the method could even be used to explore the minds of stroke patients, experts said.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, used MRI scanners to monitor the blood flow in people’s brains as they watched films including Madagascar 2, Pink Panther 2 and Star Trek unfold on a screen.

After analysing how the brain’s visual centre responded to on-screen movements, the scientists created a computer program which could accurately guess what the person was looking at.

When the researchers watched a second set of clips, this time Hollywood film trailers, the programme was able to produce an approximate version of what they were watching.

It did this by scanning a library of random YouTube videos, pulling out the most similar clips to what it guessed the person was watching, and blending them together.

Because the program’s video library contains just 18 million seconds of footage – a relatively small amount – it is highly unlikely that any clip will be very similar to the real footage.

To combat this problem, the program averages together the 100 shots from the video library that it thinks are the best match.

The result is a blurry but continuous video in which the movements of the shapes on screen reflect the action in the genuine Hollywood trailer.

Prof Jack Gallant, one of the study’s authors, said: “We’re trying to reconstruct the movie that was seen by searching through a large library of completely different, random movies.

“This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery. We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.”

The averaging process makes the resulting video blurry, but the researchers said boosting the size of the programme’s video library could improve the quality of the reconstruction.

The study, published in the Current Biology journal, is believed to be the first experiment to successfully interpret brain signals as they respond to moving images.

The current technology can only process film clips that people have already viewed, but the breakthrough could lead to programmes which can reproduce dreams and memories because our natural visual experience is similar to watching a film.

We are still decades from a machine which can read people’s thoughts and intentions, but the technology could eventually be used to read the minds of stroke and coma patients, and to allow cerebral palsy or paralysis sufferers to guide computers with their minds, researchers said.

 

Watch video here

 

Via Telegraph

Written by Nokgiir

September 26, 2011 at 2:04 am

Secrets of Giant Cloud Holes Revealed

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An airplane-induced hole punch cloud.

Mysterious holes in clouds made by aircraft may owe their huge sizes to a little bit of heat, a new study suggests.

For decades people have seen gargantuan holes form in high, thin clouds made of supercooled water—liquid droplets that are chilled below the freezing point but that don’t have any particles around which ice crystals can form.

In the absense of dust, these cloud droplets can turn to ice if the water gets cooled beyond -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius). At such chilly temperatures the water molecules slow down enough to freeze spontaneously.

Researchers previously knew that plane wings, propellers, and turbines could chill supercooled water via rapid expansion of air in their wakes—making things cold enough to force the liquid to become ice. This mechanism is thought to be what creates hole-punch clouds.

As the water freezes, though, the change of state releases energy in the form of what’s called latent heat, and the role of this heat was suspect.

“I didn’t think the latent heat would be so important, but it drives the whole feedback cycle, in some cases for hours after a plane flies through,” said study co-author Gregory Thompson, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

“That’s why the holes can grow to the size of cities under the right conditions.”

Research Flights Affecting Cloud Data?

The researchers theorized that, as latent heat rises, it carries freshly frozen ice—material that would normally float down—back up into the cloud.

There, supercooled water droplets migrate to the ice crystals, feeding a chain reaction of ice formation. Eventually the ice patch becomes too dense and falls out as a flurry of snow.

To see if latent heat does lead to hole-punch clouds, the researchers ran cloud-model simulations with and without the effect.

The first simulation, which incorporated latent heat, showed that the heat suspended ice in the cloud, powered nearby evaporation, pulled surrounding vapor into the zone of crystallization, and created snow. The model ultimately formed holes in clouds that closely matched real images of the phenomenon.

The simulation without the latent-heat effect didn’t replicate what’s been documented in nature.

Thompson emphasized that this finding almost certainly doesn’t change our understanding of the role of aircraft in global climate. Nor do hole-punch clouds cause significant snowfalls around airports, he said: “It’s likely too minor for that.”

However, researchers “spend an awful lot of time flying through clouds to collect data, which we use to build models that mimic natural clouds. We may be altering that data as we measure it,” he said.

“It’s not a big effect, but it’s something to be mindful of in future atmospheric modeling.”

 

Via NatGeo

Bilderberg 2011: Full Official Attendee List

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Thanks to the fantastic work of Bilderberg activists, journalists and the Swiss media, we have now been able to obtain the full official list of 2011 Bilderberg attendees. Routinely, some members request that their names be kept off the roster so there will be additional Bilderbergers in attendance.

