Wednesday, March 30, 2011

For 12-year old astrophysics genius, the sky’s the limit

In some ways, Jacob Barnett is just like any other 12-year-old kid. He plays Guitar Hero, shoots jewelry with his friends, and has a friendly girlfriend.

But in other ways, he's a little unlike. Jake, who has an IQ of 170, began solving 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzles at the age of 3, not long after he'd been identified with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism. A few years later, he trained himself calculus, algebra, and geometry in two weeks. By 8, he had left high school, and is currently taking college-level advanced astrophysics classes while teaching his older classmates. And he's being recruited for a paid canvasser job by Indiana University.

Now, he's at work on a theory that confronts the Big Bang the current explanation among scientists for how the universe came about. It's not clear how developed it is, but experts say he's asking the right questions.

"The theory that he's working on involve several of the difficult problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics," Scott Tremaine of Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Studies where Einstein (pictured) himself worked wrote in an email to Jake's family. "Anyone who solves these will be in row for a Nobel Prize."

Here you can watch Jake question some of the key elements of Albert Einstein's theories on quantum physics:

It's not clear where Jake got his gifts from. "Whenever I try talking about math with anyone in my family," he told the Indianapolis Star, "they just stare vacantly."

But his parents encouraged his interests from the beginning. Once, they took him to the planetarium at Butler University.

"We were in the crowd, just sitting, listening to this guy ask the crowd if anyone knew why the moons going around Mars were potato-shaped and not round," Jake's mother, Kristine Barnett, told the Star. "Jacob raised his hand and said, 'Excuse me, but what are the sizes of the moons around Mars?' "

After the lecturer answered, said Kristine, "Jacob looked at him and said the gravity of the planet ... is so large that (the moon's) gravity would not be able to pull it into a round shape."

"That entire building ... everyone was just looking at him, like, 'Who is this 3-year-old?'"

Monday, March 28, 2011

'Moon man' forecasts earthquakes

A "lunar forecaster" who was ridiculed by scientists after he claimed to have predicted the devastating earthquake in Christchurch has correctly predicted another shake. 

Ken Ring cautioned that an aftershock would hit Christchurch on Sunday, leading scientists to make public a bet that it would not.

However, they were left surprised when the city was indeed shaken by the biggest aftershock since the February catastrophe, which killed more than 182 people. 

Mr Ring, a fishing critic, has become a source of heated debate in New Zealand in recent weeks due to his earthquake predictions, which are based on the belief that quakes are caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon on tectonic plates. 

Seismologists have send away the theory, but it has gained a following in the country as word has spread that Mr Ring, nicknamed "Moon Man", appeared to have properly predicted a quake in September and the disaster last month.
When Mr Ring warned that on the morning of 20 March, as the moon passed close to the Earth, another quake would hit some Christchurch residents believed him and decided to get out of town. But Mr Ring was brand by sections of the media, politicians, and the scientific world. 

Then on Sunday to prove their point a group of geologists, engineers, and a cabinet minister with a PhD in geotechnical engineering held a lunch in one of Christchurch's oldest, tallest buildings, at the time the "7 plus" doomsday quake was hypothetical to hit. 

Lunch was unchanged by any tremors but at 9.47pm the city was shaken by a 5.1 magnitude aftershock. Although it was less influential than Mr Ring had prophesied it to be and came 10 hours late, it was the biggest aftershock since February's disaster, leading some to claim that "Moon man" had been correct. 

Scientists, however, have continued to dismiss Mr Ring, who has gone to ground because of the media notice. Dr Mark Quigley, a lecturer in active tectonics and geomorphology, said: "Vague quotes about dates of 'increased' activity plus or minus several days, without magnitudes, locations, and exact times do not comprise prediction."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tornado in Western Pennsylvania demolishes 30 Homes

Hempfield Township in Westmoreland County was hit by a tornado earlier today. The National Weather Service long-established the twister and stated that at least thirty homes were shattered. Sixty other residents were poorly damaged by the storm. The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado as EF2 (strong) on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

No wounds or wounded have been reported. Four Hempfield schools are scheduled to be closed Friday, to assess structural damage. Superintendent Terry Foriska stated that: Hempfield Area High school, Harrold Middle school, Fort Allen Elementary and Crossroads Alternative will be closed. All other schools in the area will open Friday morning as scheduled.

