Friday, December 28, 2012

Horror Movies for 2012

2012 was alright for horror and paranormal movies. Here is a list of some of the most popular horror movies for the year 2012. We hope 2013 will be gorier and scarier for horror and paranormal movie fans alike!!!

The Devil Inside
What is it? The first in a line of "micro-budget" horror movies from Paramount seeking to repeat the success of the studio's Paranormal Activity series,
Stars: Bonnie Morgan, Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Preston James Hillier, Evan Helmuth, Suzan Crowley, D.T. Carney
Director: William Brent Bell
Release Date: January 6, 2012

Underworld Awakening
What is it? The fourth entry in the vampires-versus-werewolves action-horror series, with Kate Beckinsale returning to the starring role and Swedish directors Mans Marlind and Björn Stein (Shelter) taking over behind the camera.
Stars: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, Sandrine Holt, Robert Lawrenson, Stephen Rea
Directors: Mans Marlind and Björn Stein
Release Date: January 20, 2012

The Grey
What is it? A survival thriller from the director of The A-Team about a group of oil-rig roughnecks stranded on the sub-arctic tundra who are hunted by a vicious pack of rogue wolves.
Stars: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, James Badge Dale, Frank Grillo, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, Dallas Roberts
Director: Joe Carnahan
Release Date: January 27, 2012

The Woman in Black
What is it? Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe stars in this ghost story based on the Susan Hill novel about a young lawyer who travels to a remote village to sort out a recently deceased client's papers and encounters the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman terrorizing the locals.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Liz White, Janet McTeer, Alisa Khazanova, Shaun Dooley, Alisa Khazanova, Sidney Johnston
Director: James Watkins
Release Date: February 3, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
What is it? Sequel to the 2007 comic book adaptation Ghost Rider, with the directors of the Crank movies taking over behind the camera.
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba, Ciaran Hinds, Christopher Lambert, Johnny Whitworth
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Release Date: February 17, 2012

What is it? Thriller about a woman who is convinced that the serial killer who kidnapped her two years before has come back and taken her sister. However, the police don't believe her story, and she's left to face the madman alone.
Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Carpenter, Wes Bentley, Sebastian Stan, Joel David Moore, Michael Paré
Director: Heitor Dhalia
Release Date: February 24, 2012

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
What is it? An adaptation the famed fairy tale that picks up 15 years after the brother-and-sister duo Hansel and Gretel escape from the clutches of the evil cannibalistic witch, as they occupy their time working as bounty hunters with a score to settle against all witches.
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Derek Mears, Zoe Bell, Thomas Mann, Monique Ganderton
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Release Date: March 2, 2012

The Raven
What is it? Fictional exploits of author Edgar Allen Poe, as he hunts a serial killer who models his crimes after the deaths in the author's stories.
Stars: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson
Director: James McTeigue
Release Date: March 9, 2012

Silent House
What is it? A remake of the Uruguayan film The Silent House about a young woman who gets stuck inside a dark, isolated house where strange things being to occur.
Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Haley Murphy, Adam Barnett
Directors: Chris Kentis and Laura Lau
Release Date: March 9, 2012

The Hunger Games
What is it? The story takes place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future in the nation of Panem, where boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 must participate in the Hunger Games, a televised annual event in which the "tributes" are required to fight to the death until there is one remaining victor.
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, and Donald Sutherland
Directors: Gary Ross
Release Date: March 23, 2012 

The Cabin in the Woods
What is it? Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon presents spin on the typical slasher scenario of a group of young people partying at a spooky cabin in the woods.
Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Jesse Williams, Fran Kranz, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Brian J. White, Amy Acker, Jodelle Ferland
Director: Drew Goddard
Release Date: April 13, 2012

House at the End of the Street
What is it? Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) stars as a teen who moves into a new home next door to a house that was the site of a multiple murder.
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows, Nolan Gerard Funk, Jonathan Malen, Will Bowes, Allie MacDonald
Director: Mark Tonderai
Release Date: April 20, 2012

Scary Movie 5
What is it? The fifth entry in the comedic series spoofing popular horror movies.
Stars: TBD
Director: David Zucker
Release Date: April 20, 2012

Dark Shadows
What is it? An adaptation of the 1960s vampire soap opera, starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, a vamp who was buried in a tomb for two centuries by a vengeful witch and returns to his manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin.
Stars: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Eva Green, Chloe Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller
Director: Tim Burton
Release Date: May 11, 2012

What is it? In this semi-prequel to Alien, a team of scientists and explorers embark on a thrilling journey that will test their physical and mental limits and strand them on a distant world, where they will discover the answers to our most profound questions and to life's ultimate mystery.
Stars: Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Ben Foster, Logan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris
Director: Ridley Scott
Release Date: June 8, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
What is it? An adaptation of the "mash-up" novel that postulates that Abraham Lincoln was secretly a vampire slayer whose mother was killed by a creature of the night.
Stars: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Alan Tudyk, Anthony Mackie
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Release Date: June 22, 2012