Belgium

  • Coene, Luc, Governor, National Bank of Belgium
  • Davignon, Etienne, Minister of State
  • Leysen, Thomas, Chairman, Umicore 

China

  • Fu, Ying, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Huang, Yiping, Professor of Economics, China Center for Economic Research, Peking University 

Denmark

  • Eldrup, Anders, CEO, DONG Energy
  • Federspiel, Ulrik, Vice President, Global Affairs, Haldor Topsøe A/S
  • Schütze, Peter, Member of the Executive Management, Nordea Bank AB 

Germany

  • Ackermann, Josef, Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank
  • Enders, Thomas, CEO, Airbus SAS
  • Löscher, Peter, President and CEO, Siemens AG
  • Nass, Matthias, Chief International Correspondent, Die Zeit
  • Steinbrück, Peer, Member of the Bundestag; Former Minister of Finance 

Finland

  • Apunen, Matti, Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
  • Johansson, Ole, Chairman, Confederation of the Finnish Industries EK
  • Ollila, Jorma, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
  • Pentikäinen, Mikael, Publisher and Senior Editor-in-Chief, Helsingin Sanomat 

France

  • Baverez, Nicolas, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
  • Bazire, Nicolas, Managing Director, Groupe Arnault /LVMH
  • Castries, Henri de, Chairman and CEO, AXA
  • Lévy, Maurice, Chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe S.A.
  • Montbrial, Thierry de, President, French Institute for International Relations
  • Roy, Olivier, Professor of Social and Political Theory, European University Institute 

Great Britain

  • Agius, Marcus, Chairman, Barclays PLC
  • Flint, Douglas J., Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings
  • Kerr, John, Member, House of Lords; Deputy Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
  • Lambert, Richard, Independent Non-Executive Director, Ernst & Young
  • Mandelson, Peter, Member, House of Lords; Chairman, Global Counsel
  • Micklethwait, John, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
  • Osborne, George, Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Stewart, Rory, Member of Parliament
  • Taylor, J. Martin, Chairman, Syngenta International AG 

Greece

  • David, George A., Chairman, Coca-Cola H.B.C. S.A.
  • Hardouvelis, Gikas A., Chief Economist and Head of Research, Eurobank EFG
  • Papaconstantinou, George, Minister of Finance
  • Tsoukalis, Loukas, President, ELIAMEP Grisons 

International Organizations

  • Almunia, Joaquín, Vice President, European Commission
  • Daele, Frans van, Chief of Staff to the President of the European Council
  • Kroes, Neelie, Vice President, European Commission; Commissioner for Digital Agenda
  • Lamy, Pascal, Director General, World Trade Organization
  • Rompuy, Herman van, President, European Council
  • Sheeran, Josette, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme
  • Solana Madariaga, Javier, President, ESADEgeo Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics
  • Trichet, Jean-Claude, President, European Central Bank
  • Zoellick, Robert B., President, The World Bank Group

 Ireland

  • Gallagher, Paul, Senior Counsel; Former Attorney General
  • McDowell, Michael, Senior Counsel, Law Library; Former Deputy Prime Minister
  • Sutherland, Peter D., Chairman, Goldman Sachs International 

Italy

  • Bernabè, Franco, CEO, Telecom Italia SpA
  • Elkann, John, Chairman, Fiat S.p.A.
  • Monti, Mario, President, Univers Commerciale Luigi Bocconi
  • Scaroni, Paolo, CEO, Eni S.p.A.
  • Tremonti, Giulio, Minister of Economy and Finance 

Canada

  • Carney, Mark J., Governor, Bank of Canada
  • Clark, Edmund, President and CEO, TD Bank Financial Group
  • McKenna, Frank, Deputy Chair, TD Bank Financial Group
  • Orbinksi, James, Professor of Medicine and Political Science, University of Toronto
  • Prichard, J. Robert S., Chair, Torys LLP
  • Reisman, Heather, Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc. Center, Brookings Institution 

Netherlands

  • Bolland, Marc J., Chief Executive, Marks and Spencer Group plc
  • Chavannes, Marc E., Political Columnist, NRC Handelsblad; Professor of Journalism
  • Halberstadt, Victor, Professor of Economics, Leiden University; Former Honorary Secretary General of Bilderberg Meetings
  • H.M. the Queen of the Netherlands
  • Rosenthal, Uri, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Winter, Jaap W., Partner, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek

 Norway

  • Myklebust, Egil, Former Chairman of the Board of Directors SAS, sk Hydro ASA
  • H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
  • Ottersen, Ole Petter, Rector, University of Oslo
  • Solberg, Erna, Leader of the Conservative Party 

Austria

  • Bronner, Oscar, CEO and Publisher, Standard Medien AG
  • Faymann, Werner, Federal Chancellor
  • Rothensteiner, Walter, Chairman of the Board, Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG
  • Scholten, Rudolf, Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG 

