Massive meteorite found in China
A massive space rock – one that could rank as one of the largest meteorites ever recovered – has been found in a remote and mountainous region in northwest China, according to news reports.
The huge and oddly-shaped rock was found in the Altai mountains in China's Xinjiang Uygur province, according to Sky and Telescope magazine. Earlier this month, Baolin Zhang, a meteorite specialist at the Beijing Planetarium, led a small team up a 9,500-foot (2,900-meter) summit to investigate reports of the supposed meteorite.
"This is a huge iron meteorite," Zhang said in footage from China Central Television. "It may be the second largest iron meteorite, which can cause a sensation in China and also attract attention from [the] world's meteorite fields. It comes from outside solar system and it is of great appreciating value and of more scientific value."
The large brown stone juts out from beneath a larger granite slab and the portion above ground measures about 7.5 feet (2.3 m) long and half as wide, reported Sky and Telescope.
Zhang estimates that the meteorite's mass could range between 25 to 30 tons, which would make it one of the largest meteorites known. If so, this space rock would surpass the current largest one in China, a 28-ton meteorite that was discovered in 1898 in the same region, reported Sky and Telescope.
The Xinjiang discovery could represent a very exciting find for the scientific community, if the rock can be confirmed as a meteorite, said Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University.
"If this can indeed be verified as a bona fide iron meteorite, then it would certainly be an important find," Wadhwa told SPACE.com in an email interview. Since most meteorites were formed close to [about] 4.6 billion years ago, when the solar system was formed, any newly discovered meteorites (regardless of their size) have the potential to provide scientists with some unique insights into the formation and earliest history of our solar system."
Wadhwa added that the pictures of the Xinjiang rock that have been released so far appear to show good promise of it being an iron meteorite.
And while the Xinjiang finding is quite large, the largest known meteorite to date has a mass of roughly 60 tons and was found in Namibia, Wadhwa said. Other larger specimens include a 37-ton piece from Argentina and a 30-ton meteorite that was discovered in Greenland.Zhang and his team also found names scratched into the stone's surface, indicating that some people in the area were likely aware of the unusual rock's existence. The etchings also expose the iron-nickel composition, Zhang said.
Further analysis should help determine whether this iron meteorite and the one found in 1898 are related, or if it is merely a coincidence that they were both found in this remote region of China. It is also unknown when or how the massive rock will be removed from its current location to be studied, reported Sky and Telescope. - mnn
Biologist says cancers might actually be newly-evolved species inside your body
We think of cancer as a disease, a form of runaway cell growth within an organism. But we might not have realized what cancers really are: separate, brand new parasitic species that evolve from and prey upon their human hosts.
That's the theory put forward by UC Berkeley biologist Peter Duesberg, who argues that the very act of carcinogenesis - the formation of cancer - is itself a form of speciation, in which distinct new species evolve. That may seem a little far-fetched, so let's take a look at Duesberg's precise reasoning to see exactly what's going on here.
A key idea for Duesberg and his team is that cancer is the result of chromosome disruption, rather than the current scientific consensus that they are formed by genetic mutations. If the researchers are correct, an actual change in the nature of cancer's chromosomes would be far more drastic than just some simple mutations - basically, if something inside you has a totally different chromosomal makeup than you do, then it kind of has to be its own separate species.
That's part of the argument. Duesberg has more:
"Cancer is comparable to a bacterial level of complexity, but still autonomous, that is, it doesn't depend on other cells for survival; it doesn't follow orders like other cells in the body, and it can grow where, when and how it likes. That's what species are all about.
This isn't just a pedantic argument about what does and does not constitute a new species. If Duesberg is correct, then medical treatments that focus on blocking mutations are on the wrong track. This new theory holds that it isn't simply a few mutated genes that initiate cancerous cell growth; instead, when the chromosomes themselves are disrupted, some of them are deleted, others are broken or truncated, and some are even duplicated.
