Magnificent Auroras As Solar Storms Hit Earth
Every once in a while, the third rock from the Sun gets buffeted by a storm originating from its solar guardian. Energized particles rain down upon the Earth, and like water down a hill, flow down the planet’s magnetic field lines toward the Poles. As this deluge of particles collides with atoms in our atmosphere, light energy is released, and a rainbow of shimmering colors hangs over the ends of the Earth
Last week’s northern lights—which lasted a few days—were products of a large burst of plasma, or charged gas, from the sun known as a coronal mass ejection. A NASA orbiter called the Solar Dynamics Observatory saw last Sunday’s eruption, which was aimed directly at Earth and sparked predictions of a shimmering sky show.
Now it seems aurora fans may be in for another treat: A solar flare spotted Saturday by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory was even more powerful than the previous eruption. Although this time the bulk of the plasma burst isn’t aimed right at Earth, scientists say it could still trigger another round of colorful auroras.
In the Northern Hemisphere, auroras are more commonly seen at high latitudes near the Arctic Circle, such as northern Alaska, Canada, and Scandinavia.
But scientists predicted that last Sunday’s strong burst would bring the light show to slightly lower parts of the globe. In fact, sky-watchers were snapping pictures of auroras as far south as Oslo, Lake Manitoba in Canada, and Lake Superior (map) in the United States.
Factual Nazi Plot To Unleash Demonic Forces Inspire New Film
For a film about Nazi demons battling the Allies in World War II, The Devil's Rock contains a surprising amount of fact.
Director Paul Campion's first feature film is being shot in Wellington until August 21 at locations in Island Bay and Wrights Hill.
In the film, two Kiwi commandos, sent to the Channel Islands to destroy German gun emplacements and distract Hitler's forces away from Normandy, discover a Nazi occult plot to unleash demonic forces to win the war.
Campion said his script was inspired by real historical events.
"It is contrived around real events. The Channel Islands were the only British territory occupied by the Germans ... so the fortifications actually exist.
"And the book of black magic actually exists in the Channel Islands ... I found it in a vault, this gigantic 250-year-old book of black magic. But the demon's not real."
Campion said more witches were hanged in the Channel Islands than in any other part of Europe in medieval times, so the area had a supernatural heritage.
Neither Campion nor the New Zealand Film Commission would disclose the film's budget, saying only that it was a "low budget" production.
Campion has secured well-known Kiwi actors for the four lead roles, including Outrageous Fortune's Craig Hall, and Matthew Sunderland, who played mass murderer David Gray in Out of the Blue.
Weta Workshop has created the film's gory props, including half-devoured corpses. "There are not many extras because most of them are dead," Campion said.
Directing has been his dream career for years, but he said he was feeling the pressure over the movie's debut.
"It's definitely more nerves than excitement at the moment – I'll be excited when I'm sitting in the cinema."
His next project is a British sci-fi film called Further Instructions, about a family who wake on Christmas Day to find their house boarded up with steel, trapping them inside.
Campion is a former illustrator and effects artist who moved from London to Wellington to work for Weta Digital on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
He stayed on and has since become a New Zealand citizen.
He has directed two award-winning short films, Night of the Hell Hamsters and Eel Girl. The Devil's Rock is scheduled for release early next year.
NOTE: 'Hellboy' anyone? Lon
New Bearded Monkey Species Discovered
treehugger - Scientists Thomas Defler, Marta Bueno and Javier García have discovered a new species of monkey in the Caquetá region of southern Colombia. The region, which is part of the Amazon rainforest, had been inaccessible for years due to a violent insurgence.
The violence subsided three years ago, allowing García--a native of Caquetá--to explore the Colombian Amazon. Using a GPS to traverse the upper Caquetá River, García found 13 different groups of titi monkeys, which have a very complex call.
"This discovery is extremely exciting because we had heard about this animal, but for a long time we could not confirm if it was different from other titis. We now know that this is a unique species, and it shows the rich diversity of life that is still to be discovered in the Amazon," said Dr. Defler.
The Callicebus caquetensisis is about the size of a cat with grayish-brown hair, but is missing the white bar on its forehead common to other titis. It's most distinct feature is its bushy red beard. Unlike most primates, but common to all titis, they are monogamous with tightly knit families.
However, the news of this discovery is tarnished by the fact that the titi faces extinction. It is estimated that less than 250 Caquetá titi monkeys exist. A healthy population would be in the thousands. The dwindling population is due to deforestation as their habitat has been turned into agricultural land.
"This discovery is particularly important because it reminds us that we should celebrate the diversity of earth but also we must take action now to preserve it," said José Vicente Rodríguez, head of science at Conservation International in Colombia and president of the Colombia Association of Zoology. "When world leaders meet later this year in Japan for the Convention on Biological Diversity, they must commit to the creation of many more protected areas if we want to ensure the survival of threatened creatures like this in the Amazon and around the world."
With an extremely low population, the monkey should qualify as a critically endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Four Sisters Deliver Four Babies In Four Days
They call the maternity ward at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park "The Family Birthplace" — and now for especially good reason. Three sisters delivered their babies at the hospital within hours of each other on Friday and Saturday, under the care of the same physician.
"It was a surprise for everyone," said Saby Pazos of Bellwood, who gave birth on Friday to a 7-pound, 8-ounce son, Abel Brian, a couple of hours before her sister, Leslie Pazos of Stone Park, delivered a 7-pound, 1-ounce girl, Ashley Mishell. The next day, third sister Lilian Sepulveda of Franklin Park joined her family at the hospital for the scheduled caesarean section birth of 8-pound, 3-ounce daughter Emily Marie.
"It's very unusual, but wonderful at the same time," said Dr. Jean Alexandre Jr., who saw each of the sisters from prenatal care to delivery. The triple family birth is a first for the 58-year-old community hospital, where 1,200 babies are delivered each year, said spokeswoman Molly Gaus.
At a news conference on Tuesday, the beaming sisters, who each have previous children, said they weren't trying to get pregnant at the same time but are delighted that the cousins will grow up together. The sisters' maternal connection is not limited to Melrose Park, either. A fourth sister, who lives in California, also had a baby on Monday — a boy, Jonathan, delivered by doctors there. "I couldn't make it to California," Alexandre joked.
Psychic Looking For Girl Finds Adult Remains
sky - A psychic trying to find a missing six-year-old girl in Australia has discovered a woman's torso in bushland.
The woman alerted police to the area in Sydney's west because she had a premonition about Kiesha Abrahams - the youngster who was reported missing 12 days ago.
A dismembered body was found near the edge of Eastern Creek at Doonside. The head, arms and legs are still missing.
The psychic told officers she had a feeling they would find something of interest in the area, especially relating to Kiesha.
"It's quite interesting that there's a woman and she had a sense or feeling it was worth her while to come to this particular part of the park," said Detective Chief Inspector Pamela Young.
"We're still exploring that, it's certainly an interesting proposition of hers."
A post-mortem investigation on the torso is under way and police believe it could be that of a woman missing for almost two months.
Officers are said to be contacting the relatives of Kristi McDougall, missing since June 19.
She vanished after telling friends she was on her way to the Ermington area of Sydney.
Kiesha was last seen by her mother Kirsti at the family home in Mount Druitt, western Sydney.
Mrs Abrahams and her partner Robert Smith have both been interviewed by police and deny any involvement in her disappearance.
Detectives investigating the case have said they were treating all the young girl's immediate family as suspects.
Fortean / Oddball News - 8/12/2010