Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nuclear War, Zombies, Aliens, and Weird Fish

Want proof the world is going to hell in a handbasket?


One day after its nuclear test drew angry and widespread condemnation, North Korea continued to defy the international community on Tuesday by test-firing two more short-range missiles, a South Korean government official said.

The missile firings came just hours after South Korea said it would join an American-led operation to stop the global trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, an action the North has previously said it would consider a declaration of war.

North Korea appeared unfazed by the world’s condemnation, which included strong rebukes from allies such as China and Russia. In Tuesday’s editions of Rodong, its main party newspaper, Pyongyang declared that it was “fully ready for battle” against the United States, accusing President Obama of “following in the footsteps of the previous Bush administration’s reckless policy of militarily stifling North Korea.”

North Korea has a history of flouting such international condemnation, especially recently: It launched a long-range rocket on April 5 despite international calls for restraint; quit nuclear negotiations; restarted its nuclear plants, and threatened more nuclear and long-range missile tests.


While the threat of nuclear war is just that, a threat because execution would result in mutually assured destruction... There's weirder shit out there. I'm talking about

Yes ZOMBIE (ants)
Sort of... it's kind of a natural pesticide

It sounds like something out of science fiction: zombie fire ants. But it’s all too real.

Fire ants wander aimlessly away from the mound.

Eventually their heads fall off, and they die.

The strange part is that researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension Service say making "zombies" out of fire ants is a good thing.

"It’s a tool — they’re not going to completely wipe out the fire ant, but it’s a way to control their population."

The tool is the tiny phorid fly, native to a region of South America where the fire ants in Texas originated.

The flies "dive-bomb" the fire ants and lay eggs. The maggot that hatches inside the ant eats away at the brain, and the ant starts exhibiting what some might say is zombie-like behavior.

"At some point, the ant gets up and starts wandering," said Rob Plowes, a research associate at UT.

The maggot eventually migrates into the ant’s head, but Plowes said he "wouldn’t use the word 'control’ to describe what is happening. There is no brain left in the ant, and the ant just starts wandering aimlessly. This wandering stage goes on for about two weeks."

About a month after the egg is laid, the ant’s head falls off and the fly emerges ready to attack any foraging ants away from the mound and lay eggs.

Plowes said fire ants are "very aware" of these tiny flies, and it only takes a few to cause the ants to modify their behavior.

"Just one or two flies can control movement or above-ground activity," Plowes said. "It’s kind of like a medieval activity where you’re putting a castle under siege."


So just imagine that the military attempts to stop nuclear war by developing this same technique to work on humans. Introducing a parasitic maggot into the brain of the enemy forcing it to wander around aimlessly until it's head falls off. Of course to be truly affective these zombies should probably attack and destroy everything around them.... Once this results in both governments nuking their zombie populations

We should look for.....


Ever since the war on science er terror.... er.. scary terrifying science went out the window with the burning bush and we have begun to look back to research and scientific exploration space is back in play.

A serious search for extraterrestrial life

By Faye Flam

Astronomers are starting to zero in on Earth-like worlds orbiting other stars. Some of the more recent finds even look potentially habitable.

In the last 13 years, astronomers have used such remote-sending tools to catalog more than 300 planets outside the solar system.

The first such planets were many times bigger than our own, but progressively smaller ones have been turning up. In March, NASA launched a satellite called Kepler, which is seeking subtle changes in starlight that indicate the presence of little specks the size of Earth.

In the future, astronomers envision observing even more subtle changes in starlight to analyze the atmospheres of such planets.

The lineup of ambitious projects was causing plenty of excited chatter among scientists this month when they met at Baltimore's Space Telescope Sciences Institute for a symposium titled, "The Search for Life in the Universe."

Not only was NASA spending hundreds of millions to comb the galaxy for other worlds and to analyze them, but respectable astronomers, biologists, and geologists could now talk seriously about alien life.

Life-detection ideas were thrown around that were, while not easy, at least technologically feasible.

"Why is this interesting?" asked biologist Chris McKay of California's NASA-Ames Research Center. "We have the possibility of a second Genesis. We can have comparative biochemistry," he said, meaning that nature might use alternative ways to construct living things.

Even alien pond scum would change everything about our understanding of life and our place in the universe. We could take it apart and see how it replicated, what it ate, how it evolved.

Scientists have trouble defining life because all living things on Earth use the same building blocks. Is it life if it doesn't involve carbon? What if it doesn't have some equivalent of DNA?

"We use the Justice Potter Stewart definition," said McKay, recalling the famous definition of pornography: We'll know it when we see it.

But is there anything alive up there?

The biologists at the Baltimore meeting were optimistic. Life is tougher than anyone thought. Chemical traces of past life show it goes back at least 3.5 billion years into Earth's 4.6 billion-year existence.

Life may go back further. "This is a key fact," said NASA's McKay. As soon as the planet became remotely habitable, it was taken over by microbes.

The one necessary feature that everyone agreed on was liquid water. There's plenty of water out there, but for any of it to condense or melt into a liquid, a planet would have to orbit at just the right distance from its star.

