Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fortean / Oddball News - 7/18/2010

US Army 'Heat-Ray Gun' in Afghanistan

bbc - A newly-developed heat-ray gun that burns the skin but doesn't cause permanent injury is now with US troops in Afghanistan.

The Active Denial System (ADS) is a non-lethal weapon designed to disperse violent crowds and repel enemies.

It uses a focused invisible beam that causes an "intolerable heating sensation", but only penetrates the skin to the equivalent of three sheets of paper.

The discomfort causes whoever it's pointed at to immediately start moving away. They often scream but the US military says the chance of injury from the system is 0.1%.

It's already been tested more than 11,000 times on around 700 volunteers. Even reporters have faced the heat-ray.

Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a US military spokesperson, says the kit is now in Afghanistan but no decision has yet been made on its use.

There's been much talk about the need to keep civilian casualties in Afghanistan to a minimum. The heat-ray gun could help.

The beam produced by the ADS can travel more than 500m (1,640ft) and is seen as an important new way to limit unnecessary deaths and minimise war zone casualties.

Developers also say it could also be adapted to other operations, like fighting drug smuggling at sea and general peacekeeping operations.

Research is continuing to make the system smaller, lighter and less expensive, says the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program.

NOTE: I just know someone is going to tweak this technology for use in tanning salons...Lon


Bee Swarm of 30,000 'Blackens the Sky' in Lincolnshire

telegraph - Phil Sanderson, 34, said the sound of the insects was the equivalent to " a crowd of people blowing vuvuzelas".

The swarm initally swirled around the father of three's home so loudly that he couldn't hear his partner Serena Reed, 34, talking.

After an hour the bees clumped together into a 2ft long 'grape' on a nearby 10ft high conifer tree before flying away.

Mr Sanderson, a mail order catalogue worker who photographed the bees at home in Pinchbeck, near Spalding, Lincs., said the noise sounded "exactly like being at a World Cup game".

He said: "At first I didn't know what it was, it looked like a black snow blizzard all around the house and sounded like we'd been surrounded by people blowing vuvuzelas.

"But when I saw it was bees I was horrified. It was a bit of a rush to shut the windows to make sure none of them got in.

"I still can't believe it when I look at the pictures, the last thing you expect is to be surrounded by 30,000 bees."

NOTE: Speaking of honey bees, I don't think I've seen more than two since Spring. There is definitely a shortage in my neck of the woods...Lon


Discovery: Human Sperm Gene 600 Million Year Old...Sorry, Creationists

sciencedaily - Just as styles in sexy clothes or fashion change from year to year and culture to culture, "sexy" genes, or genes specific to sex, also change rapidly. But there is one sex-specific gene so vital, its function has remained unaltered throughout evolution and is found in almost all animals, according to new research from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The gene, called Boule, is responsible for sperm production. Northwestern scientists also discovered in their research that Boule appears to be the only gene known to be exclusively required for sperm production from an insect to a mammal.

"This is the first clear evidence that suggests our ability to produce sperm is very ancient, probably originating at the dawn of animal evolution 600 million years ago," said Eugene Xu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Feinberg. "This finding suggests that all animal sperm production likely comes from a common prototype."

Xu is senior author of a paper on the study that will be published July 15 in PLoS Genetics.

The discovery of Boule's key role in perpetuating animal species offers a better understanding of male infertility, a potential target for a male contraceptive drug and a new direction for future development of pesticides or medicine against infectious parasites or carriers of germs.

"Our findings also show that humans, despite how complex we are, across the evolutionary lines all the way to flies, which are very simple, still have one fundamental element that's shared," Xu said.

"It's really surprising because sperm production gets pounded by natural selection," he said. "It tends to change due to strong selective pressures for sperm-specific genes to evolve. There is extra pressure to be a super male to improve reproductive success. This is the one sex-specific element that didn't change across species. This must be so important that it can't change."

Boule is likely the oldest human sperm-specific gene ever discovered, Xu said. He originally discovered the human gene in 2001.

Prior to the new findings, it was not known whether sperm produced by various animal species came from the same prototype. Birds and insects both fly, for example, but the fly wing and bird wing originated completely independently.

For the study, Xu searched for and discovered the presence of the Boule gene in sperm across different evolutionary lines: human, mammal, fish, insect, worm and marine invertebrate.

In order to search for Boule's presence across the spectrum of evolutionary development, Xu had an interesting shopping list. He needed sperm from a sea urchin, a rooster, a fruit fly, a human and a fish. The fish proved to be the most difficult.

