Dawn spacecraft approaches asteroid Vesta
This movie shows surface details beginning to resolve as NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on the giant asteroid Vesta. The framing camera aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained the images used for this animation on June 1, 2011, from a distance of about 300,000 miles (483,000 kilometers).
Vesta's jagged shape, sculpted by eons of cosmic impacts in the main asteroid belt, is apparent. Variations in surface brightness and hints of surface features can be seen. Vesta's south pole is to the lower right at about the 5 o'clock position.
Vesta is 330 miles (530 kilometers) in diameter and the second most massive object in the asteroid belt. It is also the only large asteroid with a basaltic surface formed due to volcanic processes early in the solar system's history. Vesta is considered a protoplanet because it is a large body that almost formed into a planet.
The video presents 20 frames, looped five times, that span a 30-minute period. During that time, Vesta rotates about 30 degrees. The images included here are used by navigators to fine-tune Dawn's trajectory during its approach to Vesta, with arrival expected on July 16, 2011.
The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. It is a project of the Discovery Program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. UCLA, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., designed and built the Dawn spacecraft.
The framing cameras have been developed and built under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, with significant contributions by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, and in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering, Braunschweig. The framing camera project is funded by NASA, the Max Planck Society and DLR. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena. - NASA
Shrunken Head DNA Proves Horrific Folklore True
A remarkably well-preserved shrunken head has just been authenticated by DNA analysis, which provides strong evidence that anecdotal accounts of violent head-hunting in South America were true.
The study, published in the latest issue of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, marks the first successful effort to unveil the genetic make-up of a shrunken head.
"The shrunken heads were made from enemies' heads cut on the battlefield," co-author Gila Kahila Bar-Gal told Discovery News. "Then, during spiritual ceremonies, enemies' heads were carefully reduced through boiling and heating, in the attempt to lock the enemy's spirit and protect the killers from spiritual revenge."
Kahila Bar-Gal is a senior lecturer in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Koret School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also a faculty member within the university's department of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
For the study, she and her colleagues used DNA testing and other techniques to examine the authenticity and possible cultural provenance of a shrunken head displayed at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. The head remains in an incredible state of preservation, with the deceased man's hair, facial features and other physical characteristics intact.
Many shrunken heads are forgeries, with some 80 percent suspected to be fakes. The late 19th through the 20th centuries saw a rise in manufacture of such fakes for profit.
The shrunken head at the Israeli museum, however, turns out to be legit.
"The shrunken head we studied was made from a real human skin," Kahila Bar-Gal said. "The people who made it knew exactly how to peel the skin from the skull, including the hair," she added, mentioning that it was also salted and boiled.
The researchers determined that the skin belonged to a man who lived and died in South America "probably in the Afro-Ecuadorian population." The genes reveal the victim's ancestors were from West Africa, but his DNA profile matches that of modern populations from Ecuador with African admixture.
According to the scientists, he was probably a member of a group that fought the Jivaro-Shuar tribes of Ecuador. These tribes also lived in Peru during the post-Columbian period, and were thought to make ritual shrunken heads out of their enemies.
Although Kahila Bar-Gal said the DNA could not pinpoint the exact age of the shrunken head, the scientists estimate the individual was killed between 1600-1898 A.D. The early date marks the entry of Africans into the region, while the latter date was when the last major nomadic populations of hunters and gatherers in Ecuador were thought to have existed.
Accounts of what happened to shrunken heads after the post-battle spiritual ceremonies vary. There are accounts that the Jivaro-Shuar warriors kept the shrunken heads as "keepsakes or personal adornments," even wearing them at certain times. Leonard Clark, who traveled to the region in 1948, however, said that he saw a shrunken head, called a "tsantsa," used in a ceremony and then stuffed in an old earthenware pot that was placed in the thatched ceiling of the house.
"Robbed of its soul, the savagely beautiful trophy no longer had any spiritual value," Clark wrote in a 1953 account.
Chuck Greenblatt, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Hebrew University's Hadassah Medical School, told Discovery News that "the ancient DNA techniques employed by the authors are appropriate and I have no doubt as to the authenticity of their results."
Kahila Bar-Gal hopes other museums will consider having certain objects genetically tested, as the method can reveal authenticity and uncover important historical information that may not otherwise be available. - discovery
Wichita, Kansas experiences bizarre 'heat burst'
csmonitor - The weather is supposed to cool down at night, providing some relief during this blistering heat wave. Not so for the residents of Wichita, Kan.
At 12:22 a.m. CDT on June 9th, the temperature was 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) at a local airport as a thunderstorm hit the area. Twenty minutes later, the temperature rocketed to 102 degrees F (39 degrees C), reported the local NBC affiliate.
The weird weather is what's known as a "heat burst" and it was accompanied by wind gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph). The heat burst was short-lived, however, as the winds and temperatures rapidly spread across surrounding areas.
Heat bursts are created when rain hits very dry air high off the ground, around 3,000 feet (900 meters) up in the atmosphere, causing the rain to evaporate. The evaporated rain rapidly cools the dry air, compressing it and making this patch of air heavier than the air around it. The heavy air mass then falls toward the ground, heating as it compresses, eventually hitting the ground as a hot ball of air.
A few other recent heat bursts include:
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Aug. 3, 2008: The temperature rose from the lower 70s F (20s C) to 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C) in minutes.
