Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stonehenge Made of Wood

This is the Durrington Walls, otherwise known as the "woodhenge." It is a Neolithic site near the famous Stonehenge in the Salisbury plain southwest of London, in England. The remains found by archaeologists were actually huge postholes that make up a 1,500-foot-wide site near the river Avon. The scientists speculate that it may have been part of a much larger habitation site. The posts shown in the picture are actually a recreation to reveal how the site may have looked in ancient times.

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Gravity Map of the Earth

This is how the earth would look if the various intensities of its gravitation were integrated with the visual representation of its surface. The elevated areas and those in red have the highest mass or density, and thus the greatest gravitational pull. This picture of a mottled earth was made possible by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment.

Sound Levitation Breakthrough

This is a ladybug in mid-air. No, it is not floating because it is flying. It is actually being levitated and held in place by the force of sound (not by magnets or superconductors). Other small creatures like ants, tadpoles, and even fish have also been successfully levitated for half an hour using extremely high-frequency and high-intensity sound waves. Scientists say it would also be possible to levitate people-size objects, but the catch is that it would need wavelengths twice the size of the subject and a machine several floors high.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shark-Shaped Submarine Dives

Look ma. It's a shark! No. not really. It is actually a shark-shaped submarine by Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of the inventor of the aqualung Jacques Cousteau. It is really more of a camouflage for a diver than a submarine. The interior is filled with water and the pilot swims more than he controls the shark's "fin" propulsion system. To eliminate bubbles, the diver uses a rebreather, an apparatus that recycles air that is breathed out.

California Hit By Asteroid 35 Million Years Ago

This is a seismic map of a 5.5-kilometer-wide crater discovered west of Stockton, California. Samuel Spevack, a senior at Grossmont Middle College High School in El Cajon, California is leading the study of the impact site. His father, Bennet Spevack was the one who found the crater while looking at seismic data of the Central Valley region.

Mysterious Hexagon over Saturn North Pole Viewed

Saturn has a strange hexagon over its North pole. What is it? It is a 25,000-kilometer-wide formation created by moving clouds. Scientists still don't understand the forces that created it. It may be one feature that's comparable to Jupiter's Great Red Spot. The photo was taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The World Is Made of Spam

This is a global map of spam email origins. Areas in dark red sent 10 million spam messages, red areas 5 to 10 million, dark blue areas 1 to 5 million, and light blue areas 1,000 to 1 million messages. The map is based on data obtained between 2005 and 2006.

Giant Monster Toad Found in Australia

Volunteers found a football-size cane toad in a pond near the northern port city of Darwin in Australia. It measures almost 15 inches (38 centimeters) long at 2 pounds (0.9 kilogram). It is one of the largest specimens ever caught Down Under. This type of toad was originally from South America and imported to eradicate scarab beetles proliferating in the environment, damaging sugar cane farms.

Weird Snakelike Lizard Fossil Discovered

Ninety-five million years ago, this lizard crawled, or more accurately, semi-slithered on primeval ground. The reason is because this lizard, called Adriosaurus microbrachis (small-armed Adriosaurus), had stubby or verstigial forelimbs. Scientists speculate that it is the ancestor of modern snakes. The team that discovered the fossil was led by Michael Caldwell of the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. He says the find belongs to the same period when snakes with vestigial hind legs existed.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Calendar Stone of Besao Revealed

To the north of Manila in the Philippines, lies Besao, home of the Agawa people who are the keepers of the Agricultural Stone Calendar. This astronomical monument is said to have been used before the Gregorian calendar.

Every thirtieth of September during the autumnal equinox, the Agawa people watch at dawn as the sun casts a beam of light through a niche between two stones on a mountain. A light is cast on a marker stone etched with strange marks by the ancients. The event signals the start of the planting of rice which is said to have been taught to the Agawa people by an old man in shining robes a long time ago. He probably looked much like the fictional character, Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies.

For the stories and folk tales about this mysterious monument, click here to the main post.

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Southern Ice Cap of Mars Captured in Detail

This is a montage of pictures of Mars by the Mars Global Surveyor. The picture on the top right is the carbon dioxide southern ice cap captured in detail. The spacecraft, was in service for more than ten years and lost contact with NASA last November. Scientists are not sure what happened to it but they think it was caused by processors that misfired, causing overexposure of solar panels to solar radiation.

Thousands of Black Holes Photographed

Starry, starry night? Not really. What appears to be stars or galaxy clusters in this picture are actually black holes colored to identify specific energy levels. This is how the sky may look if you had x-ray vision. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory took most of the black holes pictured here in the constellation Bootes. The inset image of the dark side of the moon is shown for size reference.