Portugal

  • Balsemão, Francisco Pinto, Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA, S.G.P.S.; Former Prime Minister
  • Ferreira Alves, Clara, CEO, Claref LDA; writer
  • Nogueira Leite, António, Member of the Board, José de Mello Investimentos, SGPS, SA 

Sweden

Mordashov, Alexey A., CEO, Severstal

Schweden

  • Bildt, Carl, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Björling, Ewa, Minister for Trade
  • Wallenberg, Jacob, Chairman, Investor AB 

Switzerland

  • Brabeck-Letmathe, Peter, Chairman, Nestlé S.A.
  • Groth, Hans, Senior Director, Healthcare Policy & Market Access, Oncology Business Unit, Pfizer Europe
  • Janom Steiner, Barbara, Head of the Department of Justice, Security and Health, Canton
  • Kudelski, André, Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group SA
  • Leuthard, Doris, Federal Councillor
  • Schmid, Martin, President, Government of the Canton Grisons
  • Schweiger, Rolf, Ständerat
  • Soiron, Rolf, Chairman of the Board, Holcim Ltd., Lonza Ltd.
  • Vasella, Daniel L., Chairman, Novartis AG
  • Witmer, Jürg, Chairman, Givaudan SA and Clariant AG 

Spain

  • Cebrián, Juan Luis, CEO, PRISA
  • Cospedal, María Dolores de, Secretary General, Partido Popular
  • León Gross, Bernardino, Secretary General of the Spanish Presidency
  • Nin Génova, Juan María, President and CEO, La Caixa
  • H.M. Queen Sofia of Spain

Turkey

  • Ciliv, Süreyya, CEO, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri A.S.
  • Gülek Domac, Tayyibe, Former Minister of State
  • Koç, Mustafa V., Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
  • Pekin, Sefika, Founding Partner, Pekin & Bayar Law Firm 

USA

  • Alexander, Keith B., Commander, USCYBERCOM; Director, National Security Agency
  • Altman, Roger C., Chairman, Evercore Partners Inc.
  • Bezos, Jeff, Founder and CEO, Amazon.com
  • Collins, Timothy C., CEO, Ripplewood Holdings, LLC
  • Feldstein, Martin S., George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University
  • Hoffman, Reid, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
  • Hughes, Chris R., Co-founder, Facebook
  • Jacobs, Kenneth M., Chairman & CEO, Lazard
  • Johnson, James A., Vice Chairman, Perseus, LLC
  • Jordan, Jr., Vernon E., Senior Managing Director, Lazard Frères & Co. LLC
  • Keane, John M., Senior Partner, SCP Partners; General, US Army, Retired
  • Kissinger, Henry A., Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
  • Kleinfeld, Klaus, Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
  • Kravis, Henry R., Co-Chairman and co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis, Roberts & Co.
  • Kravis, Marie-Josée, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Inc.
  • Li, Cheng, Senior Fellow and Director of Research, John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings Institution
  • Mundie, Craig J., Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft Corporation
  • Orszag, Peter R., Vice Chairman, Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.
  • Perle, Richard N., Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Rockefeller, David, Former Chairman, Chase Manhattan Bank
  • Rose, Charlie, Executive Editor and Anchor, Charlie Rose
  • Rubin, Robert E., Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the Treasury
  • Schmidt, Eric, Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
  • Steinberg, James B., Deputy Secretary of State
  • Thiel, Peter A., President, Clarium Capital Management, LLC
  • Varney, Christine A., Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust
  • Vaupel, James W., Founding Director, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
  • Warsh, Kevin, Former Governor, Federal Reserve Board
  • Wolfensohn, James D., Chairman, Wolfensohn & Company, LLC

 

This is interesting nonetheless. I’m not one to follow Bilderberg coverage but given the  article I posted earlier, ‘Bilderberg mystery: Why do people believe in cabals?‘, I thought I would post this in-case anyone is interested in seeing who will be attending the event.

 

Via Infowars

Bilderberg mystery: Why do people believe in cabals?

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Composite

Ordinary people can only guess at the goings-on at the meetings of the secretive Bilderberg Group, which is bringing together the world’s financial and political elite this week. Conspiracy theories abound as to what is discussed and who is there. Why, asks Tom de Castella?

The belief in secret cabals running the world is a hardy perennial. And on Thursday perhaps the most controversial clandestine organisation of our times – the Bilderberg Group – is meeting behind closed doors.

In the manner of a James Bond plot, up to 150 leading politicians and business people are to gather in a ski resort in Switzerland for four days of discussion about the future of the world.