Hempfield Area High School suffered main damage from the tornado. The school’s auditorium, football stadium and scoreboard experienced extreme destruction. Bulldozers were brought in to remove wreckage from the stadium. None of the 200 students on campus at the time of the storm were upset. "It's just amazing that no one was upset. This is a good story that we walked away from a fairly significant storm with no one hurt," said Dan Stevens of Westmoreland County Emergency armed forces.

"A mess. There's just stuff everywhere," said Courtney Ansell as she walked through her knocked down Fort Allen home. "It just looks like it came and sawed the whole roof off. I never realized that, in a matter of 20 seconds, it could do amazing like this."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Face of Amazingly Preserved 700 Years Old Mummy

Eyebrows still intact stress amazing level of preservation Mummy believed to be a high-ranking member of the Ming Dynasty Wearing silk and cotton, she's the first major detection in years in the area

These hard to believe pictures show a 700-year-old mummy, which was discovered by possibility - by road workers - in excellent condition in eastern China.

The dead body of the high-ranking woman believed to be from the Ming Dynasty - the ruling power in China between 1368 and 1644 - was stumbled across by a team who were looking to get bigger a street.

And the mummy, which was found in the city of Taizhou, in the Jiangsu Province, along with two other wooden tombs, offers a charming insight into life as it was back then.

Discovered two metres below the road surface, the woman's features - from her head to her shoes - have retained their unique condition, and have hardly get worse.

When the discovery was made by the road workers, late last month, Chinese archaeologists, from the nearby Museum of Taizhou, were called into excavate the area, the state agency Xinhua News reported.

They were surprised by the remarkably good condition of the woman's skin, hair, eyelashes and face. It was as though she had only recently died.

Her body, which measures 1.5 metres high, was found at the construction site immersed in a brown liquid inside the coffin.

And the coffin was opened earlier this week, on March 1, much to the excitement of the local city - and further afield. And the right hand of the 700-year-old mummy showed her preserved skin, and a ring.

The mummy was wearing traditional Ming dynasty costume, and also in the coffin were bones, ceramics, ancient writings and other relics.This is the latest discovery after a lull of three years in the area. Indeed, between 1979 and 2008 five mummies were found, all in very good condition.

Those findings raising the interest in learning the techniques of preservation funeral of this dynasty and customs in time to bury the dead.

Director of the Museum of Taizhou, Wang Weiyin, told Xinhua that the mummy's clothes are made mostly of silk, with a little cotton.

He said usually silk and cotton are very hard to preserve and excavations found that this mummifying technology was used only at very high-profile funerals.

The first finding of the Ming Dynasty in Taizhou dates from May 1979 and led the opening of the museum.
At that time the bodies were also found intact, but due to lack of experience of archaeologists only clothing, belts and clamps could be preserved.

The Ming Dynasty, who built the Forbidden City and restored the Great Wall, was the last in China and marked an era of economic growth and cultural splendour which produced the first commercial contacts with the West.

Sumo wrestler turn into heaviest man to ever finish marathon

The heaviest person to ever total a marathon weighed 275 pounds. Add that weight plus the total weight of a great long-distance runner (about 120 pounds) and you'll get Kelly Gneiting.

Gneiting, a three-time U.S. sumo winner, tipped the scales at 400 pounds when he began Sunday's Los Angeles Marathon. Nine hours, 48 minutes, 52 seconds later he crossed the finish line and set the Guinness World Record for being the heaviest person to ever total the 26.2-mile race.

The 400-pound American run the first eight miles of the race and walked the last 18, often stopping at junctions and stoplights because he was well behind the 13-minute-per-mile pace set by race managers. He says he became feverish after mile 10 and only realized he hit the 15-mile mark when a friend gave him a clean pair of socks.

"I was really struggling in the last five miles," he told the Los Angeles Times, "but I said to myself, 'If I have to crawl, I will.'"

