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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

INFOGRAPHIC: THE SOCIAL MEDIA ZOMBIE


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My previous posts had shown infographics which dealt with the negative effects of social media - the sickness called addiction and the monster that disrupts your work life. Now the following infographic takes a step further and brings us to another world - the neither-dead-nor-alive zombie world (not literally of course). Check out the infographic and see whether the social media has turned you or those around you into one or more of the eight types of "zombies"!

The social media zombie apocalypse
By
Confused.com, 25 Oct, 2012.

The zombie apocalypse is already upon us. Social media has turned many of us into drones. We've checked out of the real world to obsessively, compulsively, and often unwittingly check our various accounts. Have you seen one of these social media zombies walking among us?

Social media zombie infographic
Brought to you by Confused.com - You could save on your car insurance at Confused.com

[Source: Confused.com via Mashable. Edited.]


5 OF THE SCARIEST SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENTS EVER


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Bone-Chilling Science: The Scariest Experiments Ever
By Tia Ghose,
Live Science, 30 October 2012.

Since Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the popular imagination has been alive with stories of mad scientists and the chilling experiments they conduct. But sometimes, real life is even more frightening than fiction.

From zombie dogs to mind control, here are some of the scariest experiments ever done.

1. Earth-swallowing black holes

When physicists first flipped the switch on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), at least a few people held their breath. For years, rumours had circulated that the particle accelerator could create mini black holes that would destroy Earth. In 2008, a group even filed suit to stop the particle collider from turning on, arguing that the atomic collisions could cause the end of the world. [Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth]

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A popular notion that the collider would create mini black holes that would suck up the Earth has been
dismissed by experts as impossible. Here, an artist's conception of what may be the smallest black
hole in the binary star system IGR J17091-3624.

Though it sounded slightly plausible, there's basically no chance that the LHC will destroy the Earth. A comprehensive study calculated that cosmic rays bombarding Earth routinely create higher energy collisions than the particle accelerator. According to that study, "nature has already conducted the equivalent of about a hundred thousand LHC experimental programs on Earth already - and the planet still exists."

Of course, even if the world is destroyed, at least we have a consolation prize: Earlier this year, physicists at the Swiss site announced they had found a particle that may be the Higgs boson, the elusive particle thought to give all other particles their mass.

2. Zombie dogs


In 1940, Russian scientists released a video of severed dog heads [shown above; see Part 2] that were kept alive for several hours, wiggling their ears in response to sounds and even licking their mouths. The scientists claimed they could keep the animals alive by an artificial blood circulation system.

But that was just the first time scientists had created zombie dogs. In 2005, American scientists created another pack of zombie dogs. The team rapidly killed the dogs by flushing all the blood from their bodies and replacing it with oxygen- and sugar-filled saline, according to the researchers from the Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research at the University of Pittsburgh.

Three hours later, the team gave the dogs a blood transfusion, and an electric shock. The dogs were resurrected, and while some had permanent damage, most were no worse for wear. The research, published in the Yearbook of Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, suggested that the treatment could one day revive people who are haemorrhaging blood too quickly for doctors to repair their injuries.

3. Mind control

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LSD (Source)

Talk about a bad trip. In the 1950s, the CIA launched a top-secret program called MKULTRA to look for drugs and other techniques to use in mind control. Over the next two decades, the agency used hallucinogens, sleep deprivation and electrical shock techniques in an effort to perfect brainwashing.

CIA scientists conducted more than 149 research projects as part of MKULTRA. In one, they tested the effects of LSD in social situations by slipping the drug to unwitting bar patrons in New York and San Francisco. In others, they enticed heroin addicts to take the hallucinogen by offering them heroin. [Trippy Tales: The History of 8 Hallucinogens]

Spooked by the Watergate scandal, in 1973 CIA Director Richard Helms ordered documents related to the project destroyed. However, some documents escaped destruction, and by 1977 a Freedom of Information Act request released more than 20,000 pages on the sordid program to author John Marks.

4. Deadly nurses

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The Milgram Experiment (Source)

While the CIA was working so hard to control people's minds, it turns out it's pretty easy to get people to do what you say: All you have to do is ask like you mean it.

