Monday, December 19, 2011

Just the Facts?: Unknown 'Growth' on Nuclear Waste -- Shuttle Discovery Final Voyage to Smithsonian


Mysterious "white web" found growing on nuclear waste

This is as fascinating as it is unsettling. Scientists at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site — a nuclear reservation in South Carolina — have identified a strange, cob-web like "growth" (their word, not ours) on the racks of the facility's spent nuclear fuel assemblies.

According to a report filed by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, "the growth, which resembles a spider web, has yet to be characterized, but may be biological in nature."

The Augusta Chronicle reported today that the "white, string-like" material was discovered amidst thousands of the spent fuel assemblies, which are submerged in deep nuclear storage pools within SRS's L Area Complex. (The image up top is of a similar nuclear storage pool at Italy's Caorso Nuclear Power Plant, which was decommissioned in 1990.)

The safety board's report claimed that the initial sample of the growth was too small to characterize, and that "further evaluation still needs to be completed."

I don't know what's more intriguing — the fact that the "growth" resembles a spider web, the fact that it may be biological in nature, or the fact that (even after collecting a sample of the stuff) we still don't know what it is or where it came from.

We've already tried getting in touch with both the Savannah River Site as well as the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, but so far have been unable to speak with anybody to ask additional questions about the growth and where it's occurring specifically.

Could we be dealing with an unknown species of extremophile? It's possible — the Savannah River Site's storage facility (The L Area Complex mentioned above) stores spent nuclear waste in pools that are anywhere from 17-30 feet deep, and while that water is enough to protect the site's workers from radiation, the growth was reportedly found underwater on the submerged fuel assemblies themselves.

Having said that, we're still not clear on how much, if any, radiation this growth has actually been exposed to. Organisms with a natural resistance to radiation are said to be "radioresistant," and certainly do exist; Deinococcus radiodurans, for example is not only one of the most naturally radioresistant organisms on Earth, we've actually genetically engineered Deinococcus that can be used in the treatment of radioactive waste. - io9

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25 dead ponies dumped in NSW

The bodies of 25 ponies with no obvious wounds have been dumped near a cliff in northern NSW, police say.

A tip-off on Saturday afternoon led police to a truck parking bay three kilometres south of Old Ben Lomond Road near Glen Innes.

The officers followed tracks to a nearby cliff, where they spotted the bodies of 25 ponies of various colours and ages in the early stages of decomposition.

There were no obvious wounds on the animals or any other indication as to the cause of their death, police said.

There were no brands, tags or any identifying marks that could help police find their owner.

"We’re keeping a very open mind because we have very little to go on," Inspector Rod Shoesmith, of Armidale police station, said.

"They were found dumped over the side of a parking bay, down a steep cliff.

"I've never seen anything of this magnitude. It was a disturbing scene."

Officers photographed the animals then buried their remains at the site. They believe a small- to medium-sized truck was used to dump the ponies.

Gary Tarrant, who lives on Old Ben Lomond Road, was baffled by the crime.

"No one around here would have 25 horses," he said. "We've got a couple. Most people have a couple." - smh

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Space Shuttle Discovery headed to the Smithsonian

NASA powered down the space shuttle Discovery for a final time Friday (Dec. 16), more than 28 years after the agency's retired fleet leader first came alive. The vehicle was "unplugged" inside Orbiter Processing Facility-1 (OPF-1) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The electrical shutdown, which came soon after technicians closed the shuttle's twin 60-foot (18.3-meter) long payload bay doors, was a milestone in Discovery's transition from a space-worthy orbiter to a museum exhibit. The shuttle, the oldest of NASA's remaining orbiters, is destined for display next spring at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.

Discovery's cargo hold — which carried to orbit the Hubble Space Telescope and Ulysses solar probe along with modules for the International Space Station and more than a dozen satellites — was closed for what may be its last time. The Smithsonian plans to display the shuttle with its bay doors shut, at least initially.

The power down was much more permanent. Though Discovery's three electricity-generating fuel cells were reinstalled last week, they were first drained of all their reactants, and their feed lines were purged. Other than serving as an engineering example for researchers, they will never work again. - space

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USS Michael Murphy invaded by Black Widow spiders

Workers discovered the highly-venomous arachnids in a crate containing components for the 510ft Navy destroyer’s new missile launching system.

Up to 40 spiders were nestled inside the box, which had been sent to the USS Michael Murphy in Maine from California, said Jim DeMartini, a spokesman for Bath Iron Works, the shipping company building the vessel.

Upon discovering the infestation, workers immediately sealed the crate and called in extermination experts. No one was bitten.

The warship was fumigated and a warehouse in Brunswick was also sprayed.

Black widow spiders are found throughout California, typically in dark places such as closets, garages and attic spaces. Only the female spider is dangerous to humans.

“I have been here 30 years and this is a first. We don’t see spiders like that in cold climates like Maine,” said Mr DeMartini.

“We are quite confident that we have eradicated the spiders”, he added.

The USS Michael Murphy is in its final stages of construction ready to be handed over to the Navy next year. Several hundred crew members are expected to be stationed aboard.