Black holes are dead stars that collapsed into themselves. They are hundreds of millions of times more massive than the sun and suck everything around them like a vacuum cleaner---even light.

Titan Parades in Saturn Movie

See the giant moon of Saturn, Titan parade across the ringed-planet's surface together with its shadow in a movie made by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Astronomers say it is one of the most amazing sights anyone may witness in a movie. Astronomers involed in the project are proud to have woven images of Saturn, its rings, and several of its moons into three movies. Click the title or picture link to view the amazing movies.

Caverns on Mars Beckon to Scientists

Photos from the spacecraft orbiter Odyssey from Mars show what could possibly be the entrance to giant cave systems underneath the red planet's surface. The series of photos show the sun moving across one such opening. While the craters nearby revealed a solid surface when the sun is directly over them, the dark spot remained pitch black. The thought of cave systems on Mars excites scientists because it could hide hidden life forms. Come to think of it, it also inspires the perfect plot for a new science-fiction movie where scientists explore caves on Mars and get eaten up by slimy or insectlike alien monsters. Then again, the Martian Manhunter might be there waiting to be freed from his prison. Check out Hots Up at for more about science-fiction Martians.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Battle of Thermopylae Revealed

A previous post here was about how actor Gerard Butler got his steel abdominals to play Spartan King Leonidas for the movie "300," inspired by the epic Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. But what really did happen in that war?

Thermopylae was a pass which the ancient Persians tried to use to conquer Greece. This pass was defended by Spartan warriors up to the last man. Though they lost, their courage served to inspire the Greeks to continue defying the encroachment of the Persians. In the succeeding year, the Greeks finally won battles against the enemy.

Pictured at left is a statue of King Leonidas. See how Butler's character (above; in the center) in "300" mirrors it with the robe and muscularity of the body. For the story on the Spartan workout that allowed Butler to get into the role, go to Hots Up.

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Super Solar Magnetic Vortex Recorded

This is a gigantic solar flare in the sun's chromosphere recorded by JAXA's Hinode spacecraft. Almost as big as the Earth, it begins as a magnetic vortex before spewing out as a solar flare. Watch the movie here

Monday, March 19, 2007

Extinct Lizard Glided on Ribs

The fossil of a small lizard that lived in the Early Cretaceous period 150 million years ago was discovered recently. It is unique because it has extended ribs covered with a membrane that it may have used as wings to glide. Dubbed Xianglong zhaoi, its fossil was described by Xing Xu of the Shenyang Normal University in China. Judging from its immature "feathers," it had died young. Birds are now thought to have originated from dinosaurs.
Birds use "arm" bones to fly and flap their wings in the air. Unlike them, the lizard may have simply extended its ribs outwards when jumping between trees, much like flying squirrels do today. They may have used their forelimbs to grasp onto things upon landing.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Robot Code of Ethics Being Drawn Up

South Korea has taken the first steps that could perhaps make real Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics presented in the short story "Runaround" and used to good effect in the movie "I Robot" It states that robots may not injure humans or, through inaction, allow humans to come to harm; robots must obey human orders unless they conflict with the first law; and robots must protect themselves if this does not conflict with the other laws. However, the focus of the charter revolves more on "social problems that can arise from human control over robots and humans becoming addicted to robot interaction." Pictured is a Japanese-made human-like robot (Repliee Q1) reacting to a guest's "annoying" actions.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Huge Ice Deposits on Martian South Pole Found

The European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter has found huge deposits of ice on the south pole of Mars. Scientists have calculated that if melted, water would cover the whole planet up to 36 feet of water. The deposits are up to 2.3 miles thick, about as large as Texas and lie under a layer of solid carbon dioxide mixed with more water and dust. The goal of scientists now is to determine if life thrived before or still does in the ice.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Error in Tomb of Jesus Documentary Cited

Paleographer and textual scholar Stephen Pfann of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem says in a recently published paper that the claims made in the documentary "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" which aired on the Discovery Channel were mistaken when it was said that one of the ossuaries found in a cave, which was supposedly the tomb of Jesus, belonged to Mary Magdalene.

According to Pfann, the scholars who first studied the inscription of the said ossuary read it as Mariamene e Mara which meant "Mary the teacher" or "Mary the master." Pfann believes it does not read as Mariamene at all and that it is made of two names etched by two different hands: the first, Mariame, was inscribed in a formal Greek script. Later, the bones of another woman were added and an extra inscription using a different cursive script added the words kai Mara, meaning “and Mara.'' Pfann says Mara is a different form of the name Martha.

"The ossuary did not house the bones of "Mary the teacher,'' says Pfann, "but rather of two women, "Mary and Martha.''