Warm Bodies
What is it? Zombie romance from the director of All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and 50/50 based on the Isaac Marion book about an undead young man who falls in love with the living girlfriend of one of his victims.
Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco, Rob Corddry, Cory Hardrict
Director: Jonathan Levine
Release Date: August 10, 2012

The Apparition
What is it? Supernatural tale postponed from 2011 about a couple haunted by a presence unleashed during a college experiment.
Stars: Ashley Greene, Tom Felton, Sebastian Stan, Julianna Guill, Luke Pasqualino, Rick Gomez
Director: Todd Lincoln
Release Date: August 24, 2012

What is it? Ethan Hawke plays a journalist who writes books about real-life murders and moves his family into a house that was the site of a mass murder, where he discovers "found footage" that shines light on that tragedy. From the director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone, Fred Thompson, Clare Foley, Victoria Leigh
Director: Scott Derrickson
Release Date: August 24, 2012

What is it? Helmed by the director of pretty much every Grudge movie (Japanese and American), this tale involves passengers on board a flight over the ocean encountering a supernatural entity.
Stars: Leslie Bibb, Ryan Kwanten, Amy Smart, Jamie Chung, Scout Taylor-Compton, Nicky Whelan, Jerry Ferrara
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Release Date: August 31, 2012

The Possession
What is it? In the movie formerly known as The Dibbuk Box, a mother and father must cope when their daughter becomes possessed by a malevolent spirit tied to a mysterious box. From the Danish director of Nightwatch and The Substitute.
Stars: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, Madison Davenport, Grant Show, Matisyahu
Director: Ole Bornedal
Release Date: August 31, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution
What is it? The fifth in the video game-based zombie series about bio-engineered super heroine Alice battling baddies during a zombie apocalypse.
Stars: Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Kevin Durand, Oded Fehr, Boris Kodjoe, Colin Salmon
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Release Date: September 14, 2012

Dark Moon
What is it? After the release of Apollo 18, this similarly themed film from the director of The Fourth Kind about a black ops mission that discovers something sinister on the moon was pushed back to late 2012
Stars: TBD
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Release Date: September 28, 2012

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D
What is it? In this direct sequel to Tobe Hooper's original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Heather and her friends travel to Texas in order to collect her inheritance and run into the cannibalistic killer Leatherface.
Stars: Bill Moseley, Alexandra Daddario, Scott Eastwood, Tania Raymonde, Trey Songz, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Thom Bray, Richard Riehle
Director: John Luessenhop
Release Date: October 5, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4
What is it? The Paranormal Activity 3 directors return for the next entry in the demonic possession Paranormal Activity franchise.
Stars: TBD
Directors: Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost
Release Date: October 19, 2012

Halloween 3D
What is it? The third in the "rebooted" Halloween franchise about masked serial killer Michael Myers, this time without director Rob Zombie.
Stars: Keke Palmer
Director: Patrick Lussier
Release Date: October 26, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
What is it? The last entry in the Twilight vampire romance franchise, dealing with the aftermath of the birth of the human-vampire offspring Renesmee.
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Dakota Fanning
Director: Bill Condon
Release Date: November 16, 2012

World War Z
What is it? Big-budget adaptation of the Max Brooks book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, an account of a global war against a zombie outbreak.
Stars: Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, Mireille Enos, Julia Levy-Boeken, James Badge Dale, Bryan Cranston
Director: Marc Forster
Release Date: December 21, 2012

UFO Sightings of 2012

Here are some of the best UFO sightings for the year 2012 !!!
2012 was a great year for UFO sightings across the world. America especially had a boom in UFO sightings and activity for 2012. This 30-minute video compilation covers some the best examples of the thousands of  UFO / unidentified flying objects, most posted to YouTube, which bubbled up to the surface this past year.

On Wednesday, December 12, the popular destination website, Latest UFO Sightings, posted an extensive study of the most interesting sightings over the last 12 months. As smartphones and hand-held cameras continue to become more popular and widespread, the average citizen is now the most prolific reporter on this paranormal story. And the trend only promises to continue.
But, as seen in the video attached, plenty of professionals got in on the act in 2012 as well.
Perhaps that explains the explosion of interest in the phenomenon over the past year.

Running the gamut between fairly obvious fakes, explainable floaters and on to the truly mysterious, just about every type of unidentified flying object is included in this year-end review.
No matter what opinion one holds, whether a believer or not, this video is fascinating for the breadth and depth of its content.

