; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Monday, June 17, 2013

Just the Facts?: Supermoon on June 22-23 -- Yuri Gagarin Death Mystery -- Stem Cell Discovery Could Help Regrow Fingers

Supermoon - June 22-23!

On June 22 and 23, the Supermoon will make its closest approach to planet Earth appearing full, bright and huge in the eastern night sky at a distance of about 356,000km. That’s compared to the average measured distance at 384,000km. Full Moon will look bigger than your standard full moon. This is because the Moon will be closer to the earth than at any other time this year. Astronomers call this a perigee full moon.

Astrologers, like Richard Nolle call this a ‘super moon.’ A term used instead of the “Perigee Moon” that the astronomers prefer. The phenomenon simply refers to a full Moon overlapping with the perigee or the closest point to Earth. According to Nolle a full moon generally makes us more sensitive and emotional. Intimate relationships take on special significance and we become more concerned with home and family. We tend to pay more attention to our subconscious, with our intuition having a greater say in things than our more rational, conscious side of the brain.

There are a few super moons every year but the June 2013 full moon is the most super. This full moon falls only 22 minutes after the moons closest approach to earth for 2013. The Moon rises up in the sky on the opposite side of the Sun and the sky watchers can enjoy looking at the Supermoon throughout the night from the early hours of the evening until crack of dawn. Furthermore, the extra-close full Moon is most likely to accompany in large tides and strong winds down the ocean shorelines for the next number of days.

The Supermoon size will begin to look smaller as it rises above the sky due to the decreasing distance to Earth. A simple method can be used to check that the Moon’s size is still the same: Stretch an arm and hold out the thumb up to the Moon then close one eye to observe that the thumb still covers the size of the Moon.

Though some reports point out that the Supermoon is a rare occurrence, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) claims that the space phenomenon happens at an average of once a year where the Moon turns full within a couple of hours on perigee. After the June 22-23 peak, the Supermoon will not be visibly close again to Earth until August 2014.

Some of the circulating messages tend to exaggerate how big the moon will actually appear. And, of course, it will not appear bright purple or blue as suggested by some circulating graphics. Nevertheless, June 23 should present a great opportunity to view and photograph the moon in all its splendor.

* For Australian eastern states the ‘Super Moon’ rises around 4.50pm on June 23… full moon for east coast Australia is 9.33pm. It will look good though, at least gave a look and to cut down the glare through your scope or binoculars try putting on sunglasses…true, it works to cut down the glare.

As we said, these ‘super moons’ not only appear larger because they are physically closer but, combined with a full moon, the mind can play tricks on you to think they are much larger. This phenomena is called the Moon Illusion. Try to catch these full moons as they rise/set because the illusion works when there is an object in the foreground, like a tree, building or mountains. Source: Earth and Sky and Int. Business Times


The Death of Yuri Gagarin...What Really Happened?

After over 40 years of secrecy, the real cause of death of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, has been made public. Prominent Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov reveals the truth behind the events of that tragic day.

For over 20 years Aleksey Leonov, the first man to conduct a spacewalk in 1965, has been struggling to gain permission to disclose details of what happened to the legendary Yuri Gagarin in March 1968.

Back then a State Commission established to investigate the accident (which Leonov was a part of), concluded that a crew of MiG-15UTI, Yuri Gagarin and experienced instructor Vladimir Seryogin, tried to avoid a foreign object – like geese or a hot air balloon – by carrying out a maneuver that had led to a tailspin and, finally, collision with the ground. Both pilots died in that test flight.

“That conclusion is believable to a civilian – not to a professional,” Leonov told RT. He has always had a firm stance against the secrecy surrounding Gagarin’s death, and wanted at least his family to know the truth.

"In fact, everything went down differently,” he says.

According to a declassified report, there is a human factor behind the tragic incident - an unauthorized SU-15 fighter jet was flying dangerously close to Gagarin’s aircraft.

Leonov had been in charge of parachute jump training on that day. The weather was extremely bad, with rain, wind and snow making it impossible to carry out exercises. He waited for an official confirmation that the exercises would be cancelled, but then heard a super-sonic noise followed by an explosion only a second apart from each other. That is when he knew something was up.

“We knew that a Su-15 was scheduled to be tested that day, but it was supposed to be flying at the altitude of 10,000 meters or higher, not 450-500 meters. It was a violation of the flight procedure.”

