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Brazil Amazon: Drone to scan for ancient Amazonia

Brazil Amazon: Drone to scan for ancient Amazonia
By Jonathan Amos
BBC Science Correspondent, San Jose

Amazon Drone

The drone to be used in the project has a wingspan of about 3m

Scientists are to scan the Amazon forest in Brazil to look for evidence of occupation by ancient civilisations.

A drone will be sent up with a laser instrument to peer through the canopy for earthworks that were constructed thousands of years ago.

The UK-led project is trying to determine how big these communities were, and to what degree they altered the landscape.

The data is likely to inform policies on sustainable forest use today.

Researchers announced the initiative at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose.

It has just won a 1.7m-euro (£1.25m; $1.9m) grant from the European Research Council.

The key quest is to try to understand the scale and activities of populations living in the late pre-Columbian period (the last 3,000 years before the Europeans arrived in the 1490s).

‘Cultural parkland’
The international team will endeavour to find more geoglyphs, which are large geometric patterns left in the ground.

More than 450 of these are known in places where the forest has been cleared.

No-one is really quite sure what these earthen circles, squares and lines represent. Perhaps, they were ceremonial centres. But what is certain is that they are evidence of collective behaviour.

“It’s a hot debate right now in New World archaeology,” said Dr Jose Iriarte from Exeter University, UK.

“While some researchers think that Amazonia was inhabited by small bands of hunter-gatherers and shifting cultivators who had a minimal impact on the environment, and that the forest we see today is pristine and untouched for thousands of years – mounting evidence is showing this may not be the case.

“This evidence suggests that Amazonia may have been inhabited by large, numerous, complex and hierarchical societies that had a major impact on the environment; what we call the ‘cultural parkland hypothesis’,” he told BBC News.

Amazon Forest un

The Mysterious Amazon © SMG

The drone to be used in the project has a wingspan of about 3m
Dr Iriarte’s project will fly its robotic plane across sample areas of forest.

This vehicle’s lidar instrument should reveal how many more geoglyphs remain hidden beneath still-canopied regions of Amazonia.

While some of the light from the lidar scatters back off the leaves, some is able to penetrate to the ground.

A smart algorithm can then be used to separate the two signals, digitally removing the trees to expose anything unusual beneath.

If candidate geoglyphs are confirmed in follow-up inspections, scientists would then move in to characterise signature changes that have been left in the soils and vegetation by the ancient inhabitants.

These “fingerprints” could then be searched for in satellite images, enabling a much broader swathe of Amazonia to be probed than is possible with just a small unmanned aerial vehicle. The arguments over the scale of occupation and its impacts should then be settled.

Amazon Forest

In normal airborne imagery only the tops of the trees are visible

The lidar makes a map of the canopy in digital form…

…which can then be removed to leave only that signal of the laser that made it through to the ground

The project is a partnership between agencies and institutions in Europe and, of course, in Brazil.

Mysterious geoglyphs

The expectation is that lessons learned will feed into policies for the management and sustainable use of the Amazon and its resources.

Dr Iriarte said it was not possible to gauge properly what future changes would be acceptable unless there was a fuller understanding of how the forest had been altered in the past.

“We want to see what is the human footprint in the forest and then inform policy, because it may be the case that the very biodiversity that we want to preserve is the result of the past historical manipulation of this forest,” he explained.

Video clip of the amazing amazon.

 

Meteorite is ‘hard drive’ from space

Meteorite is ‘hard drive’ from space

By Simon Redfern
BBC Science writer

Meteor

The Esquel meteorite consists of gem-quality crystals embedded in metal.

Researchers have decoded ancient recordings from fragments of an asteroid dating back billions of years to the start of the Solar System.

They found tiny “space magnets” in meteorites which retain a memory of the birth and death of the asteroid’s core.

Like the data recorded on the surface of a computer hard drive, the magnetic signals written in the space rock reveal how Earth’s own metallic core and magnetic field may one day die.

The work appears in Nature journal.