Top Discoveries of 2012

 2012 was a great year for discoveries, here are some of the top scientific discoveries of 2012 !!!

17. Earth’s Exoplanet Twin

A rocky, roughly Earth-size exoplanet orbits Alpha Centauri B, one of the stars in the nearest stellar system to our own. Reported in October, the planet is just 4.4 light-years from Earth. But, with a year lasting 3.2 Earth-days, the planet is probably too close to its star to host life as we know it. A team using the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher found the planet after detecting its small, gravitational tugs on Alpha Centauri B.

Scientists suspect that Alpha Centauri’s three stars might host a few more planets: Where there’s one rocky planet, there are usually more. But don’t plan on visiting the system any time soon. Though Alpha Centauri is a favored destination for proposed interstellar space missions, it’s still too far away to reach with today’s technology.

16. SpaceX Launches to the International Space Station

It was a very good year for the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX. After successfully launching and orbiting its Dragon spacecraft around the Earth in 2010 – the first time a private company has done so – SpaceX celebrated ever greater milestones in 2012. In May, it delivered Dragon to the International Space Station for the first time. A second mostly successful launch in October actually transferred cargo to the orbiting laboratory, proving that SpaceX was capable of bringing supplies and potentially U.S. astronauts to the ISS.

While it remains to be seen exactly what the achievements will mean in the long run, they have bolstered SpaceX’s reputation as the most successful company in the burgeoning private space sector. This could be good news for NASA, which will soon start relying on SpaceX to get to the ISS. Such schemes are part of SpaceX’s good business sense, but the company has longer term and far more ambitious goals. Their CEO, Elon Musk, has stated many times that he hopes to build a human colony on Mars and is even starting to test fully reusable rockets toward this end.

15. Life's New Chemical Code

For the last three billion years, life on Earth has relied on two information-storing molecules, DNA and RNA. Now there's a third: XNA, a polymer synthesized by molecular biologists Vitor Pinheiro and Philipp Holliger of the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom.

Just like DNA, XNA is capable of storing genetic information and then evolving through natural selection. Unlike DNA, it can be carefully manipulated. For now, researchers hope it might be used for medical or industrial purposes. It will also be a useful tool for researchers studying the origins of life. And while both XNA and human understanding are still too rudimentary to synthesize a life form fundamentally unlike any yet known, it can now be imagined.

14. Quantum Teleportation Distance Record Broken

Over the summer, two teams of researchers, one from China and the other from Austria, broke a world record by teleporting quantum particles more than 50 miles through the open air. This little trick involves entangling two particles, like photons, so that they both have the exact same properties. Using a third particle, the characteristics of one of these photons are beamed to a distant location, creating a remote copy.

Scientists now think they will one day be able teleport particles to a satellite in space and then beam them back to any location on Earth. Such technology could allow spies to pass unbreakable codes back and forth and might one day form the backbone of a quantum internet. China plans to test this possibility with a dedicated quantum information satellite, to be launched in 2016, while other countries are racing to make sure they don’t fall too far behind on this important technology.

13. Genome Sequencing for Fetuses

In June, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle announced the successful sequencing of a complete fetal genome using nothing more than snippets of DNA floating in its mother's blood. Unlike earlier techniques, it was completely noninvasive and posed no risks to the baby-to-be. They said the test might be clinically available in just five years -- an optimistic outlook, perhaps, but even if it takes a decade, the consequences could be profound.

After all, genetic tests for newborn babies are already routine. Millions of parents would almost undoubtedly want to scan their fetuses, too. The scans might pick up potentially fatal conditions early, saving lives and easing pain. The scans would also, however, detect more ambiguous medical signals, such as predispositions to disease, or information about traits like personality or physique. What would parents do with that information? What should they do? Is there a limit to how much genetic information parents want about their babies? And how much of that information should be shared with a child? None of these questions have clear answers, and they'll be debated in years to come.

12. Sugar Found in Space

Astronomers have made a sweet discovery: simple sugar molecules floating in the gas around a star some 400 light-years away, suggesting the possibility of life on other planets. The August discovery doesn't prove that life has developed elsewhere in the universe—but it implies that there is no reason it could not. It shows that the carbon-rich molecules that are the building blocks of life can be present even before planets have begun forming. Scientists use the term "sugar" to loosely refer to organic molecules known as carbohydrates, which are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

11. New Planet Found in Our Solar System?

An as yet undiscovered planet might be orbiting at the dark fringes of the solar system, according to a study published in May. Too far out to be easily spotted by telescopes, the potential unseen planet appears to be making its presence felt by disturbing the orbits of so-called Kuiper belt objects, said Rodney Gomes, an astronomer at the National Observatory of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Kuiper belt objects are small icy bodies—including some dwarf planets—that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune.