"How to Enhance Children's Imagination of the Past When Teaching History"

Shooter Video Games Promote Eye Acuity

New studies have shown that action video games like Lost Planet, Halo, and Quake can help improve visual acuity. Non-gamers underwent 30-hours of training using first-person action video games developed better ability to see objects more accurately in a cluttered space. This was compared to non-gamers who were subjected to the same seeing tests.

DVD-Sniffing Canines

These dogs aren't out to sniff for illegal substances. They're job is to sniff out pirated optical discs like DVDs and CDs. The dogs don't really know the difference between pirated and original products. What they can do is sniff them out in packages that were declared to contain something else. Lent by the Motion Pictures Association of America to the Malaysian government, these two black Labradors bring forth a new fight against intellectual property infringement. Top Hollywood studios like Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and Universal Studios lost a total of $1.2 billion to movie pirates in the Asian region in 2006.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Most Powerful Tongue of All

This is the giant palm salamander of Central America (Bolitoglossa dofleini). Scientists have measured the power of its tongue which it uses to capture and eat quick bugs. It has a thrust that releases over 18,000 watts of power per kilogram of muscle. That is more powerful than the tongue of the Colorado River toad, which used to hold the world record at 9,600 watts of power.

Titanic Oceans on Titan

This shows one of the giant seas on Saturn's moon Titan taken by the Cassini spacecraft. Scientists believe that these are actually made of methane or ethane, which would make Titan smell really bad. If you do not know how methane smells... well, it's not pleasant.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Silhouette of Moon Against Sun

This is a picture of the sun by the STEREO-B spacecraft. The dark disk in front of it is actually the moon. The sun is purple because the photo was taken in four wavelenghts of extreme ultraviolet light. STEREO-B has a sister ship STEREO-A. STEREO-B lags behind earth while STEREO-A orbits a million miles ahead. The big gap allows the spacecrafts to take pictures of the same scene of the sun at slightly dirrerent angles to allow the production of 3D stereo movies of solar storms. View the small-format movie here:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Help Develop Firefox 3

Firefox fans now have the opportunity to help develop the world's most popular free/open source Web browser. Through Mozilla Wiki, users of the browser can participate in the Firefox Feature Brainstorming Web page. There, they can post comments of features they would want to see in future versions of the browser, particularly for the upcoming Firefox 3, which is expected to be out in two years. Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering for Mozilla Foundation says that "anybody who has a good idea and wants to participate" can enter comments on the wiki page, Schroepfer said. "We're just looking for as wide a range of feedback as people want to give. We've generally tried to solicit ideas in the past. It's part of how we work in general." This is the site where you can participate:

You may want to join the Spread Firefox! (SFx) community where you can get involved in spreading the word about Firefox. If you haven't tried Firefox for yourself on your computer, you should first get a copy to install. Firefox is free and you get the benefits of a commercially-available browser.

If you find Firefox useful, you may join the Spread Firefox! (SFx) community here:

Firefox's partner is Thunderbird, a full-featured email application where you can easily import your existing email accounts and messages. You can check it out here:

Read more about how Firefox can benefit you here:

Source of Enceladus Geysers Theorized

Scientists were astonished to view giant geysers erupting from a warm section of Saturn's moon, Enceladus. Reminiscent of the geysers of Yellowstone National park in the US, the geysers are thought to erupt due to a hot interior of the moon resulting from radioactive decay. Surface temperatures of Enceladus are typically at 330 degrees Fahrenheit below zero.

World's Longest Underground River in the Yucatan

Explorers have confirmed the discovery of the world's longest underground river in the Yucatan jungle in Mexico. Divers Stephen Bogaerts and Robbie Schmittner say the river runs an amazing 153 kilometers through spectacular limestone caverns and would span ten kilometers of land if laid down in a straight line. The two divers spent four years exploring the river which they entered through a cenote or sinkhole, which is like a well.

In the Philippines, the most popular underground river is in the St. Paul Subterranean River National park in Puerto Princesa in Palawan. It extends to about 8.2 kilometers. Below is a photograph of its mouth from

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Windows Vista Pose Problems for Gamers

Microsoft's new operating system Windows Vista is causing problems with gamers due to compatibility issues with its new version of DirectX. Microsoft is expected to come up with patches to make the OS compatible with independent game software. Otherwise, developers may have to rewrite certain codes of games to make them more Windows-friendly.

Read about the end of Windows xP in 2008. Click here.

Tvashtar Volcano Plume on Io

This is a picture of the Tvashtar volcano (top left) on Jupiter's satellite, Io by the New Horizons spacecraft. It is said to be the best and most awe-inspiring extraterrestrial volcanic plume ever captured in a photograph. It was taken last February 28, 2007.

