Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ball Lightning - possible weapon?

Two hundred years ago this week, the warship HMS Warren Hastings was struck by a weird phenomenon: "Three distinct balls of fire" fell from the heavens, striking the ship and killing two crewmen, leaving behind "a nauseous, sulfurous smell," according to the Times of London.

Ball lightning has been the subject of much scientific scrutiny over the years. And, as with many powerful natural phenomena, the question arises: "Can we turn it into a weapon?" Peculiar as it may seem, that's exactly what some researchers are working on -- even though it hasn't even been properly replicated in the laboratory yet.

The exact cause and nature of ball lighting has yet to be determined; there may be several different types, confusing matters further. But generally it manifests as a grapefruit-sized sphere of light moving slowly through the air which may end by fizzling out or exploding.

In the mid-'60s, the U.S. military started exploring ways that the phenomenon might be weaponized. Take this 1965 Defense Technical Information Center report on Survey of Kugelblitz Theories For Electromagnetic Incendiaries, (Kugelblitz is German for ball lighting). The document summarizes and evaluates the ball lightning theories then prevalent, and recommends "a theoretical and experimental Kugelblitz program... as a means of developing the theory into a weapons application." This led to an Air Force program called Harness Cavalier, which seems to have ended without producing anything conclusive.

However, some years later scientist Dr. Paul Koloc was looking at methods of containing high-temperature plasma during nuclear fusion. There are many schemes for containing plasma in donut-shaped magnetic fields using a device called a Tokomak. Koloc's insight was that, under the right conditions, a donut-shaped mass of moving plasma would generate the required fields for containment itself. No Tokomak would be required for this "plasmoid," which would be completely stable and self-sustaining. It is a very close equivalent of the smoke ring -- another type of dynamic "vortex ring," which remains stable over a period of time, unlike an unstructured cloud of smoke.

Koloc also theorized that if a donut-shaped plasmoid was created accidentally -- say, during a lightning strike -- it would remain stable for a period of seconds of minutes. This he believes is the explanation for ball lightning. He has a lot of competition from other, wildly different theories of ball lightning, though, from nanobatteries to vaporized silicon to black holes. There is no scientific consensus.

In the '80s, Koloc's team succeeded in creating small, short-lived plasmoids from "chicken egg to softball" size in the laboratory. It was a good start, but not enough to convince the world that he's right about ball lightning. Ultimately the work might lead to a means of containing nuclear fusion... but there were some engineering challenges to tackle. Moreover, the scientific mainstream has not bought into the concept. While giant programs to achieve controlled fusion like ITER are sucking up billions, Koloc has found it much harder to attract funding. This is not like cold fusion or bubble fusion which has been challenged on scientific grounds, but it's been very much sidelined in favor of other "confinement concepts" for fusion power.

However, in 2002, Koloc's company, Prometheus II, briefly obtained funding from the Missile Defence Agency. The aim was to create stable 'magnetoplasmoids' a foot in diameter which would last between one and five seconds. In the subsequent phase, the magnetoplasmoid would be compressed and accelerate to two hundred kilometers a second. This "encapsulated EMP bullet" would make an idea anti-missile weapon, generating an intense electromagnetic pulse on impact which would scramble the guidance system and any electronics, as well as causing thermal damage.

Koloc called the weapon "Phased Hyper-Acceleration for Shock, EMP, and Radiation" -- PHASER.

"It can be used for a range of purposes from stunning personnel to destroying the functionality of electronically operated devices, smaller rockets, vehicles and packages that represent an immediate threat to the United States," he wrote. "This dial-able PHASER weapon can be set on 'Stun' or dialed down, selecting a non-lethal level for persons needed for later interrogation... One mundane application for law enforcement would be the disruption of the engine electronics to stop vehicles that would otherwise be the target of a high-speed chase. Dialable versions of the PHASER will be available for use in civilian encounters."

Nothing seems to have resulted after the Phase I contract, so I contacted Koloc to see how his research had progressed. He confirmed that they had successfully formed plasmoids a foot in diameter, but that these could not be made sufficiently stable.

To make it work and overcome the stability problem, they need a device known as a "fast rising parallel plate transmission line." There was not enough funding for this and the company is still trying to raise funds.

"Once the re-engineered formation system becomes operational, we will proceed to form plasmoids of approximately 35 to 45 centimeters in diameter with a stable lifetime of from one to thirty seconds," says Prometheus II Vice President D. M. Cooper. "The plasmoids should be rugged and energetic, and should attain quiescence (thus becoming very stable) within two or three milliseconds of the formation pulse. The plasmoids will be useful for energy applications even if the military applications are not pursued."

