Friday, March 17, 2006

Spider Robot Climbs Trees, Scales Walls!

(All Headline News)

New York, New York (AHN) - A new robot may be climbing a tree near you.

Experts from Carnegie Mellon and selected Universities have come together to create a robot capable of climbing trees, as well as other vertical surfaces.

The robot is the result of the RiSE (Robots in Scansorial Environments) Project.

The project "is to create a bioinspired climbing robot with the unique ability to walk on land and climb on vertical surfaces."

According to RiSE, the project studies novel robot kinematics, precision-manufactured compliant feet and appendages, and advanced robot behaviors.

The work has been sponsored by the Biologically Inspired Multifunctional Dynamic Robotics (BIODYNOTICS) Program from the Defense Sciences Office

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mysterious Booms Over Portland, Oregon! Web Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. - The source of those mysterious rumblings over the weekend that caught the attention of so many continues to be a mystery, although there is a focus on a potential answer.

The focus is on F-15s at the Portland Air Base, which KATU News was originally told were on the ground, but we later learned were not.

It turns out a group of F-15s were launched from the Portland International Airport Saturday night as part of three days of intensive training.

Within an hour of their departure, people started hearing things and feeling some rumblings. That is when the 911 calls began.

Even the commander of the F-15 squadron heard the strange noise from his home in Lake Oswego.

The logical explanation seemed to be that the fighter jets set off a sonic boom, but the Air National Guard says it does not make sense that so many people, from Longview to the Oregon coast, would hear the same sonic booms at the same time. A much smaller range of 10 to 20 miles is more likely.

With so many wondering what happened, the Air National Guard is continuing its investigation.

That leaves others to speculate about meteors and to do comparisons with a similar unexplained phenomenon in Florida last year and in Maine just last month.

Others speculate it is a secret government plane, code-named Aurora, which supposedly flies out of Area 51 in Nevada.

For years, unusually intense sonic booms rocked Los Angeles, with many believing it was Aurora passing by at four times the speed of sound.

The Air National Guard says they plan to interview the pilots individually on Wednesday, which may lead to some kind of answer.

Each time an F-15 pilot causes a sonic boom over populated areas, they are required to write a log of the event.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Gargantuan Lobster Captured In Tasmania!

(ABC News)

A giant freshwater lobster measuring almost one metre in length has been found in north-west Tasmania.

The species is listed as endangered and is only found in streams and lakes in northern and north-western Tasmania

Giant freshwater lobster researcher Todd Walsh found the animal in an undisclosed location.

Mr Walsh says the male is probably about 35-years-old.

"I have caught the biggest lobster I have caught in 20 years," he said.

"I've only got little hands but it's very hard to pick him up with one hand, put it that way.

"His claws are about 25 centimetres long. He's probably about 90 centimetres stretched out so he's almost a metre mythical lobster.

"He's not far off being one of the biggest ones you'll ever see."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fur Covered Wooly - Lobster Creature Discovered!

(AP Wire)

PARIS - A team of American-led divers has discovered a new crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster and is covered with what looks like silky, blond fur, French researchers said Tuesday.

Scientists said the animal, which they named Kiwa hirsuta, was so distinct from other species that they created a new family and genus for it.

The divers found the animal in waters 7,540 feet deep at a site 900 miles south of Easter Island last year, according to Michel Segonzac of the French Institute for Sea Exploration.

The new crustacean is described in the journal of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

The animal is white and just shy of 6 inches long — about the size of a salad plate.

In what Segonzac described as a "surprising characteristic," the animal's pincers are covered with sinuous, hair-like strands.

It is also blind. The researchers found it had only "the vestige of a membrane" in place of eyes, Segonzac said.

The researchers said that while legions of new ocean species are discovered each year, it is quite rare to find one that merits a new family.

The family was named Kiwaida, from Kiwa, the goddess of crustaceans in Polynesian mythology.

The diving expedition was organized by Robert Vrijenhoek of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Escaped Circus Elephant In Loch Ness!

(CBS News)
Proving or disproving the existence of the "Loch Ness monster" has been one of Britain's more popular undertakings for decades.

Now, reports CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, some scientists argue that "Nessie" isn't a sea creature at all.

Tales of the "monster" have drawn believers and skeptics alike to the shores of a Scottish lake, all looking for definitive word, one way or another, to explain the mysterious monster sightings.