10. Nine-Planet System Discovered?

A star about 127 light-years from Earth may have even more planets than the sun, which would make the planetary system the most populated yet found. According to an April study, HD 10180—a sunlike star in the southern constellation Hydrus—may have as many as nine orbiting planets, besting the eight official planets in our solar system.

9. New-Species "Heaven" in Peru

A new species of night monkey (pictured) is one of eight new mammals found during an expedition to northern Peru's Tabaconas Namballe National Sanctuary, scientists announced in September.
A team of Mexican and Peruvian biologists found this "new heaven of unknown biodiversity" during a 2009-2011 expedition, according to a press statement.

8. Limbless Amphibians Discovered

They aren't worms or even snakes. They're soil-burrowing, limbless amphibians, and they're completely new to science, a February study suggested. Pictured guarding a brood of eggs in its native northeastern India, the animal above is one of about six potentially new species belonging to a mysterious group of animals called caecilians. What's more, the newfound critters represent an entirely new family of amphibians.

7. Maya Mural Contradicts Doomsday

In the last known largely unexcavated Maya megacity, archaeologists have uncovered the only known mural adorning an ancient Maya house—and it's not just any mural, scientists said in May. In addition to a still vibrant scene of a king and his retinue, the walls are rife with calculations that helped ancient scribes track vast amounts of time. Contrary to the idea the Maya predicted the end of the world in 2012, the markings suggest dates thousands of years in the future.

6. "Dramatic" Maya Temple Found

Some 1,600 years ago, the Temple of the Night Sun was a blood-red beacon visible for miles and adorned with giant masks of the Maya sun god as a shark, blood drinker, and jaguar. Long since lost to the Guatemalan jungle, the temple—our most popular discovery of 2012—is finally showing its faces to archaeologists, and revealing new clues about the rivalrous kingdoms of the Maya, scientists said in May. Unlike the relatively centralized Aztec and Inca empires, the Maya civilization—which spanned much of what are now Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico's Yucatán region — was a loose aggregation of city-states.

5. Giant Crocodile Breaks Size Record

Lolong has hit the big time—at 20.24 feet (6.17 meters) long, the saltwater crocodile is officially the largest in captivity, the Guinness World Records announced in July. The monster reptile is the subject of the tenth most visited National Geographic News story of 2012. Suspected of attacking several people and killing two, the giant reptile was captured alive in the Philippines' Bunawan township  in September 2011. The Guinness listing is based on data by experts including crocodile zoologist Adam Britton, who measured the beast in his home, the new Bunawan Eco-Park and Research Centre.

4. Curiosity Lands on Mars

Millions of people stayed up very late, or got up very early, to witness the nail-biting but successful landing of NASA’s latest and greatest Mars rover, Curiosity, on Aug. 6. Anxiety had been running high in the days prior to the event, with the rover’s descent sequence including the fully automated “seven minutes of terror” and a never-before-attempted, seemingly crazy sky crane maneuver to bring the probe safely down to the soil. Engineers at JPL mission control broke into laughter, applause, and a few tears when touchdown was declared. The entire sequence can be relived in the many mind-blowing videos made from Curiosity data by both NASA and video professionals.

Since then, Curiosity has fascinated the public, beaming back amazing information about the rocks, regolith, and atmosphere of Mars. But most importantly, it has sent back pictures, pictures, and more pictures, transporting us Earth-bound humans to the Red Planet. The rover will continue on its 2.5-year trek up the slopes of Mount Sharp, searching for organic compounds and signs of habitability on Mars, past or present. The entire mission has been so successful that NASA recently announced a new rover built from leftover Curiosity parts that will be sent to Mars in 2020 (and that our readers think should be named "I Should Be on Titan").

3. "Lost World" in Antarctica

An unnamed new species of Yeti crab swarms near hot, mineral-rich hydrothermal vents in the oceans off Antarctica—a newfound "lost world" of strange deep-sea species, scientists say.
(See picture below: "'Yeti Crab' Discovered in Deep Pacific.")

A camera-equipped submersible robot filmed species such as barnacles, crabs, anemones, and even an octopus, all of which are mostly colorless and live in utter darkness at depths of 7,875 feet (2,400 meters), according to a January study.

2. Scientists Search for Prehistoric Life in Lake Vostok

After more than a decade of drilling, Russian scientists finally reached Lake Vostok,14-million-old Antarctic lake buried beneath the ice, in February. About the size of Lake Ontario, Vostok is the largest of some 300 lakes carved into the southern polar cap. The Russians broke through to the lake’s surface -- after drilling through 2.2 miles of ice -- just as the drilling season was coming to an end.