So a ball lightning weapon remains tantalizingly out of reach –- or does it? As I noted in a previous article on military ball lightning, the USAF’s Phillips Laboratory examined a very similar concept in 1993. Again, this involved accelerating a donut-shaped mass of plasma to high speed as an anti-missile weapon in a project called Magnetically Accelerated Ring to Achieve Ultra-high Directed Energy and Radiation, or MARAUDER. Based on the Air Force's awesome Shiva Star power system, experiments spat out plasmoids at ultra-high speed that were expected to reach 3,000 kilometers a second by 1995. But nothing was published after 1993, and MARAUDER was classified, disappearing into the black world of secret programs.

Ball lighting is still mysterious 200 years later… and the next time a warship gets struck by weird fireballs they will probably be as baffled as were the sailors aboard the HMS Warren Hastings.

New proof of Darwin's theory of evolution

About 150 years ago, the fossil of this "dinobird" was discovered and celebrated as proof of Charles Darwin's new theory of evolution.

Now fast word to a few weeks ago: The famous fossil, the Thermopolis specimen of Archaeopteryx lithographica, made its way by truck from the Wyoming Dinosaur Center to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource in California, where it was meticulously scanned by one of the world's most powerful X-ray machines, a building-sized device created for physics research.

By looking for traces of specific elements left in the slab of limestone as the bird decomposed, the researchers hope to uncover heretofore-unseen details of the soft tissue that once surrounded the well-preserved bones.

The X-rays, generated by SSRL's high-speed electrons as they race around a 260-foot-diameter ring, cause the elements to glow, revealing the ghost of soft tissue or feathers.

"If you want to find a single fossil which is a missing link in the evolution of dinosaurs into birds, this is it," said University of Manchester paleontologist Phil Manning, a member of the research team. "It's a bird with sharp teeth, claws and a long bony tail. If you were to freeze-frame evolution, you would end up with Archaeopteryx."

"What you normally can't see are the chemical elements from the original organism that might still be present in the fossil," said SSRL scientist Uwe Bergmann. "Using X-ray fluorescence imaging, we can bring these elements to light, getting a better look at the fossil and learning more about the original animal."

"These X-rays work a thousand time better than what you could do with a commercial X-ray machine. Only a synchrotron can do this," Bergmann said. SSRL is part of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, which is operated by Stanford University for the Department of Energy.

In addition to offering a new view of a long-extinct animal, this work may also reveal more about fossilization itself. By understanding how fossilization occurs and what exactly is preserved in the process, researchers will be able to deduce much more about ancient organisms and evolution.

The Archaeopteryx fossil holds a unique place in history. It was brought to London soon after Darwin published his stunning On the Origin of Species in 1859. With perfect timing, the old bones played a major roll in the controversy Darwin had stirred up.

"This fossil was the savior of Darwin," Manning said. "As soon as it arrived in London, all of Darwin's supporters realized that this was an intermediate animal, an evolutionary freak that they needed to study. It was half way between dinosaur and bird. This is the single most important fossil in paleontology for that simple reason.

" It was used to beat the living daylights out of the nonsense which had been put forward as to the reason for why animals were present on this planet. Here, Darwin's theory of descendant with modification was hammered home with this one example of transitionary form, of an animal between dinosaur and bird."

The fossil research is one example of how the SSRL is shining new light on fields as diverse as paleontology, medicine, and the history of mathematics. The SSRL's hair-thin X-ray beam has been used, for example, to make visible the hidden writing in a medieval copy of a mathematical treatise from the Greek mathematician Archimedes. Tuned to specific energies, the X-rays produced images of phosphorus and calcium from the ink used on the papyrus document, which had been covered with paint.

Earlier this year, at the request of Stanford library officials and an academic researcher, the laser-like X-ray beam was used to scan a score by the Italian composer Luigi Cherubini (1760 – 1842). Portions of the work had been covered over with carbon-black ink, but after the scan, "The researcher was able to look right through the ink and read the score," said Mary Miller, a Stanford preservation librarian. "I think he was thrilled."

"This is the very infancy of this new scientific method," said paleontologist Peter Larson of the Black Hills Institute in South Dakota. "We don't even know enough about this to know the right questions to ask yet. All of a sudden, we can look at fossils in a very different and new way."