A few years ago, James Kasting of Pennsylvania State University helped calculate what astronomers have come to know as the "habitable zone" around other stars. That's a distance that would make conditions somewhat cooler than Venus, and at least as warm as Mars.

A few of the known exoplanets fall in the habitable zone, including one recently announced super earth 12 light-years away. Kepler could find more. But ultimately the scientists are after something bigger: actual alien life.

At the meeting, Harvard-Smithsonian astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger asked the scientists to imagine how we would detect life on Earth if our planet's exact twin were orbiting a star light-years away. "We would see this tiny point of light - this speckle of light - but there's a lot of information we can actually get from that," she said.

The key is in the atmospheres, said Penn State's Kasting. Our planet's atmosphere is full of oxygen and methane that can't easily be explained by any nonliving chemical process, he said. If we could detect that, we'd have a good case.

The Hubble's instruments have analyzed the atmospheres around several giant planets as they pass in front of their stars. With its repair, which astronauts completed this month, scientists plan to use it to study more.

It will take more elaborate space telescopes - or perhaps whole fleets of them - to analyze atmospheres with planets the size of Earth. All this is on the drawing board.

The gases wouldn't tell us what type of life was out there - whether it could take the form of intelligent beings, for example. It could be mostly weeds, or pond scum, or slime molds, or something we can't even imagine because we've never seen it.

But even that would go a long way toward explaining what life on this planet is all about, what it's doing here, and how it fits into this vast universe of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars.



And if you wonder what alien life would look like here's some weird ass fish that are found in earth oceans

Dracula fish

Discovered: Burma
Documented: 2009

It's not big and it's not pretty, but Danionella dracula is certainly unique.

The transparent 17-millimetre-long "Dracula fish" is the only member of the 3700-strong Cypriniformes group to have vampire-like fangs on its top and bottom jaws, which the males use to impress each other and to settle squabbles over territory.

The discovery of these fangs was something of a surprise because the Cypriniformes lost their teeth about 50 million years ago, says Danionella expert Ralf Britz of the Natural History Museum in London.

So did the Dracula fish manage to keep its teeth while all around were losing theirs? Er, no. Instead, it evolved something new.

What look like teeth are actually bone which has grown into curved spikes that poke through the skin.

By comparing the Dracula fish's DNA with that of zebrafish and other members of the family, Britz estimates that the bony fangs evolved within 30 million years of the family losing its true teeth.

(Image: The Natural History Museum, London)

Psychedelic frogfish

Discovered: Indonesia
Documented: 2009

When the psychedelic frogfish, Histiophryne psychedelica, turned up at a popular dive site off Ambon Island, Indonesia, in January 2008, it posed something of a mystery. How had a brightly coloured, 8-centimetre-long fish managed to stay hidden for so long in such well-trodden waters?

Then, in June, it caused another stir, when all of the 12 or so individuals disappeared without trace. But not before a team led by Theodore Pietsch from the University of Washington in Seattle had noted several brand new behaviours (Copeia, 2009, no 1, p 37).

Perhaps the oddest was that it seems to dislike swimming. Like other frogfish, it "walks" along the reef on its long, leg-like pectoral fins, but when startled it does something unique.

While other species swim to safety, H. psychedelica escapes by jet propulsion, squirting water out of gill-like openings towards the back of its body as it pushes off the bottom with its fins. This, says one diver who observed it, makes it look rather like "an inflated rubber ball bouncing along the bottom".

The new species also hunts differently. All the other 325 known species of anglerfish, the group to which frogfish belong, sit in the open and attract prey with a lure.

H. psychedelica has no lure. Instead, it hunts by squeezing itself into tiny crevices where small fish hide.

Finally, while other species of frogfish change colour to match the coral they are sitting on, H. psychedelica stays true to its name whatever the background, sporting mind-bending swirls of orange, white and blue.

The psychedelic frogfish is still missing, presumed hiding. With diving companies desperately seeking what was briefly their star attraction, we may yet find out where it came from and why it has taken such a different evolutionary path from its cousins.

(Image: David Hall / Seaphotos.com)

I ... CAN... SEE... IT'S... EYES?
The fish with a cockpit head

Discovered: California, 1939
Described: 2009

The 15-centimetre-long deep-sea barreleye fish Macropinna microstoma was discovered 70 years ago off the California coast. Until recently, though, little was known about it, as all known specimens were dead and damaged after being brought up in fishing nets.

This year, however, Bruce Robison from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California has collected the first footage of a live M. microstoma, filmed 600 to 800 metres down. They also collected a live specimen to study on the surface.

For the first time, researchers were able to see a delicate, transparent, fluid-filled dome on the fish's head, which completely encloses its bright green eyes.

The eyes were already known to face upwards to search for food through the gloom, but the live specimens revealed that once it has spotted food, it can swivel its eyes forward and swim straight upwards to catch it.

(Image: 2004 MBARI)

Okay well make sure to stock pile up on duct tape, napalm, freeze dried ice cream, shotgun shells, rocket fuel, and peach schnapps. You should be fine.


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" "The difference between a madman and a professional is that a pro does as well as he can within what he has set out to do and a madman does exceptionally well at what he can't help doing.” ― Charles Bukowski