In October, a preliminary analysis of ice that had frozen to the drill bit revealed no evidence of microbial life in the pristine subglacial oasis, a disappointment to those who had been hoping for evidence of extremophiles living in icy darkness. But the lake itself could still harbor life, and two teams from the U.S. and the U.K. are currently in Antarctica preparing to drill through the ice and hoping to retrieve samples from Lake Vostok itself.

1. "God Particle" Found!

In July, two separate teams working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) reported they were more than 99 percent certain they've discovered the Higgs boson, aka the God particle—or at the least a brand-new particle exactly where they expected the Higgs to be. The long-sought particle may complete the standard model of physics by explaining why objects in our universe have mass—and in so doing, why galaxies, planets, and even humans have any right to exist. This could also help us understand portals, time travel and more. The discovery opens new doors for science and proves anything is possible in our paranormal Universe.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tau Ceti May Have an Earth-like World

Tau Ceti Could Have Earth-like World : ASTRONOMERS have discovered what may be five planets orbiting Tau Ceti, the closest single star beyond our solar system, the temperature and luminosity of which nearly match the sun's. If they are planets, one is about the right distance from the star to feature mild temperatures, oceans of water, and even life. Don't pack your bags just yet, though: the discovery still needs to be confirmed.

Tau Ceti is only 12 light-years from Earth, just three times as far as our sun's nearest stellar neighbour, Alpha Centauri. Tau Ceti resembles the sun so much that astronomer Frank Drake, who has long sought radio signals from possible extraterrestrial civilisations, made it his first target in 1960. Unlike most stars, which are faint, cool and small, Tau Ceti is a bright G-type yellow main-sequence star, like the sun, a trait that only one in 25 stars boasts. Moreover, unlike Alpha Centauri, which also harbours a G-type star and even a planet, Tau Ceti is single, so there's no second star in the system whose gravity could yank planets away.

Astronomer Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire in Britain, and colleagues, analysed more than 6000 observations of Tau Ceti from telescopes in Chile, Hawaii and Siding Spring near Coonabarabran. As the researchers will report in Astronomy & Astrophysics, slight changes in Tau Ceti's motion through space suggest that the star may be responding to gravitational tugs from five planets that are only about two to seven times as massive as Earth.

Tau Ceti emits only 45 per cent as much light as the sun, so each planet receives less warmth than a planet would at the same distance from our sun. Tau Ceti's three innermost planets are probably too hot to support life. The farthest of the three is about as close to Tau Ceti as Mercury is to the sun.

It's the fourth planet that the scientists suggest might be another life-bearing world. If you lived there, you'd see a yellow sun in the sky, but your year would last just 168 days. That's because Tau Ceti is somewhat closer to its star than Venus is to the sun and thus revolves faster than Earth. The fifth and outermost planet completes an orbit every 640 days and is slightly closer to its star than Mars is to the sun.

However, Dr Tuomi's team warns that disturbances on the star itself may be producing the small velocity changes in Tau Ceti. Team member Professor Chris Tinney, an astronomer at the University of NSW, acknowledges the problem. ''It's certainly very tantalising evidence for potentially a very exciting planetary system,'' Tinney says. Verifying the discovery may take 10 years, and the scientists didn't want to wait. ''We felt that the best thing to do was to put the result out there and see if somebody can either independently confirm it or shoot it down.''

If the planets exist, they orbit a star about twice as old as our own, so a suitable planet has had plenty of time to develop life much more advanced than Homo sapiens. That may just explain why no one from Tau Ceti has ever contacted beings as primitive as us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Weird News Around the World

The Weird News From Around the World : Man found dead standing straight up in kitchen?

Andrew Evans was discovered by a friend, who visited him at his home in East Grinstead, West Sussex, on May 10 this year.
Horsham Coroner's Court heard how the 35-year-old had injured his head earlier in the day, but is not believed to have realised how serious the injury was.

The court heard how Mr Evans had consumed a lot of alcohol on the day and was four times over the drink drive limit.

It is believed he died after blacking out as he reached into a cupboard in his kitchen, with his body falling against the kitchen fittings and remaining standing up.

The court heard how a friend of Mr Evans, who was not named, arrived at this home on May 10 to see him "standing in the kitchen" with his right hand reaching into a cupboard.

The friend started calling out to him, but after receiving no response let himself in and realised that Mr Evans was dead.

The court heard how Mr Evans had a "serious injury" to his head, which had caused him to bleed heavily, but that he might not have realized how serious the injury was "because of his intoxicated state".

Coroner Dr David Skipp said at the inquest last week that the death was "strange", but that Mr Evans died from asphyxiation of the lungs.

He said: "It is unusual for a man whose alcohol levels were high to be found stood against a work surface.

