Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just the Facts?: Meteor Chunk Falls On California Home -- Cattle Mutilation Incidents Recalled -- Bad Predictions = Manslaughter Convictions



Meteor chunk falls on California home

NOTE: with all the recent meteor activity in California, it was bound to happen

A chunk of meteorite struck the house of a San Francisco Bay Area resident, landing in her backyard, after a meteor streaked through the sky on Wednesday evening.

Lisa Webber found the 2-inch rock, weighing 63 grams, in her backyard on Saturday after reading an article in the local paper about the meteorite.

She remembered hearing a strange noise on Wednesday, but thought that it was an animal, SFGate.com reported. After finding the chunk on Saturday, along with a dent on her roof, she and a neighbor’s son put a magnet to the rock and the two stuck together.

“It's just science -- and it's cool," Webber, of Novato, Calif. told SFGate.com. "It's wonderful. It's like the heavens coming down, and history and this thing probably came from an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter -- I mean, how cool is that?"

Investigators at the non-profit SETI Institute inspected Webber’s find and declared it authentic.

"The significance of this find is that we can now hope to use our fireball trajectory to trace this type of meteorite back to its origins in the asteroid belt," said Dr. Peter Jenniskens, a SETI Institute investigator.

Jenniskens and his crew believe that larger pieces of the meteor are out there and hope to find others. - USNews

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Cattle mutilation incidents recalled

Chilcoot, CA - 5/1/79 - unedited: my dad and the rancher (Item moved/CMS/nd) he worked for were out checking the fence and springs (water) and came across the first cow. She was laid on her side missing her eyes,udders, and rectum and had some small holes in her side, around all the injurys it looked like the skin, not hair, was burned. There was no blood outside the carcass. She was in a clear spot in the field and had three dinner plate size dents in the ground like a tri-pod around her, and the grass was yellow in a circle. The horses they were riding wouldnt get close nor would the two cow dogs (the horses and dogs were used to dead animals and normally would have walked right up to it or rolled in it in the dogs case )or other cows.

next day.
Another cow was found on a friends ranch 4-5 miles north west of the first. My dad didnt see that cow but was told she was in similar condition.

day three.
(Item moved/CMS/nd) was out checking on the cows and found the 3rd cow again on her side. With tounge,sex organs, udders, ears, and lower jaw skin missing. no tracks or dents in the ground, and same as the first none of the animals would get near it.

All gates into the field have locks and chains on them. We DO NOT have large predators only a few coyotes. there were no other animals or people tracks around these cows. the coyotes, hawks, crows, and magpies wouldnt even get near them for a couple of weeks. These cows were alive and healthy one day and destroyed the next.

When this happened it was a huge deal for the town. But now not many people will talk about it. I have detailed info on the first cow because my dad saw it. I dont have as much info on the second two only word of mouth. Also for about a month after this there were rumors of people seeing ufos. MUFON CMS

Enter the Valley: UFOs, Religious Miracles, Cattle Mutilations, and Other Unexplained Phenomena in the San Luis Valley

The Uncensored Truth About UFOs: Plus Bonus Chapters on Hostile UFOs!

If In Doubt, Blame The Aliens!: A new scientific analysis of UFO sightings, alleged alien abductions, animal mutilations and crop circles


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Italian scientists found guilty of manslaughter for failure to perform magic

Anyone who has been feeling that life these days is not sufficiently medieval need look no further than the Italian seismologists just sentenced for manslaughter for failing to predict an earthquake they had no scientific basis to believe was coming.

Admittedly, these scientists were on something called the “National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks,” which is not the kind of title that reassures you that the people who formed it correctly understand the limits of science. And now the scientists on the commission are being punished for their failure.

Six Italian scientists, reports BBC News, have been found guilty of manslaughter for providing “inexact, incomplete and contradictory" information before the earthquake at l’Aquila in April 2009. If higher courts uphold the sentence, they will have to spend six years in prison.