Midland, Texas, June 16, 2008: At 11:25 pm CDT the temperature rose from 71 degrees F (21.7 degrees C) to 97 degrees F (36.1 degrees C) in minutes.
Emporia, Kansas, May 25, 2008: The temperature rose from 71 degrees F (21.7 degrees C) to 91 degrees F (32.8 degrees C) between 4:44 am and 5:11 am CDT.
Indonesian Censors Take Aim at Ghost Themed Films
With a Hollywood movie ban already in place, the Film Censorship Board is taking aim at the current mainstay of Indonesian cinema — sex and ghost-themed films.
Muklis Paimi, head of the board, known as the LSF, appeared to suggest it would consider banning the popular genres for screening.
“We want to use the upcoming Ramadan [Muslim fasting month] as the right moment to suggest that filmmakers stop making low-quality movies with a lot of sex scenes in them,” Muklis told Metro TV on Wednesday. “We will not pass any movies exploiting those two things.”
He advised filmmakers to make movies with educational values.
The LSF, he said, also welcomed any filmmakers wishing to discuss the concepts of their upcoming movies.
“If they want to make such movies, they have to have a dialog with us first. The current practice is, [filmmakers] only come to us once their movies are finished,” he said.
He said the current situation posed a dilemma for the LSF.
“It’s problematic. If we censor the movies too harshly, the movie producers will hold a rally against us, saying that they will suffer material damages if we do not recommend their movies. In the end, it will affect the national film industry,” he said.
“But when we are being lenient with our censorship, we will receive protests from the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI),” he said.
Lost Time in Maryland
MUFON CMS - Maryland - 1962: I was about 10 years old & was outside playing in the dirt (with toy horses) and the air felt cool (like early spring or early fall) & I knew that it would be dusk sometime soon but it was still daylight. I felt like I was being watched & I stood up & instinctively looked above me. I was not afraid and just stood there looking.
I observed a large disk space ship hoovering above me over our back yard. We lived in a place that used to be farmland, a new development still in the process of building townhouses (3 per building) & most were not complete yet & there were only a few young families who had moved in. The development was also next to a golf course. So it was kind of bare & isolated to some extent. Not many people around to notice a spaceship over someones yard. I just stood looking up at the craft. I noticed that it had 3 big lights... one was a dome light, 2 were underneath & were 2 different colored lights. Then all of a sudden I noticed that I could see through the craft ... it was a disk and the middle was similar to a car steering wheel shape (like 3 spokes with spaces between them) wherein you could see between the spokes & now I noticed that I could see the stars & sky between the spokes. I wondered how that could be.
As it was leaving, moving to my right and angleing up I could see it had lighted windows along the inside spokes & outside rim. As the craft moved swiftly up & away (at first like slow motion & then it was gone in seconds) I ran into the back door of the house to tell my mother. The house was not well lit, my mom wasn't inside so I ran out the front door & immediately stopped in my tracks confused that it was dark outside.
My mother said what I saw was not possible unless it had been the Sputnik. I am terrified of the movie "Fire in the Sky" & I have only seen brief parts of it... I feel like I am having a panic attack. I did not have any feelings like that at the time of sighting.
Abduction Scenario in Athens, Texas
MUFON CMS - Athens, Texas - 2/18/2010: I met this gentleman for the first time, well over a year ago. I was in my front yard with a telescope, upon seeing him I asked him to have a look. The next time I see him he relates this story to me. This happened to him in Athens, Texas. At the time we spoke February 18, 2010, the event had just happened approximately ten days earlier. The time of the abduction was 11:00 or 11:30 pm. He was shaking and had goose bumps covering his arms as he was telling me his story. I reported this abduction to another web site but did such a botched job, I felt I had to file it again.
Subject got out of a car he was riding in with friends. He was going to walk across a field surrounded by woods to an apartment complex. His reason for not going directly to the apartments was that he did not want someone at the apartments to see him with his friends. As he was crossing the wooded area heading to the field he felt a presents above him. Some how he knew it was a ufo without looking. He started running through the woods to escape. This is when he heard a twitching noise in the bushes in front of him. He turned and ran in a different direction but no mater which way he turned he would hear the same noises ahead. The noises keep him running in a circle. Then he became paralyzed and could only move in a jerking motion and fell to his knees. At this time God told him not to open his eyes. He became weightless for a few moments. Next he was examined with some device that he called a scanner. As it was moved around his head he could hear a buzzing sound similar to a radio being tuned across the band. This devise made his hair stand up as it was moved over his head. As he was relating this to me he was holding both sides of his head as if he were in pain. While in the craft he hears someone say, he is still alive. Then hears someone one else say, I need a transfer then a string of numbers. For some reason he felt that these numbers were very important and related to me that he wished that he could be hypnotized to reveal the sequence. The duration of the time he was abducted was approximately fifteen minuets. He told me that he cried so much that his shirt was soaking wet. The event was so traumatic that he prayed to God that if he made it through the ordeal that he would give his life to God. When he was returned he was standing, his arms outstretched, looking up at the sky. The condition of the sky before the abduction was cloudy, after his return no clouds with the stars clearly visible.
I forgot to add this part. He also told me that they scraped his skin, I think he said his stomach. He ask me why would they scrape his skin. I told him that maybe they were collecting his skin cells for DNA. He said they must really like my DNA