Previous attendees of the group, which meets once a year in a five-star hotel, are said to have included Bill Clinton, Prince Charles and Peter Mandelson, as well as dozens of company CEOs.

First meeting in 1954, the aim was to shore up US-European relations and prevent another world war. Now under the group’s leadership of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and one-time EU vice president, Viscount Davignon, the aim is purportedly to allow Western elites to share ideas.

But conspiracy theorists have accused it of everything from deliberately engineering the credit crunch to planning to kill 80% of the world population. Longtime opponent and US radio host Alex Jones, heckled one meeting through a megaphone: “We know you are ruthless. We know you are evil. We respect your dark power.”

Part of the reason for alarm is the group’s secretive working methods. Names of attendees are not usually released before the conference, meetings are closed to the public and the media, and no press releases are issued.

The gnashing of teeth over Bilderberg is ridiculous, says Times columnist David Aaronovitch. “It’s really an occasional supper club for the rich and powerful,” he argues.

Denis Healey, co-founder of the group, told the journalist Jon Ronson in his book Them that people overlook the practical benefits of informal networking. “Bilderberg is the most useful international group I ever attended,” he told him. “The confidentiality enabled people to speak honestly without fear of repercussions.”

So why do groups like this cause so much alarm? Aaronovitch, who wrote the 2009 book Voodoo Histories, says plots to install a new world order have traditionally been a conspiracy fantasy. “They tend to believe that everything true, local and national is under threat from cosmopolitan, international forces often linked to financial capitalism and therefore, also often, to Jewish interests.”

Bilderberg chairman Viscount DavignonSecret cabals extend beyond the Bilderberg Group. The Illuminati, which derives from a 16th Century Bavarian secret society, is alleged to be an all powerful secret society, including US presidents, that has controlled major world events. The Freemasons – famous for their peculiar handshakes – is a secret fraternity society that has become more open in recent years after extensive criticism.

The charter of Hamas – the Islamist party governing Gaza – asserts that the Freemasons are in league with the Jews and those unlikely bully boys – the Rotary Club – to undermine Palestine.

John Hamill, spokesman for freemasonry’s governing body in England and Wales says the organisation is aware of Hamas’s allegation.

“There’s no truth in it, freemasonry is apolitical. It probably arises because one of our ceremonies is about the story of King Solomon’s Temple. For some reason Islamic governments translate that into Zionism.”

In fact, many conspiracy theories surrounding cabals hint at an anti-Semitic worldview. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a forged document, probably created by agents of Tsarist Russia, which appeared to show a Jewish plot to take over the world.

Despite being proved to be a fraud, the idea has been kept alive by anti-Semites and has spawned later versions. One of those, the Zionist Occupational Government, argues that countries have puppet governments but that the real power is held by Jewish interests.

More recently, former sports journalist David Icke has proclaimed that the world is governed by alien, reptilian shape shifters. In other words, giant lizards.

There is obviously no right-wing monopoly on conspiracy theories. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Hilary Clinton blamed a “vast right-wing conspiracy” for her husband’s predicament. And more recently, some on the left have argued that the 9/11 attacks were organised by President Bush’s inner circle in order to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

The politics of cabals has always been pretty muddled, says James McConnachie, co-author of the Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories. These groups allow protesters to project their own fears onto them.

In the US, the most extreme fear over Bilderberg is of a hidden cabal run by the European Union and threatening American freedoms. In Europe, the view is often of a free market elite trying to push through a right-wing agenda.

“Conspiracy theories are quite blind to conventional notions of left and right,” says McConnachie. “The left is organising an international government. Meanwhile, global capitalism on the right may be doing the same thing by different means.”

For Aaronovitch what often triggers widespread cabal theories are moments of great upheaval.

“It happens a lot when times are changing significantly. Whether, oddly, they are changing for better as well as for the worse. Why did McCarthyism happen at the time when US economy was growing faster than at any time in history?”

Society was in flux, the economy expanding rapidly and millions of servicemen were coming back from the war.

It’s not just the about social context. Some people are more susceptible than others to believing in wacky cabals, says Prof Chris French, of Goldsmith College’s psychology department. “It’s people who tend to be alienated by the mainstream, who feel powerless. They have a need to have a sense of control.”

Not only do they not trust the government, they tend not to trust their neighbours either. And in the need for control, there may be links to the roots of religious belief, he says.

The conspiracy theorists may get overexcited but they have a point, says Prof Andrew Kakabadse, co-author of new book Bilderberg People.