Leonov that day talked to witnesses that pointed at the model of a Su-15 saying that it appeared out of the clouds with its tail smoking and burning.

“While afterburning the aircraft reduced its echelon at a distance of 10-15 meters in the clouds, passing close to Gagarin, turning his plane and thus sending it into a tailspin – a deep spiral, to be precise – at a speed of 750 kilometers per hour,” Leonov tells.

According to the report that Seryogin wrote in his own hand, no aerobatic maneuvers or spins were to be performed by the crew of the MiG-15 with RD-45 engine and external fuel tanks, 260 liters each. Simple turns, pitching and nosedives were conducted after which Yuri reported: “Codename 645, task completed, descending” Leonov explains.

“That was the last we heard from him. The control point recorded that he was at the altitude of 4,200 at the time. 55 seconds later the plane crashed.”

Leonov then was ordered to return to the Chkalovsky airfield, where he received the news that Gagarin’s plane was supposed to have run out of fuel 45 minutes ago. Leonov’s worst suspicions were confirmed when someone had called back reporting a crash site near the village of Novoselovo.

“We sent a team there which found the remains of the plane and the remains of Seryogin. No remains of Gagarin, except for his map case and a purse. So we first thought that he managed to eject. We sent a battalion of soldiers who combed the forest for the whole night. They shouted so that he could hear them, but all they found were remains of a balloon. It was only the next day that we found the remains of Yuri Gagarin. I identified him by a dark mole on the neck which I had spotted just three days before. A commission was set up to investigative the cause of the crash. Gherman Titov and I were invited to take part in the probe as experts.”

The truth that was concealed reads more like a thriller story. When Leonov was given clearance to view the actual incident report all these years later, he found a great many inconsistencies. But the issue was with Leonov’s own report: it had his name on it, but was written in a different hand, with the facts jumbled up.

“It had been something like this. Marked here was a sonic spike, a blast, followed by one-and-a-half or two seconds of supersonic noise... So, when I looked at the copy, I suddenly noticed that it stated this noise interval to be 15 to 20 seconds long instead of the two seconds that I had reported. That suggested that the two jets must have been no less than fifty kilometers apart."

With the aid of computers, the fresh investigation was able to glean insight into exactly what caused Gagarin to go into a fatal spiral at breakneck speed. They did this by inputting Gagarin’s 55 second plunge together with the 750km speed at which he crashed.

“So we used a computer to figure out a trajectory that would relate to this interval of 55 seconds. And it turned out to be a deep spiral. Now, a jet can sink into a deep spiral if a larger, heavier aircraft passes by too close and flips it over with its backwash. And that is exactly what happened to Gagarin. That trajectory was the only one that corresponded with all our input parameters.”

Leonov then started going public with the story. This was followed by press conferences - some of them televised. Renowned test pilots were invited to scrutinize and challenge Leonov’s testimony.

“My guess would be that one of the reasons for covering up the truth was to hide the fact that there was such a lapse so close to Moscow”.

There is a record of General Zapolskiy talking to the Su-15 pilot that leaves no doubt of the pilot’s fault for creating such circumstances that led to the incident.

However, the name of the man responsible for Gagarin’s death is still not being disclosed. Keeping him anonymous was a condition under which Leonov was allowed to talk.

It is only known that the pilot is now 80 years old and is in poor health.

“I was asked not to disclose the pilot’s name. He is a good test pilot…It will fix nothing,” Leonov said.

Nikolay Stroev, Deputy Head of the Military-Industrial Commission of the USSR said that the incident happened with no intention on his part as the pilot didn’t see the other plane in the clouds as he passed “on supersonic speed in fractions of a second, maybe 10 or 20 meters away”.

Conspiracy theories have surrounded the events of that day for years. They included suicide – even a collision with a UFO.

But for all intents and purposes, the case is closed, and the newfound truth should provide those affected with closure. Such is the conclusion of the first woman in space, Russian Valentina Tereshkova. She spoke at a press conference at the UN headquarters in Vienna, where she participated in a conference of the Committee for the Peaceful Use of Outer Space.

“The only regret here is that it took so long for the truth to be revealed,” she said. “But we can finally rest easy.”

Gagarin’s passing was not only a tragedy, but a career-ending moment for Tereshkova. The state simply wouldn’t let her fly anymore, as the possibility of losing a second cosmonaut of such stature would have been simply catastrophic.