"He obviously did not try to get out of the flat after banging his head and the evidence suggests he was not bothered by what was going on. It is bizarre."
He recorded a verdict of accidental death.

'Extinct' Whale Species Found Alive

A whale species that was thought extinct has been found alive :
The pygmy right whale, a mysterious and elusive creature that rarely comes to shore, is the last living relative of an ancient group of whales long believed to be extinct, a new study suggests. 

The findings, published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, may help to explain why the enigmatic marine mammals look so different from any other living whale.

"The living pygmy right whale is, if you like, a remnant, almost like a living fossil," said Felix Marx, a paleontologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. "It's the last survivor of quite an ancient lineage that until now no one thought was around."

The relatively diminutive pygmy right whale, which grows to just 21 feet long, lives out in the open ocean. The elusive marine mammals inhabit the Southern Hemisphere and have only been spotted at sea a few dozen times. As a result, scientists know almost nothing about the species' habits or social structure.

The strange creature's arched, frownlike snout makes it look oddly different from other living whales. DNA analysis suggested pygmy right whales diverged from modern baleen whales such as the blue whale and the humpback whale between 17 million and 25 million years ago. However, the pygmy whales' snouts suggested they were more closely related to the family of whales that includes the bowhead whale. Yet there were no studies of fossils showing how the pygmy whale had evolved, Marx said.

To understand how the pygmy whale fit into the lineage of whales, Marx and his colleagues carefully analyzed the skull bones and other fossil fragments from pygmy right whales and several other ancient cetaceans.

The pygmy whale's skull most closely resembled that of an ancient family of whales called cetotheres that were thought to have gone extinct around 2 million years ago, the researchers found. Cetotheres emerged about 15 million years ago and once occupied oceans across the globe.

The findings help explain how pygmy whales evolved and may also help shed light on how these ancient "lost" whales lived. The new information is also a first step in reconstructing the ancient lineage all the way back to the point when all members of this group first diverged, he said.

The UK Prepares for Zombie Apocalypse

The UK Prepares and Trains for a Zombie Apocalypse : In the event of an apocalypse brought about by an army of the undead, civil servants would co-ordinate the military's efforts to "return England to its pre-attack glory", according to a Freedom of Information request that has revealed the country's contingency plans.

The MoD would not lead efforts to plan for such a zombie attack or deal with the aftermath because that role rests with the Cabinet Office, which co-ordinates emergency planning for the Government.
Details about the authorities' surprising level of readiness for a zombie onslaught emerged in a response to an inquiry from a member of the public.

The MoD replied: "In the event of an apocalyptic incident (eg zombies), any plans to rebuild and return England to its pre-attack glory would be led by the Cabinet Office, and thus any pre-planning activity would also taken place there.

"The Ministry of Defence's role in any such event would be to provide military support to the civil authorities, not take the lead. Consequently, the Ministry of Defence holds no information on this matter."

The Army is frequently called on to save the day in zombie films. Soldiers arrive in the nick of time, for example, to rescue the hero at the climax of Simon Pegg's 2004 comedy Shaun of the Dead.
This is not the first time that public authorities have provided tongue-in-cheek responses to Freedom of Information inquiries about zombies.

Last year, Leicester city council was forced to admit that it had no specific preparations for dealing with a zombie invasion, although the local authority stressed that certain aspects of its emergency plan would apply to any disaster. Bristol city council went rather further when asked what it would do in the event of an undead rampage through the West Country.

A senior official replied with a copy of a "top secret" internal strategy document setting out how the council would respond to a "zombie pandemic".

Staff were told to listen out for code words in radio and television broadcasts to warn them that an attack was under way, and given health and safety advice on the correct way to kill zombies.
Under the heading "procurement implications", the memo said Bristol city council had ordered suitable equipment for tackling the undead, "where possible, in line with our buy-local policy". It added: "A catalogue of standard issue equipment – cuffs, stun guns, protection suits, etc – is available on the staff intranet."

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Holly King and Oak King

The Oak King, Holly King, Winter Solstice and a History of Christmas Holly Trees :
Ancient peoples, who spent more time outdoors than we do, were acutely aware of this annual ebb and flow of daylight, the two poles of which are the winter solstice and its summer counterpart.

For the Celts, what we know as Christmas holly trees had a place in their rituals marking these two poles, each of which indicate when the sun is at its greatest distance from the equator. Here are the essential facts about the summer and winter solstice:

•    In the Northern Hemisphere the summer version occurs approximately on June 21, when the sun is in the zenith at the tropic of Cancer.

•    The North’s winter solstice occurs around December 21, when the sun is over the tropic of Capricorn.

•    The summer event is the longest day of the year (most daylight hours).

•    The winter solstice is the shortest (fewest daylight hours).