Quetzalcoatl - ancient American Dragon


When Shannon McCabe (President of HPI) went to Chichen Itza, he was walking through history. A find that may have it's roots in East Asia, India, Crete and with an extraterrestrial alliance. Quetzalcoatl was described as a white god with pale skin and blue eyes. Quetzalcoatl and his away team all wore black coarse robes and traveled in foreign ships with swan wings. The hulls of the ships glowed so brightly, that it was hard to look upon by the Indians of these indigenous cultures. Quetzalcoatl was known by several names. The Toltecs and Aztecs refer him as Quetzalcoatl. The people of the Incas called him Viracocha. The Mayans called him Kukulcan. The Chibchas called him Bochica. The Aymara from Peru called him Hyustus. It appears that Quetzalcoatl must have had a fast flying vehicle that could take him from Mexico to Central America to South America. What kind of ship could transport a fair skinned god around the country like that?

Quetzalcoatl even became the fifth king of the Toltecs during AD 977 to 999. Even though he was a king of the Toltecs, he was busy visiting other tribes of Indians. He brought the Toltecs laws and science. He set down laws that there was to be no more killing of animals and that the Toltecs would feast off vegetables and fruits. There would also be no more human sacrifice. At some point of time, Quetzalcoatl was tempted by sin and fell into disgrace. The disgrace that he faced, brought him shame and he decided to leave in his ship. He promised all of the tribes that he will one day return.

Who was Quetzalcoatl and where did he actually come from? Examining the Mayan script, it is very similar to Cretan symbols and script. Could Quetzalcoatl came from Crete? If you look at the Maize god of Copan, you will notice that this sculpture has an East Asian and Mediterranean influence. It is also interesting to note that the Jaguar men of the Olmecs were good at working with jade, so were the Cretans.

Then things get a bit confusing, because the Warrior Temple at Chichen Itza with all of its columns and thousands of pillars is somewhat reminiscent of Egypt. Now we have an Egyptian influence. Shannon and I, remember walking in between these pillars and were amazed at the accuracy and precision they were built and how they were placed in alignment around the Mayan pyramid.

What is also interesting is that there is a reptilian influence. Representations of reptiles like serpents are seen with the cultures I mentioned above. The reptilian influence is saturated throughout Egypt, East Asian, India and the list goes on and on.

I believe the reptilian influence represents ancient astronauts that resembled reptiles. The reptile influence can even be found in our own bible as it was the serpent that influenced Eve to bite from the forbidden fruit. The lotus motif seen at the Mayan Jaguar Temple has an eerie resemblance to the water-lily ornament found at the temple town of Amaravati, which is located on the East coast of Southern India.
But, we talk about a white god. There are not too many people with fair complexions in India, Egypt or even Crete. But most of the gods that are described in ancient times have a fair complexion or are reptilian in nature. Looking at the ancient scripts of India, there is talk of Vimanas, flying machines that can take the gods from city to city, country to country and planet to planet. Yes, there are 3 type of Vimanas. The Vimanas that took the gods from city to city or country to country almost appear to be airplanes, while the Vimana that can take a god from planet to planet appears to be a starship.

Could it be that ancient astronauts back long ago were living amongst our advanced cultures like the Phoenicians, Egyptians and bringing their knowledge of science, math and astronomy to cultures like the Olmecs, Toltecs and Mayans?
As the pieces of the puzzle come together, it appears that Erich Anton Paul von Daniken may have been right all along...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mermaid Dreams

Is she dreaming of a life on land? Does she dream of having legs? Or does she, perhaps, dream of having wings?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Noah Flood

The ancient flood that some scientists think gave rise to the Noah story may not have been quite so biblical in proportion, a new study says.
Researchers generally agree that, during a warming period about 9,400 years ago, an onrush of seawater from the Mediterranean spurred a connection with the Black Sea, then a largely freshwater lake. That flood turned the lake into a rapidly rising sea.
A previous theory said the Black Sea rose up to 195 feet (60 meters), possibly burying villages and spawning the tale of Noah's flood and other inundation folklore.
But the new study—largely focused on relatively undisturbed underwater fossils—suggests a rise of no more than 30 feet (10 meters).

New Flood Evidence

Marine geologist Liviu Giosan and colleagues carbon-dated the shells of pristine mollusk fossils, which the researchers say bear no evidence of epic flooding.
Found in sediment samples taken from where the Black Sea meets the Danube River, the shells "weren't eroded, agitated, or moved," said Giosan, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts. "We know the mud is exactly the same age as the shells and so can determine what the sea level was about 9,400 years ago."
The results suggest the Black Sea rose 15 to 30 feet (5 to 10 meters), rather than the 150 to 195 feet (50 to 60 meters) first suggested 13 years ago by Columbia University geologist William Ryan and colleagues. Ryan declined to be interviewed for this story.