Some earthquakes, as a BBC science reporter notes, are preceded by jittery animals or other warning signs. Some aren’t. Earthquakes are touchy beasts, and while some large ones are preceded by small tremors, most small tremors are not followed by large earthquakes. Once, in China, they managed to predict an earthquake a day before it happened, but this was a fluke that has never since been repeated.

An open letter to the Italian president from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, signed by more than 5,000 scientists, notes: “Years of research, much of it conducted by distinguished scientists in your own country, have demonstrated that there is no accepted scientific method for earthquake prediction that can be reliably used to warn citizens of an impending disaster.”

But other than the fact that these scientists are being punished for failing to spin straw into gold, it is 2012.

The story is a little more complicated than that, but only a little. As Stephen Hall wrote in Nature at the beginning of the trial, the Italian seismologists were placed in a difficult position because of unofficial earthquake predictions made by a local laboratory technician based on radon levels. Continued tremors, and the technician’s predictions, led the public to become increasingly uneasy about the possibility of a big earthquake. The commission held an unusual meeting, accompanied by a press conference in which an official (not a seismologist) suggested “it's a favourable situation because of the continuous discharge of energy” and told everyone to have a glass of wine. It sounded reassuring, and many locals let down their guard.

Then, on April 6, the quake struck.

This isn’t manslaughter.

The real lesson from this whole kerfuffle is that, when it comes to earthquakes, having something called the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks is just irresponsible. In the short-term, you can neither predict nor prevent major earthquakes. In the long run, it is possible to assess high-risk areas, and by that metric the scientists had been warning l’Aquila for some time. But the distinction is critical. To punish the scientists is ridiculous. This is why we don’t have Philosopher’s Stone Finding Commissions and Commissions To Tell You for Certain When You Will Die and Commissions to Find the Fountain of Youth and commissions of weather forecasters called the Oh Definitely, We’ll Know If There’s Going to Be a Tornado in Your Neighborhood Group.

The fact that the scientists’ statements of overall probability were taken as reassurances of what would actually happen tomorrow reveal the importance of learning about science. This isn’t a failure of prediction. It’s a failure of people to understand how to assess risk — or even, if you press, a failure of the commission to communicate the difference between long-term and short-term risk. In the future, in the face of future seismic events and dangerous conditions, explaining that distinction is going to be critical. If people actually understood how earthquakes work, or, heck, how probability worked, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess.

What’s next? Are we going to sue the weather forecasters for crop failures? “The doctor said there was a 100 percent probability that I would die on a day that ended in ‘day,’ so I’m never leaving the house again!” Where does this lead?

This is a horrible, medieval precedent to set. This is like when they used to behead the doctor when the king died. Except that it is really happening, and these scientists might actually have to spend years in jail for failing to do something that is NOT SCIENTIFICALLY POSSIBLE, all because people don’t understand how probability and risk work. - Washington Post

Predicting the Unpredictable: The Tumultuous Science of Earthquake Prediction

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't
- Great book based on Nate Silver's formulas for prediction

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Oops! (the really sad part is that some people never noticed!)


Sapulpa, OK -- It's a spelling error in a place where you don't want to see one. A sign at an Oklahoma school system's administration building is turning some heads. That's because it has the word "schools" misspelled.

Caitlin Alexander, reporting: "Everyone we spoke with said the education system here in Sapulpa's really pretty good. But the spelling on the sign of the administration building gets an F."

"It doesn't make us look very smart, does it? And that's our administration building," says a Sapulpa, Oklahoma resident.

If only buildings had spell check...

But, the fact that this typo's on the side of a school building is getting some looks. We pointed out the misspelled sign on the side of Sapulpa Public School's administration building to folks in the area.

"No, I've never noticed it before, because I because I read on the front of the building when I go by," says another resident.

One neighbor says it's not a big deal, but it's been that way for months.

It's unclear if it's an installation error or some prank...but either way, this former school employee, among others, feel it misrepresents the schools.

"It's sad for our schools, because our schools are wonderful. And so, I'm going to call the schools tomorrow and see if they can get that taken care of," says another resident.

Now, as of Monday afternoon, the school superintendent says that the misspelling is not a prank, rather a mistake made by whomever installed the sign.

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