Reader Information

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just the Facts? - Gigantic Lobster Finds Home, Inherited OBE and Alien Intervention

18-lb American Lobster has a New Home

A giant, 18-pound lobster has found a new home in famously freaky Coney Island.

The colossal crustacean was caught weeks ago off the coast of Canada and sent in a two-ton shipment to the New England Lobster Co. in San Francisco, the New York Daily News reports.

Typical lobsters in a restaurant or seafood shop are between 1.25 and 2 pounds and around 5 to 7 years old.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the general formula to estimate a lobster's age is its weight in pounds times four, plus three. That makes Coney Island's Big Red is an astounding 75 years old and still growing.

New England Lobster's bookkeeper, Jennifer Vargas, set out to save the giant creature when it was received on the West Coast. "This seemed like a [lousy] way to go," she told the Daily News. "A lot of the customers were interested in him -- the problem was, they didn't have a pot big enough."

The New York Aquarium in Coney Island, run by the Wildlife Conservation Society, responded to an online posting, and the 18-pounder was shipped back East.

Aquarium Director Jon Dohlin said the beast was an instant attraction for anyone visiting the aquarium.

"When we saw that ad for an 18-pound American lobster, we knew we had to have it," Dohlin told local station Pix11. "He's a magnificent creature that has been delighting our guests since his arrival. He radiates a certain charisma, a crustacean charisma," he added.

The lobster is the largest of its species ever to live at the New York Aquarium and is housed in its Sea Cliffs exhibit. There, it shares space with marine mammals like walruses and sea lions, along with hundreds of fish.

The giant lobster reportedly eats about three-quarters of a pound of shrimp and fish a day.

While the freakishly large lobster is certainly impressive, he is nowhere near record-size. According to the University of Maine's Lobster Institute Web site, the world record holder is a 44-pounder caught off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1977. Others have grown as big as 4 feet long. - ibtimes


Modified Ecstasy 'attacks blood cancers'

Modified ecstasy could one day have a role to play in fighting some blood cancers, according to scientists.

Ecstasy is known to kill some cancer cells, but scientists have increased its effectiveness 100-fold, they said in Investigational New Drugs journal.

Their early study showed all leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma cells could be killed in a test tube, but any treatment would be a decade away.

A charity said the findings were a "significant step forward".

In 2006, a research team at the University of Birmingham showed that ecstasy and anti-depressants such as Prozac had the potential to stop cancers growing.

The problem was that it needed doses so high they would have been fatal if given to people.

The researchers, in collaboration with the University of Western Australia, have chemically re-engineered ecstasy by taking some atoms away and putting new ones in their place.

One variant increased cancer-fighting effectiveness 100-fold. It means that if 100g of un-modified ecstasy was needed to get the desired effect, only 1g of the modified ecstasy would be needed to have the same effect.

Scientists say this also reduced the toxic effect on the brain.

Lead researcher Professor John Gordon, from the University of Birmingham, told the BBC: "Against the cancers, particularly the leukaemia, the lymphoma and the myeloma, where we've tested these new compounds we can wipe out 100% of the cancer cells in some cases.

"We would really need to pinpoint which are the most sensitive cases, but it has the potential to wipe out all the cancer cells in those examples.

"This is in the test tube, it could be different in the patient, but for now it's quite exciting."

'Soapy' cells

It is believed that the drug is attracted to the fat in the membranes of the cancerous cells.

Researchers think it makes the cells "a bit more soapy", which can break down the membrane and kill the cell.

They said cancerous cells were more susceptible than normal, healthy ones.

However, doctors are not going to start prescribing modified ecstasy to cancer patients in the near future.

The research has been demonstrated only in samples in a test tube. Animals studies and clinical trials would be needed before prescribing a drug could be considered.

First, however, chemists in the UK and Australia are going to try to tweak the modified ecstasy even further as they think it can be made even more potent.

'Genuinely exciting'

If everything is successful, a drug is still at least a decade away.

Dr David Grant, scientific director of the charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, said: "The prospect of being able to target blood cancer with a drug derived from ecstasy is a genuinely exciting proposition.

"Many types of lymphoma remain hard to treat and non-toxic drugs which are both effective and have few side effects are desperately needed.

"Further work is required but this research is a significant step forward in developing a potential new cancer drug." - BBC


Reader: Inherited lightening strikes / out-of-body experiences?

