New bionic hand may let amputees feel again

Published February 18, 2013

  • LIFEHAND bionic hand.jpg

    Feb. 18, 2013: A new invention is paving the way for smart prosthetics that connect directly to the nervous system. (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

  • LIFEHAND bionic hand 1.jpg

    Feb. 18, 2013: A new invention is paving the way for smart prosthetics that connect directly to the nervous system. (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

Thanks to wiring that connects it directly into the nervous system, a new bionic hand may one day return dexterity and the sensation of touch to an amputee.

The new prosthetic limb was unveiled by Silvestro Micera of Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston.

Micera and colleagues tested their system by implanting “intraneural electrodes” into the median and ulnar nerves of an amputee. The electrodes stimulated the sensory peripheral system, delivering different types of touch feelings. Then the researchers analyzed the motor neural signals recorded from the nerves and showed that information related to grasping could indeed be extracted.

That information was then used to control a hand prosthesis placed near the subject but not physically attached to the arm of the amputee.

“We could be on the cusp of providing new and more effective clinical solutions to amputees in the next years,” said Micera, who is Head of the Translational Neural Engineering Laboratory at EPFL.

A new clinical trial starting soon as part of the Italian Ministry of Health’s NEMESIS project will carry this research a step further, by connecting the prosthetic hand directly to the patient for the first real-time, bidirectional control using peripheral neural signals.

Though results are not yet available, the researchers hope to find still further improvement in the sensory feedback and overall control of the prosthetics with this new method.

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Hundreds of vultures swarm North Carolina neighborhood

 Image result for Hundreds of vultures swarm North Carolina neighborhood

Published February 18, 2013

A group of North Carolina neighbors say they are on edge because hundreds of vultures have been swarming their neighborhood.

WSOC reports the birds have been scaring children and pets as they travel in packs around the neighborhood, and are so numerous they completely covered one of the homes.

“It makes me feel kind of creepy,” resident Ann McEntire told WSOC.

The station reports the birds may be hanging around North Carolina because the mild winter is dissuading them from migrating.

State agricultural agents say the vultures are likely attracted to the neighborhood because it has many dead trees, and getting rid of those could be the first step to get rid of the birds.

Click for more from WSOC. 

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Woman hit by space junk, lives to tell the tale


Published February 16, 2013

  • Lottie Williams space junk

    What’s it like to get hit by falling space junk? Ask Lottie Williams. (Lottie Williams)

And you thought lightning strikes were rare.

A defunct NASA satellite is set to plunge to Earth, with a 1-in-3,200 chance that someone could get hurt, according to the space agency. That has many wondering: What’s it like to get hit with a piece of space junk?

Lottie Williams — perhaps the only person in history to ever get hit by falling space junk — knows the answer. Back in January of 1997, she and two friends were walking through a park in Tulsa, Oklahoma around 3:30 a.m. when they saw a huge fireball streaking from the skies.

“We were stunned, in awe,” Williams told She thought she’d just witnessed a shooting star. “It was beautiful.”

Less than thirty minutes later, that awe turned to fear.

“We were still walking through the park when I felt a tapping on my shoulder,” Williams explained. With no one near her at the time, she started to run, thinking a stranger had appeared out of the shadows. Then she heard something hit the ground behind her.

“The weight was comparable to an empty soda can,” Williams told “It looked like a piece of fabric except when you tap it, it sounded metallic.” Williams was sure she’d found a piece of a shooting star.

Excited by her discovery, she took the fallen piece of sky to her local library where she was referred to the astronomy club (given her space-rock theory), as well as the National Weather Service — who told her about a Delta II rocket that had re-entered the atmosphere the night before.

Beginning to realize what had happened, Williams took the piece to the University of Tulsa where Dr. Winton Cornell, an applied associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, studied it with an electron microscope and blasted it with X-rays.

“It had been partly melted and resembled fiberglass. It appeared to be the kind of material NASA used to insulate fuel tanks,” Cornell told

Williams then sent it CORD (the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies), where they did further analysis confirming the piece of blackened, woven material to be part of the fuel tank of a Delta II rocket that had launched a U.S. Air Force satellite in 1996.

She is now featured on the site as the only individual to be struck by space debris.