Dueling Theories of Noah's Flood

In 1993 a Black Sea expedition found evidence of former shorelines and coastal dunes at depths of up to 390 feet (120 meters).
Researchers said these areas had been flooded when the Mediterranean and the Sea of Marmara—which lies between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea—breached a rocky barrier across the Bosporus, the Turkish strait that links the Maramara with the Black Sea.
Before such a flood, Ryan and colleagues said the flooded regions may have been rife with agricultural settlements. His research supports the notion that the flood submerged some 62,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers), driving out farmers in droves, thereby supercharging the agricultural development of Europe, to the west.
However, Giosan's new study, which appears in the January issue of the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, indicates a less catastrophic influx, submerging only about 1,240 square miles (2,000 square kilometers).
That's because, according to the new study, the Black Sea's pre-flood water levels were significantly higher than Ryan's study suggested. As a result, there may have been much less water cascading through the Bosporus and onto the exposed continental shelf surrounding the Black Sea.
The ages of the shell fossils detailed in Giosan's report hint that the pre-flood sea surface was only 95 feet (30 meters) lower than it is today. Columbia's Ryan, by contrast, suggests the Black Sea's rise has been at least 150 feet (50 meters) since reconnecting with the Mediterranean some 9,400 years ago.

Nail in Noah's-Flood Coffin?

Giosan's analysis points to a reconnection that was "quite mild," said Mark Siddall, an oceanographer at the University of Bristol in the U.K. who was not involved with the study.
"It looks like the connection may have involved an overspill from the Sea of Marmara of just a few meters," Siddall added.
Tony Brown, a paleo-environmentalist at the University of Southampton in the U.K., said he fully supports Giosan and colleagues' new findings.
"This seems to be a further nail in the coffin of the Ryan hypothesis," Brown said.
"I hope this will counter some recent catastrophist and misguided accounts of the spread of farming across Europe by what is likely a mythical flood."

Does a full moon really trigger strange behavior?

Across the centuries, many a person has uttered the phrase “There must be a full moon out there” in an attempt to explain weird happenings at night. Indeed, the Roman goddess of the moon bore a name that remains familiar to us today: Luna, prefix of the word “lunatic.” Greek philosopher Aristotle and Roman historian Pliny the Elder suggested that the brain was the “moistest” organ in the body and thereby most susceptible to the pernicious influences of the moon, which triggers the tides. Belief in the “lunar lunacy effect,” or “Transylvania effect,” as it is sometimes called, persisted in Europe through the Middle Ages, when humans were widely reputed to transmogrify into werewolves or vampires during a full moon.
Even today many people think the mystical powers of the full moon induce erratic behaviors, psychiatric hospital admissions, suicides, homicides, emergency room calls, traffic accidents, fights at professional hockey games, dog bites and all manner of strange events. One survey revealed that 45 percent of college students believe moonstruck humans are prone to unusual behaviors, and other surveys suggest that mental health professionals may be still more likely than laypeople to hold this conviction. In 2007 several police departments in the U.K. even added officers on full-moon nights in an effort to cope with presumed higher crime rates.

Water at Work?

Following Aristotle and Pliny the Elder, some contemporary authors, such as Miami psychiatrist Arnold Lieber, have conjectured that the full moon’s supposed effects on behavior arise from its influence on water. The human body, after all, is about 80 percent water, so perhaps the moon works its mischievous magic by somehow disrupting the alignment of water molecules in the nervous system.
But there are at least three reasons why this explanation doesn’t “hold water,” pardon the pun. First, the gravitational effects of the moon are far too minuscule to generate any meaningful effects on brain activity, let alone behavior. As the late astronomer George Abell of the University of California, Los Angeles, noted, a mosquito sitting on our arm exerts a more powerful gravitational pull on us than the moon does. Yet to the best of our knowledge, there have been no reports of a “mosquito lunacy effect.” Second, the moon’s gravitational force affects only open bodies of water, such as oceans and lakes, but not contained sources of water, such as the human brain. Third, the gravitational effect of the moon is just as potent during new moons—when the moon is invisible to us—as it is during full moons.
There is a more serious problem for fervent believers in the lunar lunacy effect: no evidence that it exists. Florida International University psychologist James Rotton, Colorado State University astronomer Roger Culver and University of Saskatchewan psychologist Ivan W. Kelly have searched far and wide for any consistent behavioral effects of the full moon. In all cases, they have come up empty-handed. By combining the results of multiple studies and treating them as though they were one huge study—a statistical procedure called meta-analysis—they have found that full moons are entirely unrelated to a host of events, including crimes, suicides, psychiatric problems and crisis center calls. In their 1985 review of 37 studies entitled “Much Ado about the Full Moon,” which appeared in one of psychology’s premier journals, Psychological Bulletin, Rotton and Kelly humorously bid adieu to the full-moon effect and concluded that further research on it was unnecessary.
Persistent critics have disagreed with this conclusion, pointing to a few positive findings that emerge in scattered studies. Still, even the handful of research claims that seem to support full-moon effects have collapsed on closer investigation. In one study published in 1982 an author team reported that traffic accidents were more frequent on full-moon nights than on other nights. Yet a fatal flaw marred these findings: in the period under consideration, full moons were more common on weekends, when more people drive. When the authors reanalyzed their data to eliminate this confounding factor, the lunar effect vanished.