These two critical junctures of the year’s progress figure prominently in the magic and mythologies of many ancient peoples throughout history. Again, in Celtic mythology the two are strongly linked to holly trees. Sprigs from Christmas holly trees were worn in the hair during the mistletoe rituals performed by the priests of the Celts, the Druids, at the summer and winter solstice observances. The pointy leaves of holly trees were thought to afford magical protection against evil spirits. Holly tree sprigs were also brought into their dwellings during the cold-weather months in the belief that they afforded shelter to the fairies, those tiny spirits of the forest.

In Celtic mythology the “Oak King” and the “Holly King” were twins, pitted against each other in a never-ending fight for supremacy. Oak Tress, sacred to the Celts, lose their leaves, while the English Christmas holly trees are evergreen. As cold weather approached, the Celts marveled at how the evergreen Christmas holly trees, hidden amongst the leafy oaks the rest of the year, now stood out prominently on an otherwise barren landscape. The Holly King had won out, as it were, as the incarnations of his twin brother had shed all their leaves and stood naked in defeat.

But by the time the winter solstice arrives, the tide has turned: the Oak King’s flow in power is the Holly King’s ebb. The deciduous twin takes his first baby steps towards re-establishing his supremacy. The Oak King’s supremacy won’t reach its zenith until midsummer, when the oaks will be in full leaf again. At which point, it is now the Holly King who will be riding the new wave. The evergreen twin lies the foundation in the summer heat for a reign that will culminate in the winter solstice. Thus ironically, whenever either king reaches the height of his dominance, at that very time he is doomed to be supplanted. Which is why we daylight-cravers have reason to be of good cheer as the winter solstice approaches: at our darkest hour, time will soon again be on our side….

For the Romans, “Holly was used to honor Saturn, god of agriculture, during their Saturnalia festival held near the time of the winter solstice. The Romans gave one another holly wreaths, carried it in processions, and decked images of Saturn with it,” according to the Kentucky Cooperative Extension (the Saturnalia was the festival upon which the Christmas holiday was directly modeled). Evergreens such as Christmas holly were adopted by common Christians as a Christmas decoration, in spite of protests from Church Fathers such as Tertullian. A tiny flicker of this age-old controversy still burns today.

In Christian folklore the prickly leaves of Christmas holly trees came to be associated with Jesus’ crown of thorns, while their berries represented the drops of blood shed for humanity’s salvation. This symbolism can be found, for example, in the Christmas carol, “The Holly and the Ivy.” Christian folklore also identified Christmas holly wood as the wood used to build Jesus’ holy cross. In fact, some scholars think that the word, “holly” is simply a corruption of “holy,” although there is no general consensus on this point.

But what there is a general consensus on is the diversity and versatility of holly trees. Holly is prized in Christmas decorations, and adds visual interest to a color-starved northern landscape. But A Modern Herbal also reports the medicinal uses for holly. Herbalists traditionally used holly leaves to treat fever and other ailments. “The berries possess totally different qualities to [sic] the leaves, being violently emetic and purgative, a very few occasioning excessive vomiting soon after they are swallowed.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Ghost Stories

Why do we have ghost stories about Christmas? Ghost stories and Christmas share a rich history together.

The Winter Solstice, Alban Arthuan, or better known as Yuletime Season is a time of death and rebirth of Nature and our souls. It is said the Old Sun dies at dusk of December 21st. and when the Sun of the New Year is born at the dawn of December 22. The New Sun is thought to rejuvenate the aura of the Earth. It is like a mystical cleansing to the spirits and the souls of the dead.

Samhain is considered the most haunted time of the year in the Celtic calendar; Yule is the second. Haunting starts on December 6th to December 20th. The spirits are more active as they wait for the rebirth of the Sun’s powers.

This haunting is not the same as during Samhain, where the veil is thinned so that the dead can walk among us. The spirits of Yule are connected with the mystical and the psychic logic of the Solstice Season. However, one can be visited from their ancestors, relatives, spirit guides or their soul friends (anamchara).

A Yuletide story called the Sluagh-Sídehe of Brug na Bóinne. It translates people of the mound or barrow where the dead have been buried. All sídehe in the Celtic mythology and traditions are haunted. It is said that they are the gateway for the souls and spirits of the dead. It is also a gateway for living mortals so that they can pass back and forth to each world.

On the other side the sídehe is the Otherworld or the Land of the Youth, the Isle of the Blessed. This is where the living soul continues the quest for wisdom. The people of the Sídhe are the Faeryfolk. They live forever beyond the sídhe in the ráths, which are submerged roundhouses or Faery fortresses, which are their magical castles in the Otherworld.