The latest theory has it that Nessie was or is really — Jumbo.

"The reason why we see elephants in Loch Ness," asserts Dr. Neil Clark, a paleontologist, "is that circuses used to go along the road to Inverness and have a little rest at the side of the loch, and allow the animals to go and have a little swim around."

The above-water parts of a swimming elephant, Palmer says, might look from a distance like Nessie's most famous profile.

But it wouldn't explain some other things, such as a 1960s film of an unidentified speeding object.

And it wouldn't convince the hundreds of people who believe they have seen a sea monster far out in the Loch.

On the other hand, kids Palmer, it could give rise to a whole new line in souvenirs.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Killer Croc Devours 80 Ugundans!


KAMPALA, Uganda - A 16-foot-long (5-meter-long) crocodile said to have eaten more than 80 people has been caught alive in Uganda and transferred to a sanctuary, officials said Tuesday.

The giant beast — weighing about a ton — was captured by wildlife experts who spent three nights camping in the bush before locating their target.

Residents told local media the crocodile killed 83 people over the last two decades, mostly fishermen plying their trade on Lake Victoria off the shores of Bugiri district.

“Much as the residents of Luganga wanted to kill the reptile after our rangers had captured it, it is our responsibility to protect it by removing it from that area and keeping it in a safe place,” Uganda Wildlife Authority spokeswoman Lillian Nsubuga told Reuters.

The beast — reportedly more than 60 years old — was trapped using ropes and transported by pickup truck to the Buwama crocodile farm, west of the capital, Kampala.

The state-owned New Vision newspaper said it “roared” as it was released into a holding ground at the farm Monday.

Crocodiles sometimes attack and kill villagers collecting water or fishing in Lake Victoria, Africa’s biggest lake.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bush Backs Spook Cyber-Sharks!

(Aljazeera News)

The US Defence Department is funding research into neural implants with the ultimate hope of turning sharks into "stealth spies" capable of gliding undetected through the ocean, the
British weekly New Scientist says.

The research builds on experimental work to control animals by implanting tiny electrodes in their brain, which are then stimulated to induce a behavioural response.

"The Pentagon hopes to exploit sharks' natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails," says the report, carried in next Saturday's New Scientist.

"By remotely guiding the sharks' movements they hope to transform the animals into stealth spies, perhaps capable of following vessels without being spotted."

The unusual project is being funded by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which pioneered the Internet as a platform for robust communications.

Scientists involved in the scheme presented their work last week at a meeting on Ocean Sciences in Honolulu, Hawaii, according to the report.

A team at Boston University have implanted electrodes into the brain of a spiny dogfish in a shallow tank.

The implants, controlled by a small radio transmitter, stimulate either the right or left side of a brain area dedicated to smell, causing the fish to flick around in that direction in response to the signal.

The next step will be to take this device outside the laboratory. Blue sharks implanted with the gadget are to be released off the coast of Florida.

As radio signals will not penetrate the sea, communications with the fish will be made through US Navy acoustic towers capable of sending sonar signals to a shark up to 300 kilometers (187 miles) away.

Other DARPA-funded researchers are working on using implants to record brain activity in sharks in order to understand which neurons are fired by scents, electrical or magnetic fields.

These signals help the fish to navigate and offer the reward of food, and could thus in theory be manipulated for surveillance work.

New Scientist says the DARPA work is controversial, but also points out that work with animal implants also has a potential benefit for medicine.

Understanding more about the brain's electrical signals could one day result in implants to control a prosthetic limb to overcome paralysis.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

2 Million Strong Bee Swarm Turns House Into Hive!

(South Florida Local 6)

A neighborhood in South Florida is asking for help after a swarm of more than 2 million bees was found at a nearby vacant house, according to a Local 6 News report.

An elderly man who lived inside the South Miami home died last year. And since his death, the house has deteriorated and become overrun with bees.

Neighbor Kim Perretta said every time her family leaves their home in the morning, they're greeted by a swarm of bees.Perretta said her son is allergic to insect stings, and is concerned about his safety."When we would get up in the morning and they would all leave the hive, it would be like a curtain -- a curtain of bees," Perretta said.

South Miami Acting City Manager Yvonne Soler-McKinley said city officials are currently trying to figure out how to resolve the problem.

The beekeeper was expected to go to the abandoned home Tuesday, according to the report.