In a Nutshell

Environment

Night Light Influences a Human Hormone

by on Jan.19, 2011, under Environment

Keeping the lights on at night may actually be bad for your health, according to recent research and the Science News article “Night Owls May Want to Dim Their Lights.”

More than 100 young adults volunteered for a roughly 10-day research trial during which each took turns living in a light-controlled room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. From midnight until 8 a.m. the room was totally dark. At other times, researchers from Harvard Medical School tinkered with the room’s lighting. . . .

When their room’s lighting had been bright, the participants made, on average, 71 percent less melatonin in the hours before sleep.

An interesting irrelevancy to human sleep and hormone production is the name of the article, “Night Owls May Want to Dim Their Lights,” for research by the Australian bird expert Fred Silcock relates to barn owls that have bioluminescence.

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Texas Mystery Lights – Flying Dinosaurs?

by on Dec.06, 2010, under Environment, Strange

Over many years, residents and scientists have speculated what causes the mysterious dancing lights around Marfa, Texas. The truly mysterious lights, sometimes called “ghost lights,” only appear a few times a year, but they have been photographed and videotaped, with no apparent simple explanation. It would seem that old common place explanations have run out of steam, stymied by the dances that cannot be explained by reference to tectonic stress or ball lightning. Yes, the lights seem to dance, splitting into two and, after the two separate, coming back together, as in square dancing. But “flying dinosaurs?’ That seems too far fetched, but the idea has at least one merit: It explains why the mysterious lights of Marfa, Texas, appear to dance.

Marfa Lights, at least when they are seen in warmer weather, sometimes display a strange splitting-rejoining behavior, a display that seems to defy scientific explanations. One cryptozoology author, however, Jonathan Whitcomb of California, has come up with the strange idea that those ghost lights are from bioluminescent predators that are hunting a common bat: the Big Brown Bat. Two of the strange flying predators glow brightly in one area, to attract insects. The two then separate for some distance, then turn back and fly back together. During the time those two predators are away, bats may fly into the area where there are more insects. That seems to be about the right time for the two glowing creatures to return and catch the bats, at least according to the cryptozoology author.

The main problem for the cryptozoologist seems to be a lack of eyewitnesses to glowing predators hunting bats in Texas. To his credit, however, his explanation seems to be the only one that explains why the lights separate and come back together.

More strange than that, Whitcomb suggests Marfa Lights are made by the same kind of nocturnal flying creature that is called “ropen” in Papua New Guinea; “strange” comes from what some cryptozoologists believe is the type of animal involved: a long-tailed pterosaur, AKA “flying dinosaur.”

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Off the Beaten Track: Wildlife Books

by on Nov.22, 2010, under Environment

As we approach the Christmas gift-giving season (how commercial!) we may consider books about wildlife and animals. These seem to be popular as gift-books.

Secretariat’s Meadow (story of a race horse)

On March 30, 1970, Secretariat drew his first breath in a little white foaling shed on a historic farm called The Meadow in Caroline County, Virginia. Three years later he would leave the nation breathless as he captured the Triple Crown, shattering records and rivals alike.

Great Migrations (by National Geographic) (wildlife migrations)

At a riverbank in Africa’s Serengeti, thousands of migrating wildebeest try desperately to cross as terrifying crocs feast on the galloping herds–which must attempt the river for a chance at survival. . . . In the Falkland Islands, the albatross . . . in this magnificent book, companion to the 7-hour HD epic television event from National Geographic . . .

Live Pterosaurs in America, second edition (Amazon category: wildlife book) (Nonfiction)

Encounters with living pterosaurs (Eyewitness accounts in cryptozoology)

Live “pterodactyls?” In the United States? Many scientists have long assumed all pterosaurs died millions of years ago. Now take a whirlwind tour of many years of investigations in cryptozoology, and prepare for a shock: At least two species of pterosaurs have survived, uncommon, not so much rare as widely, thinly distributed.

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Falling Meteors and Glowing Pterosaurs

by on Sep.29, 2010, under Environment, Strange

Meteor Crater, known by scientists as “Barringer Crater,” forty-three miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona,Meteor Crater in Arizona is now recognized as a meteorite impact crater; but for decades it was believed to have been caused by a volcanic explosion. Daniel Barringer, early in the twentieth century, suggested that the crater came from a large meteor collision with earth. Skepticism continued until the middle of the twentieth century, when is was proven that an impact was involved, not any form of volcanism. Science rarely remains dormant for long, as scientists replace old theories with new.

In October of 2004, at about 10 p.m., on Umboi Island (known by natives as “Siasi”), inLake Pung on Umboi Island, home of the ropen Papua New Guinea, David Woetzel, an American cryptozoologist, was searching the sky for any sign of the flying animal that natives call “ropen.” He and his American associate Garth Guessman, had been searching in vane for days, but their luck now changed. Woetzel saw something bright flying almost horizontally, toward a crater lake a few miles away. What was flying? He said, “. . . almost golden and shimmering around the edges. . . . There was no [meteor] tail.” It was large enough to have had a long tail, if it had been a meteor, for Woetzel also described the angular-size as about 20%-25% the size of a full moon. But the place where the flying light disappeared is significant, for it strongly suggests what that light was.

A few weeks before the Woetzel-Guessman expedition, the American cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb was exploring Umboi Island (but only in the south-central area). He found three eyewitnesses who had seen the giant ropen flying in daylight. Where? Over Lake Pung. The flying creature was described as without any feathers, with a tail “seven meters” long, and a mouth “like a crocodile.”

So how does this strange giant-pterosaur-like creature (natives call it “ropen”) relate to the strange light flying towards this crater lake, a few weeks after the interviews of these eyewitnesses? Other eyewitnesses were interviewed by Woetzel, Guessman, and Whitcomb, and some of them described the creature that they had seen: a large flying creature that was glowing as it was flying over Umboi Island. Apparently the ropen has an extraordinary bioluminescent capacity, revolutionary to modern concepts of bioluminescence. But science does progress, as extraordinary as is the concept of a modern bioluminescent pterosaur.

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Energy to-and-from Water

by on Feb.09, 2010, under Environment

Energy from splitting off hydrogen from water molecules–that has nothing to do with the hydrogen bomb or the atom bomb. In fact, it requires energy input to rip a hydrogen atom out of a water molecule. But a new technology could make it easier to obtain hydrogen for fuel cells.

A research team at the University of East Anglia (England) has found a better way to split water to obtain hydrogen, which can later be recombined with oxygen (like slow burning) to produce energy. Common visible light can be used as the original energy source (sunlight), but the system is more efficient, and no organic molecules are needed (as they are in present systems). “It may be a highly promising alternative for industrial hydrogen production.”

In the total picture, water will receive sunlight energy and be destroyed (no longer water). But that potential energy will later be used, creating new water: a clean green energy solution indeed!

Water Splitting by Visible Light: A Nanophotocathode for Hydrogen Production

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