; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Just the Facts?: Mysterious Pelican, Dolphin Deaths In Peru -- Yellowstone 'Super-Volcano' Little Less Super

Mass pelican and dolphin deaths in Peru mystify officials

Authorities in Peru are investigating the death of over 538 pelicans, along with other birds, on the northern coast of the country, the Peruvian ministry of production said Sunday.

The new environmental investigation comes on the heels of an incident earlier in April when 877 dolphins washed up dead on the same stretch of coast.

It was not immediately clear if the deaths were connected.

The birds appear to have died on the beach, and more tests are needed to determine the cause of death, the ministry of production said.

The Peruvian Sea Institute surveyed about 43 miles (70km) of beach coastline on Sunday and estimated that 592 birds were dead along the shore.

State-run TV Peru estimated that up to 1,200 birds had been found dead on the 100 miles (160km) of northern shoreline extending from Punta Negra in Piura to San José in the state of Lambayeque.

The deaths began less than two weeks ago, local fishermen say.

The investigation into the mystery surrounding the dolphins is still ongoing. Peruvian Deputy Environment Minister Gabriel Quijandria told CNN the dolphins may have died from an outbreak of Morbillivirus or Brucella bacteria.

The Peruvian government has put together a panel from different ministries to analyze a report by the Peruvian Sea Institute (IMARPE). Officials have been able to conclude that the dolphins' deaths were not due to lack of food, interaction with fisheries, poisoning with pesticides, biotoxin poisoning or contamination by heavy metals.

"When you have something this large, my gut would tell me that there's something traumatic that happened," Sue Rocca, a marine biologist with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, told CNN. She raised a number of possibilities as to what could have killed the animals, including acoustic trauma.

Preliminary reports ruled out that seismic sound waves created by oil exploration in that stretch of sea could have killed the birds, the environment ministry said.

They also expressed concern for the fishermen in the area and restated their commitment to protecting the country's marine ecosystem. - CNN


The Yellowstone "super-volcano" is a little less super—but more active—than previously thought

Researchers at Washington State University and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre say the biggest Yellowstone eruption, which created the 2 million year old Huckleberry Ridge deposit, was actually two different eruptions at least 6,000 years apart.

Their results paint a new picture of a more active volcano than previously thought and can help recalibrate the likelihood of another big eruption in the future. Before the researchers split the one eruption into two, it was the fourth largest known to science.

"The Yellowstone volcano's previous behavior is the best guide of what it will do in the future," says Ben Ellis, co-author and post-doctoral researcher at Washington State University's School of the Environment. "This research suggests explosive volcanism from Yellowstone is more frequent than previously thought."

The new ages for each Huckleberry Ridge eruption reduce the volume of the first event to 2,200 cubic kilometers, roughly 12 percent less than previously thought. A second eruption of 290 cubic kilometers took place more than 6,000 years later.

That first eruption still deserves to be called "super," as it is one of the largest known to have occurred on Earth and darkened the skies with ash from southern California to the Mississippi River. By comparison, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens produced 1 cubic kilometer of ash. The larger blast of Oregon's Mount Mazama 6,850 years ago produced 116 cubic kilometers of ash.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation and published in the June issue of the Quaternary Geochronology, used high-precision argon isotope dating to make the new calculations. The radioactive decay rate from potassium 40 to argon 40 serves as a "rock clock" for dating samples and has a precision of .2 percent. Darren Mark, co-author and a post-doctoral research fellow at the SUERC, recently helped fine tune the technique and improve it by 1.2 percent—a small-sounding difference that can become huge across geologic time.

"Improved precision for greater temporal resolution is not just about adding another decimal place to a number, says Mark. "It's far more exciting. It's like getting a sharper lens on a camera. It allows us to see the world more clearly."

The project asks the question: Might super-eruptions actually be products of multiple, closely spaced eruptions through time? With improved temporal resolution, in times to come, maybe super-eruptions will be not quite so super. - phys.org


Two women save boy from father who was trying to CUT OFF HIS ARMS in ritual sacrifice

Two women saved an eight-year-old boy from being killed by his father who was attempting to cut off his arms as part of a human sacrifice in a cemetery.

Jaymisha Pires and Corey Granberry grabbed the badly injured boy after his forearms had been slashed open.

Pires, 21, said her 'motherly instincts' kicked in when she saw the boy being attacked by his father.

Joseph Ramirez was later tackled by a security guard at the cemetery where he had allegedly tried to kill his son.

The 30-year-old told police his dead grandmother told him to sacrifice his son.

The injured boy was recovering in hospital with knife wounds to his forearms but police said he owes his life to the two have-a-go heroes.

Pires and Granberry, both 21, were at the Mount Hope cemetery in San Diego, California, to visit the grave of Granberry's godson.

Pires told the San Diego Union Tribune she confronted Ramirez, begging him to release the boy.

'My motherly instincts kicked in when I saw him hurting that little boy,' said Pires, who has children aged six and two. 'It was a blur. I just wanted him to stop.'

Pires said Ramirez kept saying, 'We're going to Jesus, we're going to Jesus.'

Granberry said she grabbed the injured boy and Ramirez's two other children, who are both toddlers.