Black widow spiders are identifiable by a red or orange hourglass marking on the underside of its shiny black abdomen. The arachnid can reach one inch in size.

A black widow’s web is an irregular, tough-stranded, sticky cobweb mesh. Anyone bitten by the spider, named by the female's habit of eating of the male after mating, should seek medical help.

No one in the United States has died from a black widow spider bite in more than 10 years. - telegraph

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Mother sees face of an angel in pregnancy scan watching over her baby in the womb

When Dee Lazarou went into labour early at home, she knew the risks of having a home delivery.

There was no midwife present as baby Leo made his way into the world as she gave birth on their bathroom floor, helped only by her family.

But she knew that no harm could come to him - as they had already been given a sign that he was being looked over in the womb.

Amazingly in the scan picture taken of her son Leo when she was 12 weeks pregnant, Mrs Lazarou could clearly make out a face resembling an angel.

She and her husband were convinced he was looking over their unborn child, to see him born safely.

Mrs Lazarou, 31, an team leader for the police force communications emergency room, said: ‘It was such a comfort to think that someone was looking after our son.

‘When I gave birth on our bathroom floor, there was no midwife to help us and my husband had to deliver Leo.

‘His cord was wrapped around his neck and it was my mother who pulled the cord free. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but I’m sure that a guardian angel was looking over him to make sure he was delivered safely.’

Mrs Lazarou was just 12 weeks into her pregnancy when they spotted the remarkable image in the scan picture taken at Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

Mrs Lazarou, who lives with husband Thomas, 34, a policeman, and their son Oliver, three, in Stevenage, said: ‘I didn’t look at the scan picture until we got home. I was looking at it with Oliver, telling him that it was a picture of his little brother or sister, when I noticed something odd in the corner of the picture.

‘I could see clearly that it was a face. I showed it to my husband when he got home from work.

‘We were stunned to see it - as it was such a clear image. It was such a comfort to me during the rest of my pregnancy, knowing that we had someone looking over our baby in the womb.’

When Mrs Lazarou was a week past her due date she started with contractions.

She said: ‘I decided to have a bath to ease the pain as I thought I would have several hours before I would have to get to hospital, and the pains were mild so I wasn’t even sure at first that they were proper labour pains.’

But the pains quickly got worse. Mrs Lazarou called both her mother Marie and her husband to come home.

She said: ‘I knew that there was no time to get to hospital. I was in the bathroom and I felt the urge to push. Tom helped me lie down on the floor and paramedics gave him instructions over the phone as he delivered our baby.

‘I was worried because there was no midwife and I had always been adamant that I wanted to have a hospital birth as I knew that home births could be risky. So to be giving birth to my son at home was terrifying. I just had to hope and pray that he would be alright.’

Baby Leo arrived on the bathroom floor in August weighing 8Ibs, but then a drama unfolded as he had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.

Mrs Lazarou said: ‘It was terrifying. When Tom caught him in his arms as he was delivered, we saw that the cord was wrapped around his neck which could have been lifethreatening to him.

‘Mum luckily was able to unwrap it from around his neck and free him. And moments later he uttered a cry, which was such a relief. It was the most amazing sound as we knew that he was alright.’

The paramedics arrived just after the birth and took Mrs Lazarou to hospital for a check up.

She said: ‘Luckily we were both fine and we were allowed home, which was such a relief.

‘When we saw the face of someone in the scan picture we were stunned, but now we know that it was for a reason.

‘He was watching over Leo to make sure he was delivered safely. The face in the scan picture was such a comfort to us all.

‘I’ve put it in a keepsake box to show Leo when he was older, to be able to tell him the story of his remarkable birth.’ - dailymail

NOTE: every time I read these stories, be it Jesus' face on toast, Elvis in a mirror, etc., my mind goes back to the 1970's SNL sketch with Father Guido Sarducci and his 'Find the Pope in the Pizza'...Lon

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My friend, paranormal author Rosemary Ellen Guiley, will be releasing Monsters of West Virginia: Mysterious Creatures in the Mountain Statein the very near future. I'm proud to say that a few of the encounters included in the book were originally posted on 'Phantoms and Monsters'. This promises to be a spectacular read...West Virginia has experienced some of the strangest cryptid activity in the world.


You can catch Rosemary Ellen Guiley and other interesting guests on 'Beyond the Edge' Radio



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'CHICAGO PHANTOM' - FLYING HUMANOID SIGHTINGS
Have you had a sighting of a flying humanoid or huge bat-like creature in the Chicago, Illinois metro area or nearby? The entity has also been referred to as the 'Chicago Phantom', 'Chicago Mothman', 'Chicago Owlman' & 'Chicago Man-Bat.' Please feel free to contact me at lonstrickler@phantomsandmonsters.com - your anonymity is guaranteed. Our investigative group is conducting a serious examination of his phenomenon. We are merely seeking the truth and wish to determine what eyewitnesses have been encountering. Your cooperation is truly appreciated. You can call me directly at 410-241-5974 as well. Thanks...Lon Strickler #ChicagoPhantom

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