In 1963, social psychologist Stanley Milgram had shown that Yale University students were willing to administer a deadly shock to strangers if an authority figure requested it.

But psychiatrist Charles Hofling wanted to see how obedience influenced decisions when people didn't know they were part of an experiment. In his innocuously titled 1966 paper "An Experimental Study of Nurse-Physician Relationships," Hofling described a chilling experimental protocol: An unknown doctor called real nurses on the hospital's night shift and asked them to administer twice the maximum dose of an unapproved drug to a patient. Unbeknown to the nurses, the "medicine" was actually a harmless sugar pill and the doctor was a fake.

While it's frightening that the experiment was given the green light at all, it's perhaps even scarier that 21 out of 22 nurses complied. The researchers clearly labelled the drug, so nurses knew they were overdosing their patients. The nurses also violated hospital rules by taking instructions over the phone and giving an unapproved medicine. The study showed just how much the aura of authority could cloud people's ethical judgments.

5. Bat bombs

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In World War II, the U.S. Marine Corps worked on a project to train bats as kamikaze bombers against the Japanese. A Pennsylvania dentist, Lytle Adams, first proposed the idea to the White House in 1942, after visiting the bat-filled caves at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Adams proposed strapping tiny incendiary explosives to the animals and exploiting their use of echolocation to find roosts in barns and attics. According to Lytle's plan, the bomb-strapped bats would fly to Japan, nestle in the nooks of the mostly wooden buildings in Japanese cities, and set them ablaze.

The Marine Corps captured thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats and developed explosive devices to strap to their backs. The project was scrapped in 1943, probably because the U.S. government had made progress on the atomic bomb.

Top image: Zombies aren't always of the human kind. In 1940, Russian scientists released a video of severed dog heads that were kept alive for several hours with an artificial blood circulation system, scientists claimed. Credit: © Chrisharvey | Dreamstime.com.

[Source: Live Science. Edited. Some images and links added.]


KOWLOON WALLED CITY: A POPULATION DENSITY NIGHTMARE


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Kowloon Walled City, a Population Density Nightmare
By Kaushik,
Amusing Planet, 30 October 2012.

Kowloon Walled City was a largely ungoverned Chinese settlement in Kowloon, Hong Kong, comprising of 350 interconnected high-rise buildings where 33,000 residents lived within a plot measuring just 210 meter by 120 meter. Originally a Chinese military fort, the Walled City became an enclave after the New Territories were leased to Britain in 1898. Its population increased dramatically following the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II and reached a peak of 33,000 residents in 1987. When it was demolished in 1993-94, it was thought to be the most densely populated place on earth.

The roughly 350 buildings that stood inside the Walled City were built with poor foundations and few or no utilities. The construction was so dense that sunlight didn't filter down to the lower levels, which were lit by fluorescent lights. Because apartments were so small, space was maximized with wider upper floors, caged balconies, and rooftop additions. Roofs in the City were full of television antennas, clotheslines, water tanks, and garbage, and could be crossed using a series of ladders.

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The Walled City made an appearance in Robert Ludlum’s book The Bourne Supremacy in which he describes the city:
The Walled City of Kowloon has no visible wall around it, but it is as clearly defined as if there were one made of hard, high steel. It is instantly sensed by the congested open market that runs along the street in front of the row of dark run-down flats - shacks haphazardly perched on top of one another giving the impression that at any moment the entire blighted complex will collapse under its own weight, leaving nothing but rubble where elevated rubble had stood.
The history of the Walled City can be traced back to the Song Dynasty (960–1279), when an outpost was set up for the military to defend the area against pirates and to manage the production of Salt before eventually coming under British rule. During the Japanese occupation on Hong Kong in the Second World War parts of it were demolished to provide building materials for the nearby airport. Once Japan surrendered from the city, the population dramatically increased with numerous squatters moving in.

After a failed attempt to drive them out in 1948, the British adopted a 'hands-off' policy in most matters concerning the Walled City. With no government enforcement from the Chinese or the British save for a few raids by the Hong Kong Police, the Walled City became a haven for crime and drugs.

