Weird Science 6-30-11
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Editor, The Konformist
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Bigfoot Investigators Hope DNA Test Will Confirm Existence Of Two Man-Beasts
California Bigfoot investigators were shocked over Memorial Day weekend when they found strange markings and hair on their pickup truck windows.
Now, they're hoping DNA tests will prove once and for all the existence of the legendary man-beast.
"On the passenger side window, when I first saw it, I almost threw up," said Jeffrey Gonzalez, an AT&T electronics technician and founder of the Sanger Paranormal Society.
Gonzalez and several others were in California's Sierra National Forest searching for evidence to confirm the reality of the creature. When it started to snow at their campsite, they were forced to leave two of their vehicles behind.
"Two days later, we came back to pick up our vehicles and that's when we found the impressions," Gonzalez told AOL Weird News, recalling what he and his companions noticed on the passenger window.
"Apparently, the creature was looking in the window and left behind dirt and oil on it, leaving such an awesome picture, you can see the nose, the eye, the hair all over the face and the shoulders -- it's creepy, and it's not a bear."
Gonzalez and his friends -- including a former science teacher and a correctional officer -- also found a 12-inch footprint at the site. They concluded their hairy intruder wasn't a bear because none of the four ice chests that were filled with food on the back of Gonzalez's truck had been touched.
But it wasn't just the passenger side window that presented a surprise -- the driver's side of the truck showed the imprint of a much larger creature, strongly suggesting there were two unexplained visitors to the campsite.
"An impression was left of a nose, eyes and lips, but they were extremely large," Gonzalez said. "The lips measured about 6 inches long. You can see that the whole face was full of hair, so when it leaned up against the window, you can see the depth of the eye socket in the glass.
"I've shown people -- non-believers -- this photograph and this totally freaked them out."
After Gonzalez returned home that day, he called a forensic expert to take DNA samples of the fur or hair that was left around the window impressions.
"One of the cautions I have about finding a nose print or anything on the side of a car is that it could be a homeless person, resulting in people letting their imaginations go wild," said Loren Coleman, owner of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.
"Of course, if you take a DNA sample and it comes back near-human or primate, then it would match both Bigfoot and a homeless person," Coleman told AOL Weird News.
But what about the addition of the large footprint near the truck where the window impressions were made?
"A 12-inch footprint is not too exciting, because it could be a human or bears imprinting on top of each other," Coleman said.
"In this case, it might not have been a homeless person, but in wilderness areas, there are other hikers and somebody would've naturally put their nose up to the window to look inside the car."
Gonzalez is holding a news conference on June 23 at the Piccadilly Inn in Fresno, Calif.
"I'll be presenting video of both windows, pictures and live testimony from the people who shared the event with me. We will also have a forensic expert who took DNA samples," he said.
Coleman, a long-time investigator of Bigfoot and other legendary creatures that come under the category of cryptozoology, is cautious about the outcome of this kind of news.
"You know, I'd be a fool if I didn't say that I'm hoping there's definitive evidence of Bigfoot found. I hope somebody will turn over any evidence to some scientists who could then hold a news conference at a university.
"Then people won't doubt what's going on."
Earth facing a mini-Ice Age 'within ten years' due to rare drop in sunspot activity
16th June 2011
The sun is heading into an unusual and extended period of hibernation that could trigger a mini-Ice Age on Earth, scientists claim.
A decrease in global warming might result in the years after 2020, the approximate time when sunspots are expected to disappear for years, maybe even decades.
While the effects of a calmer sun are mostly good - there'd be fewer disruptions of satellites and power systems - it could see a sharp turnaround in global warming.
An absence of sunspots is not an unprecedented situation. It has happened before, but not since the early 18th century.
Lead researcher Frank Hill, of the National Solar Observatory, said: 'The solar cycle is maybe going into hiatus, sort of like a summertime TV show.'
While scientists don't know why the sun is going quiet, all the signs are that it will.
Dr Hill and his team have based their prediction on three changes in the sun spotted by scientific teams - weakening sunspots; fewer streams spewing from the poles of the sun's corona; and a disappearing solar jet stream.
Dr Richard Altrock, the study's co-author and an astrophysicist at the Air Force Research Laboratory, said these three cues show that 'there's a good possibility that the sun could be going into some sort of state from which it takes a long time to recover'.
Their prediction is specifically aimed at the solar cycle starting in 2020.
