Monday, October 15, 2012

Planet with four suns discovered

Gas giantThe new planet - a gas giant - is about six times the size of Earth

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Astronomers have found a planet whose skies are illuminated by four different suns - the first known of its type.
The distant world orbits one pair of stars and has a second stellar pair revolving around it.
The discovery was made by volunteers using the Planethunters.orgwebsite along with a team from UK and US institutes; follow-up observations were made with the Keck Observatory.

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Computerised attempts to find things [in the data] missed this system entirely. That tells you there are probably more of these that are slipping through our fingers”
Dr Chris LintottOxford University
scientific paper has been posted on the Arxiv pre-print server.
The planet, located just under 5,000 light-years away, has been named PH1 after the Planet Hunters site.
It is thought to be a "gas giant" slightly larger than Neptune but more than six times the size of the Earth.
"You don't have to go back too far before you would have got really good odds against one of these systems existing," Dr Chris Lintott, from the University of Oxford, told BBC News.
"All four stars pulling on it creates a very complicated environment. Yet there it sits in an apparently stable orbit.
"That's really confusing, which is one of the things which makes this discovery so fun. It's absolutely not what we would have expected."
Binary stars - systems with pairs of stars - are not uncommon. But only a handful of known exoplanets (planets that circle other stars) have been found to orbit such binaries. And none of these are known to have another pair of stars circling them.
Keck ObservatoryFollow-up observations were made with the Keck facility on Mauna Kea
Dr Lintott said: "There are six other well-established planets around double stars, and they're all pretty close to those stars. So I think what this is telling us is planets can form in the inner parts of protoplanetary discs (the torus of dense gas that gives rise to planetary systems).
"The planets are forming close in and are able to cling to a stable orbit there. That probably has implications for how planets form elsewhere."

Kepler Space Telescope

Infographic (BBC)
  • Stares fixedly at a patch corresponding to 1/400th of the sky
  • Looks at more than 155,000 stars
  • Has so far found 2,321 candidate planets
  • Among them are 207 Earth-sized planets, 10 of which are in the "habitable zone" where liquid water can exist
PH1 was discovered by two US volunteers using the website: Kian Jek of San Francisco and Robert Gagliano from Cottonwood, Arizona.
They spotted faint dips in light caused by the planet passing in front of its parent stars. The team of professional astronomers then confirmed the discovery using the Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
Founded in 2010, aims to harness human pattern recognition to identify transits in publicly available data gathered by Nasa's Kepler Space Telescope.
Kepler was launched in March 2009 to search for Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.
Visitors to the Planet Hunters website have access to randomly selected data from one of Kepler's target stars.
Volunteers are asked to draw boxes to mark the locations of visible transits - when a planet passes in front of its parent star.
Dr Lintott points out: "Computerised attempts to find things [in the data] missed this system entirely. That tells you there are probably more of these that are slipping through our fingers. We've just stuck a load of new data up on to help people find the next one."
Searching for such systems, he said, was "a complicated test to hand a computer", adding: "We're using human pattern recognition, which can disentangle that reasonably well to see the important stuff."
Since December 2010, more than 170,000 members of the public have participated in the project.
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Sunday, October 14, 2012

UFO Conspiracy Film Crew Detained At Gunpoint At Legendary Area 51 Gate: EXCLUSIVE