Secret talks

  • Bilderberg is named after the Dutch hotel where the first meeting took place in 1954
  • The initial focus was the state of the trans-Atlantic alliance and the problems facing Europe and the US
  • British Labour politician Denis Healey was a founding member
  • An invitation list is compiled each year by a steering committee
  • About 120 people from North America and Europe are invited. About one-third are from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labour, education and communications
  • Meetings often feature future political leaders shortly before they become household names. Bill Clinton went in 1991 while still governor of Arkansas, Tony Blair was there two years later while an opposition MP

The group has genuine power that far outranks the World Economic Forum, which meets in Davos, he argues. And with no transparency, it is easy to see why people are worried about its influence.

“It’s much smarter than conspiracy,” says Prof Kakabadse. “This is moulding the way people think so that it seems like there’s no alternative to what is happening.”

The agenda the group has is to bring together the political elites on both right and left, let them mix in relaxed, luxurious surroundings with business leaders, and let the ideas fizz.

It may seem like a glorified dinner party but that is to miss the point. “When you’ve been to enough dinner parties you see a theme emerging,” he says. The theme at Bilderberg is to bolster a consensus around free market Western capitalism and its interests around the globe, he says.

“Is this all leading to the start of the ruling the world idea? In one sense yes. There’s a very strong move to have a One World government in the mould of free market Western capitalism.”

Degree of nefariousness

Conventional critiques of alienated people seeking order in a chaotic world may well be true. But there’s more to it than that, McConnachie argues.

“The other explanation is more dangerous. That they are precisely right – they just over-egg the way they articulate it.”

The Bilderberg Group matches up to how a global conspiracy would work – a secretive body attempting to shape the direction of the world, he suggests.

“The only difference is the degree of nefariousness,” he says. “They tend to see this cabal as outright evil. When things are more nuanced than that.”

For all the tales of lizards running the world, we all owe a debt to conspiracy theorists, McConnachie argues.

“Occasionally you have to give credit to conspiracy theorists who raise issues that the mainstream press has ignored. It’s only recently that the media has picked up on the Bilderbergers. Would the media be running stories if there weren’t these wild allegations flying around?”

But Aaronovitch disagrees. Believing in cabals leads to certain groups being victimised and obstructs a rational view of the world.

“To have a strong belief in the Bilderberg Group means believing in a fantasy,” he says. “It suggests that there are people – like God – acting as a higher power. And it replaces the intolerable thought that there’s nothing at work at all, that the world is chaotic. It may be a form of therapy but it has people believing in an anti-scientific message.”

Via BBC

Australian Government Loses All Its UFO Files

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Two months ago, an Australian newspaper submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to its government seeking files pertaining to UFO sightings across the country.

Government officials have just come back empty handed. The UFO files, they said, seem to have gone missing.

“The files could not be located and Headquarters Air Command formally advised that this file is deemed lost,” the Australia Department of Defense’s FOI assistant director, Natalie Carpenter, told the Sydney Morning Herald, the newspaper that made the request.

Two months spent (presumably) thumbing through drawers turned up only one UFO-related file, Carpenter said, called “Report on UFOs/Strange Occurrences and Phenomena in Woomera.” It documents a series of sightings in and around a military weapons testing range in the Australian outback.

All other files had been lost or destroyed.

According to the Herald, Australia’s military stopped taking UFO sighting reports in late 2000. For the past decade, members of the public have reported incidents to the police instead, and those recent reports are presumably still extant.

This isn’t the first time in recent history that a government body has misplaced UFO files. Earlier this year, Britain’s Ministry of Defense released thousands of reports related to UFO sightings in Britain over the past few decades. All files from 1980 to 1982, however, were missing. The omission raised some suspicion among conspiracy theorists.

 

 

Via SPACE

Secret space station on Mars ?

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We have all heard of little green men from Mars.

But now an American ‘armchair astronaut’ claims to have discovered a mysterious structure on the surface of the red planet – by looking on Google earth.

David Martines, whose YouTube video of the ‘station’ has racked up over 200,000 hits so far, claims to have randomly uncovered the picture while scanning the surface of the planet one day.

Uncovered: David Martines believes he has found a structure on the surface of Mars - by looking at Google Mars

Uncovered: David Martines believes he has found a structure on the surface of Mars – by looking at Google Mars.

The white dot in the centre of the screen has set the blogosphere alight with rumours of a secret base

The white dot in the centre of the screen has set the blogosphere alight with rumors of a secret base.

Describing the ‘structure’ as a living quarters with red and blue stripes on it, to the untrained eye it looks nothing more than a white splodge on an otherwise unblemished red landscape.