Where Belief Begins

So if the lunar lunacy effect is merely an astronomical and psychological urban legend, why is it so widespread? There are several probable reasons. Media coverage almost surely plays a role. Scores of Hollywood horror flicks portray full-moon nights as peak times of spooky occurrences such as stabbings, shootings and psychotic behaviors.
Perhaps more important, research demonstrates that many people fall prey to a phenomenon that University of Wisconsin–Madison psychologists Loren and Jean Chapman termed “illusory correlation”—the perception of an association that does not in fact exist. For example, many people who have joint pain insist that their pain increases during rainy weather, although research disconfirms this assertion. Much like the watery mirages we observe on freeways during hot summer days, illusory correlations can fool us into perceiving phenomena in their absence.
Illusory correlations result in part from our mind’s propensity to attend to—and recall—most events better than nonevents. When there is a full moon and something decidedly odd happens, we usually notice it, tell others about it and remember it. We do so because such co-occurrences fit with our preconceptions. Indeed, one study showed that psychiatric nurses who believed in the lunar effect wrote more notes about patients’ peculiar behavior than did nurses who did not believe in this effect. In contrast, when there is a full moon and nothing odd happens, this nonevent quickly fades from our memory. As a result of our selective recall, we erroneously perceive an association between full moons and myriad bizarre events.
Still, the illusory correlation explanation, though probably a crucial piece of the puzzle, does not account for how the full-moon notion got started. One intriguing idea for its origins comes to us courtesy of psychiatrist Charles L. Raison, now at Emory University, and several of his colleagues. According to Raison, the lunar lunacy effect may possess a small kernel of truth in that it may once have been genuine. Raison conjectures that before the advent of outdoor lighting in modern times, the bright light of the full moon deprived people who were living outside—including many who had severe mental disorders—of sleep. Because sleep deprivation often triggers erratic behavior in people with certain psychological conditions, such as bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression), the full moon may have been linked to a heightened rate of bizarre behaviors in long-bygone eras. So the lunar lunacy effect is, in Raison and his colleagues’ terms, a “cultural fossil.”
We may never know whether this ingenious explanation is correct. But in today’s world at least, the lunar lunacy effect appears to be no better supported than is the idea that the moon is made of green cheese.

Two big snakes photographed in Borneo!

Two photographs have been recently released from unknown sources in Borneo, depicting the weirdest of occurrences – a 100 foot-long snake-like creature cruising in the waters of the Baleh river. Natives are understandably scared of that, as they believe that the alleged monster is the mythical Nabau creature, a dragon-like serpent that has the ability to change its shape whenever it pleases. Western observers are, however, reluctant to accept the pictures as genuine, saying that there are serious clues in them that give away the fact that they are most likely fake.
Allegedly, one of the photos, taken from a helicopter, is said to be the work of a member of the flood surveillance team. But his or her name has not come out, and the date on which the image was taken also remains a secret. This further helps to amplify critics as to the accuracy of these snapshots. Another reproach is that there only appear to be two photographs of the beast, even though those in the helicopter could have taken numerous ones from the safety of the air.
In the first picture, the alleged animal is seen swimming idly in the middle of the river, but its position is just perfect for the photo. Plus, it should, according to estimates, be 100 foot (33 meter)-long, but the relative size of the trees near it seems to contradict that. You can form an opinion for yourself while looking at the image and searching for discrepancies between how water is displaced by the monster, as well as its relative size.
In the second picture, it clearly appears in all its splendor, photographed from the side. Again, notice the fact that the ratio between its size and that of the trees seems to change drastically between the two snapshots. In the first one, it looked like it was thicker than a few trees bound together. In the second, it only appears to be an over-sized snake. Also, its length seems to be smaller. Again, its position is just wonderful for the shot, which allegedly has been taken in a “remote” village.
No one can dispute the fact that the locals really buy into this story. But scientists have a tougher time in doing so, as they always require a little something called proof. And the question arises “Why are there only two pictures of the creature, when most certainly those wielding the cameras would have been most excited to capture even more?”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Liquid Water discoverd on Mars?

