; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Daily 2 Cents: Sasquatch Tracks Found on Vancouver Island -- 13-Year-Old Builds Working Nuclear Fusion Reactor -- Earthquake Lightning Mystery Clue

Sasquatch tracks found on Vancouver Island

A hairy creature conjuring the Sasquatch of North American folklore is stomping around Vancouver Island, according to a young First Nations man who claims he had a startling encounter with the beast.

Fisheries officer Luke Swan Jr. told CTV News he was out in his boat patrolling Ahousaht territory near Tofino last Wednesday when he saw a mysterious figure crouching on the coast.

“Something really big stood up, probably between eight or nine feet,” he said. “The first thing I had in my mind was to get off the beach. I pushed off as fast as I could and got to deep water.”

Luke Swan Jr. and Sr. believe they may have found Sasquatch tracks on Vancouver Island. Mar. 4, 2014.

Swan Jr. said he couldn’t identify the creature but has seen enough bears to know it wasn’t a bruin.

After gathering his wits, the young man told his father what happened. They went out searching and claim to have located a number of possible tracks in the area, which they measured at 16 inches long and seven to nine inches wide.

“We went further into a stream and into the river and found more footprints, so it’s out there,” Luke Swan Sr. said.

The family photographed the markings, as well as Cedar trees that had been stripped of bark about eight feet off the ground. They believe their findings point to a Sasquatch, the legendary biped that has purportedly been spotted in the Pacific Northwest for about a century.

Sasquatch sightings are generally dismissed as misconceptions or hoaxes, due to lack of convincing evidence and abundance of proven frauds, but interest in the legend persists.

Swan Jr. said Sasquatch-watchers should be careful what they wish for.

“When I saw it, it scared me,” he said. “A lot of people probably want to see it, but in the end it might scare them too.”

Last year, two videos claiming to depict Sasquatch encounters in Mission went viral online, though Bigfoot experts doubted their authenticity.

According to the Bigfoot Encounters website, one of the earliest Sasquatch sightings took place in B.C.’s Toba Inlet. Prospector Albert Ostman claimed he was held hostage by one of the creatures for several days in 1924. - CTVNews

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13-year-old builds working nuclear fusion reactor

Not many 13-year-olds would describe themselves as an "amateur nuclear scientist." That's precisely what Jamie Edwards calls himself. When most kids his age are off playing video games, Edwards stays late after school to work on a control panel for a nuclear fusion reactor. He just reached his goal of becoming the youngest "fusioneer" in history, narrowly beating out the previous record-holder, who pulled it off at 14.

Last year, Edwards made a presentation requesting funding to build a nuclear fusion reactor, and his school, Penwortham Priory Academy, granted him a $3,350 budget to make the project happen. Let's just take a moment to savor the sheer awesomeness of that. How many schools do you know would give money to a teenager to dabble in nuclear science?

It takes quite a few specialty parts to build a reactor. Edwards had to order a vacuum chamber, vacuum pump, tungsten wire, an aluminum rod, and valves, among other supplies. One of the biggest challenges was tracking down and sealing leaks in the vacuum chamber. He also had to attend a radiation safety course before putting the reactor into operation.

Edwards has been keeping a blog during the project's development. He says his teachers started to get worried when a canister of deuterium (also known as heavy hydrogen) showed up via special delivery.

The ultimate goal was to smash together two hydrogen atoms to create helium through nuclear fusion. And Edwards pulled it off. BBC News was on hand to film the experiment's success, to which an excited Edwards said, "I can't believe it!"

Edwards' science project should become the envy of schoolkids everywhere, raising the bar for what young teens can pull off. All those baking soda volcano projects pretty much pale in comparison to a working fusion reactor. The science-fair gauntlet has been thrown down, and it's a doozy. - CNET


Holy Guacamole!

It’s your choice, America. Fix the climate, or the guac gets it.

Chipotle Inc. is warning investors that extreme weather events “associated with global climate change” might eventually affect the availability of some of its ingredients. If availability is limited, prices will rise — and Chipotle isn’t sure it’s willing to pay.

“Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients,” the popular chain, whose Sofritas vegan tofu dish recently went national, said in its annual report released last month. “In the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients.”

Chipotle did say that it recognizes the pain it (and its devotees) would have to go through if it decided to suspend a menu item. “Any such changes to our available menu may negatively impact our restaurant traffic and comparable restaurant sales, and could also have an adverse impact on our brand,” the filing read.

The guacamole operation at Chipotle is massive. The company uses, on average, 97,000 pounds of avocado every day to make its guac — which adds up to 35.4 million pounds of avocados every year. And while the avocado industry is fine at the moment, scientists are anticipating drier conditions due to climate change, which may have negative effects on California’s crop. Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for example, predict hotter temps will cause a 40 percent drop in California‘s avocado production over the next 32 years.

Chipotle’s commitment to organic, local, and sustainable farming practices is also one of the reasons why it may be more susceptible to unexpected climate shifts. As the company notes, its food markets “are generally smaller and more concentrated than the markets for commodity food products,” meaning Chipotle buys from producers that are less able to survive bad farming conditions without raising prices. And those prices have already been raised significantly over the last year, Chipotle said.

“For instance, two years of drought conditions in parts of the U.S. have resulted in significant increases in beef prices during late 2013 and early 2014,” the company said, noting that more price increases on beef could affect its decision to suspend guacamole service. While scientists’ understanding of drought and climate change is evolving rapidly, mainstream climatologists’ view of drought is that it is directly linked to man-made climate change.

Severe and prolonged drought has put a strain on farming practices in California, the state which holds the most Chipotle restaurants (288, according to its annual report. Ohio holds a not-so-close second, with 148 locations.). And it’s not just the beef. With water scarce, farmers are unable to plant as many seeds, so prices of produce are also projected to rise.

Chipotle has a commitment to using local produce grown on farms within 350 miles of the restaurants where it will be served, so its California locations are likely the ones at highest risk from experiencing the drought effects of climate change. - ThinkProgress


Clue to earthquake lightning mystery

Mysterious lightning flashes that appear to precede earthquakes could be sparked by movements in the ground below, US scientists say.

Unidentified glowing objects were spotted moments before major quakes in China and Italy recently.

These flickers could be triggered by shifting soil layers which generate huge electrical charge, say scientists.

Using a tub of plain kitchen flour, they discovered an entirely new physical phenomenon.

They announced their findings at the American Physical Society meeting in Denver.



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