Experts say the sun has already been unusually quiet for about four years with few sunspots - higher magnetic areas that appear as dark spots.
The enormous magnetic field of the sun dictates the solar cycle, which includes sunspots, solar wind and ejection of fast-moving particles that sometimes hit Earth.
Every 22 years, the sun's magnetic field switches north and south, creating an 11-year sunspot cycle.
At peak times, like 2001, there are sunspots every day and more frequent solar flares and storms that could disrupt satellites.
Earlier this month, David Hathaway, Nasa's top solar storm scientist, predicted that the current cycle, which started around 2009, will be the weakest in a century.
Mr Altrock also thinks the current cycle won't have much solar activity, after tracking streamers from the solar corona, the sun's outer atmosphere seen during eclipses.
The streamers normally become busy around the sun's poles a few years before peak solar storm activity.
That 'rush to the poles' would have happened by now, but it hasn't and there's no sign of it yet. That also means the cycle after that is uncertain, he said.
Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory, another study co-author, said sunspot magnetic fields have been steadily decreasing in strength since 1998.
If they continue on the current pace, their magnetic fields will be too weak to become spots as of 2022 or so, he said.
Jet streams on the sun's surface and below are also early indicators of solar storm activity, and they have not formed yet for the 2020 cycle. That indicates that there will be little or delayed activity in that cycle, said Hill, who tracks jet streams.
There are questions about what this means for Earth's climate. Three times in the past the regular 11-year solar cycle has gone on an extended vacation - at the same time as cool periods on Earth.
Sceptics of man-made global warming from the burning of fossil fuels have often pointed to solar radiation as a possible cause of a warming Earth, but they are in the minority among scientists.
Earth has warmed as solar activity has decreased.
Mr Hill and his colleagues wouldn't discuss the effects of a quiet sun on temperature or global warming.
'If our predictions are true, we'll have a wonderful experiment that will determine whether the sun has any effect on global warming,' he said.
San Francisco Rainwater: Radiation 181 Times Above US Drinking Water Standard
DK Matai, mi2g | Apr. 4, 2011
Radiation from Japan rained on Berkeley, California, during recent storms at levels that exceeded drinking water standards by 181 times. A rooftop water monitoring program managed by the University of California at Berkeley's Department of Nuclear Engineering detected substantial spikes in rain-borne iodine-131 during those torrential downpours. The levels exceeded federal drinking water thresholds, known as Maximum Contaminant Levels -- or MCLs -- by as much as 181 times or 18,100%. Iodine-131 is one of the most cancer-causing toxic radioactive isotopes spewed when nuclear power plants are in meltdown. It is being ingested by cows, which have begun passing it through into their milk and radioactivity has been detected. [Multiple Sources]
Specific Scientific Data
The iodine-131 level in the rainwater sample taken on the roof of Etcheverry Hall on the campus of UC Berkeley on March 23rd, 2011, from 9:06-18:00hrs Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) states radioactivity levels at 20.1 Becquerels per Litre (Bq/L) = 543 PicoCuries per Litre (pCi/L). The federal maximum level of iodine-131 allowed in drinking water is 3 pCi/L or 0.111 Becquerels per Litre. The sample exceeded the federal guidelines for drinking water by 181 times. The UC Berkeley researchers also discovered trace levels of iodine-131 and other radioactive isotopes, believed to have originated in Fukushima, in commercially available milk and in a local stream within California. [UC Berkeley]
No Official Data Yet
Three weeks after the Fukushima nuclear power plant began spewing radiation into the world's air, the US government has still not published any official data on nuclear fallout from the Fukushima meltdown. The amount of iodine-131 or other radioactive elements that have fallen as precipitation or made their way into milk supplies or drinking water has not yet been fully revealed. Scientists say an absence of federal data on the issue is hampering efforts to develop strategies for preventing radioactive isotopes from contaminating the nation's food and water. [The Bay Citizen, San Francisco]
Fukushima radiation is blanketing most of the United States and Canada according to the data and visuals published regularly by the The Norwegian Institute of Air Research. The risks of that radiation falling with rain, have been downplayed by US government officials and others, who say its impacts are so fleeting and minor so as to be negligible. Nonetheless, radiation falling with rain can cover grass that is eaten by cows and other animals. It can also fall on food crops or contaminate reservoirs that are used for irrigation or drinking water. [Norwegian Institute of Air Research or NILU]
Food and Water Watch
Food and Water Watch -- the nonprofit Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) based in Washington, DC -- sent a letter to President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet and Congress a few days ago urging the US federal government to improve its monitoring of radiation in agricultural land and food in the wake of the Japanese tragedy. The letter from "Food and Water Watch" states: "The three agencies that monitor almost all of the food Americans eat have insisted that the US food supply is safe . . . the agencies, however, have done very little to detail specific ways in which they are responding to the threat of radiation in food."