A BBC film crew was detained after it breached the back gate of the top secret military facility known as Area 51 while filming a new documentary about UFO conspiracy theories.
During the incident in the Nevada desert, a camouflage-dressed guard carrying an M-16 told a member of the British team, "We could make you disappear and your body will never be found," according to a crew member.
What exactly happened after guards thwarted the documentarians at the Nevada Air Force base is under debate. The film crew members alleged they were forced to lie on the ground at gunpoint for hours while law enforcement decided what to do. The local sheriff, who dispatched several officers to the scene, denies this account, saying the trespassers were dealt with swiftly.
The chain of events at what's officially called Nellis Air Force Base unfolded May 14 but details are only now surfacing, likely to promote the hour-long special, "Conspiracy Road Trip: UFOs," premiering on the BBCMonday night.
Darren Perks, pictured at right, a respected UFO investigator in the United Kingdom and a regular blogger for The Huffington Post United Kingdom, and 11 others were driving a bus to different locations between Hollywood and the Nevada desert, stopping along the way to talk to people about possible UFO conspiracies.
They arrived at the Area 51 rear gate, pictured above, in the late afternoon. The filmmakers saw a small building that housed the security guards, but couldn't see anyone. "We could have drove the bus through those gates and there was nobody around," Perks exclusively told The Huffington Post.
"That's not exactly what happened, but it's close," said Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee. "The guards were aware that they were there -- they were watching them and had already made phone calls."
"It's not the kind of place where, if a guard sees you standing by the fence, that he runs out with an M-16. They don't normally approach people, because people drive there often to see what the gate to this facility looks like, They see the well-marked boundary and sometimes decide to go a little farther and test the waters a little too far," Lee said.
Lee confirmed that Perks and the rest of the film group didn't actually sneak onto the base. The guards didn't want to take action until the group reached an area that the guards considered unsafe, he said.
"We walked onto the base in plain view, and in so doing, we breached the security gate," Perks said. "We went past the boundaries by at least 200 yards, and after another 30 minutes of filming, one of the cameramen went over and knocked on the door [where the security guards were].
"Eight guards wearing combat fatigues immediately came out with their assault rifles and they grabbed us, forced us to the ground and we were all made to lie facedown in a row on the tarmac with a gun at our back."
The drama continued as their film equipment, microphones, wallets and phones were seized, and Perks adamantly states that they were all lying there next to each other "on the ground for a solid three hours, and they stood there with the guns at our backs the whole time until the sheriff came."
The Lincoln County sheriff agreed with most of the scenario described by Perks.
"Will I dispute that they were probably laid on the ground? Absolutely not! Was that deserving? Absolutely!" Lee said. "When you have 12 people come as a group, we don't know what to expect. What are these guys' intentions? Do they have weapons? Who knows? They were laid on the ground -- that doesn't surprise me a bit, and if we would've been there, we'd have done the same thing."
But the sheriff denies that the group was forced to lie facedown for three hours.
"My nearest sub-station is 45 miles away from the base. From the time we got the call to the time we arrived, was approximately 30 minutes. They weren't laying on the ground for three hours. We don't even take felons out of stolen vehicles and lay them on the ground for three hours -- give me a break."
Lee also said that the documentary crew had to be aware that its actions might have resulted in multiple arrests.
"Come on, it says right on the signs: 'Trespassing Illegal.' Listen, they broke the law, plain and simple. It's a misdemeanor and we have to deal with it just as if they trespassed onto your personal property and you had trespassing signs."
The sheriff told HuffPost that his men removed the film crew from the trespassed area, "brought them back out onto the public road, interviewed all of them, and in lieu of arresting 12 people and transporting them to jail -- which is probably close to 100 miles away -- we issued citations to those individuals."
When the situation began to wind down after several hours, Perks said he felt comfortable enough to engage a security guard in conversation. "I asked one of the guards if he'd ever seen any UFOs around here, and he said, 'You know I can't answer that question.' So I said to him, 'But we're at Area 51 and I've seen how you guys operate,' and he said to me, 'Son, we could make you disappear and your body will never be found.'"
According to Perks, another guard said, "If any of you had kept going, we would have shot you."
In the end, the film crew members were fined about $600 for "Trespass of Military Installation."
"There was no real arrest," said Lee. "They were detained. Were they free to go? Absolutely not. They were not free to go because we were conducting an investigation. Were they temporarily arrested? Yes, but they were released in lieu of a citation, which they took care of through the justice court after appearing before a judge."
A couple of months after the May incident, the production company's tapes were returned by the Lincoln County Sheriff's office. But Perks said that the portions of the tapes filmed at the Area 51 gate were wiped clean, leaving the rest of the footage intact.
Watch former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's look at Area 51
For decades, UFO conspiracy activists have promoted the idea that the U.S. military was using a secret facility in Nevada -- rumored to be called Area 51 -- to study captured alien spacecraft. These rumors caught fire after many eyewitnesses reported unexplained aircraft around a top secret base, north of Las Vegas.
It's now widely known that secret military spy planes have been developed and tested in and around this region, generally referred to as Area 51. To keep unauthorized visitors out of the region, many large, threatening signs are posted at the gates leading to the heart of the base.
"We went to the Area 51 boundary, specifically to film at that location. We also made a collective decision to walk onto the restricted area and continue filming," said Perks.
Perks said he is sorry about the incident, the result of an overzealous attempt to capture something unusual on film at the legendary Area 51.
"It was a wrong thing that we did, and there will be a lot of people in the States that don't like it. The thing is, it happened, it wasn't staged or set up. We went there to film and overstepped the mark -- we went a bit too far."
More Area 51 images:

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18 Hilarious Photobombs

Have some of your photos ever been ruined by strangers? Then meet these crazy photobombs that are going to make looking at your albums a lot less painful.



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9 Weird Facts About Marijuana

Marijuana is NOT Hemp!

Marijuana is NOT Hemp!
Can you tell the difference? (Hemp is on the right.)