When he finally finished, he had set the weight world record and a personal best by over two hours. "I'd like to see the Kenyan get better his marathon time by two hours," he joked.

Gneiting weighed 200 pounds in college but says he packed on the weight after getting married. He became a sumo wrestler 11 years ago and won his first national title four years later. In spite of his weight, Gneiting says he's still fit and wants to prove it by competing in other competitions. Next up? Swimming the English Channel.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Miraculous!! 4-Month Old Baby, 70-Year Old Woman Found Alive

In the middle of the silent corpses a baby cried out - and Japan met its smallest miracle.

On March 14 soldiers from the Japanese Defense Force were going door-to-door, dragging bodies from homes compressed by the earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki City, a coastal town northeast of Senda. More familiar to the chomping of rubble and the sloshing of mud than to the sound of life, they sent away the baby's cry as a fault. Until they perceive sound again.

They made their way to the pile of wreckage, and carefully removed wreckage of wood and slate, devastated glass and rock. And then they saw her: a four-month old baby girl in a pink woolen bear suit.

The tidal wave factually swept the unnamed girl away from her parents' arms when it hit their home on March 11. Since then her parents - both of whom survived the tragedy - have taken safe haven in their ruined house, and worried that their little girl was dead. Soldiers managed to reunite the baby with her delighted father shortly after the rescue.

"Her detection has put a new energy into the search," a civil defense official told a local news crew. "We will listen, look and excavate with even more assiduousness after this." Ahead of the baby's rescue, officials reported finding at least 2,000 bodies washed up on the beach of Miyagi region. How the child survived drowning - or being crushed by fallen trees and houses - remains a mystery.

In a nation short on good news, other saves have marker morale, too. In Iwate prefecture, northeastern Japan, the overwhelming tidal wave swept away an old woman along with her entire house - but it couldn't put out her will to live.

Rescuers found the 70-year-old alive inside her home on March 15, four days after the black tidal wave wiped out much of the region. Osaka fire department spokesman Yuko Kotani told the Associated Press the woman is now receiving treatment in a local hospital. She is conscious but suffering from hypothermia.

Elsewhere, 60-year old Hiromitsu Shinkawa survived two days at sea by clinging on to his floating rooftop. He was discovered 10 miles off the Japanese coastline. "Several helicopters and ships passed but none of them noticed me," he said after his March 13 rescue. "I thought that was going to be the last day of my life."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Great-great-grandmother of America

Besse Cooper, a great-great-grandmother from Georgia, USA has been formally recognized as the world's oldest living person at 114 years and six months.

Since her birth in 1896 Mrs Cooper has seen 21 dissimilar presidents from Grover Cleveland to Barack Obama, and lived through two world wars and the great despair.

The hendecagenarian was formally recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest person on earth at a ceremony at her nursing home on Thursday.

Mrs Cooper was given with the title after the death of Eunice G Sanborn of Jacksonville, Texas last month.
As one of eight siblings she led an active childhood, climbing trees and splashing through rivers in Sullivan County, Tennessee with her older brothers and it was that, along with good genes that her son Sid believes is the secret of her longevity.

After moving to Georgia to teach in a school during the First World War, Mrs Cooper was wedded in the 1920s and remains with her husband for 40 years, though he died approximately half a century ago.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Scientists effort to discover the color of the Atlantic Ocean

A team of scientists from four countries have set out on a maritime journey to discover what colour the Atlantic Ocean is.

They want to find out the impact of misty clouds of aerosol particles hanging above the water on algae that are the foundation of the marine food chain.

Around a third of the carbon dioxide free into the atmosphere by human activities is engrossed by microscopic algae in the sea.

This process gives the waters a greenish shade as algae blooms close to the surface thrive.

But satellite images in recent years have shown large aerosol clouds forming above the oceans, chiefly in the southern part of the Atlantic.

They increase the amount of the sun's rays reproduced away from the sea, reducing the amount of algae and therefore decrease the water's greenish hue.