Using a giant X-ray microscope, called a synchrotron, the team was able to read the signals that formed more than four-and-a-half billion years ago, soon after the birth of the Solar System.

The meteorites are pieces of a parent asteroid that originally came from asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter.

They represents the left-over fragments of a planet that failed to form. The magnetic recording within it traps a signal of the precise moments when an iron-rich core formed in the asteroid as well as when it froze, killing its magnetic field.

The new picture of metallic core solidification in the asteroid provide clues about the magnetic field and iron-rich core of Earth.

Core values

“Ideas about how the Earth’s core evolved through [our planet’s] history are really changing at the moment,” lead researcher Dr Richard Harrison, from the University of Cambridge, told BBC News.

“We believe that Earth’s magnetic field is linked to core solidification. Earth’s solid inner core may have started to form at very interesting time in terms of the evolution of life on Earth.

“By studying an asteroid we get to see this in fast forward. We can see the start of core solidification in the magnetic records as well as its end, and start to think about how these processes work on Earth.”

Gravity

Magnetic field The Earth’s magnetic field will likely die off when the core completely freezes

The meteorites studied by the team originally fell to Earth in Argentina, and are composed of gem-quality crystals enclosed in a metallic matrix of iron and nickel.

Tiny particles, smaller than one thousandth the width of a human hair, trapped within the metal have retained the magnetic signature of the parent asteroid from its birth in the early Solar System.

“We’re taking ancient magnetic field measurements in nano-scale materials to the highest ever resolution in order to piece together the magnetic history of asteroids – it’s like a cosmic archaeological mission,” said Dr James Bryson, the paper’s lead author.

“Since asteroids are much smaller than Earth, they cooled much more quickly, so these processes occur on a shorter timescales, enabling us to study the whole process of core solidification.”

Don’t panic
Prof Wyn William, from the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the study, commented: “To be able to get a time stamp on these recordings, to get a cooling rate and the time of solidification, is fantastic. It’s a very nice piece of work.”

The key to the long-lived stability of the recording is the atomic-scale structure of the iron-nickel particles that grew slowly in the asteroid core and survived in the meteorites.

Scientists have attempted to synthesise the same iron-nickel structures in the lab, without widespread success so far. But their remarkable magnetic properties rival those of rare earth magnets, a key component of wind turbines and electric cars.

They may yet prove a route to making cheap, strong magnets without the need for scarce rare earth metals.

Making a final comment on the results, Dr Harrison said: “In our meteorites we’ve been able to capture both the beginning and end of core freezing, which will help us understand how these processes affected the Earth in the past and provide a possible glimpse of what might happen in the future.”

The Earth’s magnetic field will likely die off when the core completely freezes, and Earth will no longer be protected from the Sun’s radiation.

“There’s no need to panic” said Dr Harrison. “The core won’t completely freeze for billions of years, and chances are, the Sun will get us first.”


Halloween playlist.

Halloween is almost here.

New Jersey Devil

Jersey Devil

The night when demons and witches, monsters and crytids come out to play.

Trick or treat?

Real or not.

Check out the playlist and decide for yourself.

There are more than 40 great stories in this playlist including the Jersey Devil, Mothman (Winged Creatures), el Chupacabra, Ghostly Creatures, Goat Man, and many more.

 
Halloween Playlist from Animal X. Scary stuff my darlings…. watch, if you dare….

Click on the Playlist dropdown menu at the top of the video to select which scary story you’d like to watch….


 

What do you think of these Halloween stories. Log in and leave a comment.

Here’s some information about the origins of Halloween

Panther

Alien Big Cat

Halloween or Hallowe’en (/ˌhæləˈwn, ˈn, ˌhɑːl/; a contraction of “All Hallows‘ Evening“),[6] also known as Allhalloween,[7] All Hallows’ Eve,[8] or All Saints’ Eve,[9] is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It initiates the triduum of Allhallowtide,[10] the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.[11] Within Allhallowtide, the traditional focus of All Hallows’ Eve revolves around the theme of using “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.”[12]

