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Weird spirals on Mars' surface

Giant coils of lava on Mars suggest a mysterious network of valleys on the planet was born from volcanoes, researchers say. The origin of the Athabasca Valles region near the equator of Mars has been debated for more than a decade. Some researchers have proposed that lava once shaped the valleys, while others have thought ice was responsible.
Andy Ryan, a planetary geologist at Arizona State University, didn’t notice these enigmatic coils on the Martian surface at first. It wasn’t until he took a second, closer look at images of the Red Planet that the odd spirals came into focus. Ryan was looking into an area called the Athabasca Valles, a large (about 100,000 square miles), canyon-like valley near Mars’ equator. At the head of the valley is a series of cracks called the Cerberus Fossae, and at the base the valley opens into a huge, flat area.

The way the ground there is patterned with multisided polygons suggests that either fire or ice could be the culprit - such patterns of cracks might have formed due to seasonal fluctuations in temperature if the surface there was rich in ice, but also might have arose as lava cooled and fractured.
The direction of the coil can tell planetary geologists how the lava was moving as it flowed, and reveals that the surface of the vast area is coated with lava. More than 5000 cubic kilometers worth of lava pooled in the Cerberus Palus on Mars, forming a giant lava lake.

Ryan spotted these coils with the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) instrument, a camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that takes detailed images of Mars’ surface, and which planetary geologists use to study the planet’s history and composition. Ryan performed his analysis using more than 100 high resolution images beamed back by the NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Ryan said the large spiral coils there, in the Elysium volcanic province of Mars, range from five to 30 meters (16 to 100 feet) wide and could not have been formed by ice- or water-related processes.Now high-resolution images beamed back by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of the Red Planet have revealed 269 spirals of lava that researchers say cannot be explained by ice-related activity. "This is the first time lava coils have been identified on an extraterrestrial setting," study lead author Andrew Ryan at Arizona State University told "The most surprising thing about these features when I first saw them was how well-preserved they are."
Ryan spotted all these coils, ranging from 16 to 98 feet wide (5 to 30 meters), by eye. "You can't see them unless you zoom in really close, and even then they're really subtle — it's pretty dusty there, so the images are just a pale gray color, and they don't really jump out until you boost the contrast, so it's not surprising at all to me that they've been overlooked before," Ryan said.
And if Ryan is right that it was lava, not ice, that left these graceful spirals drawn on the surface of Mars, other questions remain. For one thing, scientists still aren’t sure how the Athabasca Valles itself formed.
Their excellent preservation, along with the lack of craters in the cooled lava, suggests the volcanic eruption didn’t take place all that long ago.

A small lava coil on pahoehoe flow, Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i(see the pocket knife for scale.) Credit: W.W. Chadwick

Cooling lava on Mars can form patterns like snail shells when the lava is pulled in two directions at once. Such patterns, rare on Earth, have never before been seen on Mars.
The lava left behind telltale coils as seen on some parts of Earth, like on the Big Island of Hawaii and in submarine lava flows near the Galapagos Rift on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, said the findings in the journal Science. They usually form along slow-moving shear zones in a flow; for example, along the margins of a small channel, and the direction of the flow can be determined from a lava coil.

Mars is the home of the largest known volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons, which towers over Mars' western hemisphere. At 16 miles (25 km) high, it is about three times as tall as Mount Everest, Earth's highest mountain.
But don’t start a Martian volcano watch just yet. It will probably be millions of years before the Red Planet has another eruption.

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Nonomom, Pregnant with 9 babies in Mexico

A Mexican woman named Karla Vanessa Perez is pregnant with nine babies - six girls and three boys - the country's main broadcaster Televisa reported on Thursday night, and is now being dubbed as NonoMom or NueveMom. 

But when reporters from the Mexican newspaper investigated, they learned she’s actually not pregnant at all. Her mother, Francisca Castañeda, told El Diario de Coahuila that Perez has three children, ages 15, 12 and 4 and after the last was born, had an operation to prevent her from getting pregnant again.

She was busted shortly after for lying about it by the news outlets she was interviewed by. Karla Vanessa Perez, of Coahuila, Mexico, reportedly said she was already the mother of triplets– which is also not true –and had a fertility treatment in order to acquire another multiple-embryo pregnancy.

José Salvador Gallegos Mata, a member of the Mexican Society of Gynecology and Urology told the newspaper that someone who would make such false claims “needs to urgently say ‘I’m here. Please look at me, I exist.'” He added, “That woman needs urgent psychological treatment.”