Williams also claims to have talked to NASA and even received a letter from the deputy secretary of defense — though today she can’t find it — apologizing for what happened while not actually admitting where the piece of material actually came from.

“A lot of people thought it was a hoax,” Williams said.

“I just want people to know this actually happened.”

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Hundreds reportedly injured by blasts as meteor falls in Russia

Published February 15, 2013

Associated Press



Fire in the sky: 500 injured as meteor falls in Russia

An 11-ton meteor streaked at supersonic speed over Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured some 500 people and frightened countless more.


A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 11 tons streaked at supersonic speed over Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured some 500 people and frightened countless more.

The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that the meteor over the Chelyabinsk region entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered about 18-32 miles above ground.

The fall caused explosions that broke glass over a wide area. The Emergency Ministry says more than 500 people sought treatment after the blasts and that 34 of them were hospitalized.

“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people’s houses to check if they were OK,” said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 930 miles east of Moscow, the biggest city in the affected region.


‘We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound.’

– Eyewitness Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, the biggest city in the affected region


“We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound,” he told The Associated Press by telephone.

Another Chelyabinsk resident, Valya Kazakov, said some elderly women in his neighborhood started crying out that the world was ending.

Some fragments fell in a reservoir outside the town of Cherbakul, the regional governor’s office said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. It was not immediately clear if any people were struck by fragments.

The agency also cited military spokesman Yarslavl Roshupkin as saying that a 20-foot-wide crater was found in the same area which could be the result of fragments striking the ground.

Meteors typically cause sizeable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling much faster than the speed of sound. Injuries on the scale reported Friday, however, are extraordinarily rare.

Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said that about 6,000 square feet of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed. There was no immediate clarification of whether the collapse was caused by meteorites or by a shock wave from one of the explosions.

Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press that there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteor.

Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time (0320 GMT), leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.

Donald Yeomans, manager of U.S. Near Earth Object Program in California, said he thought the event was probably “an exploding fireball event.”

“If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several meters in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs. the trailing side (it pancaked and exploded),” Yeoman said in an email to The Associated Press.

“It is far too early to provide estimates of the energy released or provide a reliable estimate of the original size,” Yeomans added.

Russian news reports noted that the meteor hit less than a day before the asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid — about 17,150 miles.

But the European Space Agency, in a post on its Twitter account, said its experts had determined there was no connection.

Small pieces of space debris — usually parts of comets or asteroids — that are on a collision course with the Earth are called meteoroids. When meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere they are called meteors. Most meteors burn up in the atmosphere, but if they survive the frictional heating and strike the surface of the Earth they are called meteorites.

The dramatic events prompted an array of reactions from prominent Russian political figures. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at an economic forum in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, said the meteor could be a symbol for the forum, showing that “not only the economy is vulnerable, but the whole planet.”

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the nationalist leader noted for vehement statements, said “It’s not meteors falling, it’s the test of a new weapon by the Americans,” the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the incident showed the need for leading world powers to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space.

“At the moment, neither we nor the Americans have such technologies” to shoot down meteors or asteroids, he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

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The race for taxis, lifeboats and beyond in space


War Games

Published February 14, 2013

America is a giant leap closer to developing a new, made-in-the-USA spacecraft to launch astronauts into space once again.

The Dragon capsule from Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) returned successfully from the first private cargo mission in Oct. 2012, making it a clear leader in the race to build a spacecraft suitable for humans. But oddsmakers are scrambling to revise the leaderboard: Lockheed Martin just announced it would join forces with Sierra Nevada to build the competition, the futuristic Dream Chaser.

The Dream Chaser is the only spacecraft with wings. It can carry as many as seven astronauts to space and is designed to land on a conventional runway.  Along with the CST-100 capsule from Boeing, these three shuttles are locked in a race to bring manned spaceflight back to the U.S.

Space dominance is essential to national security, experts agree.


‘Lockheed Martin has joined our Dream Chaser team … [now] how do we get this vehicle really fit to fly safely?’

– Mark Sirangelo, Sierra Nevada’s executive vice president and chairman of its space systems division


Lockheed Martin’s history should help. The company has extensive experience building spacecraft and high-performance aircraft composite structures – the company will be building Dream Chaser’s vehicle composite structure.