Monster or Murderer

Beast of Gevaudan

According to many scholars, All Hallows’ Eve is a Christianized feast initially influenced by Celtic harvest festivals,[13][14] with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic Samhain.[8][15][16] Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.[17][18]

Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related “guising“), attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfiresapple bobbing, visiting haunted house attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular,[19][20][21] although in other locations, these solemn customs are less pronounced in favor of a more commercialized and secularized celebration.[22][23][24] Because many Western Christian denominations encourage, although no longer require, abstinence from meat on All Hallows’ Eve,[25][26] the tradition of eating certain vegetarian foods for this vigil day developed, including the consumption of apples, colcannonciderpotato pancakes, and soul cakes.[26][27][28]

India’s Mars satellite ‘Mangalyaan’ sends first images

India’s Mars satellite ‘Mangalyaan’ sends first images

 

Mars

The first image of Mars taken by the Indian orbiter

India’s space agency has released its first picture of Mars, taken by its satellite which entered orbit around the Red Planet.

“The view is nice up here,” tweeted @isro. A handful of images have been sent by the Mangalyaan probe so far.

Part of its mission is to study the Martian atmosphere for signs of life.

It is the first time a maiden voyage to Mars has entered orbit successfully and it is the cheapest. Nasa’s latest Maven mission cost almost 10 times as much.

Media in India have hailed the venture as a “historic achievement”.

The Hindu newspaper reported that the probe had “beamed back about 10 pictures of the Red Planet’s surface which show some craters”.

Officials were quoted by the newspaper as saying the pictures were of “good quality”.

line
Analysis – Jonathan Amos, Science correspondent
India’s space programme has succeeded at the first attempt where others have failed – by sending an operational mission to Mars.

It is, without doubt, a considerable achievement. This is a mission that has been budgeted at 4.5bn rupees ($74m), which, by Western standards, is staggeringly cheap.

The American Maven orbiter that arrived at the Red Planet on Monday is costing almost 10 times as much.

Back in June, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi even quipped that India’s real-life Martian adventure was costing less than the make-believe Hollywood film Gravity.

Why India’s Mars mission is so cheap – and thrilling

Mars

Applause broke in the control room out as the news came through that the probe had entered Mars’s orbit

Reports said the camera was the first of the instruments being carried by the satellite to be switched on, a few hours after it entered into orbit.

India’s 1,350kg (2,970lb) robotic spacecraft, which undertook a 10-month-long 200-million-km journey, is equipped with five instruments.

They include a thermal imaging spectrometer to map the surface and mineral wealth of the planet, and a sensor to track methane – a possible sign of life – and other components of the atmosphere.

India has become the fourth nation or geo-bloc to put a satellite into orbit around Mars, and the first from Asia.

Only the US, Russia and Europe have previously sent missions to Mars.

Here’s a series of clips about the universe and what it looks like through some of the world’s biggest telescopes….


The Ore Fish, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Monster?

The Ore Fish, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Monster?

Is the Ore fish San Francisco’s Golden Gate Monster as filmed by Bill and Bob Clark and featured in Animal X Natural Mystery Unit episode Monsters of the Deep? Could the mystery at last be solved?

This 18-foot-long (5.5 meters) oarfish was found off a beach in Southern California and is being held by staff from the Catalina Island Marine Institute.

 

They saw and video taped the monster on a number of occasions. In fact 9 times they have seen it. The footage Bill & Bob shot is controversial. Many people think it’s a monster but others think it’s just a flock of birds.

Here’s their story.

Now some people are suggesting it could have been a school of Ore fish especially in the light of two ore fish being washed up on Californian beaches.

This from CNN. By Alan Duke.

(CNN) — Marine biologists have a mystery to solve: Why have the carcasses of two rare oarfish washed up on Southern California shores within a week?

