News Briefs 28-09-2004

Look up and hold your breath on Wednesday. An asteroid heads for us, and a spaceship heads away from us. Let’s hope neither meets the planet at speed…

  • New theory challenges Darwin by arguing that aging is an altruistic adaptation designed at helping groups of organisms survive.
  • Are psychedelics inching their way towards prescription status?
  • Psychic seeks mayor’s ghost in Masonic temple. That’s gonna be a tough secret handshake.
  • Is anybody there? Mediums are becoming more popular (the demise of medium rare?).
  • Optical illusions – are they the work of the devil, a gateway to another world, or the key to our minds. Lofty claims, all three.
  • 2004 hurricane season one of the costliest on record. Duh…
  • Faster than a speeding solar-powered car.
  • What is up with that flipping magnetic field the Earth has? It’s going to drop down the polls with all that flip-flopping.
  • New findings suggest that early stars and galaxies took longer to form than first thought.
  • Asteroid Toutatis to zoom by on Wednesday – Southern Hemisphere viewers should be able to see it through a telescope. Let’s hope the telescope is required…
  • SpaceShipOne set for first X-prize attempt on Wednesday, closest challenger stalled waiting for parts. Duck as you pass Toutatis SS1!
  • British tycoon Richard Branson signs up with the makers of SS1 to offer commercial spaceflights within the next five years – on Virgin Galactic. Galactic might be pushing the definition a bit Richard, but nice work all the same.
  • Keep up to date with the SS1 action at this page, as it offers streaming video of the event (and from the cockpit).
  • The crew on-board the International Space Station will get the perfect Xmas present this year – more oxygen.
  • Mars might put in a request as well, after astronomers watch oxygen leak from the Red Planet.
  • The perfect cosmic storm.
  • Mars Global Surveyor images the tracks left by the Mars rover Spirit – and the rover itself. I can hear Richard Hoagland’s furious keyboard noise from here already.
  • Plants perform green clean of toxic sites. Wow, somebody found a use for those plant things.
  • North Sea’s fish stocks have more than halved in the past century.
  • China’s last woman proficient in the mysterious Nushu language has died in her ’90s.
  • Sea worms invade Honolulu beach, even stinging one woman. Ew, look at those things…that’s enough to keep me out of the water.
  • Branch Davidian leader David Koresh’s ’68 Camaro has gone under the hammer. Nice car – Jesus must have built his hotrod.
  • Randi rants in absentia.
  • The mystery of the Massachusetts stone heads.
  • Pagans gather to celebrate the changing of seasons. Any excuse for that bunch of party animals.
  • Feeling a little too soft and squishy in your teched-up city life? Why not become a Stone Age technologist?
  • Dog hit by car finds way to hospital, plonks itself down at the registration desk. Not just any hospital mind you, but St Francis Hospital (the guy that’s the patron saint of animals).
  • UFO sightings in Ohio. With pic.
  • Heretic among heretics – an interview with Jacques Vallee.
  • Magonia supplement #52 has recently been posted to the Magonia website.
  • Ancient artefacts found in rock formations in Shetland.
  • Historians say that 350th anniversary celebrations for the Taj Mahal are up to a decade too late. Cancel the party, recall the invitations.
  • New optical storage technique promises terabyte disks.
  • The next generation of heart pace-makers might be constructed out of stem cells.

  • Is Google working on a web browser?
  • Cybersex update: the ins and outs of teledildonics (put that one in your dictionary Webster!).

Quote of the Day:

I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.

Steven Wright