By the early 1980s it was notorious for brothels, casinos, cocaine parlours and opium dens. It was also famous for food courts which would serve up dog meat and had a number of unscrupulous dentists who could escape prosecution if anything went wrong with their patients. The city eventually became the focus of a diplomatic crisis with both Britain and China refusing to take responsibility.

Despite it being a hotbed of crime many of its inhabitants went about their lives in relative peace with children playing on the rooftops and those living in the upper levels seeking refuge high above the city. The rooftops were also an important gathering place, especially for residents who lived on upper floors. Parents used them to relax, and children would play or do homework there after school.

Leung Ping Kwan wrote in his book The City of Darkness,
Here, prostitutes installed themselves on one side of the street, while a priest preached and handed out powdered milk to the poor on the other; social workers gave guidance, while drug addicts squatted under the stairs getting high; what were children's games centres by day became strip show venues by night. It was a very complex place, difficult to generalise about, a place that seemed frightening but where most people continued to lead normal lives. A place just like the rest of Hong Kong.
Over time, both the British and the Chinese governments found the City to be increasingly intolerable, despite the low reported crime rate. The quality of life and sanitary conditions were far behind the rest of Hong Kong and eventually plans were made to demolish the buildings. The government spent $2.7billion Hong Kong dollars in compensation and evacuations started in 1991. Those who refused were forcibly evicted. After four months of planning, demolition of the Walled City began on 1993 and concluded in 1994.

The area where the Walled City once stood is now Kowloon Walled City Park, a magnificent park modelled on Jiangnan gardens of the early Qing Dynasty comprising an area of 31,000 square meters. The park's paths and pavilions are named after streets and buildings in the Walled City. There are a few artefacts, such as five inscribed stones and three old wells, including a bronze model of the Walled City on display in the park.

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Mir Lui was assigned to work in the city as a postman in 1976 and had no choice but to go. He was one of the
few people who knew the ins and outs and wore a hat to protect him from the constant dripping.

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Food processors admitted they had moved into the city to benefit from the low rents and to seek refuge from
the jurisdiction of government health and sanitation inspectors.

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A workplace during the day would turn into a living room at night when Hui Tung Choy's wife and two young
daughters joined him at his noodle business. The children's play and homework space was a flour-encrusted
work bench.

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Grocery-store owner Chan Pak, 60, in his tiny shop on Lung Chun Back Road. He had a particular passion
for cats and owned seven when this picture was taken.

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Law Yu Yi, aged 90, lived in a small and humid third-floor flat with her son's 68-year-old wife off Lung Chun
First Alley. The arrangement is typical of traditional Chinese values in which the daughter-in-law looks after
her in-laws.

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A Kowloon Walled City resident who is dissatisfied with compensation pay-outs from the government sits on
a pavement in protest as police start the clearance operation.

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Daylight barely penetrates the rubbish-strewn grille over the city's Tin Hau Temple which was built in 1951 on
an alley off Lo Yan Street.

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Bronze model of the Kowloon Walled City inside the Park. Photo credit

Article Sources: Wikipedia, Daily Mail.
Photos by Greg Girard

Top image: Aerial view of Kowloon Walled City in 1989. Photo: Jidanni/Wikimedia Commons.

[Post Source: Amusing Planet. Edited. Top image added.]


7 AMAZING ANIMAL DEVILS



Prints Of Darkness: 7 Amazing Animal Devils
By Steve,
Web Ecoist, 30 October 2012.

How frightening, unappealing, ugly and/or generally disagreeable does an animal need to be before it’s dubbed a “devil”? The answer is “plenty” as there aren’t that many devils among the world’s cornucopia of ornery critters. These 7 amazing animal devils aren’t actually evil, of course, they just look that way…and appearing, smelling and acting devilish are the keys to their success as species.