Strange globs seen on the landing strut of the Phoenix Mars lander could be the first proof that modern Mars hosts liquid water, a new paper reports.
Images from the robotic craft show what appear to be liquid droplets growing, merging, and dripping on the lander's leg over the course of a Martian month.
Phoenix landed near Mars's north pole last May, and several "self portraits" taken to assess the craft's health show material spattered on the legs.
This substance is probably saline mud that splashed up as the craft landed, study leader and Phoenix co-investigator Nilton Renno of the University of Michigan told National Geographic News.
Salt in the mud then absorbed water vapor from the atmosphere, forming the watery drops, Renno said.
The water can stay liquid even in the frigid Martian arctic because it contains a high amount of perchlorates, a salt "with properties like the antifreeze used to melt snow here in Michigan," said Renno, who will present the work next month at the 40th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
Finding liquid water under these conditions carries possible implications for Mars's habitability, the scientists say.

Dripping And Shrinkage

Renno admits that the images showing droplets are not high enough resolution to examine small details.
He also notes that instruments on board Phoenix meant to look for liquid water near the surface didn't find anything.
But he and his team are convinced that what they are seeing matches the behavior of liquid water.
"As it cooled down toward the end of the mission and we're seeing the formation of frost everywhere, the drops almost disappear," he said.
"This is consistent with [liquid] drops freezing and losing water to the atmosphere as it gets colder."
What's more, the images suggest one of the largest globs started to drip down the lander's leg when it got bigger than about 0.4 inch (a centimeter) wide.
"Before it drips it becomes dark, and that's consistent with ice melting," said Renno, referring to the fact that ice is more reflective than liquid water.

Salty Brew

It's certainly possible that liquid water could exist at least fleetingly on the Martian surface, said Nicholas Tosca, a geochemist at Harvard University who was not involved in the study.
With perchlorate present, Tosca agrees Mars could support liquid water even down to -94 degrees Fahrenheit (-70 degrees Celsius)—close to the lowest possible temperature around the lander's legs at the time the images were taken.
But daily temperatures fluctuate greatly on Mars, so even very salty water would probably go through cycles of freezing and melting. Liquids therefore wouldn't be present for very long periods of time, he said.
Study leader Renno thinks that the drops seen on Phoenix were liquid during the warmest part of the day but partially froze at night.
Overall, Tosca said, the paper makes a plausible case for liquid water on Mars, "but the nature of the water … doesn't bode well for life."
Even if a layer of liquid does persist deep under Mars's surface, it wouldn't be very hospitable, he said.
"If you make the case that life could have started on Mars and could be hiding out somewhere," Tosca said, "it's not likely to be in this cold, salty water."

Hitler and the secret Satanic cult

At first glance, the large circular room in the basement of Wewelsburg Castle appears to be harmless enough. Smooth, finely cut stones pave the floor. Glistening rock walls arch majestically towards a high vaulted ceiling.
In the centre of the room lies a sunken circular altar with polished steps leading towards a burnt and cracked stone. From here you can see thirteen lanterns flickering on the curved walls. But it’s only when you look directly upwards that the room’s significance becomes shockingly clear. At the centre of the dome lies a giant swastika.
This room was the central temple of the Satanic cult that created and directed Germany’s Nazi party. This so called Vril Society counted many of Hitler’s henchmen as members, including Himmler, Bormann, and Hess. Central to the whole cult was Hitler, who they believed to be a psychic medium in contact with powerful forces that would create an all-conquering Aryan nation. Some saw him as the Dark Messiah.
Historians have tended to downplay the occult foundations of Nazism for fear of trivialising its heinous war crimes, but a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel laid bare the untold story of the secretive religion at the heart of fascist Germany. And bizarrely, it is thought to have been based on a 19th Century science fiction novel that predicted flying saucers, an alien race at the centre of the earth, and a mysterious force known as Vril.
“Occult myths played a central role in Nazism,” says Professor Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, head of the Centre for the Study of Esotericism at Exeter University. “When we look at these ideas today, we think of them as crazy, but they were central to the early Nazi Party and through them played a critical role in 20th century history.”
“The Vril society was dedicated to evil,” says historian Michael Fitzgerald. “Through their control of the Nazi party they committed the greatest acts of evil in the 20th Century.