Granberry wrapped a T-shirt around one of the arms of the boy, who was bleeding badly.

Ramirez was tackled by Dana Fontenot, a 60-year-old security guard who was on his third day of working at Mount Hope.

As well as slashing his son's arms Ramirez also slashed his own arms.

When police arrived at the Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego, California, they took the boy to Rady Children's Hospital for treatment.

Ramirez was taken to a hospital and will be charged with child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon on his release. - dailymail


A Catholic's Guide to Living In a Haunted House

When confronted with the paranormal, many people go through an internal process of questioning and reexamining of their perspectives on the world and themselves: questions such as whether or not they are going crazy, what prosaic answers there could be for the unusual experience or experiences, how people will view them if they dare to share their story, and other more existential quandaries. In his book, Holy Ghost, author Gary Jansen takes the reader though this process as he tells the story of how he came to believe his house was haunted and how he dealt with it.

Jansen is an editor and author specializing in books on religion and spirituality. Growing up in Long Island, his mother would occasionally talk about the ghost she believed haunted his childhood home. Jansen didn't think much of it until many years later when he and his wife purchased that very home.

After moving into the house, Jansen and his family began experiencing many strange occurrences which led him to suspect that perhaps his mother was right. Among other things, he felt strange electrical sensations in certain parts of the home, he saw shadows moving around the house, he and his wife heard weird sounds, and reminiscent of the movie Poltergeist, his son's toys would turn on and off on their own.

Jansen struggled with the preposterous idea that ghosts may actually exist, but as the supernatural experiences piled up, he also could not accept any conclusion to the contrary. He wondered, "Why was I resisting both belief and non-belief?" Often people who feel they have come face to face with the paranormal, especially those who didn't believe in its existence prior to their experience, describe similar feelings.

Another issue Jansen faced when he began seriously suspecting he was living with ghosts was whether or not as a Catholic he was supposed to believe in ghosts. Don't get the wrong impression; Jansen is not someone you would consider a "bible thumper," as indicated by the subtitle of his book, How a (Not-So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night. Instead Jansen comes across as a regular guy who takes his religion seriously, but like many, has to work at reconciling it with everyday life.

Jansen found that Catholicism does incorporate the belief in ghosts. In fact, his research began to open his eyes to the vast amount of supernatural material in the church's history and doctrine. He found that there are actually protocols developed by the church for dealing with paranormal phenomena.

In his journey for answers and solutions to his problem, Jansen was not afraid to push the limits of acceptable church methods. This included getting in contact with Mary Ann Winkowski, a consultant and one of the inspirations for the TV show Ghost Whisperer. Winkowski claims to be able to communicate with ghosts and help entities "cross over into the White Light." Although hesitant at first, Jansen was amazed by the information she shared, and appreciative of the help she gave him.

Jansen's experiences and the confusion he felt are common among those who come to believe they are living in a haunted house. He is just a rational regular guy, experiencing something so strange that it threatens to shove him, kicking and screaming, out of the comfortable pocket of societal normalcy.

Skeptics will be able to appreciate the way he approaches the anomalous phenomena and get some insight into how seemingly well-grounded people, in an attempt to be honest with themselves and others, end up believing in the paranormal. His experiences made him consider that perhaps his own skepticism served "as a mask to cynicism." And that "maybe we need extraordinary things to happen to us to shake us from the sleep of doubt?" - THP


Woman claims to have given birth to a worm

A WOMAN who thought she was pregnant for five months has told of her shock after giving birth to a WORM.

Anna Mbizi, 38, went for regular check-ups at a doctor’s surgery and was told she was pregnant with her third child without the benefit of an ultrasound scan.

“I consulted my doctor when I was two months pregnant and was told everything was normal. This was going to be my third baby," Mbizi said.

But on Sunday morning, Mbizi, of North End in Bulawayo, says her world came crashing down after she “gave birth” to a worm in the bathroom.

He told the Bulawayo Chronicle: “When I experienced the pains, I thought I was going to miscarry but I was shocked when a worm came out.”

Mbizi says her boyfriend has abandoned her, telling the newspaper: “I really thought I was five months pregnant as I had all the signs and symptoms of a pregnant woman.

"I am still short of words. I am afraid my boyfriend is going to leave me. He really wanted a baby and now that I delivered a worm, I am not his favourite person.”

Her doctor described her situation as “unusual”.
"I examined the woman three months ago and she appeared to be two months pregnant, but when she came back on Sunday night nothing indicated that she had been pregnant although there were signs of strain on her uterine tissue," said the doctor.

“I examined the woman after this alleged incident and could not find any baby. The situation left us to believe that the worm had been acting like a baby.”

The superstitious Mbizi blames her misfortune on witchcraft. She cites a recent confrontation with a neighbour who owes her US$150.

“I think my neighbour bewitched me,” she said.

After giving birth to the worm, she said, she was advised by friends to “put coarse salt on it so that I’m not cursed again”.

She put the worm in a plastic container.
"I put salt on the worm and it shrinked, almost dissolving into liquid form. As you can see, there is some blood in the residue," she said, holding the plastic container. - newzimbabwe