In this competition, formally known as the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) initiative, NASA partners with the private sector to leverage the Agency’s five decades of human spaceflight experience against private sector experience and innovation.

Since the launch of this challenge at the close of the space shuttle program, American companies have been competing to restore human spaceflight capabilities to the U.S. with a safe, reliable and cost-effective means into and out of low-Earth orbit for government and commercial customers – in a way, a space taxi.

With the end of the Space Shuttle program, the U.S. lost its own transportation capabilities to the International Space Station. Once CCP is achieved, Americans will no longer have to rely on the expensive lift from Russia’s Soyuz rockets.

Space Taxi or Lifeboat
The teams are competing to create a system that will deliver equipment and a minimum of four astronauts to the space station and return them to Earth at least twice a year.

In the event of an emergency on the launch pad, during launch or ascent, the competing teams must have solutions to assure crew safety.

If there is an emergency while in space, the spacecraft must be able to serve as a 24-hour safe haven, sort of like a space lifeboat.  It also needs to be able to stay docked to the station for at least 210 days.

Of the three designs, NASA will ultimately choose its favorite for ferrying American astronauts to and from the International Space Station, but the end result could be more than one spacecraft to provide safe, reliable and less expensive space access.

Roadmap to Space
These three companies are now beginning the first phase of the certification efforts to confirm their commercial spacecraft is safe to carry crews to the station.

During Phase 1 — which is expected to last about 15 months from Jan. 22, 2013, through May 30, 2014 — NASA and the companies will establish that each spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground operations and mission control center meet flight safety and performance requirements.

Phase 2 next year will mark the start of final development, building, verifying and validating the systems are ready to fly astronauts by 2017.

Dream Chaser, for example, completed its helicopter drop test in late 2012 and has a suborbital test scheduled for this year and an orbital test in 2014. SpaceX is planning for a pad abort test and in-flight abort test, while Boeing will be verifying its spacecraft and launch vehicle compatibility.

Moon and Beyond
Providing the CCP program is successful, NASA will then become a customer using the new spacecraft to transport American flight crew to the International Space Station to continue their critical science research.

While NASA is working with the private sector for low-Earth orbit International Space Station cargo re-supply and crew transportation, NASA has retained responsibility for travel beyond the moon.

As the lead in deep-space exploration, the agency is developing the Orion spacecraft crew capsule and the heavy lift rocket Space Launch System (SLS).

SLS and Orion will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and make new exploration missions of the solar system possible, the agency says.

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The Bigfoot Chronicles – Human Encounters with the Beast!

 Image result for The Bigfoot Chronicles

Posted on February 4, 2013 by admin

The Bigfoot Chronicles Human encounters with the beast.

Are the legends true?  Do Bigfoot and related Cryptoids really exist in our material world?  Can biology and science really explain these phenomenon?  Is the paranormal the final answer to these riddles?  Are there connections between all paranormal entities and what are they?  Do UFO’s enter into the paranormal question and what are their ties to Cryptids?  Why are these sightings on the increase? Why are these creatures never caught?   The answers may surprise you!  This animation details many sightings of Bigfoot.  Join us for an amazing adventure into Bigfoot Folklore!

Dennis Berube is an avid Bigfoot enthusiast and researched extensivley the history of bigfoot sightings and has chrnoicled them here. Dennis explores the possibility of bigfoot and other paranormal events in this animated documentary.

View the trailer

Although Dennis takes his work seriously when it comes to bigfoot and the paranoirmal, Dennis has a creative flair and brings his talents to the making of this movie.

Dennis is also an avid fan of the television series The Legend of the seeker. Here are a few other videos Dennis put together as part of his participation in efforts to bring back the series. They will give you a taste of Dennis’s talent, creativity and wit. Hopefully you enjoy The Bigfoot Chronicles just as much as we did.

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Earth-buzzing asteroid worth $195 billion, space miners say

By Mike Wall

Published February 13, 2013

  • An artist’s conception of the Feb. 15 flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14. (NASA.)

  • asteroid-path-130211

    This graphic shows 2012 DA14’s path past Earth. (NASA.)

The space rock set to give Earth a historically close shave this Friday, Feb. 15, may be worth nearly $200 billion, prospective asteroid miners say.