“Vril occultists worked in complete secrecy doing anything that would promote Aryan power. This ranged from straightforward political assassinations, through to evoking the spirits of the dead, human sacrifice and summoning mysterious energies – or Vril - through sexual orgies.”
To understand why the Nazi party was so obsessed with the occult and Satanism, you have to travel back to Victorian times. In the late 19th Century, Germany in common with Britain, was obsessed with the occult. It was a time when no self-respecting hostess would dream of holding a dinner party without a séance to round off the evening.
There was also huge interest in eastern mysticism and ‘prophets’ of occult religions, such as Madame Blavatsky, were household names. Blavatsky believed that Europeans were descended from a race of angel-like creatures known as Aryans. They claimed that the Aryans had used mysterious psychic forces to build the pyramids, Atlantis and a network of cities beneath Antarctica. What’s more, their descendants were to be found in the Himalayas and their sign was the swastika – the ancient Hindu good luck symbol.
These myths and more were crystallised in the science-fiction novel The Coming Race. In this, Edward Bulwer-Lytton told of a strange people called the Vril-Ya that lived at the centre of the Earth. They wielded fantastic power using a mysterious force known as Vril, which they also used to propel flying saucers.
The Coming Race and its attendant barmy mysticism would have sunk into obscurity if it hadn’t been for the First World War. At the end of the war, Germany was plunged into violent anarchy and a host of extremist politicians and cult leaders stepped into the breach and battled for power. Chief of these was the occult Thule Society – and its inner sect, the Vril Society.
The Vril Society was noted for it’s use of orgies to summon up occult energies – and to father a ‘master race’ of children to repopulate a devastated Germany. It is said that women in such orgies would become possessed by spirits and begin speaking in tongues. And their prophesies were treated with deadly seriousness.
“But the darkest side of the Vril was their propensity for sacrificing young children,” says Michael Fitzgerald, author of Stormtroopers of Satan. “They would stab them in the chest and cut their throats.
“At the height of their power in 1920s Munich, hundreds of children disappeared. Many are presumed to have been killed by the cult to summon up Vril energy. This may seem like an outlandish claim but when you consider what these people went on to do in the Third Reich, it seems almost tame.”
Central to the Vril Society was the search for a German Messiah who would lead the Aryan’s to world domination and exterminate all other races – especially the Jews. And his rise was predicted by a spirit calling itself the “Beast of the Book of Revelation.”
In a séance attended by the cult followers Alfred Rosenberg and Dietrich Eckart, the Beast is said to have proclaimed that a man named “Hitler” would seize the “Spear of Destiny” and lead the Aryans to power.
And within a few weeks, a fiery young man of shabby appearance began attending Thule Society meetings. His name was Adolf Hitler.
The Society was quick to spot Hitler’s potential and to exploit his astonishing personal magnetism. He could transform crowds into hysterical worshippers and mesmerise even the strongest of men. Power seemed to course through him, with waves of emotion whipping up those around him into a frenzy. At times, he seemed possessed.
Hitler was fascinated by the occult. He was a devotee of astrology, numerology, psychic mediumship, hypnosis and water divining. In short, the young Adolf would try anything that might foretell the future or give him control over others.
It was in the Thule Society that Hitler met those who would help him take over Germany and wage the Second World War. Rudolf Hess, Heinrich Himmler, Martin Bormann, Dietrich Eckart, Alfred Rosenberg, and Hermann Goering were all said to be members. It was these, along with Hitler, who used the Thule Society – and it’s inner sect the Vril Society – to launch and promote the Nazi Party.
But even amongst this sinister group, there was an inner core who were even more evil, if that is conceivable.
“Bormann was an avowed Satanist, says Michael Fitzgerald. “Bormann, together with Rosenberg and Himmler, wanted to destroy Christianity and replace it with a truly occult religion of their own making. And along with the Thule Society, they created a political party that would try and do just that.”