1. Tasmanian Devil


The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is as devilish as they come: its bite is immensely powerful, it emanates a foul and pungent odour when irritated (which is most of the time) and its typical vocalizations are a range of ear-piercing shrieks. Roughly the size of a small dog, the Tasmanian Devil is the world’s largest marsupial carnivore and will eat every part of nearly any animal, dead or alive, that it catches or finds.


Tasmanian Devils are threatened by a virulent form of infectious cancer that threatens to drive the species to extinction by mid-century. Devil Facial Tumour Disease, or DFTD, has wiped out up to 90 percent of the wild population in some areas of Tasmania. The disease is spread by facial biting, which is something Tasmanian Devils do when greeting, fighting and courting.

2. Giant Devil Catfish


The Giant Devil Catfish (Bagarius yarrelli) or “Goonch” is a very large catfish found in the larger rivers of Southeast Asia. growing up to 2 meters (6.6 ft) in length, the fish has been implicated in a number of fatal attacks on humans and water buffalo. The so-called Kali River Goonch Attacks occurred between 1998 and 2007 on the banks of the Kali river in northern India and southern Nepal.

Image via: Maxim

The Giant Devil Catfish was featured on a television episode of River Monsters after actor/angler Jeremy Wade was asked to try and capture the supposed man-eating Goonch. Although Wade and his assistants were able to land several man-sized fish, he suspects larger specimens may yet lurk in the depths of the Kali river.

3. Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis

Images via: Wildbook, Juxtapost and Carbonated.tv

The Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis (Idolomantis diabolica) is a macro-photographer’s favourite due to its colourful body and “martial arts” style threat display. Only the male of the species exhibits these colours as the female is merely beige.

Image via: Penny Arcade

So, is the Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis actually an enormous mantis or is it merely an average-sized mantis that happens to belong to a giant devil? Hmm, this is one case where neither evil is the lesser. In any case, the Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis is a popular though challenging pet that shows off its beauty in any stage of its lifespan.

4. Giant Devil Ray


The Giant Devil Ray or Devil Fish (Mobula mobular) is a spiny-tailed ray that can grow to an astonishing size: up 5.2 meters (17 ft) in length! The creature is harmless to humans as it eats only small organisms that are directed into the creatures mouth via the two “horns” on its head. It’s estimated only about 400 of these majestic endangered sea creatures remain, mainly in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea though they’ve been sighted elsewhere.


Nope, it’s not a photoshop: on August 26th, 1933, in the Atlantic Ocean off Brielle, New Jersey, a truly enormous Giant Devil Ray was dragged to shore after it became entangled in the anchor rope of a fishing vessel. It’s estimated the creature weighed around 5,000 pounds.

5. Thorny Devil


The Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) has a bark that’s much worse than its bite, though it doesn’t actually bark and it doesn’t bite humans. Growing up to 20cm (8 inches) in length and able to live up to 20 years, this Australian desert lizard boasts one of the most fearsome Latin names ever bestowed upon an animal.


Displaying a varied array of scales, spines and horns, the Thorny Devil is undoubtedly thorny though it’s not very satanic. The creature does practice some deception, however, having a scaly “false head” on its upper back that it uses to fool predators by ducking its real head.

6. Hickory Horned Devil

Images via: Hold Onto Your Feelings and CCTV

The Hickory Horned Devil is the larva of the Regal Moth (Citheronia regalis), also known as the Royal Walnut Moth. Caterpillars can grow up to to 15 cm (5.9 inches) long, making them the largest such insects in the United States.

Image via: Growing Green

Though it looks dangerous, the Hickory Horned Devil is all show and no go - its dangerous, devilish spikes and spines may be prickly but unlike those of other caterpillars they’re not poisonous. You’ll find Hickory Horned Devils on Walnut or Hickory trees though they may choose Persimmon, Sweet Gum or Sumac should their favourite nut trees be unavailable. [Watch video]

7. Red Devil Squid


Also known as Jumbo Squid and Humboldt Squid, Red Devils are surprisingly large, growing up to 1.75 meters or 6 ft long and weighing up to 50kg or 100 pounds. They’re also aggressively curious - they’ve been known to grab divers’ masks and air hoses, and they don’t give them back once they’re gone. Millions of these squid congregate along Mexico’s Pacific Ocean coast with stragglers ranging up to southern California and even Puget Sound. Fast, elusive and cannibalistic, Red Devils occasionally wash up on shore where beachcombers stumble upon their carcasses.

