Impossible crystals are 'from space'
Examples of a crystal previously thought to be impossible in nature may have come from space, a study shows.
Quasicrystals have an unusual structure - in between those of crystals and glasses.
Until two years ago, quasicrystals had only been created in the lab - then geologists found them in rocks from Russia's Koryak mountains.
In PNAS journal, a team says the chemistry of the Russian crystals suggests they arrived in meteorites.
Quasicrystals were first described in the 1980s by Israeli researcher Daniel Schechtman, who was awarded last year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery.
Schechtman's ideas were initially treated with doubt or scorn by some of his peers, who thought the structures were "impossible".
Quasicrystals break some of the rules of symmetry that apply to conventional crystalline structures. They also exhibit different physical and electrical properties.
In 2009, Luca Bindi, from the University of Florence, Italy, and his colleagues reported finding quasicrystals in mineral samples from the Koryak mountains in Russia's far east.
The mineral - an alloy of aluminium, copper, and iron - showed that quasicrystals could form and remain stable under natural conditions. But the natural process that created the structures remained an open question.
Now, Dr Bindi, Paul Steinhardt from Princeton University and others claim that tests point to an extra-terrestrial origin for the Russian minerals.
They used the technique of mass spectrometry to measure different forms - or isotopes - of the element oxygen contained in parts of the rock sample.
The pattern of oxygen isotopes was unlike any known minerals that originated on Earth. It was instead closer to that sometimes found in a type of meteorite known as a carbonaceous chondrite.
The samples also contained a type of silica which only forms at very high pressures. This suggests it either formed in the Earth's mantle, or was formed in a high-velocity impact, such as that which occurs when a meteorite hits the Earth's surface.
"Our evidence indicates that quasicrystals can form naturally under astrophysical conditions and remain stable over cosmic timescales," the team writes in PNAS. - BBC
NOTE: as a rare crystal / mineral collector, I'd really like to obtain a specimen of one of these quasicrystals to determine the vibration level. Most space origin minerals, either separate or combined with earth minerals, exhibit high energy traits (ex. tektites, desert glass, etc) and are useful as metaphysical tools...Lon
Chemical mind control
Neuroscientists at MIT have found a chemical way to make mice forget bad memories.
By deactivating a 'memory gene' - Npas 4 - they found that mice would 'forget' their fear of a chamber where they had previously been given electric shocks.
The scientists believe they could be 'closing in' on the areas of the brain where long-term memories are stored - and a technique for controlling these memories.
The researchers think that the gene could be crucial for all types of memory.
The knowledge would be a breakthrough in our understanding of the brain - and might open up new avenues of knowledge such as altering or even creating memory.
To investigate the genetic mechanisms of memory formation, researchers gave mice a mild electric shock when they entered a specific chamber.
Within minutes, the mice learn to fear the chamber, and the next time they enter it, they freeze.
The gene - Npas4 - activates strongly when this happens.
When the researchers knocked out the gene for Npas4, they found that mice could not remember their fearful conditioning.
The research could also lead to understanding where memories are stored in the brain - right down to which individual cells store each one.
The Npas 4 gene turns on when memories are 'stored' in your brain - and think that this could be the start of a chemical trail that leads to the part of the brain where memories are stored, and even to individual brain cells - known as neurons - which store single memories.
'We’re hunting for the memory, and we think we can us this gene to mark where it is,' Ramamoorthi says.
When you experience a new event, your brain encodes a memory of it by altering the connections between neurons.
When that happens, many genes activate. But one of them seems to be particularly important - a 'master gene' for memory.
The gene is particularly active in the hippocampus, a brain structure known to be critical in forming long-term memories.
'This is a gene that can connect from experience to the eventual changing of the circuit,' says Lin, the Frederick and Carole Middleton Career Development Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
The MIT team also plans to investigate whether the same neurons that turn when memories are formed also turn it on when memories are retrieved.