He even lists the co-ordinates 49’19.73″N 29 33’06.53″W so others can go see the anomaly for themselves.

In a pre recorded ‘fly by’ video of the object, Mr Martines describes what he thinks the station might be.

He said: ‘This is a video of something I discovered on Google Mars quite by accident.

‘I call it Bio-station Alpha, because I’m just assuming that something lives in it or has lived in it.

 NASA and Google have both yet to respond to the 'finding', circled here

NASA and Google have both yet to respond to the ‘finding’, circled here.

‘It’s very unusual in that it’s quite large, it’s over 700 feet long and 150 feet wide, it looks like it’s a cylinder or made up of cylinders.

The infamous ‘Face on Mars’ image from 1976 caused a huge stir when it was released.

The infamous 'Face on Mars' image from 1976 caused a huge stir when it was released

‘It could be a power station or it could be a biological containment or it could be a glorified garage – hope it’s not a weapon.

‘Whoever put it up there had a purpose I’m sure. I couldn’t imagine what the purpose was. I couldn’t imagine why anybody would want to live on Mars.

‘It could be a way station for weary space travellers. It could also belong to NASA, I don’t know that they would admit that.

‘I don’t know if they could pull off such a project without all the people seeing all the material going up there. I sort of doubt NASA has anything to do with this.

‘I don’t know if NASA even knows about this.’

The ‘discovery’ is similar to that of the infamous ‘face on Mars’

Uncovered by the Viking 1 probe in 1976, a quirk of geography threw shadows over a small hill on the Cydonia region of Mars, making the inanimate rock look like a carved face.

The picture was heralded as proof of an alien civilisation by some but was dismissed as a mere trick of the light by scientists at NASA.

MailOnline has tried to contact both NASA and Goggle for a response to the image, but neither has replied.

Via DailyMail

Terrorist ‘pre-crime’ detector field tested in United States

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CruiseScreening system aims to pinpoint passengers with malicious intentions.

Planning a sojourn in the northeastern United States? You could soon be taking part in a novel security programme that can supposedly ‘sense’ whether you are planning to commit a crime.

Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) programme designed to spot people who are intending to commit a terrorist act, has in the past few months completed its first round of field tests at an undisclosed location in the northeast, Nature has learned.

Like a lie detector, FAST measures a variety of physiological indicators, ranging from heart rate to the steadiness of a person’s gaze, to judge a subject’s state of mind. But there are major differences from the polygraph. FAST relies on non-contact sensors, so it can measure indicators as someone walks through a corridor at an airport, and it does not depend on active questioning of the subject.

The tactic has drawn comparisons with the science-fiction concept of ‘pre-crime’, popularized by the film Minority Report, in which security services can detect someone’s intention to commit a crime. Unlike the system in the film, FAST does not rely on a trio of human mutants who can see the future. But the programme has attracted copious criticism from researchers who question the science behind it.

From fiction to fact

So far, FAST has only been tested in the lab, so successful field tests could lend some much-needed data to support the technology. “It is encouraging to see an effort to develop a real empirical base for new technologies before any policy commitments are made,” says Tom Ormerod, a psychologist in the Investigative Expertise Unit at Lancaster University, UK. Such testing, he adds, could lay the groundwork for a more rigorous randomized, controlled, double-blind study.

According to a privacy-impact statement previously released by the DHS, tests of FAST involve instructing some people passing through the system to carry out a “disruptive act”. Ormerod questions whether such role-playing is representative of real terrorists, and also worries that both passengers and screeners will react differently when they know they’re being tested. “Fill the place with machines that go ping, and both screeners and passengers start doing things differently.”

In lab tests, the DHS has claimed accuracy rates of around 70%, but it remains unclear whether the system will perform better or worse in field trials. “The results are still being analysed, so we cannot yet comment on performance,” says John Verrico, a spokesman for the DHS. “Since this is an ongoing scientific study, tests will continue throughout coming months.”

Some scientists question whether there really are unique signatures for ‘malintent’ — the agency’s term for the intention to cause harm — that can be differentiated from the normal anxieties of travel. “Even having an iris scan or fingerprint read at immigration is enough to raise the heart rate of most legitimate travellers,” says Ormerod.

Steven Aftergood, a senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, a think-tank based in Washington DC that promotes the use of science in policy-making, is pessimistic about the FAST tests. He thinks that they will produce a large proportion of false positives, frequently tagging innocent people as potential terrorists and making the system unworkable in a busy airport. “I believe that the premise of this approach — that there is an identifiable physiological signature uniquely associated with malicious intent — is mistaken. To my knowledge, it has not been demonstrated,” he says. “Without it, the whole thing seems like a charade.”