Although both marijuana and hemp are weeds, have a similar leaf shape, and are subspecies of the Cannabis sativa plant, they are in fact very different. Marijuana has flowering buds with a high content of THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) the stuff that makes you feel “high”. Hemp, on the other hand, has a very low THC content, can be grown closely together, and it can be used to make a variety of useful products. (You cannot get highfrom smoking hemp.) Hemp and marijuana were once considered separate entities. The 1937 Marihuana Tax act was focused on the THC-producing variety. It wasn't until 1970, when the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act took over lumping hemp and marijuana in the same category, making both illegal, and creating confusion in people's minds to this day. (Link 1 | Link 2 | Photo)

 It Used To Be Patriotic To Grow Hemp

It Used To Be Patriotic To Grow Hemp
While America was still just 13 colonies, a 1619 law REQUIRED farmers to grow it. Hemp was used to make rope, clothing, and sails. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned hemp farms, and Jefferson wrote a draft of the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. Also, what about the flag Betsy Ross sewed? You guessed it: made of hemp. (Link | Photo)

 The US Government Used It To Fight The Nazis

The US Government Used It To Fight The Nazis
During the height of World War II, the US produced a film entitled “Hemp for Victory” praising the many uses of hemp, and encouraging farmers to grow it to help with the war effort. The existence of the film was denied by the Government for many years until 1989, when marijuana advocate Jack Herrer donated a VHS copy to the Library of Congress. It is now in the Public Domain, and can be seen on YouTube – watch below!


 Medical Marijuana Has Been Around For Thousands of Years
Medical Marijuana Has Been Around For Thousands of Years
Chinese symbol for marijuana (Ma)

In Ancient China, the plant, known as Ma, was used for food, fuel, clothing, and medicine going back to 6,000 B.C. But the oldest existing reference to medical marijuana dates to 2737 B.C. when the Red Emperor Shen Nung is credited with writing The Herbal, a listing of medicinal properties of various herbs, including Ma, to alleviate rheumatism and gout pain. In 2 A.D. Hua T'o is recorded as having used Ma-yo (the female plant) and red wine as an anesthesia while he performed painful surgeries including organ grafts and loin incisions. Yeah, you'd probably want to be high for that. (Link | Via)

 Marijuana is actually GOOD for your lungs!

Marijuana is actually GOOD for your lungs!
Brazilian artist Fernando de la Rocque uses pot smoke to make art

That's right, a recent study of 5,000 pot smokers by UCSF and University of Alabama showed that those who only smoke a few joints a week actually had stronger lung capacity and external blowing force than non-users. A 2005 UCLA paper also shows that marijuana smoke might actually help to PREVENT lung cancer. Unlike tobacco, which contains nicotine and is a known carcinigen, marijuana contains cannibinoids and THC, which seem to discourage cancer. It is also impossible to die of an overdose. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. (Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3 | Photo)

 The Indian Government Declared Marijuana Harmless in 1894

The Indian Government Declared Marijuana Harmless in 1894
While use of cannabis was primarily medicinal in Ancient China, over in India they liked to party with it. It was a common substance, used in religious ceremonies and to help people chill out. It was often ingested as a drink, boiled with nuts and milk called Bhang. It made people happy, so much so that the British Colonial Government was concerned it might be driving the population insane. They commissioned a study and issued a report entitled The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1894. It not only concluded that mainstream usage was harmless, but also that a ban on it might actually prove more detrimental.


 Why Do They Call It Dope? 14.4 Million Americans Smoke

Why Do They Call It Dope? 14.4 Million Americans Smoke
A 2007 Government report estimated that 14.4 million Americans smoked pot during a one month testing period. One study in 2006 suggested that marijuana is the largest cash crop in the US at $35.8 Billion, but that number has recently been disputed, with a contrasting report putting it as low as $2.1 Billion. (Either way, it's still a large, essentially unknowable number.) The largest producer of marijuana in the world is Mexico, followed by Paraguay. But who are the biggest users of the drug? The Good ol' USA. According to a study in Time, 42% of Americans have tried it. Even President Obama has smoked it. (Link 1 | Link 2 | Photo)

 Where Did The Name Marijuana Come From? No One Knows

Where Did The Name Marijuana Come From? No One Knows
There is a lot of speculation when it comes to the origin of the name marijuana. Folklore has it that it is a hybrid of the names Maria and Juana, slang terms for a prostitute. Another theory is that it is derived from the word maraguanquo, which means “intoxicating plant.” While a variant of the word appeared as early as 1873, the plant was known mostly as cannabis. It wasn't until the demonization of the drug in the 1930's and 40's (used to suppress minorities) that the word Marihuana was associated with “Reefer Madness.” Over the years, hundreds of nicknames have been coined, including grass, weed, dope, pot, and kush. What's your favorite?(Link 1 | Link 2)

 The Use of Hemp Could Save Our Planet

The Use of Hemp Could Save Our Planet
Uses of the hemp plant fiber itself are numerous. It can be made into rope, paper, clothing, canvas, eaten as a food, and its seeds can be used for fuel. It's also good for the planet. A study by McGill University in Canada estimated that 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 million acres of industrial hemp would take care of all of our oil needs. In addition, unlike tobacco, which destroys the soil after every crop, planting cannabis actually improves it. It is legal in Uruguay, Peru, India, and even in Iran for it to be grown for food/fuel. Legalization of both hemp and marijuana would produce thousands of jobs, take care of world hunger, cut back on greenhouse gases, and help people cope with the pain of AIDs, glaucoma, and cancer. It turns out that getting “high” from it is just an added bonus. (Link 1 | Link 2 | Photo)
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