The 150-foot-wide asteroid 2012 DA14 — which will zoom within 17,200 miles of Earth on Friday, marking the closest approach by such a large space rock that astronomers have ever known about in advance — may harbor $65 billion of recoverable water and $130 billion in metals, say officials with celestial mining firm Deep Space Industries.


‘While this week’s visitor isn’t going the right way for us to harvest it, there will be others that are.’

– Deep Space chairman Rick Tumlinson


That’s just a guess, they stressed, since 2012 DA14’s composition is not well known and its size is an estimate based on the asteroid‘s brightness.

The company has no plans to go after 2012 DA14; the asteroid’s orbit is highly tilted relative to Earth, making it too difficult to chase down. But the space rock’s close flyby serves to illustrate the wealth of asteroid resources just waiting to be extracted and used, Deep Space officials said. [Deep Space Industries’ Asteroid-Mining Vision in Photos]

“While this week’s visitor isn’t going the right way for us to harvest it, there will be others that are, and we want to be ready when they arrive,” Deep Space chairman Rick Tumlinson said in a statement Tuesday.

Deep Space Industries wants to use asteroid resources to help humanity expand its footprint out into the solar system. The company plans to convert space rock water into rocket fuel, which would be used to top up the tanks of off-Earth satellites and spaceships cheaply and efficiently.

Asteroidal metals such as iron and nickel, for their part, would form the basis of a space-based manufacturing industry that could build spaceships, human habitats and other structures off the planet.

The idea is to dramatically reduce the amount of material that needs to be launched from Earth, since it currently costs at least $10 million to send 1 ton of material to high-Earth orbit, officials said.

“Getting these supplies to serve communications satellites and coming crewed missions to Mars from in-space sources like asteroids is key if we are going to explore and settle space,” Tumlinson said.

Deep Space Industries is just one of two asteroid-mining firms that have revealed their existence and intentions in the past 10 months. The other is Planetary Resources, which has financial backing from billionaires such as Google execs Larry Page and Eric Schmidt.

Deep Space aims to launch a phalanx of small, robotic prospecting probes called Fireflies in 2015. Sample-return missions to potential targets would occur shortly thereafter, with space mining operations possibly beginning around 2020.

Planetary Resources also hopes its activities open the solar system up for further and more efficient exploration. The company may launch its first low-cost prospecting space telescopes within the next year or so.

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Asteroid 2012 DA14: 5 Surprising Facts About Friday’s Earth Flyby

Published February 14, 2013

  • 32012 DA14 was discovered by amateur astronomers
  • Alexandra Bolling, NRAO/AUI/NSF

    4Its closest approach point will be over Sumatra
  • NASA

    5Asteroids like 2012 DA14 fly by Earth every 40 years

While there is no chance that asteroid 2012 DA14 will hit Earth this Friday, the asteroid’s flyby is history-making for several other reasons.

  • 1This is asteroid 2012 DA14’s closest pass ever


    Using intricate mapping techniques, researchers have already plotted the 150-foot space rock’s trajectory far out into the future. When the asteroid flies by Earth, the planet’s gravity will force the asteroid into a new orbit that won’t bring it this close to the Earth for years to come. [Asteroid 2012 DA14’s Close Shave Explained (Infographic)]

  • 2Asteroids like 2012 DA14 have hit Earth before


    Scientists think the “Tunguska Event” over Siberia in 1908 was caused by a 100-foot asteroid. This space rock exploded in midair, leveling trees across 825 square miles in the region.

    If 2012 DA14 did enter Earth’s atmosphere, it probably would react similarly — exploding above the ground and causing destruction over a wide area, but not endangering human civilization or causing other major global problems.

  • 32012 DA14 was discovered by amateur astronomers


    Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered by a team of amateur astronomers affiliated with the La Sagra Sky Survey at the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca in southern Spain on Feb. 23, 2012.

    At the time, the asteroid was about 2.7 million miles away from Earth. After the group reported the finding, NASA and other space agency scientists began tracking the asteroid to track its path and make sure it posed no threat to the planet.

  • 4Its closest approach point will be over Sumatra

    Alexandra Bolling, NRAO/AUI/NSF

    On Friday, when asteroid 2012 DA14 approaches within 17,200 miles of Earth, it will be over Sumatra, Indonesia at its closest point while zipping by the planet. That’s just one-thirteenth the average distance from Earth to the moon.