When Hitler led the Nazi party to power in 1933, members of the sect occupied all key positions. Hess became Deputy Fuhrer, Rosenberg became Minister of the Third Reich, Bormann was Chief of the Nazi Party Chancellery, Himmler was head of the SS and Gestapo, and Goering, Commander of the Luftwaffe. Only the deceased Dietrich Eckart, whom Hitler dedicated Mein Kampf to, failed to join them.
As soon as they gained power the Nazis began preparing for world domination. Their first act was to re-arm – a clear breach of the Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended the First World War. Whilst the protests from Britain and France were loud and shrill, Hitler guessed correctly that the Allies would shy away from war.
In 1938, Hitler annexed Austria. Again, he was appeased. And by the following year, most of Europe lay under his rule and Britain was in his sights.
Central to the Nazi ideology was the establishment of a thousand year Reich. This was to be done by perverting history and creating a new religion based on Aryan mythology – the same mythology propagated by the Victorian occult ‘prophets’ and the science fiction novel The Coming Race.
To do this, Himmler set up an occult research bureau under the wings of the SS, known as the Ahnenerbe. This was instructed to prove German racial superiority by linking them to the mythical race of ancient Aryans. It also hoped to uncover lost magical artefacts such as the Holy Grail and the Spear of Destiny. This, you will recall, was the spear used to kill Jesus as he hung on the cross.
“It’s also possible they were looking for the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia,” says Michael Fitzgerald. “They were obviously hoping to use its reputed magical powers for their own ends.”
The Ahnenerbe mounted a series of huge expeditions to search for ancient Aryan cities in the Himalayas, the Middle East and Bolivia. The organisation looted artefacts from ancient sites around the world. It’s no surprise then, that the Ahnenerbe was the inspiration for the Nazi archaeologists in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Ahnenerbe devoted considerable efforts to exploring paranormal phenomena, such as ESP, psychokinesis, water divining, astrology and black magic. In fact, the organisation spent around £10 billion in today’s money on research. That’s about the same as the Allies spent on the atomic bomb programme.
Very little of the Ahnenerbe’s work was of practical wartime use, although the German Navy is said to have used diviners to seek out Allied warships and convoys in the North Atlantic.
“They were initially quite successful,” says Michael Fitzgerald. “But they became so overworked, especially towards the end of the war, that they began to fail.”
Forecasting the future was a central preoccupation of the Nazis. The Ahnenerbe employed astrologers, rune diviners and a host of psychics to try and fathom the future. One astrologer, Karl Krafft, quickly rose to prominence after correctly predicting the 1939 Munich assassination attempt against Hitler.
Hitler believed that the astrological forecast and his survival was proof that the occult Gods supported his “Final Solution”. It left him in a state of mystical exaltation.
Eyes blazing with excitement he shouted: “Now I am content! It is Providence’s intention to allow me to reach my goal.”
Through the Ahnenerbe the Nazi’s began to creating an occult civilisation to supplant our Christian one.
“They began by indoctrinating the Hitler Youth with Satanic ideologies,” says Michael Fitzgerald. “Children and the future leaders of the SS were taught that compassion was weakness. They were encouraged to celebrate pagan festivals and to carry out occult ceremonies.
“Himmler named himself the Black Jesuit – and he meant it. He laid plans to establish pagan temples across Germany after the war. These would replace churches. And on every altar there would be a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.”
A new religious city centred around Wewelsburg Castle was planned. It was to be an occult Vatican dedicated to all things evil. Colleges would educate Germany’s future leaders in the occult, such as psychic mediumship, hypnosis and divination. Museums and galleries would house such artefacts as the Holy Grail, the Spear of Destiny and the Ark of the Covenant. And there would be research labs dedicated to finding new energies – such as Vril – to power spaceships to the stars.

To the modern eye, the Nazi preoccupation with the occult seems completely deranged. Were they simply insane or was something more sinister at work? It is tempting to write them off as insane, but some believe Hitler was truly possessed by evil forces.

Hermann Rauschning, a friend of Hitler and compiler of his speeches, said: "One cannot help thinking of Hitler as of a medium, the medium is possessed. Without any doubt, Hitler was possessed of forces which were beyond him and of which the individual called Hitler was only the temporary instrument."

Missing T-Rex link found in Argentina

A woman inspects the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur sculpture in 2007 at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, southern Germany. Scientists have found fossil remains of an omnivorous dinosaur in Argentina -- a missing link to the carnivores, a researcher said Monday.

"It is an omnivore -- in other words it ate everything (plants and meat) -- which is the missing link between carnivorous dinosaurs and giant four-footed herbivores," said Oscar Alcober, also director of the Natural Sciences Museum in San Juan, 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) west of Buenos Aires.

"This is a very important piece of the puzzle on the origin of dinosaurs," said Alcober.

Alcober and Ricardo Martinez, chief of the museum's paleontology division, found the remains three years ago in the Ischigualasto-Valle de la Luna park, north of the provincial capital San Juan. They released their findings Monday in the online journal of peer reviewed science PlosOne.org.

Argentina has earned fame as a bit of a Jurassic Park in the 1980s with discoveries including fossils in Neuquen of the Argentinosaurus Huinculensis, the largest known herbivore, at over 40 meters (131 ft) long.

Later, in 1993, scientists found remains of the Giganotosaurus Carolinii, the largest known carnivorous dinosaur amid dozens of fossil fields still being explored.