This could help them pinpoint the exact neurons that are storing particular memories. - dailymail
Liquid Conspiracy: LSD, JFK, the CIA, Area 51 and UFOs (Mind Control and Conspiracy Series)
Mind Programming: From Persuasion and Brainwashing, to Self-Help and Practical Metaphysics
Join the search for Moon aliens
American scientists want to enlist online volunteers to identify signs of alien life in moon images collected by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
Physicists Paul Davies and Robert Wagner of Arizona State University believe there may be signs of extra terrestrial life in the form of messages, scientific instruments, waste or evidence of mining that could be spotted by human telescopes and orbiting spacecraft.
In their paper published online in the journal Acta Astronautica, the pair wrote: “Although there is only a tiny probability that alien technology would have left traces on the moon in the form of an artefact or surface modification of lunar features, this location has the virtue of being close, and of preserving traces for an immense duration.
"If it costs little to scan data for signs of intelligent manipulation, little is lost in doing so, even though the probability of detecting alien technology at work may be exceedingly low.”
The paper adds: “Alien civilizations may have sent probes to our region of the galaxy. Any mission to the solar system would probably have occurred a very long time ago.
“The lunar environment could preserve artefacts for millions of years.”
The LRO has been taking pictures of the moon’s surface since 2009, with more than 340,000 images collected so far.
According to Davies and Wagner, it would be impossible for one team to examine the ever-growing number of images, hence their suggestion to involve amateur enthusiasts in what they claim would make “an excellent educational project”.
They also suggest building computer software that could recognise irregularities on the moon’s surface.
The proposals would complement other hunts for alien life, including the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which uses data from radiotelescopes. - THP
Mass death of tons of herring off northern Norway puzzles locals
Thousands of dead herring have been discovered washed up on a north Norwegian beach - prompting Doomsday predictors to hail it as another sign the world is set to end. More than 20 tons of the fish is currently carpeting the beach of Kvaenes, in Nordreisa, with experts views differing on how they have come to be there.
One thing is for sure, it will provide welcome ammunition to those believing the Mayan prophecy that 2012 will bring the end of Earth. Jan-Petter Jorgensen, 44, was walking with his dog Molly when he found the stinky haul.
He said: 'People say that something similar happened in the 80s. Maybe the fish have been caught in a deprived oxygen environment, and then died of fresh water?' Experts have said the school could have been trapped by tidal waters after predatory fish - such as coalfish - chased them towards the shoreline.
Another theory is that the fish were washed ashore during a recent storm, or trapped in shallow waters and affected by freshwater from a river that flows into the bay. Jens Christian Holst, of the Institute of Marine Research, said several factors could have come together at once. And he said he hoped they would be able to conduct tests on the dead fish to see if they had died of a disease. - dailymail
Soviets targeted Margaret Thatcher for assassination
Margaret Thatcher was the target of a Russian assassination plot at the height of the Cold War, secret documents have revealed.
The Iron Lady was targeted by the Spetsnaz – the Soviet special forces – who in the event of hostilities breaking out wanted to kill her before she could launch a nuclear strike.
The PM was warned of the threat in 1981 by intelligence chief Sir Antony Acland in a report publicly just released from the National Archives under the 30-year rule. He is believed to have been tipped off by a Russian army defector smuggled into Britain by MI6.
Lady Thatcher, who had been Prime Minister for less than two years at the time, was the prime target of a special unit of 500 selected to infiltrate the UK before hostilities broke out.
Their mission was to remove Britain’s capacity for firing nuclear warheads at Russia in the event of open hostilities or an invasion.
The defector said a unit of the Spetsnaz – the Soviet equivalent of the SAS – had already been in Britain on reconnaissance.
Sir Antony said the unit would cause diversions with attacks on railways, roads and power stations, as well as unleashing chemical or biological weapons before striking at their true objectives.
As the PM was the only person with the authority to approve a nuke strike on Moscow she was the No1 target.
The report came to Downing Street in December 1981.
No information is given about Lady Thatcher’s response or measures to protect her. - mirror
Spetsnaz: The Inside Story of the Soviet Special Forces
KGB Alpha Team Training Manual: How The Soviets Trained For Personal Combat, Assassination, And Subversion
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