As for where precisely FAST is being tested, that for now remains a closely guarded secret. The DHS says that although the first round was completed at the end of March, more testing is in the works, and the agency is concerned that letting people know where the tests are taking place could affect the outcome. “I can tell you that it is not an airport, but it is a large venue that is a suitable substitute for an operational setting,” says Verrico.

Via Nature

Squadron of UFOs flying over California?

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The Internet is abuzz over an alleged UFO sighting in the night sky over Oakland, California.

Three fast-moving dots of light can be seen travelling close together in a video posted on YouTube by a KevinMC360.

The ‘UFO squadron’ shows the three lights in a triangular pattern spotted on May 26.

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Spotted: Three fast-moving dots of light can be seen travelling close together

Spotted: Three fast-moving dots of light can be seen travelling close together

Cynics claim the cameraman has merely captured a flock of birds, but Kevin insists the sighting was genuine.

In the film, he follows a plane as a point of reference.

 

 

‘For all you bird lovers out there you can call them geese, if you like, but I will only laugh at you,’ he said.

The UFO video has already attracted more than 2,500 viewings.

He posted it a year after claiming to have filmed ‘a group of spacecraft’ over Oakland.

‘I got them. There was a squadron of spacecraft,’ he claimed in the video, which shows five lights in a V-formation.

That video has been viewed more than 23,780 times.

 

Via DailyMail

Should we let scientists release mutant mosquitoes into the wild to try to wipe out malaria?

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Malaria is one of the world’s last great scourges. It affects more than 200 million people and kills almost a million African children each year.

With other great killers such as smallpox and measles banished or in full retreat, malaria is surely ripe for elimination.

But malaria is a resourceful enemy, spread by certain types of mosquito that carry a parasite that harbours the disease. The mosquitoes pass on the parasite in their bite.

Pesticides haven’t killed off malaria and the drugs we are told to take when we fly to malarial zones don’t always work.

Now scientists say they have invented a way of stopping malarial mosquitoes in their tracks. They say it could rid the world of the disease in just a few years.

‘That’s why it’s so exciting,’ says the biologist behind the breakthrough, Andrea Crisanti of Imperial College London.

The trick is a nifty bit of genetic engineering that might cause those opposed to ‘Frankenstein’ technology to think again – or maybe not.

It is ten years since scientists announced that they could change the genes of mosquitoes so that they did not pass on the malaria parasite. But that was in the lab.

The problem is you can’t bring all the world’s mosquitoes into the lab for a genetic refit.

And however many of the mutants you release into the wild, their new genetic trait will most likely die out within a few generations.

So the scientists decided they needed to up the odds that the offspring of the mutant mosquitoes would inherit and pass on the genetic modification. This is what they think they have now achieved.

They have done it by adding a second ‘super-gene’ that dramatically increases the male mosquito’s ability to spread the anti-malarial gene.

They found the super-gene in fungi and successfully transplanted it into Anopheles gambiae, the set of species of mosquito that causes three-quarters of all malaria deaths.

The super-gene is sometimes called a selfish gene because it ensures that all the sperm produced by genetically modified mosquitoes carry the same trait. And that is enough to give this genetic trait a huge advantage when it comes to the survival of the fittest.

‘In the lab, the mutation spread to more than half the population within 16 generations – less than a year,’ says Crisanti.

Now he is thinking big. Re-engineer a few thousand male malarial mosquitoes, release them into the wild and watch them and their sperm take over the mosquito world.

Now that the genetic transport mechanism is sorted out, the big question is exactly what genetic traits the new mutant mosquitoes should pass on. How best to kill off malaria?

There are three possible lines of attack, says Crisanti.

The first is to stop the mosquito excreting the parasite when it bites.

The second is to destroy the genes that mosquitoes use to recognise humans to bite.

This seems to be to do with smell (mosquitoes love cheesy feet – I once went to an insect lab in Kenya, one of the world’s malarial hotspots, where volunteers with smelly feet camped out in the name of science to see who would be bitten most).

Crisanti says he knows how to snip out the gene that allows mosquitoes to sniff us out. After that, he says, they will bite animals instead.

The third option is to screw up their reproductive systems so that they produce only males.

Not surprisingly, if you set that gene rolling, after a few generations the entire population crashes. Again, he says, the gene engineers know how to do that.

So problem solved. Buzz off malaria.

Well, sure. Except that nobody is quite sure what the wider effects of messing with the genes of mozzies might be.

Re-engineering trillions of insects that spend their lives going round biting other members of the animal kingdom might risk spreading genetic mayhem.

