; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just the Facts? Russian Mars Probe 'Lost' -- 1977 Alien Signal Mystery -- Killer Spiders Invade UK

Russian Mars Probe 'Considered Lost'

Efforts to resume contact with a Russian space mission to Mars stuck in Earth orbit after launch have failed and the probe must be considered lost, Interfax news agency reported Saturday.

"All attempts to obtain telemetric information from the Phobos-Grunt probe and activate its command system have failed. The probe must be considered lost," Interfax quoted a source in the Russian space sector as saying.

The source said Russia's space agency would announce the failure of the mission in the next few days.

The space agency had said earlier scientists had a window of only a few days to reprogram the probe in a bid to send it on its route to Mars. If this does not happen, Phobos-Grunt would fall back to Earth early next month.

The mission went awry after launch Wednesday when the five-billion-ruble ($165 million) probe's engine failed to fire, leaving it orbiting the Earth rather than starting its journey towards the red planet.

The probe had the unprecedented mission to land on the Martian moon Phobos and bring a sample of its rock back to Earth, as well as launch a Chinese Mars satellite.

The mishap caps an inglorious list for Russia's space program in the 50th anniversary year of Yuri Gagarin's first flight into space.

Three navigation satellites plunged into the sea after a failed launch in December and Russia has since lost new military and telecommunications satellites upon launch.

The accident also comes just days before Russia is due to resume manned space flights to the International Space Station that ground to a halt in August with the crash of a cargo craft. - discovery

Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon

Russia in Space: The Failed Frontier?


1977 alien signal still a mystery

The controversial signal received from interstellar space in 1977 remains a puzzle and as yet, defies a natural explanation, an expert has said.

Researchers working at the Big Ear radio observatory at Ohio State University in 1977 discovered a record of a signal received from deep space.

"It's called the 'Wow' signal because it wasn't heard or picked up at the time. It was in the computer record which in those days was printed out on sheets of paper," Professor Paul Davies told News24.

Davies is the chair of the Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence): Post-Detection Science and Technology Taskgroup of the International Academy of Astronautics and a professor at Arizona State University.

"It was a rather long pulse; it wasn't a blip. It's never been satisfactorily explained as a natural phenomenon," he said.


In his search for extraterrestrial intelligence, Davies said that in the early 60s mainstream scientists regarded the field as ridiculous.

"In the 60s, if you said that you were looking for intelligent life in the universe, you might as well have said you were looking for fairies.

"Everybody was convinced that life was a bizarre freak, an aberration confined to Earth."

The signal which came roughly from the constellation of Sagittarius has never been repeated, but Davies said that astronomers did not have the resources to focus on one part of the sky.

"Whenever radio astronomers have had time to point their telescopes to that part of the sky, they have not picked up anything else.

"If they could just look at that region of the sky for a decade, maybe there'll be another one, but they don't have the resources to do that."

Davies has had a long career in theoretical physics, cosmology and astrobiology, and has authored several books, from The Physics of Time Asymmetry in 1974 to, most recently, The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence

In his role for Seti, he is tasked with proposing policies when contact is made with an advanced extraterrestrial civilisation.

He has an asteroid, 6870 Pauldavies, named after him and is the forerunner of the theory of panspermia - that life is widely distributed in the universe and on Earth, may have come from Mars through impacts with asteroids and meteors. - new24

The Re-Emergence of Emergence: The Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion

Are We Alone?: Philosophical Implications Of The Discovery Of Extraterrestrial Life


Man killed by pet hippo

A South African farmer has been killed by his pet. Marius Els, 41, was attacked by Humphrey on Saturday night. The farmer’s mutilated body was discovered submerged in a river running through his 400 acre in rural South Africa. Earlier this year Mr Els was pictured happily riding on his pet bull hippo’s back.

“Humphrey’s like a son to me, he’s just like a human,’ he said at the time. There’s a relationship between me and Humphrey and that’s what some people don’t understand. They think you can only have a relationship with dogs, cats and domestic animals.

“But I have a relationship with the most dangerous animal in Africa.” Mr Els kept 20 different species of exotic animals including giraffe and rhino on his farm near Klerksdorp in South Africa’s north west. But he developed a special fondness for Humphrey, whom he bought aged just five months and for whom even built a special lake.

Humphrey was aged six and weighed more than a metric ton when he attacked Mr Els. Hippos are considered to one of the world’s most dangerous animals. They are, by nature, very aggressive – especially when young calves are present. They commonly attack humans with no apparent provocation, usually using their enormous canine teeth to gouge their victims.