Sightings of the huge deep-sea creatures — dead or alive — are unusual, because they typically swim thousands of feet below the surface.
A dead 14-foot-long oarfish came ashore in Oceanside, California, on Friday afternoon, according to an Oceanside police dispatcher. A representative of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was called to haul the serpent-like fish away for study, she said.
A group of third-graders on a beach study trip made the discovery, according to CNN affiliate KGTV.
The incident is especially puzzling because of the discovery made five days earlier by a marine science instructor while snorkeling off Catalina Island. Jasmine Santana was about 15 feet underwater when she found an 18-foot-long oarfish floating nearby. “I was first a little scared,” said Santana, who has been working for Catalina Island Marine Institute since January. “But when I realized it was an oarfish, I knew it was harmless.”

It took Santana 15 minutes to drag the dead fish ashore, where 14 others helped lift the 400-pound carcass out of the water.
“I was really amazed. It was like seeing something in a dream,” said Mark Waddington, the senior captain of Catalina Island Marine Institute’s sailing school vessel the “Tole Mour” who gave Santana a hand. “It’s the first time I ever witnessed an oarfish this big.”

 

The Sex Tree

Coco de Mar

The Sex Tree

Ever heard of the Sex Tree aka the coco de mar… another Natural Mystery.

It only exists in a small vally on the islands of Praslin and Curieuse in the Republic of the Seychelles, off the east coast of Africa.

The coco de mar or sea coconut or double coconut (Lodoicea maldivica), is a palm tree and the sole member of the genus Lodoicea. It formerly also was found on the small islets of St Pierre, Chauve-Souris and Ile Ronde (Round Island), all located near Praslin, but has become extinct there. The name of the genus, Lodoicea, is derived from Lodoicus, the Latinised form of Louis, in honour of King Louis XV of France.

The best place to see the coco de mar is in the Vallee de Mai on Praslin island. This lush tropical vally was once thought by Gordon of Khartoum to be the biblical Garden of Eden.

sex tree

Coco de Mar – the double coconut

He not only believed that it was the Garden of Eden, he tried he’s hardest to prove it. He believed the Coco de Mai was the biblical tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eating its fruit caused Adam and Eve to be banished from the garden. The tree is one of the most endangered in the world. It once covered almost the whole of the island.

It’s the trees fruit with its erotic shape which was its downfall. The nuts were highly prized when found washed up on Indian Ocean shore lines and in the thirteenth century were worth as much as four thousand gold florins.

No one knew where they were coming from. When their location in the Seychelles was finally discovered, most of the forests were raised to the ground in an attempt to maintain their value.

sex tree

Coco de Mar catkin

Their resemblance to the human body is also present in the male tree. Its catkin has a similarity to the male sex organ. There’s no wonder that this exotic and intriguing tree some of which live for over 1000 years has its own legend.

 

 

Check out the video


Nasa ‘flying saucer’ tests Mars tech

By Mike Wall, Senior Writer www.space.com

This artist’s concept shows the test vehicle for NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), designed to test landing technologies for future Mars missions. A balloon will lift the vehicle to high altitudes, where a rocket will take it even higher, to the top of the stratosphere, at several times the speed of sound.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A saucer-shaped vehicle that could help NASA land big payloads on the surface of Mars is about to take to the skies for the first time.

NASA hopes to launch its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) test vehicle — which the agency has dubbed its own “flying saucer” — Thursday (June 5) from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The balloon-aided liftoff was originally scheduled for today (June 3), but the weather did not cooperate.

“After years of imagination, engineering and hard work, we soon will get to see our Keiki o ka honua, our ‘boy from Earth,’ show us its stuff,” LDSD project manager Mark Adler, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. [NASA’s Inflatable Flying Saucer for Mars Landings (Photos)]

 

Dog Rescued From a Freeway Drain


 
Dog Rescue

This is a nice story about the rescue of a small dog from freeway drain.

Meet Frankie, a tiny black chihuahua who had spent the majority of his life living in an underground sewer system, until one day when an angel came his way. Hope For Paws, an amazing rescue organization in California, got the call about the dog and rescued him from the filth he knew as home.

Frankie’s rescuers took him to a safe place where he was cleaned up and fed. That’s where he met Miley. Miley was an older dog that instantly took tiny Frankie under his paw and showed him kindness.

The pair instantly bonded and Miley taught Frankie that he didn’t have to be frightened any more. Now, they have found a forever home together and are blessed with one another’s friendship every day.

