Just the Facts?: Meteor Blast Largest Since Tunguska -- Woman Invents Ghost -- Lab Rats 'Acquire Sixth Sense'
Russia meteor blast largest since Tunguska
A meteor 15 meters across flared through the skies over Russia's Chelyabinsk region early Friday, triggering an atomic bomb-sized shock wave that injured nearly a thousand people, blew out windows and caused some Russians to fear the end of the world.
It was the largest reported fireball since the Tunguska event in 1908 – an asteroid that flattened millions of trees over a wide area in Siberia – according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Multiple amateur videos posted online showed the meteor’s flaring arc – called a bolide by scientists – as it crossed the western Siberia sky. Others from the scene included the sound of a loud boom, followed by a cacophony of car alarms. One video showed the hurried evacuation of an office building in Chelyabinsk.
“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people’s houses to check if they were OK,” Chelyabinsk resident Sergey Hametov told The Associated Press. “We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound.”
Another resident described the meteorite's “flash."
"I was standing at a bus stop, seeing off my girlfriend," Andrei, a local resident who did not give his second name, told Reuters. "Then there was a flash and I saw a trail of smoke across the sky and felt a shock wave that smashed windows."
The fireball’s trail, which JPL reported was visible for about 30 seconds and said was “brighter than the sun,” lit up one man’s morning commute. “I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day,” Viktor Prokofiev told Reuters. “I felt like I was blinded by headlights.”
Estimates of the number of people injured swelled throughout the day, with early reports putting those hurt around 500, with close to 100 people hospitalized. Chelyabinsk health official Marina Moskvicheva later said as many as 985 people had requested medical assistance in the city, many for injuries caused by flying glass. More than 200 children at Chelyabink schools, which had just opened, were among the injured, according to officials.
Russia’s interior ministry said the shock wave caused the roof of a zinc factory's warehouse to collapse, but that no fatalities were reported.
The fireball entered Earth’s atmosphere at 18 km per second, and released hundreds of kilotons of energy, JPL said. The blast's force was the equivalent of the nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII – many times over. - NBC News
NOTE: I bet they first thought it was a nuke headed their way...scary. Lon
11 Videos - Russian Meteor Event
The Tungus Event or The Great Siberian Meteorite
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Woman invents ghost to keep house in divorce settlement
A Victorian woman claimed her family home was haunted in a bid to keep the price tag low enough that she could keep it in a divorce settlement.
The wife, 52, told her husband, lawyers, a property valuer and a court a ghost had been seen at the property.
But she was happy to remain in the house and wanted the chance to keep it, while her estranged husband wanted it sold.
The wife, through her solicitors, wrote to the valuer saying it was "her belief that the property is haunted" and asking how this would impact on the property's value.
The court heard the valuer appeared "rather amused" by the request and replied: "Exorcism is not one of our many speciality services and unless the ghost was held captive in the room to which we could not gain access, it must have been at lunch."
The woman maintained in court there was a ghost in the house and many people in her street knew it.
She said her nephew had seen the ghost some years ago and she "felt something".
The court heard the haunting was confined to one room of the house, the wife's bedroom.
She raised other problems with the property, including a leaking shower, slugs, termites and a freight line near the house that ran day and night.
Federal Magistrate Stephen Scarlett said it was a blatant attempt to persuade the valuer to reduce the price he put on the property.
"I found this account of the alleged haunting to be unbelievable and I am satisfied that the claim was fabricated for an ulterior purpose, namely, as an attempt to influence the valuer to return a low valuation of the former matrimonial home," he said.
The valuer confirmed none of the wife's concerns had any bearing on his $750,000 price tag.
The court judgment, splitting everything the couple owned, allowed the wife to keep the house if she was able to pay the husband $189,000. - Adeliade Now
Lab rats 'acquire sixth sense'
US researchers have effectively given laboratory rats a "sixth sense" using an implant in their brains.
An experimental device allowed the rats to "touch" infrared light - which is normally invisible to them.
The team at Duke University fitted the rats with an infrared detector wired up to microscopic electrodes that were implanted in the part of their brains that processes tactile information.
The results of the study were published in Nature Communications journal.
The researchers say that, in theory at least, a human with a damaged visual cortex might be able to regain sight through a device implanted in another part of the brain.
Lead author Miguel Nicolelis said this was the first time a brain-machine interface has augmented a sense in adult animals.
"We could create devices sensitive to any physical energy," said Prof Nicolelis, from the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
"It could be magnetic fields, radio waves, or ultrasound. We chose infrared initially because it didn't interfere with our electrophysiological recordings."
His colleague Eric Thomson commented: "The philosophy of the field of brain-machine interfaces has until now been to attempt to restore a motor function lost to lesion or damage of the central nervous system.
"This is the first paper in which a neuroprosthetic device was used to augment function - literally enabling a normal animal to acquire a sixth sense."
In their experiments, the researchers used a test chamber with three light sources that could be switched on randomly.
They taught the rats to choose the active light source by poking their noses into a port to receive a sip of water as a reward. They then implanted the microelectrodes, each about a tenth the diameter of a human hair, into the animals' brains. These electrodes were attached to the infrared detectors.
The scientists then returned the animals to the test chamber. At first, the rats scratched at their faces, indicating that they were interpreting the lights as touch. But after a month - as shown in these videos - the animals learned to associate the signal in their brains with the infrared source.
They began to search actively for the signal, eventually achieving perfect scores in tracking and identifying the correct location of the invisible light source.
One key finding was that enlisting the touch cortex to detect infrared light did not reduce its ability to process touch signals. - bbc