Mr. Strickler...I know this story is nearly a year old but I am fairly new to the site and discovered this link while browsing your site. Although I do not have a multiple lightning strike experience I have been struck by lightning and nearly killed. When I was struck I went immediately unconscious. I know that I was not immediately killed because I fell into a mud puddle and my lungs filled with water. At that point my heart stopped beating. I was not breathing and had no pulse. I was saved by an airman on the base were my father was stationed. He is the only reason I know the details of the story while I was dead/unconscious. I was about 13 years old at the time. He pulled me out of the mud puddle and performed CPR to get me breathing and a pulse going. I awoke in the ambulance in a state of shock and was immediately sedated again. I woke the second time in the hospital ER. I have had some supernatural experiences throughout my life although they do not overwhelm me. The occurrences are rare. I do however have a lot of incidences of Sleep Paralysis and OBE’s. I also seem to have some strong intuitive feelings at times which have saved my life on more than one occasion. The main point I want to make with this post is that my Grandfather was also struck by lightning when he was a young man. He actually read his own death in the newspaper. The saddest thing about this story is that three of his brothers and sisters were killed instantly in the same incident. This was half of all of his brothers and sisters dead in an instant. They were all on the porch of the house which had a wrought iron railing around the porch. They were all talking while leaning on the railing when lightning struck the house which had a tin roof and killed them all except for my Grandfather. I do not ever remember my Grandfather having any supernatural experiences at least that he spoke about. I know this is a little different than the story presented on your site but I can say it might run in my family. - Mitchell


Tree-Huggers' Close Encounter

Sunday, 4pm, March 1996, Canyon Road, Portland OR. - unedited: Friend and I are walking a three-acre parcel that is about to be clear cut for housing. We are hugging each tree good-bye.
Something makes us stop and turn to the west -- it's a humming and a presence. Time stops cold. We are out of normal reality. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a giant pulsing, humming, beeping, shape-shifting blue orb races towards us. It looks like it traveled right through my house, three stories from the ground, and the orb is bigger than the house. It's headed straight for us. I'm dumbstruck, but I face it square, unafraid. It's like it has a message for us about the trees and what we're doing. In a weird way, the appearance of the orb somehow doesn't surprise me, once the pause in time-space takes place.
It zooms right at us, goes right through us and disappears into the trees. We're just sort of stunned. "What was that?" "Did you see that?" "I'm so glad I had a witness."
We never noticed any objects in the sky before or after. - MUFON CMS


Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilizations, say scientists

It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.

Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth's atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.

This highly speculative scenario is one of several described by a Nasa-affiliated scientist and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University that, while considered unlikely, they say could play out were humans and alien life to make contact at some point in the future.

Shawn Domagal-Goldman of Nasa's Planetary Science Division and his colleagues compiled a list of plausible outcomes that could unfold in the aftermath of a close encounter, to help humanity "prepare for actual contact".

In their report, Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis, the researchers divide alien contacts into three broad categories: beneficial, neutral or harmful.

Beneficial encounters ranged from the mere detection of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), for example through the interception of alien broadcasts, to contact with cooperative organisms that help us advance our knowledge and solve global problems such as hunger, poverty and disease.

Another beneficial outcome the authors entertain sees humanity triumph over a more powerful alien aggressor, or even being saved by a second group of ETs. "In these scenarios, humanity benefits not only from the major moral victory of having defeated a daunting rival, but also from the opportunity to reverse-engineer ETI technology," the authors write.

Other kinds of close encounter may be less rewarding and leave much of human society feeling indifferent towards alien life. The extraterrestrials may be too different from us to communicate with usefully. They might invite humanity to join the "Galactic Club" only for the entry requirements to be too bureaucratic and tedious for humans to bother with. They could even become a nuisance, like the stranded, prawn-like creatures that are kept in a refugee camp in the 2009 South African movie, District 9, the report explains.

The most unappealing outcomes would arise if extraterrestrials caused harm to humanity, even if by accident. While aliens may arrive to eat, enslave or attack us, the report adds that people might also suffer from being physically crushed or by contracting diseases carried by the visitors. In especially unfortunate incidents, humanity could be wiped out when a more advanced civilisation accidentally unleashes an unfriendly artificial intelligence, or performs a catastrophic physics experiment that renders a portion of the galaxy uninhabitable.

To bolster humanity's chances of survival, the researchers call for caution in sending signals into space, and in particular warn against broadcasting information about our biological make-up, which could be used to manufacture weapons that target humans. Instead, any contact with ETs should be limited to mathematical discourse "until we have a better idea of the type of ETI we are dealing with."

The authors warn that extraterrestrials may be wary of civilisations that expand very rapidly, as these may be prone to destroy other life as they grow, just as humans have pushed species to extinction on Earth. In the most extreme scenario, aliens might choose to destroy humanity to protect other civilisations.

"A preemptive strike would be particularly likely in the early phases of our expansion because a civilisation may become increasingly difficult to destroy as it continues to expand. Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilisational expansion could be detected by an ETI because our expansion is changing the composition of the Earth's atmosphere, via greenhouse gas emissions," the report states.

"Green" aliens might object to the environmental damage humans have caused on Earth and wipe us out to save the planet. "These scenarios give us reason to limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems. It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets," the authors write.

Even if we never make contact with extraterrestrials, the report argues that considering the potential scenarios may help to plot the future path of human civilisation, avoid collapse and achieve long-term survival. - guardian