Their story made me smile so big!

Mapping Earth’s Magnetic Fields

By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News

A field snapshot in June. Reds are strong; blues are weak. The view is dominated by the core contribution

Europe’s Swarm space mission has begun making maps of Earth’s magnetic field. Data just released shows how the field generated in the planet’s liquid outer core varies in strength over the course of a few months. Swarm’s early assessment appears to support the prevailing view that this magnetic cloak in general is weakening. Many experts believe it heralds a flip in the poles, where north becomes south and vice versa, although it would take thousands of years to complete. The European Space Agency’s Swarm mission was launched last November. It comprises three satellites that are equipped with a variety of instruments – the key ones being state-of-the-art magnetometers that measure field strength and direction. They fly in a configuration that offsets one platform from the other two. The intention is that this should provide a three-dimensional view of the field, and make it easier to tease apart its various components. In the release this week from Esa, we get a view that is dominated by the contribution (95%) from the core. But eventually, Swarm will have the sensitivity to describe magnetism from other, more subtle sources, including that generated by the movement of our salt-water oceans.

Change in the field since January. Reds are a strengthening; blues are a weakening

The maps on this page use the magnetic unit of a nanoTesla. Earth’s field typically has a full strength of some 50,000nT. The maps illustrate a snapshot (in June) and the change that occurs through time (January to June). In the latter, field strength is seen to drop over the western hemisphere but rise in other areas, such as the southern Indian Ocean. Earth’s magnetic field is worthy of study because it is the vital shield that protects the planet from all the charged particles streaming off the Sun. Without it, those particles would strip away the atmosphere, just as they have done at Mars. Investigating the magnetic field also has direct practical benefits, such as improving the reliability of satellite navigation systems which can be affected by magnetic and electrical conditions high in the atmosphere. “I started my career in magnetometry and the accuracy we had then in the laboratories was less than what we can fly in space now,” explained Prof Volker Liebig, the director of Earth observation at Esa. “So what we have on Swarm is fantastic, but we need long time series to understand fully the Earth’s magnetic field, and we will get that from this mission,” he told BBC News.

The Swarm fly high above the Earth in a configuration that offsets one satellite from a pair of spacecraft

Has the Earth already been mapped by Aliens? Do Aliens even exist? Some people say yes, others no. Here’s an interesting perspective from one of NASA’s astronauts including Story Musgrave and SETI’s Seth Shostack. http://youtu.be/MBK6eHWbwNc

 

Fire missiles at Mars to find deeply buried life

From NewScientist

07 May 2014 by Jacob Aron
Magazine issue 2968. Subscribe and save

space

Mars

IN THE hunt for life on Mars, it’s time to pull out the heavy artillery. A non-profit group has proposed a mission that involves showering Mars with bunker-busting missiles that would penetrate deep into the ground but deliver probes, not warheads.

On Mars, preserved traces of microbes could lurk in deep subsurface ice, where they would be shielded from harsh cosmic radiation. NASA’s Curiosity rover has a drill, but it only penetrates a few centimetres. “Curiosity doesn’t go very deep – it is literally scratching the surface,” says Chris Carberry, executive director of the non-profit group Explore Mars, based in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Future missions will go deeper but will have limited capabilities. NASA’s InSight lander mission, set for 2016, features a “mole” designed to dig down 5 metres, but it won’t be searching for life. The European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover, due to launch in 2018, will drill down 2 metres in search of traces of life, but it can only explore a single Martian region.

That’s why Explore Mars last week appealed for funds for a project called Exolance, which would scatter small, lightweight projectiles across the Red Planet. Each missile would carry scientific instruments and would keep in radio contact with Earth.

The full article can be read here at NewScientist.com

Here’s a clip from Animal X Natural Mystery Unit talking to a scientist about bio-inpiration for vehicles to be used on Mars.

Here’s another clip that also looks at bio inspiration only this time it’s about making a suit that will let you walk on the ceiling!


Do you believe in aliens? Here’s some people that do…

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