The end result is a cell that's completely different from those around it. The question then is if it's viable enough to survive inside its host body. In most cases, the chromosomal damage probably destroys the would-be cancer. But every so often, it survives, as Duesberg explains:
"If humans changed their karyotype — the number and arrangement of chromosomes — we would either die or be unable to mate, or in very rare cases become another species...You start with a chromosomal mutation, that is, aneuploidy perhaps from X-rays or cigarettes or radiation, that destabilizes and eventually changes your karyotype or renders it non-viable. The rare viable aneuploidies of cancers are, in effect, the karyotypes of new species."
So if this does replace the established mutation view of cancer, what's the upshot? One intriguing possibility is that these cancerous species may be configured for cellular flexibility and immortality, but they're also still very fragile, and their fundamentally damaged chromosomes means they exist right on the very brink of viability. If that's the case, then all we need to do is figure out a way to force cancer to keep evolving, shredding its chromosomes still further until it's no longer able to survive. - io9
Monster threatens Auckland rail project
A mythical swamp monster "hiding" under Auckland is threatening to derail a project to improve the New Zealand city's traffic gridlock.
The North Island city is trying to move ahead with a multibillion-dollar railway tunnel project to improve the minimal train network and free up its car-filled streets.
But Horotiu, a mythical monster, put the $NZ2.6 billion project in doubt after an indigenous Maori board protested that it would destroy grounds once patrolled by the make-believe taniwha, pronounced tani-fa.
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Glenn Wilcox, a member of the Maori Statutory Board, which protects Maori interests, complained that the plan did not take into account the monster, which "was here first".
The taniwha is a mythical protector with a powerful role in Maori folklore, but get it angry and you're in trouble, Mr Wilcox said.
"As kaitiaki, or guardians, they protect people, but they also get up and bite you if they do not like what you are doing," he said.
The local council has since convinced the board that the correct consultation had taken place, putting the popular project back on the table.
The board accepted its needs had been met but not before it was invoiced thousands of dollars for public relations advice relating to the monster.
Surprisingly, its not the first time a taniwha has threatened to upend a council project.
In 2002, construction of a stretch of road between Auckland and Hamilton was halted after protesters complained that it was cutting through the domain of a revered one-eye taniwha.
The taniwha was thought to be responsible for a number of deaths on the stretch of road.
Ranginui Walker, a respected Maori elder, said at the time: "You have to placate local demons, deities, taniwha. Don't tempt fate." - smh.com.au
Snake detected in woman’s abdomen
A 50-year-old local woman with a gigantic snake in her body has called upon the authorities to help her undergo surgery.
An unforgettable incident happened with a 50-year-old Rasheedan Bibi, a resident of Chora Saggar, a suburban area when an ultrasound test detected a gigantic snake in her body. Reportedly, a very small snake entered her body when she drank water from a pitcher in her house. After two months, she felt progressive increase in belly size but she supposed it to be pregnancy. After 7 months, her entire body has swollen to its maximum and suffered from severe illness. She was taken to hospital where they were shocked when ultrasound test reported a coiled massive snake in her abdomen. Rasheedan Bibi is taking 14 breads three times a day. She belonged to a poor family and appealed to Punjab CM to help her undergo surgery. - nation.com.pk
Chinese Couple Sells All Three Kids to Play Online Games
A young Chinese couple has sold all three of their children in exchange for money to play online games at Internet cafes, reports a southern Chinese newspaper.
According to Sanxiang City News, the couple met in an Internet cafe back in 2007 and bonded over their obsession with online video games. A year later, the parents -- who are both under 21 -- welcomed their first child, a son. Days after his birth, they left him home alone while they went to play online games at an Internet cafe 30 km away.
In 2009, Li Lin and Li Juan welcomed their second child, a baby girl, and came up with the idea to sell her for money to fund their online game obsession. They did so, receiving RMB 3,000 (less than $500), which they spent entirely shortly after. The couple then proceeded to sell their first child and got 10 times as much for him -- RMB 30,000, or about $4600.
Upon having their third child -- another boy -- the parents followed in their previous footsteps and also got RMB 30,000 for him.
They were finally turned into authorities when Li Lin’s mother found out what her son and his girlfriend had done.
When asked if they missed their children, the parents answered, "We don’t want to raise them, we just want to sell them for some money.”
Sanxiang City News reports the couple didn't know they were breaking the law. - abcnewsradioonline