Animals ATTACK! - Hippos

Hippos: Natural History & Conservation (Worldlife Library)


Deadly Australian spiders invade Britain

With eight legs, lightning speed and a deadly bite, the only reassuring thing about the redback spider is that it lives 9,000 miles away in Australia.

But not any more. Redbacks have been discovered in homes across Britain, the most dangerous in a wave of foreign creepy-crawlies which are finding their way to this country.

Arriving in imported goods or the luggage of returning travellers, the invading species are able to survive in warm British houses even if they cannot cope with the climate outdoors.

Redbacks have been discovered in homes as far apart as Aberdeen, Swansea and Coventry, while in one incident a dozen of the creatures emerged from a crate at a factory in Preston.

The spiders, in the same family as the black widow, are named for the distinctive red stripe along the back of the female.

The pea-sized female is much larger than the male and is responsible for most bites, which cause extreme pain and swelling followed by nausea, chest pain, sweating, fever and possible respiratory failure.

In Australia 14 deaths have been attributed to redbacks, and each year 250 people need antivenom after being bitten. Victims are told to apply icepacks and to collect the spider so it can be identified.

The spread of the redback in the UK emerged in a survey of local authority pest control services, which highlighted the extent and variety of exotic pests now infesting properties across the country.

Whilst no national figures are kept – and in many cases, householders may have the creatures eradicated without ever identifying their type – experts in the field say that the number of such outbreaks is increasing year on year.

Richard Moseley, from the British Pest Control Association, said: "These insects move with trade and transport.

"As the world becomes, theoretically, a smaller place and people go on more unusual holidays and we bring in commodities from unusual places, the spread increases. These insects are on the move now."

Many of the species are tropical ants, which are difficult to eradicate from properties because traditional methods such as spraying their nests with poison actually cause them to spread, as the colonies split up and the ants build more "satellite" nests. Among those reported in British homes are:

– stink ants, which smell like rotten coconuts when crushed. Colonies have up to 100,000 workers and many queens. Hard to control because they establish subcolonies. They like fruit, especially melon, but will also feed on meats and cheese. They like to be near hot water pipes and in crevices near sinks and kitchen cabinets. Found in London.

– crazy ants, so-called because of their erratic, zigzagging path. They can bite causing rashes and are difficult to control as they forage over large areas, making their nests hard to find. Found in London.

– bigheaded ants, originally from Mauritius, are believed to be the newest arrival in the UK. They are able to chew on electrical wires and are on a list of the "world's 100 worst invasive species", maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Up to a quarter of an inch in length, they nest in potted plants. Found in London.

– pharaoh ant – the most established of the invaders. They travel from room to room within the walls via plumbing pipes and electrical wires and are a particular problem in hospitals, where they can spread disease by getting into sterile dressings and even feeding on open wounds. In homes, they are also happy to feast on shoe polish and paints. Can nest behind skirting boards or in linen, curtain rods or stored newspapers. They got their name because of the mistaken belief that they had been one of the ten biblical plagues of Egypt. Found across southern and central England from Lincolnshire to Somerset.

– ghost ants – often mistaken for Pharoah ants, but are very pale in colour – hence their name – which can make them hard to spot. They can nest in wall spaces and potted plants. They usually forage in kitchens and bathrooms, because they need water. Found in London

– Argentine ants – they benefited from this year's balmy spring and appeared in record numbers. They are similar to native garden ants but more ferocious and are able to wipe out the British variety. They create nests under cookers, cupboards and floorboards. Last year Rentokil Initial carried out 13 per cent more treatments for ants than in 2009. Found in Lancashire and London.

Dave Coleman, from Camden council in London, said: "We have been increasingly getting different species of tropical ants. It started with the pharaoh ant, but we now have other strains. They come from all sorts of hot climes."

The survey also found reports of infestations of Oriental and German cockroaches, which can pass on diseases such as dysentery, gastroenteritis, typhoid and tuberculosis, at locations in London and Lancashire.

Dr George McGavin, an entomologist and television presenter, said: "It is very difficult to keep small things out of the country. Insects will always come in.

"Whether or not they can breed in the wild is a different thing. But we have lots of heated homes that are warm through the year with plenty of food available.

"So some species can survive in them and breed in them. Homes are a very big habitat now." - telegraph

Deadly Spiders (Poison!)

Deadly Spiders and Scorpions (Wild Predators)