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Godzillus fossil find stumps experts

A fossilized specimen, a roughly elliptical shape with multiple lobes, totaling almost seven feet in length, was unveiled today at the North-Central Section 46th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, in Dayton, Ohio.
Animal, vegetable, or mineral? Experts are trying to figure out what a fossil dubbed "Godzillus" used to be.

It does sort of just look like a rock-colored lump, but paleontologists affiliated with the University of Cincinnati say that they've found something very big and very weird. The 150-pound fossil recovered last year in northern Kentucky is more than 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. To the untrained eye, it looks like a bunch of rocks or a concrete blob.
Characteristics other than size also set this find apart from previous discoveries. It has an unusual texture, created by a directional pattern on its surface. It was also found with small animal fossils attached to it. These small animals, known as trilobites, may provide clues necessary for the fossil's eventual identification.

Experts are trying to determine whether it was an animal, mineral or a form of plant life from a time when the Cincinnati region was underwater.

Around 450 million years ago, shallow seas covered the Cincinnati region and harbored one very large and now very mysterious organism. Despite its size, no one has ever found a fossil of this "monster" until its discovery by an citizen paleontologist, Ron Fine of Dayton, last year.

Like Godzilla, it's a primordial beast that found its way to the modern era. Now 43, he's been collecting fossils since age 4, and said he saw part of this one on a hillside off Kentucky 17 nearly a year ago.
Most fossils around here are small, the size of your thumbnail or your thumb. This thing's huge.

Ron Fine is a member of the Dry Dredgers, a 70-year-old association of amateur paleontologists based at the University of Cincinnati. "I knew right away that I had found an unusual fossil. Imagine a saguaro cactus with flattened branches and horizontal stripes in place of the usual vertical stripes. That's the best description I can give." 

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MIT Students Play Tetris on a Building

Remember way back when Tetris was first released? We had to play on small TVs. Eventually we were able to play on larger HDTVs, but it turned out that a 60″ flat screen still isn’t big enough for some people.

Last Friday, a group of MIT students performed a feat that isn’t exactly unique, but generally impressive when coherently completed: They turned the outside of a building 54 on campus (also called The “Green Building“) into a large game of Tetris.
They even used a console with controls to be able to move, rotate, and drop all of the familiar blocks, but there was a unique twist as the player progressed through the levels. When the player hits the second level, the blocks would become more pale in color, making it more difficult to to see, and during the third level, the colors on the screen-building shifted, making it even more difficult to keep track of the board. Apparently, the students used a joystick mounted on a podium at ground level to control the game, which mimicked the original’s title scroll and its classic “game over” animation.

Designed by I.M. Pei, the concrete structure is the tallest building in Cambridge, and its modular frame of windows proved the ideal vehicle for the task.

You can watch the video below to see how the night played out.

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Antarctic ice melting from warm water below

WASHINGTON (AP) — Antarctica's massive ice shelves are shrinking because they are being eaten away from below by warm water, a new study finds. That suggests that future sea levels could rise faster than many scientists have been predicting.

The western chunk of Antarctica is losing 23 feet of its floating ice sheet each year. Until now, scientists weren't exactly sure how it was happening and whether or how man-made global warming might be a factor. The answer, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, is that climate change plays an indirect role — but one that has larger repercussions than if Antarctic ice were merely melting from warmer air.

Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey, said research using an ice-gazing NASA satellite showed that warmer air alone couldn't explain what was happening to Antarctica. A more detailed examination found a chain of events that explained the shrinking ice shelves.

Twenty ice shelves showed signs that they were melting from warm water below. Changes in wind currents pushed that relatively warmer water closer to and beneath the floating ice shelves. The wind change is likely caused by a combination of factors, including natural weather variation, the ozone hole and man-made greenhouse gases, Pritchard said in a phone interview.

As the floating ice shelves melt and thin, that in turn triggers snow and ice on land glaciers to slide down to the floating shelves and eventually into the sea, causing sea level rise, Pritchard said. Thicker floating ice shelves usually keep much of the land snow and ice from shedding to sea, but that's not happening now.

That whole process causes larger and faster sea level rise than simply warmer air melting snow on land-locked glaciers, Pritchard said.

"It means the ice sheets are highly sensitive to relatively subtle changes in climate through the effects of the wind," he said.