EPA and FDA
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states in its April 3rd advisory, "As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said, we do not expect to see radiation at harmful levels reaching the US from damaged Japanese nuclear power plants." The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates food safety, has referred questions about potential milk contamination to the EPA, which is taking the lead on testing dairy products for radiation. Early last week, the EPA said it expected to release results of tests for radioactivity in rain and snow within a day or so. Just before the weekend, three days after making that pledge, EPA officials repeated the same statement and said the data would likely be released over the weekend or early this week. So far that data set has not been released. [EPA]
Potentially cancer-causing radiation from Fukushima has been encircling the world, traveling quickly on jet streams high in the atmosphere and falling with precipitation like rain and snow. It is already being detected in air, water and milk in some parts of the United States by local and state agencies. For example, San Francisco rain water radiation levels exceeded federal drinking water thresholds by as much as 181 times recently. A radioactive isotope, such as iodine-131, is supposed to have a half-life of eight days. This is inferred to mean that it breaks down quickly, and it quickly dissipates in the environment. However, the 8 day half-life can be a misnomer because radioactive iodine can really persist in the environment for many months and has a 100 day biological half-life once inside the human body.
Gulf/BP Cleanup Czar Feinberg Has Denied All Illness Claims
June 13, 2011
Feinberg says no claims filed on cleanup illnesses," ran an Associated Press headline last week, stirring up more mistrust of the BP claims process among Gulf Coast residents. It is simply not true that sick cleanup workers have not filed medical claims with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), administered by Kenneth Feinberg. Rather, Feinberg and the GCCF appear to be categorically rejecting those claims, saying there is not enough scientific proof that links the illnesses to the BP disaster.
Feinberg told Bridge The Gulf in a recent interview that the GCCF has received "a couple hundred" health claims related to BP cleanup, but has denied all of them for lack of documentation.
What proof do they need?
Feinberg says that the GCCF, which was set up by BP to compensate those impacted by its disaster in the Gulf, would theoretically grant health claims related to the cleanup effort. But he said he has, "reservations about whether those claimants can offer proof," that the BP disaster caused their ailments.
"What proof do they need?," asks Sean Kelley, a cleanup worker whose health claim was denied by Feinberg for insufficient documentation. Kelley had direct exposure to the oil. He removed oil from containment booms and laid boom for nearly two months along the Alabama and Mississippi coast. Kelley believes that exposure to BP's crude oil caused a number of his current health problems, including nausea, headaches, rashes, blurred vision, infections, cardiac issues, and neurological problems like uncontrollable shaking in his limbs, memory loss, and brain fogs that last for hours. He had internal bleeding as well.
Kelley's denied claim included medical bills from multiple doctor visits, and the results of a test showing his blood contains alarming levels of toxins that are found in BP's crude oil.
If it is going to reject claims like his, Kelley says, "[the GCCF] has to come out and say what link and documentation they need."
The GCCF has yet to provide clear guidelines for a cleanup claim it would grant. Even a doctor's note linking an individual's cleanup work to their health symptoms might not be enough, says Feinberg, because the "medical community" needs to agree on the linkage.
The burden of documentation
Advocates on the Gulf Coast wonder how many will go untreated - or even die - waiting for the "medical community" to connect their illnesses with the BP disaster.
"No doctors will help anybody," says Kindra Arensen of Buras, Louisiana. Arnesen, her husband (who worked on the cleanup), and their two children have had infections, respiratory illnesses, headaches, and other ailments since the oil and dispersant disaster began.
Cleanup workers and coastal residents have been diagnosed with acid reflux, stress, and the flu, but seldom chemical poisoning. Some patients say that when they brought up exposure to BP's crude oil and toxic dispersants, their doctors have laughed, refused to do further testing, or privately admitted they can't take on BP.
There are other obstacles to the GCCF process that keep people away from filing claims, medical or otherwise. John Bean, a former clean-up worker, resisted filing a medical claim because he didn't want to sign away his right to sue BP. Giving up that right is a requirement for those who accept a final settlement, which covers all future damages.