The project engages scientists from Brazil, Argentina, France and the US currently aboard the Melville, a research vessel belonging to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

The teams hope to gain more accurate measurements of what is happening than those taken from satellites that may be indistinct by strong winds or waves.

Milton Kampel, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in Brazil, said: "[The satellite] concentrations have not yet been long-established with field data. We need to see, for example, this is not an effect caused by breaking waves at sea."

They are also taking water samples to study the result on algae.
The Melville left Cape Town in late February and is scheduled to arrive in Valparaiso, Chile, next week.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

US regret for Afghan deaths 'not enough' –Karzai

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told General David Petraeus, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, on Sunday his regret for a foreign air strike that killed nine children last week was "not enough".

At a meeting with his safety advisers at which Petraeus was present, Karzai said civilian wounded by foreign troops were "no longer acceptable" to the Afghan government or to the Afghan people, Karzai's palace said in a report.

Civilian wounded caused by NATO-led and Afghan forces hunting rebellious have again become a major source of friction between Karzai and his Western backers.

In the meeting, Petraeus apologized for the deaths of the nine children in eastern Kunar region last Tuesday, saying the killings were a "great error" and there would be no do again.

"In return, the president said the apology was not enough and harassed that civilian casualties caused during operations by alliance forces were the main cause of strained relations between the United States and Afghanistan," the palace said.

"The people of Afghanistan are fed up with such terrible incidents and apologies or censure is not going to heal their wounds," it quoted Karzai as saying.

Hours before Karzai's statement, hundreds of people chanting "Death to America" protested in the Afghan capital against the recent spate of civilian deaths, in a sign of the boiling anti-Western feeling among many normal Afghans.

International anxiety over civilian casualties has grown, and the fallout from the recent incidents is even threatening to basket peace and settlement efforts, with a slow drawdown of the 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan to begin in July.

Last Tuesday, two attack helicopters gunned down nine Afghan boys as they collected firewood in Kunar after a nearby foreign base had come under insurgent assault. The event, in a unstable area that has seen a recent spike in foreign military operations, encouraged rare public regret from Petraeus and his deputy.

President Barack Obama also expressed "deep regret" over the killings and the United Nations called for a review of air hits.

There have been at least four events of civilian casualties by foreign troops in the east in the past two weeks in which Afghan officials say more than 80 people died.

Demonstrators demo through the centre of Kabul, some carrying banners bearing pictures of blood-covered dead children they said were killed in air hits by foreign forces.

"We will never forgive the bloodshed by our innocent Afghans who were killed by NATO forces," said one activist Ahmad Baseer, a university student.

"The Kunar incident is not the first and it will not be the last time civilian wounded is caused by foreign troops."

Dozens of women were also among the activists, a rare incidence in a country where women are largely banned from public life. Using loudspeakers, some of the women chanted: "We don't want Americans, we don't want the Taliban, and we want peace."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Basketball star dies after winning shot in team's ideal season

The score was tied. The game was in overtime. The mood, emotional.

Number 35 came charging up to the net and hit a last-moment winning layup for his unbeatable Fennville High School Blackhawks to end the regular season Thursday night with a perfect 20 wins.

The other players lifted their star, 16-year-old Wes Leonard, on their shoulders. The loud crowd charged the court to hug him. It was the biggest moment in memory for the tiny Michigan town of Fennville.

And then it all turned to black.

Silence fell under the cruel glare of the florescent lights. Leonard lay still on the court, pale in his school colors. His family and coaches bounded him. He wasn't breathing, his friend Arista Sauceda recalled. His heart had stopped cold.

After attempts to revitalize the varsity player in the gym, an ambulance transported him to nearby Holland Hospital. Doctors effort on him for an hour and 20 minutes.

They could not save him. By 10:40 at night, when Leonard should have been out rejoicing with his classmates, he was dead.

An autopsy Friday resolute that Leonard died of cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart, said a statement from Dr. David A. Start, the Ottawa County chief medical examiner.

As news of Leonard's death spread, a small group of people on the banks of Lake Michigan convulsed in shock. A moment of huge school pride was reduced to irrelevance, a moment of joy turned into the opposite.