What's happening in Antarctica "may have already triggered a period of unstable glacier retreat," the study concludes. If the entire Western Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt — something that would take many decades if not centuries — scientists have estimated it would lift global sea levels by about 16 feet.

NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati, an expert in Earth's ice systems who wasn't involved in the research, said Pritchard's study "makes an important advance" and provides key information about how Antarctica will contribute to global sea level rise.

Another outside expert, Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said the paper will change the way scientists think about melt in Antarctica. Seeing more warm water encircling the continent, he worries that with "a further push from the wind" newer areas could start shrinking.



By SETH BORENSTEIN, Associated Press 
Seth Borenstein be followed at

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Funny pictures of products for animals

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Orang Pendek, Small Man of Sumatra

Deep in the jungles of Sumatra there lives a creature few outsiders have ever seen, a bipedal (walks on two legs) species of ape or proto-humanoid that stands roughly one meter tall and is generally reported as being covered in an orange fur or hair, similar to the Orangutan. Locals call it "Orang Pendek", which means Short Person in Indonesian. This is the name given to an animal that people have been seeing for hundreds of years in and around Kerinci-Seblat National Park in central Sumatra. However, the Orang Pendek is described as being distinctly different from the Orangutan in that it is more humanoid in appearance and walks in a completely upright, human-like posture. One of the most fascinating aspects of this animal is its bipedality. Can you guess the only ape we know of that walks primarily bipedally? Us humans! The existence of another bipedal ape could force us to reconsider fundamental questions about our own evolution.

Without fail, local witnesses and legends describe Orang Pendek as: an ape, who standing between three and five feet tall and covered with fur, with a strong chest and arms, the creature walks upright along the ground like a human. Though short in stature, many witnesses report it to have a thick, muscular upper body, and the strength to uproot small trees. Orang Pendek is said to eat vegetation and small animals.
Even though its name means "short person", everyone will tell you that, "Of course it's not a person, it's an animal!" Consider orang-utans, whose name means "forest person". Apes and monkeys have been ascribed human-like qualities throughout history in this region of the world.  It poses no threat to humans, though it can become quite ferocious when cornered. It is a creature well known to Sumatrans, but only relatively recently researchers have begun to investigate the truth behind Orang Pendek. Consider also that Orang Pendek is almost never described as being magical or spirit-like in nature. I think this is an important point in that, while legends of forest spirits and magical beings abound in the local culture, Orang Pendek is described matter-of-factly as just another animal of the forest.

There have never been any reports of Orang Pendek corpses or bones or body parts preserved in villages like the Tibetans do with Yeti skull caps (or goat skull caps, take your pick). There's nothing at all that a scientist would call evidence. There is tons of anecdotal evidence in the form of ancient legends and verbal reports, but none of that can be tested. There are footprint casts, which tend to be dismissed by most primatologists because they are indirect evidence of indirect evidence of something that's said to leave footprints exactly like those of a child. When you analyze footprints, you're up against some pretty long odds.
No specimen, living or dead, has ever been recovered, and little evidence exists beyond stories and footprints. Even barring the footprint evidence, the wide range of sightings alone calls for some investigation, and they're tough to dismiss. Some claim supposed sightings of Orang Pendek are misidentifications of local, known animals. The orangutan and gibbon are two primates that inhabit the same region, but if historical witness accounts are to be believed neither are likely explanations for this bizarre creature. Others believe Orang Pendek is possibly an unknown species of primate.

Recently, much more attention has been focused on legends of the Orang Pendek because of the discovery of the Indonesian "hobbit" or Homo floresiensis on the nearby island of Flores in 2003. Homo floresiensis is an extremely small species of human that was known to have survived at least until 12,000 years ago, which means it likely co-existed on the island with modern homo sapiens. According to local legend, which names Homo floresiensis the ebu gogo, it survived until at least the year 1900, and may still be alive today. Some researchers think that the Orang Pendek is the same species as the ebu gogo. The Orang Pendek is often classified as a proto-pygmy, a type of smaller, more human-like hairy humanoid.  
Is it reasonable to think that if Homo floresiensis were able to migrate to the island of Flores in ancient times, they may have gained a foothold in Sumatra as well?

Could Orang Pendek be an unknown primate, or is there an undocumented species of human running around the jungles of Sumatra? Or, Orang Pendek may be the product of misidentified animals, and generations of campfire stories dating back to a time when modern humans shared the land with a bizarre but now extinct creature. Perhaps someday we’ll know the truth, but until then the short people of the forest will remain a mystery. Maybe there is an Orang Pendek, but so far, if you want to believe in it, that's all you have to go on: Your own belief.

