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Posted on Sunday, April 29 - 2007

Two hundred seventy thousand feet above the ground, higher than 99.9 percent of the earth’s air, clouds still float around — thin, iridescent wisps of electric blue. NASA is launching a small satellite to take a closer look at these clouds at the edge of outer space and to try to understand why, in recent years, they are appearing more often over more parts of the world. They are also becoming brighter.The clouds are called noctilucent or “night shining,” because from the ground they can be seen only at night as they float about 50 miles above the surface, illuminated by light from a Sun that has already set below the horizon. (That is essentially the same effect that makesmoonlight.)The clouds form in the polar regions from mid-May to mid-August in the Northern Hemisphere, mid-November to mid-February in the Southern Hemisphere.“They’re beautiful,” said James M.

Russell III, co-director of the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at Hampton University in Virginia and principal investigator of the NASA mission. “The pictures do a good job, but it’s not like seeing them.”A British sky watcher named Thomas William Backhouse was perhaps the first to notice the odd blue wisps in 1885, and many scientists thought that the phenomenon was an atmospheric effect caused by ash thrown up by the gigantic volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia two years earlier.Although the ash settled out of the air, the noctilucent clouds persisted and spread.At first they were seen onlyat higher latitudes in places like Norway, Russia and England. Now they can be seen as far south as Colorado, at about 40 degrees latitude.The essential ingredients are temperatures from minus 225 to minus 190 degrees Fahrenheit, water vapor and particles of dust that serve as seeds for the ice crystals that form the clouds.Since 1980, when regular space-based observations of noctilucent clouds began, their number has increased about 28 percent per decade, and they are reflecting more light, because the ice crystals are bigger.

View: Full Article | Source: New York Times

Views : 12313

Posted on Monday, August 26 - 2013

Poisoned drinks would have proven deadly.
Image Credit: CC 2.0 Robert-Couse-Baker

Archaeologists in Bulgaria have uncovered a ring once used as a way to secretly poison people"s drinks. Dating back to the 14th century, the well worn ring was discovered at Cape Kaliakra, the site of a medievalfortress that is currently being excavated.

The ring was designed to be worn on the little finger of the right hand, most likely by a male nobleman. The wearer would likely have filled it with deadly poison and then surreptitiously emptied it in to the target"s drink or food while either filling a glass or stretching across the table.The find is particularly interesting because it shows that politically-motivated murders were potentially commonplace in medieval Bulgaria."I have no doubts that the hole is there on purpose and thering was worn on the right hand, because the hole was made in such a way so as to be covered by a finger, so that the poison can be dropped at a moment’s notice," said Dr. Bonnie Petrunova who led the excavation. "This explains many of the unexplained deaths of cape among nobles and aristocrats close to Dobrotitca."

Source: DiscoveryNews

Views : 747
[ Read More ] Reference : History, Miscellaneous

Posted on Sunday, August 25 - 2013

Mahjong is a popular passtime in China.
Image Credit: CC 3.0 Fangoufang

Divers from China’s Hunan province have found a novel way to escape the scorching summer heat. As temperatures soared to 41 degrees in China this month, a new variation of the populartile-based game mahjong has been hitting the headlines.

Players with experience in scuba diving set up a table, chairs and a whole mahjong set at the bottom of a public swimming pool and played an entire game completely underwater.Unable to speak to one another, the participants resorted to holding up pieces of cardboard with markings drawn on them in order to communicate while playing. The tiles and furniture were also weighted to prevent them from floating upwards during the game."Playingmahjong underwater is for fun, and the real reason is to feel cool," one of the divers told a local newspaper. While footage of the intrepid group has proven popular in the region, some have questioned whether the whole thing is actually nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Views : 1004 | Comments : 1
[ Read More ] Reference : Bizarre, Miscellaneous

Posted on Wednesday, August 21 - 2013

Nicola Peate had to open her mouth so wide to tuck in to the burger that she dislocated her jaw.Fans of above-average sized burgers needn"t worry however, the 25-year-old"s mishap can be attributed to more than just trying to open her mouth wide. Nicola suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition which makes her joints unstable. Despite experiencing pain in hermouth after the meal, she didn"t realise the extent of her injury until she was checked out at Royal Liverpool University Hospital the next day."I didn"t think I"d dislocated it - you don"t expect it to happen eating a burger, but I tried to eat it with a knife and fork and couldn"t," she said.

"I couldn"t open my mouth fully - it felt like I had cramp in my tongue, then I started to get an earache and a headache." "A woman had to have her jaw reset after dislocating it while eating a triple-decker burger."  

View: Full article |  Source: BBC News  

Views : 2605
[ Read More ] Reference : Bizarre, Miscellaneous

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