Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Huge space rock will miss our planet by just 200,000 miles on Tuesday, November 8 -

Huge space rock will miss our planet by just 200,000 miles on Tuesday, November 8 - 

An asteroid the size of an aircraft carrier could provide vital clues about the formation of the Earth when it flashes past us next week.
The huge space rock will miss our planet by just 200,000 miles on Tuesday, November 8, giving scientists a front-row seat for such a rare event.
The last time a rock of a comparable size passed so close was in 1976, but it was missed by everybody, including Nasa.

This asteroid, which is known as 2005 YU55 and is in orbit around the Sun, has not been this near to Earth for some 200 years.
It will not be visible to the naked eye, but amateur astronomers could see it if they use a telescope at least 6in in diameter.

Nasa scientists, who have officially classified the asteroid as a 'near-earth object', will use a radar telescope to analyse exactly what it is made of and where it might have come from, according to the Daily Telegraph.

A spokesman said: 'We hope to obtain images that should reveal a wealth of detail about the asteroid's surface features, shape, dimensions and other physical properties.'
2005 YU55 was 'imaged' by the Arecibo Radar Telescope in Puerto Rico on April 19 last year.
The data collected has allowed the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to refine the space rock's orbit, enabling scientists to rule out any possibility of an Earth impact for the next 100 years.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2055619/How-near-miss-asteroid-shed-light-formation-Earth.html

Coming to a battlefield soon: Caffeinated meat sticks -

Coming to a battlefield soon: Caffeinated meat sticks - 

The U.S. army wants its soldiers on the battlefield alert and performing well.

And to keep them that way researchers are now testing everything from caffeinated meat sticks to baked goods laced with Omega 3s.

Soldiers in the field can already choose to chew caffeinated gum to keep them alert, but now the researchers at the Natick, Mass.-based Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Centre are also testing caffeinated meat as a new entree in the soldier’s field rations — known more commonly as the MRE or Meal Ready to Eat ration.

MREs have been described by some as one of the worst foods in the world — at the very least they’re probably the most complained about. But in recent years they have improved, helped by research from scientists trying to improve the taste of the food as well as its nutritional and health benefits.

In the case of the caffeinated meat stick, another goal is to give U.S. soldiers a little extra something to keep them on top of their game, said Jeremy Whitsitt, a civilian spokesman for the research centre.

The aim is to “keep more war fighters on the battlefield for longer periods of time and reduce lost time from their mission and the injuries sustained in daily activities such as climbing mountains, searching through caves and carrying 75 to 100 pounds on their back,” Whitsitt said in an interview with the Star. “Those have a toll on the human body and I think we’re doing a good thing.”

U.S. soldiers have their choice of 24 different MREs, and more are constantly being developed. They all contain an entree as well as side items and a flameless ration heater so they can warm their food.

“Our mission is to assure the U.S. war fighters are the best fed in the world,” Whitsitt said.

One of the areas of research is looking at how to use foods to enhance and improve performance under stress, he said. That’s where caffeine fits in. “Caffeine is known to increase performance under periods of stress and or fatigue,” he explained.

The meat stick with caffeine is still being tested and is likely one or two years away from being sent out with troops. First it must be evaluated by a panel to see how it stands up, and then it must be field-tested by the soldiers themselves. It must be approved by selected troops before it is used for everyone, Whitsitt said.

The sticks taste like a salty, smoky meat product, he explained.

Omega 3 anti-inflammatory supplements are also being researched and tested in orange cake for use on the battlefield.

“Omega 3 products have great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” Whitsitt said. “Some other research indicates they may help in healing traumatic brain injuries.”

That product is also showing good promise, he said, and is holding up well under storage tests.

This isn’t the first time caffeine or other supplements have been added to MREs. A complex carbohydrate called Maltodextrim, which gives soldiers an extra bit of energy, is being served in apple sauce, called Zapplesauce.

The MREs or any food rations the soldiers carry are required to have a shelf life of three years at 80 F. And they have to meet an increasingly sensitive and sophisticated palate.

“We’re focused on the war fighter when their only supply system is what they’re carrying on their back.”

His assessment of the food? “It’s good. It’s real food. We’re able to provide a high-quality, shelf-stable product better than we have before.”

Read more -

What is the dirtiest surface you touch on your way to work? - avoid touching the gas pump -

What is the dirtiest surface you touch on your way to work? - avoid touching the gas pump - 

Just when you thought filling up your car could not hurt any more, researchers may have found another reason to avoid touching the gas pump: germs.

Gas pump handles turned out to be the filthiest surface that Americans encounter on the way to work, according to a study released Tuesday, Oct. 25, by Kimberly-Clark Professional, a unit of personal hygiene giant Kimberly-Clark Corp.

A team of hygienists swabbed hundreds of surfaces around six U.S. cities to see what everyday objects are breeding grounds for the worst bacteria and viruses.

The top offenders, following gas pumps, were handles on public mailboxes, escalator rails and ATM buttons.

Closely following on the filthiest list were parking meters and kiosks, crosswalk buttons and buttons on vending machines in shopping malls.

“It comes down to the fact that nobody cleans the things that you’re going to touch on a daily basis,” said Dr. Kelly Arehart, program leader of Kimberly-Clark’s Healthy Workplace Project.

Testers analyzed swabs of the surfaces for levels of adenosine triphosphate, which signals the presence of animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast or mould cells, and the high levels found suggest they can be transmitting illness, researchers said.

Swabs were taken in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia.

Arehart’s colleague Brad Reynolds said germs from people’s hands can transfer seven times before leaving the skin. People should wash their hands as soon as they get to work, he said.