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Meteor Explosion, Fireball Over California-Nevada, April 22, 2012

Astronomers say a loud explosion heard across a large swath of Nevada and California on Sunday morning was likely caused by a meteor, just after the peak of an annual meteor shower.

The sound of the explosion around 8am prompted a flood of calls to law enforcement agencies on both sides of the Sierra Nevada in the two states.
Observers in the Reno-Sparks area of Nevada reported seeing a fireball at about 8 a.m. local time, accompanied or followed by a thunderous clap that experts said could have been a sonic boom from the meteor or the sound of it breaking up high over the Earth.

"It made the shades in my room shake hard enough to slam into the window a couple times," said Nicole Carlsen of the Reno area. "I kept looking for earthquake information, but (there was) nothing. I even checked the front of my house to make sure no one ran into the garage. I wish I had seen the meteor."

Some people in the two states reported seeing a fireball streak across the sky at the same time.
 Being daylight, most of the reports are of a white object with blue and green being most mentioned secondary colors.  The average brightness reported by witnesses was between that of the sun and the light produced by a full moon. While this is most likely a random event, there is a possibility this fireball was a member of the Lyrid meteor shower. 

"From the reports, I have no doubt it was a fireball," said Robert Lunsford of the Geneseo, N.Y.-based American Meteor Society. "It happens all the time, but most are in daytime and are missed. This one was extraordinarily bright in the daylight."
Marcia Standifer of Spring Creek, near Elko, and her husband were out drinking coffee when they saw the fireball at the same time. "It was a very bright ball of white light, then dimmer to the horizon," she said. "We thought this was very unusual due to the bright daylight and how vivid the object was."
Tracey Cordaro of North Las Vegas said the sighting "took my breath away." "It was amazing," she said. "It looked as if it was disintegrating rapidly, but was still quite large when it disappeared from my view ... (It was) bright green, visible in the bright sunlight."

A fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of tiny pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they can also occur during the day (when the blinding sun can obscure them), or on a cloudy night, or over the ocean where there is no one to witness them. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another bright meteor.
Very few meteors actually reach the ground as 99.99% completely disintegrate while still 10-20 miles up in the atmosphere.

Dan Ruby of the Fleischmann Planetarium at the University of Nevada, Reno, says the reports indicate the meteor broke up above Earth somewhere over the Sierra southwest of Reno. When debris enters the atmosphere it creates explosions similar to the sonic boom of a fast-moving aeroplane, according to meteorologists.

There were no reports of earthquakes at the time.

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DARPA releases cause of hypersonic glider anomaly

An unmanned hypersonic glider likely aborted its 13,000 mph flight over the Pacific Ocean last summer because unexpectedly large sections of its skin peeled off, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said Friday.

The Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2, launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., atop a rocket and released on Aug. 11, 2011, was part of research aimed at developing super-fast global strike capability for the Department of Defense.

The vehicle demonstrated stable aerodynamically controlled flight at speeds up to 20 times the speed of sound, or Mach 20, for three minutes before a series of upsets caused its autonomous flight safety system to bring it down in the ocean, DARPA said in a statement.

A gradual wearing away of the vehicle's skin was expected because of extremely high temperatures, but an independent engineering review board concluded that the most probable cause was "unexpected aeroshell degradation, creating multiple upsets of increasing severity that ultimately activated the Flight Safety System," the statement said.

Initial shockwaves created by the gaps in the skin were more than 100 times what the vehicle was designed to withstand, but it was still able to recover and return to controlled flight, said Kaigham J. Gabriel, DARPA's acting director.

Eventually the upsets grew beyond its ability to recover.

The 2011 flight was the second time an HTV-2 was launched. The first flight, in April 2010, also ended prematurely.

Data from that flight was used to correct aerodynamic design models for the second test, resulting in controlled flight, and now data from the latest flight will be used to adjust assumptions about thermal modeling, Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz, the DARPA program manager, said in the statement.

"The result of these findings is a profound advancement in understanding the areas we need to focus on to advance aerothermal structures for future hypersonic vehicles. Only actual flight data could have revealed this to us," he said.

Most specific details of the program are secret. DARPA has released artist renderings showing a craft that looks something like the tip of a spear. After the 2011 flight the agency released handheld video, taken aboard a monitoring ship, that showed a dot streaking across the sky.