Claimants can accept an interim payment without abdicating the right to sue, but that option only reimburses past expenses. This means that people have to pay for expensive medical bills out of pocket, and then hope that the GCCF reimburses them. So far it has not.
This creates a Catch-22 for many sick residents and clean-up workers, Sean Kelley explains; They cannot provide documentation for their claims without tests and doctors visits, but they cannot afford the tests and doctors visits without the GCCF settlement.
Despite these obstacles, John Bean decided to finally file his claim last Friday. Without health insurance, he is facing headaches, diarrhea, vision problems, and a rash that is, "driving me insane." He decided to file because he needs the money for his medical care.
But rather than helping him file a claim, Bean says a GCCF representative told him he had to file for workman's compensation with the cleanup subcontractor he worked for.
Feinberg: BP's agent
"What's the point?" says Kindra Arnesen when asked if she's filed a medical claim with Feinberg. "They're not paying out income claims. So surely they're not going to pay our medical claims," she says. "[Feinberg's] not here for the people of the Gulf. He here's for BP."
Arnesen's point is backed up by the Louisiana District Court, which ruled in February that Feinberg was acting on behalf of BP and had to cease claiming to be neutral. Prior to the order, Feinberg frequently told claimants at Town Hall meetings, "I don't work for BP," and projected the image that he wanted what's best for Gulf Coast residents.
That was just one in a series of missteps that have raised serious concerns about the fairness and transparency of Feinberg's claims process.
Arnesen says that given Feinberg's clear bias, suing is the only chance she has to get BP to redress her family's illness.
Article originally posted on Bridge The Gulf:
SpongeBob SquarePants Mushroom
A new fungal species has been discovered in Borneo, bright orange and shaped like a sea sponge. It has been named spongiform squarepantsi in honor of everyone's favorite Bikini Bottom resident...
'SpongeBob' Mushroom Discovered in the Forests of Borneo
June 15, 2011
Kon-Tiki explorer was partly right Polynesians had South American roots
It is probably the most epic journey ever undertaken just to prove a point.
Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
17 Jun 2011
Thor Heyerdahl clung to Kon-Tiki, his balsa wood raft, for 4,300 miles to show that Polynesia could have been colonised from South America rather than Asia as commonly thought.
But despite achieving his goal sustaining his 101 day voyage with sharks caught with his bare hands the Norwegian failed to sway the scientific community.
Now 64 years later- new research has finally proved the adventurer was at least partly right after all.
A team of scientists have tested the genetic make up of descendants of the original islanders and found it includes DNA that could have only come from native Americans.
That means that some time before the remote islands including Easter Island were colonised by Europeans the locals had interbred with people from South America.
The Polynesian islands are some of the most remote in the world lying thousands of miles west of South America and thousands of miles east of Asia.
The established theory has always been that Polynesia was colonised via Asia around 5,500 years ago.
This has been backed up by archaeology, linguistics and some genetic studies.
But in 1947, Heyerdahl controversially claimed that Easter Island's famous statues were similar to those at Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, and sailed a raft from Peru to French Polynesia to prove it could have been colonised from America.
Now Professor Erik Thorsby of the University of Oslo in Norway has found clear evidence to support elements of Heyerdahl's hypothesis.
In 1971 and 2008 he collected blood samples from Easter Islanders whose ancestors had not interbred with Europeans and other visitors to the island.
Prof Thorsby looked at the genes, which vary greatly from person to person.
Most of the islanders' genes were Polynesian, but a few of them also carried genes only previously found in indigenous American populations.
Prof Thorsby found that in some cases the Polynesian and American genes were shuffled together, the result of a process known "recombination".
This means the American genes would need to be around for a certain amount of time for it to happen.
Prof Thorsby can't put a precise date on it, but says it is likely that Americans reached Easter Island before it was "discovered" by Europeans in 1722.
Prof Thorsby believes there may have been a Kon-Tiki-style voyage from South America to Polynesia.
Alternatively, Polynesians may have travelled east to South America, and then returned.
However, Prof Thorsby said that his new evidence does not confirm Heyerdahl's theory that the islanders were originally all from South America.
The first settlers to Polynesia came from Asia, and they made the biggest contribution to the population, he said.
"Heyerdahl was wrong but not completely," he said.
The work was presented at a Royal Society talk in London and reported in the New Scientist.