    At its closest approach on Friday at 2:24 p.m. EST (1924 GMT), the asteroid will be 5,000 miles closer to Earth than the ring of GPS, weather and communications satellites in orbit around the planet. Still, the satellites and the planet are safe from impact, researchers say.

  • 5Asteroids like 2012 DA14 fly by Earth every 40 years


    Based on a statistical analysis, NASA researchers have found that asteroids like 2012 DA14 only graze Earth this closely once every 40 years or so. Similar asteroids can actually hit the Earth once every 1,200 years.

    Larger asteroids are even less likely to give the planet such a close shave. NASA researchers say that their Near Earth Object Program has helped to detect and track 90 percent of the largest near-Earth asteroids, and so far none of these behemoths are known to pose an impact threat in the foreseeable future.

    NASA will also be live-streaming the flyby via a telescope at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET (2100 to 0200 Feb. 16 GMT) on Friday.

150-foot asteroid to zoom near Earth this week

By Tariq Malik

Published February 12, 2013

  • asteroid-2012-da14-art

    This NASA diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013 (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

  • asteroid-2012-da14-size-field

    Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about the size of half a football field and will make a close approach to Earth on Feb. 15. (NASA)

  • yarkovsky-effect-diagram

    This diagram shows how the Yarkovsky Effect slows an asteroid’s orbital motion; opposite rotation direction would speed up the orbital motion. Astronomers around the world are preparing to study the close approach of asteroid 2012 DA14 on Feb. (Alexandra Bolling, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

An asteroid half the size of a football field will buzz close by Earth on Friday, coming closer than many weather satellites, but there is absolutely no chance the space rock will hit the planet, NASA says.

The asteroid 2012 DA14 will approach within 17,200 miles of Earth when it zips by the planet on Friday (Feb. 15). It will be 5,000 miles closer than the ring of weather, communications and GPS navigation satellites that orbit the Earth, but it poses no impact threat, NASA scientists assured.

According to detailed observations of the 150-foot 2012 DA14 since its discovery last year, “there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth,” NASA officials said in a statement.


‘There is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth.’

– NASA officials


But the space rock encounter will mark the closest-ever known Earth flyby of an asteroid the size of 2012 DA14, with NASA scientists and astronomers around the world preparing to take advantage of the event to take a close look at how asteroids work.

One study in particular seeks to pin down exactly how the asteroid spins on its axis.

“Knowing the direction of spin is essential to accurately predicting its future path, and thus determining just how close it will get to Earth in the coming years,” study leader Michael Busch of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) said in a statement.

Busch and his colleagues will use two huge radio telescopes in New Mexico, the Very Large Array and Very Long Baseline Array, along with NASA’s Goldstone radar antenna in California in an attempt to determine the direction of asteroid 2012 DA’s spin.

The telescopes seek out so-called “speckles” in the radio signals reflected by the asteroid’s uneven surface, and then compare which observatory detected the speckles first in order to determine the spin direction.

Knowing an asteroid’s spin is key to understanding how a space rock radiates heat from absorbed sunlight over time. That, in turn, can allow astronomers to project how an asteroid’s orbit can change over long periods as it circles the sun.

Asteroids, like Earth, have a warmest part of their day, during which time they develop a hotspot that can be observed in infrared light. Later, the asteroid emits the absorbed radiation back out into space, which can serve as a gentle — but firm — jet-like push forward, researchers said.

The phenomenon is called the “Yarkovsky effect” after the 19th-century Russian engineer I.O. Yarkovsky, who first identified it.

“When the asteroid passes close to the Earth or another large body, its orbit can be changed quickly by the gravitational effect of the larger body, but the Yarkovsky Effect, though smaller, is at work all the time,” Busch said.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered in 2012 by astronomers with the La Sagra Sky Survey at the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca in Spain. The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth at 2:24 p.m. EST (1924 GMT) Friday, at which time it may be visible in telescopes and binoculars to observers in Asia, Australia and Europe, where the local time will be nighttime.

Visit each day this week for complete coverage of asteroid 2012 DA14 and its Earth flyby.

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