Read more -

Australian Mint Turns Out 1-Ton Gold Coin - Pure gold coin is worth at least $50 Million -

Australian Mint Turns Out 1-Ton Gold Coin - Pure gold coin is worth at least $50 Million - 
Australian Mint Turns Out 1-Ton Gold Coin

An Australian mint has produced the world's largest gold coin, a giant disk weighing more than a ton and worth more than $50 million.

The Perth Mint made the coin to comemorate Queen Elizabeth's visit to the city. It has a kangaroo on one side and the Queen's profile on the other.

Perth Mint CEO Ed Harbuz said in a company release making it was "an incredible challenge, one which few other mints would even consider." More than a dozen people worked on the project.

The coin is more than 10 times the size of the world's previous largest gold coin, made by the Royal Canadian Mint.

"We thought well, we'd better make it so much bigger that it'll stay the biggest coin in the world for a long time," Harbuz said.

The coin is 99.99 percent pure, weighs 1,000 kilograms, or 2,200 pounds, and is worth more than $50 million at today's gold prices.

Read more -

UFO At NFL Game: TV Camera Captures Strange Object In Flight During Broadcast -

UFO At NFL Game: TV Camera Captures Strange Object In Flight During Broadcast - 

Ufo Video Grabs

For many football fans who watched the New Orleans Saints rout the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 23, the most unusual thing about the game was the lopsided final score of 62-7.

But for UFO aficionados and paranormal experts who tuned in, they may have seen something in the sky that was even more out-of-the-ordinary than the tossing of more touchdowns vs. incompletions.

As NBC's cameras returned from a commercial break and focused on the historic, triple-steepled St. Louis Cathedral in the city nicknamed the Big Easy, a couple of lit objects seemed to streak across the darkening sky -- and they've yet to be definitively identified.

Viewed in real-time, it's hard to see much more than something flashing across the screen. But a frame-by-frame scrutiny of the video reveals a rod-shaped object topped with brightly lit dots.

Rod-shaped UFOs? Actually, this isn't the first time such objects have been seen and photographed.
In 1994, independent filmmaker Jose Escamilla was attempting to videotape UFOs near Roswell, N.M. -- yes, that Roswell -- home of the legendary, alleged crash of a UFO in 1947 that has captured the imaginations of millions of people for decades.
"As I reviewed one of the tapes, I noticed something streak past my camera viewfinder and thought at first it was just a bird or insect," Escamilla told The Huffington Post.
"Looking at each frame of the footage again, I knew it was something more unusual. My wife called them 'rods' as they sort of looked like some kind of life form you'd see in a microscope."
Since that time, Escamilla has collected hundreds of taped examples from around the world of these so-called rods, which vary in physical form: Some look like centipedes with appendages and others have no appendages but appear to have lights on top of them.
Skeptics maintain there's nothing extraordinary about all of this -- the objects, they say, are merely insects flying very close to the camera lens.
"I think these are insects that got caught in that interlaced video as they're flying through with a wing beat frequency, and the frames are being captured at a frequency... that causes that look," insisted Marc Dantonio, chief photo and video analyst for the Mutual UFO Network.
Dantonio owns FX Models -- a Connecticut company that creates special effects and models for the government. He's one of many investigators who insist that when an object -- moving very fast, like a flying insect -- gets close enough to a camera lens with a slow enough shutter speed, it produces an effect called motion blur, making the insect's wings appear elongated, or rod-shaped.
"They're fascinating, but they're actually quite down to earth," Dantonio said.
But one little frame of the video may be the one little problem that could rule out the insect theory. Amazingly, the frame reveals the mystery object is moving behind one of the cathedral towers. But how could that be if it was only an insect?
"The object is not going behind the cathedral -- it's actually in front of it," Dantonio said. "But because of the saturated CCD [charge-coupled device used in digital imaging], it looks like it's going behind. And when you see those three dots or lights [on the object], I think they're wing beats."
But when Dantonio took a closer look at the single video frame in question, he began to bend a little.
"Yeah, that sure does look weird. I won't say it's not interesting, but I'll tell you right now: I'm sure that there's a conventional explanation and I believe firmly that this is something very close to the camera."
Robert Sheaffer, one of the world's leading UFO skeptics, agrees.
"Every time something flies in front of a camera now it's gonna be a UFO -- little bugs, some little bird, anything," Sheaffer said.
When the arch doubter first looked at the Big Easy video, he immediately assumed the mystery object was an insect. But when Sheaffer -- who was featured at this past weekend's all-skepticsCSIcon conference in, coincidentally, New Orleans -- looked more closely at the single "smoking gun" video frame from the cathedral, he admitted it has him a little stumped.
"The first time I watched this thing, I didn't even see that [the rod] was there. Now I'm looking at the part where [the video] is slowing down, slow, slow, zoom, zoom...okay, now I agree -- I see that it pauses right behind the left spire, at least it seems to catch it right behind it, and that building is pretty far away. It really looks like it's going behind."
Another thing adds fuel to the rod fire: Many previous images also show these pesky elongated objects moving in the sky behind things like trees, power poles, buildings, etc. Can all of them be simply explained as tricks or optical illusions resulting in slow camera recording speeds?
"It could be explained as an insect, but what I've found on a lot of footage over the years is that these things do go behind structures, such as this cathedral tower," Escamilla said.
"The camera is not focused up close -- it's focused at infinity. So any insect that would've flown close to the lens would be invisible, it would be an invisible, blurry thing. This thing was in focus and was on the other side of the cathedral tower!"
As skeptics and believers continue to bump heads trying to explain these so-called rods, Escamilla presents a video that includes what he argues are rods seen at 10,000 feet or more above ground.
Read more -