“They forbade me from flying ever again, even piloting planes. The repercussions of the death of one cosmonaut were so great that they wanted to keep me safe.”

But the source of Tereshkova’s deepest sadness still lies with Gagarin’s passing. She tried to hold back tears, as she spoke: “I still miss him. It is a loss not only for us cosmonaut colleagues, but for the entire community.” - RT

Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin

The Cosmonaut Who Couldn't Stop Smiling: The Life and Legend of Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin: The First Man in Space (Space Firsts)

Fallen Idol: The Yuri Gagarin Conspiracy


Stem Cell Discovery Could Help Regrow Fingers

Mammals can regenerate the very tips of their fingers and toes after amputation, and now new research shows how stem cells in the nail play a role in that process.

A study in mice, detailed online today (June 12) in the journal Nature, reveals the chemical signal that triggers stem cells to develop into new nail tissue, and also attracts nerves that promote nail and bone regeneration.

In mice and people, regenerating an amputated finger or toe involves regrowing the nail. But whether the amputated portion of the digit can regrow depends on exactly where the amputation occurs: If the stem cells beneath the nail are amputated along with the digit, no regrowth occurs, but if the stem cells remain, regrowth is possible.

To understand why these stem cells are crucial to regeneration, researchers turned to mice. The scientists conducted toe amputations in two groups of mice: one group of normal mice, and one group that was treated with a drug that made them unable to make the signals for new nail cells to develop.

They found that the signals that guided the stem cells' development into nail cells were vital to regenerating amputated digits. By five weeks after amputation, the normal mice had regenerated their toe and toenail. But the mice that lacked the nail signal failed to regrow either their nails or the toe bone itself, because the stem cells lacked the signals that promote nail-cell development. When the researchers replenished these signals, the toes regenerated successfully.

In another experiment, the researchers surgically removed nerves from the mice toes before amputating them. This significantly impaired nail-cell regeneration, similar to what happened to the mice that lacked the signals to produce new nails. Moreover, the nerve removal decreased the levels of certain proteins that promote tissue growth.

Together, the results show that nail stem cells are critical for regrowing a lost digit in mice. If the same turns out to be true in humans, the findings could lead to better treatments for amputees.

Other animals, including amphibians, can also regenerate lost limbs. For example, aquatic salamanders can regrow complete limbs or even parts of their heart — a process that involves cells in their immune system. By studying these phenomena in other animals, it may be possible to enhance regenerative potential in people, the researchers said. - Discovery


The Madagascar Blind Snake

Actually discovered twice: once in 1905 and again one hundred years later after not being seen at all in the interim. It obviously has perfected the art of deception; the genus is believed to have split off from its ancestral line about 155 million years ago when Madagascar was part of the composite Gondwanaland continent.


Guppies Can Reproduce AFTER Death, New Study Finds

(No....they're not talking about zombie male guppies!)

Male guppies are able to reproduce for at least 10 months after they die, according to new research conducted by the University of California, Riverside.

That's because female guppies have the ability to store sperm inside their bodies, saving it up until the optimal time for fertilization. Since female guppies typically live much longer than males -- 2 years as compared to 3-4 months -- this means that male guppies can continue to impregnate females long after their deaths.

Long-term sperm storage provides several benefits for guppy survival.

“Adult female guppies are the strongest swimmers and now we know they are the best able to colonize new habitats,” Reznick told UCR Today. “Long term sperm storage means that a single female can colonize a new site and establish a new population that has a fair measure of genetic diversity since we have found that the older, larger females can carry the sperm of several males."

Scientists already knew that females could store sperm, according to Science Daily, but this study provides new insight on just how long that storage can last.

"In addition to learning about sperm storage, this is the first time we are learning about the huge differences in lifespan between males and females," UCR biology professor David Reznick told UCR Today. "If we were to use males to estimate generation time, then these differences mean that lucky females live for three generations."

Research did not monitor sperm storage for longer than 10 months, according to an abstract of the study. This means that females may be able to store sperm for even longer, though additional research would be needed to determine just how long.

Guppies have been swimming through the headlines a lot lately. In February, British researches discovered that female guppies will make friends with less attractive females in order to make themselves look more desirable by comparison.

The month before, researchers found that the reverse is also true: When female guppies are not receptive to mating, they will spend time with "sexier" females so that those females detract unwanted attention away from them. - THO