The HTV-2 would have splashed down in the ocean regardless of the anomaly. The vehicles are intended to be used once and are not recovered.

©2012 The Associated Press, JOHN ANTCZAK. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Hippopotamuses have killed more people in Africa than any other animal

About 300 people are killed a year by hippos, but it's not like they keep official records in rural Africa.

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The dollar values on the board game Monopoly have been the same since 1935

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8% of People Have an Extra Rib

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11 smart tips to make your life easier


Use leftover toilet paper rolls to store wrapping paper and preventing it from coming unfolded.


A comb makes the perfect nail holder.


Use a wooden spoon to prevent water from over-boiling.


Sandals coming apart? Use a bread tie to keep them from breaking.


Use a dustpan to fill buckets or pots that will not fit under the sink.


Make ice cubes out of the same liquid they will be going in to prevent drink from becoming watered down.


Bread ties make the perfect cord labels.


Never trow away bottles. Simply remove the top portion to create easy and cheep bags for storage.


Use sticky notes to catch debris while drilling.


Don't waste your money on Swiffer towels. Regular kitchen rags works just fine.


Use a can opener to safely open those pesky plastic packages.

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The mystery of the monolith on Mars

An image of what appears to be a mysterious rocky monument on Mars has excited space junkies around the world.

The 'monolith', was snapped from 165miles away using a special high resolution camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

After being published on the website Lunar Explorer Italia, it set tongues wagging with space buffs questioning whether there was once life on the Red Planet.

How the experts see it: The original HiRISE satellite image supplied to Mail Online by the University of Arizona showing a close up of what appears to be a 'monolith' on Mars

How the science junkies saw it: Three images of the 'monolith' (close, closer, closest) as they appeared on the website Lunar Explorer Italia

But scientists at the University of Arizona, who captured the original image, reckon it's just an unremarkable boulder, which could measure up to five metres across.

Yisrael Spinoza, a spokesman for the HiRISE department of the university's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, gave Mail Online the original image so readers can make up their own minds.

He said: 'It would be unwise to refer to it as a "monolith" or "structure" because that implies something artificial, like it was put there by someone for example.

From further away: The circled area show where the rectangular feature was discovered

'In reality it's more likely that this boulder has been created by breaking away from the bedrock to create a rectangular-shaped feature.'

The image seems to resemble the black monolith that appears during key moments of man's evolution in the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The original image, taken last July, was published again this week on the University of Arizona's HiRISE website on the 'spotlight' page which seems to have led to the renewed interest.

'Is it possible that there used to be an ancient civilization on Mars?' former Montreal radio presenter David Tyler asked on his blog.

'Is it possible that NASA already knows the answer? Could this be the final straw for disclosure?'

The black monolith appears at turning points of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey directed by Stanley Kubrick

A monolith found on Phobos (l) was described recently by Buzz Aldrin, pictured here in his Apollo space suit

But speaking about the satellite picture scientist Alfred McEwen, the principal investigator from the University of Arizona's HiRISE department, said: 'There are lots of rectangular boulders on Earth and Mars and other planets.

'Layering from rock deposition combined with tectonic fractures creates right-angle planes of weakness such that rectangular blocks tend to weather out and separate from the bedrock.'

Fuel was added to the flames after Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, alluded to a similar monolith detected on Mars' moon Phobos.

Speaking on a U.S. cable television channel last week he said: 'We should visit the moons of Mars.

'There's a monolith there - a very unusual structure on this little potato shaped object that goes around Mars once every seven hours.

An image sent by the Viking spacecraft in 1976 seemed to show a human-like face on the surface of Mars

'When people find out about that they are going to say, "Who put that there? Who put that there?" Well the universe put it there, or if you choose God put it there.'

In 2007 the Canadian Space Agency funded a study for an unmanned mission to Phobos known as PRIME (Phobos Reconnaissance and International Mars Exploration).

The building-sized monolith is the main proposed landing site but not because scientists suspect UFO activity. They believe the object is a boulder exposed relatively recently in an otherwise featureless area of the asteroid-like moon.
Justify Full
PRIME investigator Dr Alan Hildebrand said it could answer questions about the moon's composition and history.

'If we can get to that object, we likely don’t need to go anywhere else,' he told his science team.

The fact it seems to resemble a rectangular monument could be due to simulacra. This is where humans see familar images in random surroundings such as the famous 'Face of Mars', which is actually just a hilly and cratered area.

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