Klebsiella Bacteria Outbreak in Israel

Over 500 people from different hospitals in Israel have recently died in the past six months from an outbreak of the Klebsiella bacteria, a lethal strain that's resistant to antibiotics. Dr. Abraham Borer, director of prevention of infection at the Soroka hospital in Beersheva thinks that it could be the beginning of a national outbreak. The authorities are working in order to keep it contained.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

25-Million-Year-Old Tree Frog Found in Amber

An almost perfectly-preserved 25-million-year-old tree frog of the genus Craugastor was found encased in amber (fossilized tree resin) by a Mexican miner in Chiapas state. Its age has been estimated to be such since it was found in layers of earth which were that old. Scientist Gerardo Carbot hopes to drill a hole into the amber and extract DNA from the frog, imitating what was done in the movie Jurassic Park, in which extinct dinosaurs were brought back to life. But he says the owner of the amber (who bought it from the miner) may disagree since it is a very rare specimen.

Orange Tomatoes Have Better Lycopene

Scientists have discovered that orange Tomato like the Amana Orange and Carolina Gold Tomato contain a form of lycopene that's easily absorbed by the body than the cancer-preventive lycopene that's present in red tomatoes, like the Abraham Lincoln. It is a fact that to get the most lycopene from red tomatoes, the fruit must be cooked first.

Researchers have found out that people who ate orange tomatoes had more lycopene in their skin than those who ate red tomatoes. Orange tomatoes are plentiful in the Philippines.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Obi-Wan's Cloak Sells for a Lot

The Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars robe of Sir Alec Guinness sold for 54,000 pounds at an auction of movie and television memorabilia. The robe went missing for 30 years as it was lent for use in other films like The Mummy in 1999. It was even said to have been hired out as a "fancy dress." It was rediscovered after a stock check a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Lightbulbs in Ancient Egypt?

This is detail of relief art in the temple of Hathor in Dendera, Egypt. The bulbous object is said to represent a lighting fixture much like the incandescent lamp of today.

Big Red Eye in Space

It's looking at you, kid.

This eye-like object is space is the Helix nebula photographed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. It is the remnant of a sunlike star that went nova to turn into a white dwarf star in the center.

Giant Sink Hole in Guatemala

This giant sinkhole, triggered by rainstorms and a ruptured sewer line swallowed houses in Guatemala recently. It is deeper than the Statue of Liberty is tall. Sinkholes happen when hardened earth is dissolved in water or when groundwater suddenly runs out. They can also be caused by the collapse of the ceilings of natural caverns.

Win $25-million for Environmental Machine!

Billionnaire philanthropist Richard Branson, together with former US vise president Al Gore, has recently announced a $25 million prize for anyone who can make a machine that can remove greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere. This is in order to curb global warming. A report by climatologists in Paris stated that global warming will continue for hundreds of years and if it is not stopped, the Earth will be in a hot seat, so to speak.

Branson compared the competition to one in 1675 for a method of determining longitude accurately. English clock maker John Harrison won the prize 60 years after it was announced. It was King George III gave him his due. Now that there's a similar contest, who and when will it be won?

In the meantime, perhaps it would be best to plant more trees. After all, the tree is the best machine of all to rid the air of carbon dioxide. What do you think?

3-D Viewing System Without Goggles

A new 3-D viewing system which requires no goggles has been developed by Physical Optics Corporation (POC). The product is an autostereoscopic video display with a holographic display screen that combines images in 2-D into 3-D viewing zones. Applications for the new system include CAD design, medical viewing, mapping, entertainment, graphics, and merchandising.

Rare Coffee from Civet Droppings

Are you a coffee lover? If you are, you may want to sample this new coffee from the Philippines. It is called coffee alamid and it comes from the droppings of the Philippine palm civet cat, which is related to the mongoose.

Yes, you heard it right about the droppings. But hold on a second, it's not really the droppings that are made into coffee---it's the coffee beans that are found in the droppings. Farmers near Mt. Malarayat in Batangas province in the Philippines have been making coffee from such beans for a long time.

Apparently, coffee beans that go through the digestive tract of the civet cat gives it a distinct musky-sweet flavor which makes it very rare and expensive. Already a popular product in Indonesia, the Philippines may soon market the product for export. Only 500 grams are produced every year and roasted beans sell for $115 for a kilogram. The photo is from

Monday, March 5, 2007

Family Blimp

This is Airship Alberto, a personal blimp which you and your family can own for about $200,000. Made by Skyacht Aircraft. It is actually a steerable hot air balloon. Hey, it beats the problems of an RV! The photo is from

Red Moon Over London

This is a fine Associated Press (AP) picture of the total Lunar eclipse over London last March 3, 2007. See how the curve of the Big Ben's clock face mirrors the disk of the moon. Another total lunar eclipse will be visible over Manila, Philippines on the 28th of August.