Image via: Gene Kira

Red Devil squid are formidable predators equipped with sharp beaks the size of tangerines and thousands of barb-like teeth embedded in their arm suckers. Sport fishermen claim they put up a fierce fight when hooked though captured squid have been known to blast their tormentors with viscous dark brown ink.

Bonus: Devil Toad



One bonus “devil” isn’t around to cause trouble anymore, and just as well. The Devil Toad (Beelzebufo), which lived in what is now Madagascar approximately 70 million years ago near the end of the Age of Dinosaurs…it may have even EATEN dinosaurs, albeit youngsters of smaller species. Beelzebufo is believed to have grown to over 40 cm (16 inches) from snout to tail and tipped the scales at an astonishing 4 kg (8.8 pounds). Forget ribbeting, this critter likely roared! [See also National Geographic’s article]

[Source: Web Ecoist. Edited. Some links added.]


NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S SPACE PICTURES THIS WEEK XXXIII


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Space Pictures This Week: Meteor Smoke, Mars Canyon, More
By
National Geographic News, 30 October 2012.

1. Grandest Canyon

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Grand Canyon, meet your match - and then some. Mars's Valles Marineris (shown in a false-colour composite picture released October 22 by the German Aerospace Centre) is the largest canyon system in the solar system.

Stretching across the equatorial Martian highlands for some 2,485 miles (4,000 kilometres), Valles Marineris yawns 124 miles (200 kilometres) wide and up to 6.8 miles (11 kilometres) deep. Earth's 1.25-mile-deep (2-kilometre-deep) Grand Canyon could easily fit into one of Valles Marineris's smaller side valleys.

Another measure of the Martian canyon's magnitude: It took 20 images from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) aboard ESA's Mars Express spacecraft to represent Valles Marineris in glorious false colour (as pictured above).

2. Bloom of Youth

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What NASA calls a "beautiful young crater" sits within the moon's complex crater Icarus in a picture released October 23 by the team behind the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Freshly kicked up by the impact that created the crater, subsurface material shines bright against long-exposed rocks. But the bright, dandelion-like blast site should fade to match the surrounding ground relatively soon, by lunar standards - within hundreds of millions of years.

3. Full of Stars

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Star stalker Louie Atalasidis captured a stellar feature of the constellation Orion the Hunter from Bankstown, Australia - the Orion Nebula, a star-forming cloud of gas and dust.

The nebula - seen in a picture Atalasidis shared with National Geographic's My Shot photography community on October 26 - is about 1,500 light-years away. Even so, the space cloud can be seen with the naked eye under dark skies as part of the "sword" hanging from Orion's belt in the iconic constellation. (Get Orion Nebula wallpaper.)

4. Smoke on the Water, Fire in the Sky

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Seen in several photos taken over a half hour, smoke from an Orionid fireball squiggles across the sky over a pond in northern Maine on October 19.

The Orionid meteor shower is caused when Earth slams into a debris field left behind by Halley's comet, which won't return to our neck of the woods for another five decades. (Find out why Halley's comet has been seen as an omen of doom.)

5. Magnetic Appeal

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Art and science melt and merge in a new picture of the sun created October 19 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland. Scientists used a gradient filter - often used by photo editors to create dramatic effects.

By boosting contrast in the image, the gradient filter better reveals coronal loops, arcs of solar material whose paths are determined by magnetic fields in the sun's atmosphere. Studying those field lines, according to Goddard, "can help researchers understand what's happening with the sun's complex magnetic fields, fields that can also power great eruptions on the sun, such as solar flares or coronal mass ejections."

6. Starry Night

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Stars seem to pinwheel above a stone house in the Himalayan region of Garhwal, India, on October 20. Shared with National Geographic's My Shot photography community the next day, the image was captured with the light of the full moon - and a very long exposure.


[Source: National Geographic News. Edited.]