Ingeborg van Schayk, director of the Malaria Foundation, whose membership comprises more than 6,000 medics and others fighting malaria, says: ‘We do not support the release of GM mosquitoes as long as the long-term effects on people and their environment remain uncertain… We don’t know if malaria mosquitoes will adapt to being “modified” and leave us with even bigger problems.’

Janet Hemingway, an insect specialist at the University of Liverpool, says that GM mosquitoes are unlikely to develop Frankenstein tendencies such as spreading other diseases or expanding their terrain to invade the streets of Britain.

‘There is no logical reason why they would,’ she says.

‘And it is almost inconceivable that they would suddenly start to vector other diseases.’

She is concerned that the malaria parasite itself might evolve to find another route to reach us.

‘But that is difficult to predict in advance. We will probably only find out when the big eradication push is well under way,’ she says.

What if the GM mosquitoes passed on their mutant genes to other species, either animals that they bite or animals that eat mosquitoes?

Crisanti believes the chances of that happening are ‘near zero’. But to check he is building a mosquito lab in his native Italy, where he will incarcerate thousands of GM mosquitoes for three years in a near-natural environment.

If all goes well, he could be doing big field trials in the African bush within three years.

So is the risk worth taking? Should we be bold, whatever our fears?

Some people say we are still stuck with the malaria problem today only because we were squeamish once before.

Back in the Sixties, it looked as if the world was about to eradicate malaria using a pesticide that was amazingly effective at killing mosquitoes. That pesticide was DDT.

The U.S. government set aside half-a-billion dollars, and thousands of drums of DDT headed to the developing world for spraying on hut walls, where malarial mosquitoes gather at night after biting their human hosts.

Malaria deaths fell by as much as 95 per cent at the height of the spraying. The end seemed near.

But then came Rachel Carson’s famous book Silent Spring, which described the horrific damage DDT and other new farm chemicals caused to wildlife.

Carson called for a ban only on spraying DDT in fields, not in houses to kill mosquitoes.

Even so, the world got cold feet, DDT was largely withdrawn and malaria made a comeback.

Only in 2006, did the World Health Organisation again back DDT as one of its main weapons against malaria.

Many scientists today fear we may repeat the mistake – by letting our concerns about genetic modification get the better of our desire to banish malaria.

‘I am not saying using GM mosquitoes is without any risk,’ says Crisanti.

‘I am as concerned about environmental safety as anyone. But, meanwhile, a million children continue to die every year from malaria.’

If he gets the go-ahead, Crisanti reckons it may not take much more than a couple of years to wipe out malaria once and for all.

Do we in the malaria-free world have the moral right to try to stop him?

It’s not our kids that are dying. Not many of us have direct experience of this dreadful disease.

So it would be interesting to know what Cheryl thinks.

Via DailyMail

Rare roll cloud makes its way over Portland and Weymouth

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CONCERNED residents in Portland and Weymouth thought they were being hit by a tornado during in a dramatic thunderstorm.

But it turned out to be a very rare roll cloud – which had broken away from a thunderstorm at around 7.30pm on Friday night.

Storm Wallace, 26, of Portland, was driving home when she saw the dramatic cloud gain speed above Portland Road in Weymouth and stopped to take a photo.

She said: “It was really unusual and spinning very fast – I’ve never seen anything like it, I really did think it was a tornado or something.”

Wyke Regis resident Peter Minster also was transfixed by the tornado-looking cloud and went outside to take photos of it gathering speed over Portland and moving across the Shambles towards Weymouth Bay.

He said: “Prior to the thunderstorm around teatime, I noticed these unusual clouds developing high above Portland.

“They were moving extremely fast from Portland Bill towards Weymouth Bay.

“Initially, I thought they were similar to a mini-tornado or waterspout, however, I believe these are actually funnel clouds.”

Further along the coast in Bournemouth a hotelier reported outside furniture flaying past the windows and two-foot-high waves in the swimming pool as the cloud moved inland.

The powerful winds tore off sections of the roof and damaged trees.

Met office forecaster Michael Lawrence told the Echo: “It was a roll cloud. It’s a relatively rare, low-level, horizontal, tube shaped cloud that’s completely detached from the base of a thunder cloud.

“It’s most frequently observed on the leading edge of thunderstorms. The cloud rotates about its horizontal axis. They are not tornadoes.

“It’s a very rare sight – I’ve certainly never seen one.”

He said that the Met Office received a ‘significant number’ of calls from concerned residents in and around Portland asking if it was a tornado.

Via Dorsetecho

Written by Nokgiir

May 14, 2011 at 8:00 am