Xu purchased a rainbow trout at a Chicago fish market, unwrapped it and was dismayed to discover it had been gutted. "I need the testicles!" he exclaimed to the seafood salesman. Xu decided he'd have to catch his own. He cast a fishing line into a recreational pond stocked with trout and reeled in a rainbow trout.

Discovery of this common gene involved in sperm production could have many practical uses for human health, including male contraception. When Xu's research group knocked out the Boule gene from a mouse, the animal appeared to be healthy but did not produce sperm.

"A sperm-specific gene like Boule is an ideal target for a male contraceptive drug," Xu noted.

Boule also has the potential to reduce diseases caused by mosquitoes and parasites such as worms.

"We now have one strong candidate to target for controlling their breeding," Xu said. "Our work suggests that disrupting the function of Boule in animals most likely will disrupt their breeding and put the threatening parasites or germs under control. This could represent a new direction in our future development of pesticides or medicine against infectious parasites or carriers of germs."

To further support his hypothesis that Boule is widespread across all animals producing sperm and eggs, Xu also examined the genome of one of the most primitive animals, a sea anemone, for the presence of Boule. He looked at its genome because the sperm of the sea anemone is difficult to find and few labs study the animal. When Xu identified Boule in the sea anemone genome, his theory was clinched.

Xu's co-authors, all past or present members of his lab, include Chirag Shah, Michael VanGompel, Villian Naeem, Yanmei Chen, Terrance Lee, Nicholas Angeloni and Yin Wang.

Xu's research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and Northwestern Memorial Foundation.


Man Sees 'Mark of the Beast' on Hand...Cuts Off and Microwaves

seattletimes - A man who believed he bore the "mark of the beast" amputated one of his hands, put it in a microwave and summoned authorities, Kootenai County sheriff's deputies say.

The man, in his mid-20s, was calm when deputies arrived at his home in this north Idaho town Saturday afternoon, and neither he nor the severed hand bore any noticeable tattoo or other mark, sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger.

The man, whose name was withheld, was in protective custody in the mental health unit of Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d'Alene, where he and the hand were taken by ambulance. Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Johnson would not say whether an attempt was made to reattach the hand, citing patient confidentiality restrictions.

"He put a tourniquet on his arm before, so he didn't bleed to death," Wolfinger said. " That kind of mental illness is just sad."

The New Testament Book of Revelation contains a passage in which an angel is quoted as saying, according to the New International Version of the Bible, "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink the wine of God's fury."

Wolfinger said didn't know which hand was amputated.

and another loose screw....

Send in the Clowns

twincities - Police responded early Friday to a call of shots fired at a home in Roberts and found a man apparently hallucinating an attack by clowns.

The 40-year-old man, armed with a shotgun, had fired several shots in his mother's home. It also appeared that he fired a shot at his mother and visiting father as they fled from the home in a vehicle, said St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead.

"Pellets probably hit their windshield," Hillstead said.

Police arrived about 4 a.m. and surrounded the home. The man came to the door at one point and was "yelling at what he could see in the yard, but there was nothing there," Hillstead said.

The man went back into the home and fired more rounds, Hillstead said. In total, about 22 shotgun rounds were fired into the walls and ceiling of the home.

The man then went to the porch with the shotgun in hand and a bag of ammunition around his neck. He did not respond to police commands, but after the man slipped and fell, deputies were able to take him into custody, Hillstead said.

While being taken to a hospital for examination, the man indicated he had taken a hallucinogenic drug. He said he believed that people dressed as clowns were attacking his mother's home and that he had shot and killed a number of them, Hillstead said. He also said he had shot dogs that were attacking him and that his mother had been shot and killed.

"He was ... not in touch with reality," Hillstead said.

No one was injured in the incident.

The man, who was visiting from Arizona, is being held in a mental facility while he undergoes a psychological evaluation, Hillstead said Tuesday.

He has not been charged with a crime, and police have not released his name.

NOTE: Damn, I hate that song...Lon


Gulf Beach Water Sample Explodes!

Click for video

Recently, a News5 investigation collected samples from multiple beaches in and around the Gulf region. Samples were taken in areas where kids were playing and swimming. The results were absolutely terrifying. The Intel Hub has heavily documented the Gulf Disaster and this is just another startling revelation in a long line of horrors coming out of the Gulf. What British Petroleum has done is at the very least criminal neglect, if not premeditated chemical rape. Most of the people working for BP have vigorously worked to contain the spill, not knowing that their bosses have done just about everything backwards, with little to regard for human life.

Fortean / Oddball News - 7/18/2010