The custom of the Yule Log also seems to be a dying trend. It used to be a large log, cut from ones own land or a neighbor’s, which was supposed to burn all twelve days of Christmas. While relaxing before the burning log, it was customary for people to gather around and tell ghost stories. Further proof of the existence of the tradition can be found by listening to the popular Christmas song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. In it you can hear the phrase “there’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.”

Paralysed Woman Controls Robotic Arm

A woman who is paralysed from the neck down has stunned doctors with her extraordinary skill at using a robotic arm that is controlled by her thoughts alone.

The 52-year-old patient, called Jan, lost the use of her limbs more than 10 years ago to a degenerative disease that damaged her spinal cord. The disruption to her nervous system was the equivalent to having a broken neck.

But in training sessions at the University of Pittsburgh, doctors found she quickly learned to make fluid movements with the brain-controlled robotic arm, reaching levels of performance never seen before.

Doctors recruited the woman to test a robotic arm that is controlled by a new kind of computer program that translates the natural brain activity used to move our limbs into commands to move the robotic arm.

The design is intended to make the robotic arm more intuitive for patients to use. Instead of having to think where to move the arm, a patient can simply focus on the goal, such as "pick up the ball".

Several groups around the world are developing so-called brain-machine interfaces to control robotic arms and other devices, such as computers, but none has achieved such impressive results.

Writing in the Lancet, researchers said Jan was able to move the robotic arm back, forward, right, left, and up and down only two days into her training. Within weeks she could reach out, and change the position of the hand to pick up objects on a table, including cones, blocks and small balls, and put them down at another location.

"We were blown away by how fast she was able to acquire her skill, that was completely unexpected," said Andrew Schwartz, professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh. "At the end of a good day, when she was making these beautiful movements, she was ecstatic."
Graphic: robotic arm Graphic: To wire the woman up to the arm, doctors performed a four-hour operation to implant two tiny grids of electrodes, measuring 4mm on each side, into Jan's brain. Each grid has 96 little electrodes that stick out 1.5mm. The electrodes were pushed just beneath the surface of the brain, near neurons that control hand and arm movement in the motor cortex.

Once the surgeons had implanted the electrodes, they replaced the part of the skull they had removed to expose the brain. Wires from the electrodes ran to connectors on the patient's head, which doctors could then use to plug the patient into the computer system and robotic arm.

Before Jan could use the arm, doctors had to record her brain activity imagining various arm movements. To do this, they asked her to watch the robotic arm as it performed various moves, and got her to imagine moving her own arm in the same way.

While she was thinking, the computer recorded the electrical activity from individual neurons in her brain.

Neurons that control movement tend to have a preferred direction, and fire their electrical pulses more frequently to perform a movement in that direction. "Once we understand which direction each neuron likes to fire in, we can look at a larger group of neurons and figure out what direction the patient is trying to move the arm in," Schwartz said.

To begin with, the robotic arm was programmed to help Jan's movements, by ignoring small mistakes in movements. But she quickly progressed to controlling the arm without help. After three months of training, she completed tasks with the robotic arm 91.6% of the time, and 30 seconds faster than when the trial began.

In an accompanying article, Grégoire Courtine, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, said: "This bioinspired brain-machine interface is a remarkable technological and biomedical achievement."

There are hurdles ahead for mind-controlled robot limbs. Though Jan's performance continued to improve after the Lancet study was written, she has plateaued recently, because scar tissue that forms around the tips of the electrodes degrades the brain signals the computer receives.

Schwartz said that using thinner electrodes, around five thousandths of a millimetre thick, should solve this problem, as they will be too small to trigger the scarring process in the body.

The researchers now hope to build senses into the robotic arm, so the patient can feel the texture and temperature of the objects they are handling. To do this, sensors on the fingers of the robotic hand could send information back to the sensory regions of the brain.

Another major focus of future work is to develop a wireless system, so the patient does not have to be physically plugged into the computer that controls the robotic arm.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Voodoo Grave Robberies in Benin

More than 100 coffins have been desecrated by grave robbers making voodoo charms from body parts in Benin.
In the West African country of Benin where more than 100 coffins have reportedly been desecrated in a cemetery near the capital city of Porto Novo, and dozens of bodies mutilated.
The unburied bodies had been sliced open, decapitated in some cases, with internal organs removed, according to Locals fear the stolen corpse parts are being used to make voodoo good luck charms.

Cemetery director Joseph Afaton believes the bones and organs are being sold by the thieves as charms.
"The desecration of graves is about money in this region," Afaton told Reuters. "It is for sacrifices, or for bewitching."

The robberies were initially discovered by a mason who had forgotten his tools at the cemetery and he alerted the police, the BBC reported.

The discovery has created a lot of turmoil among the relatives of the deceased since many of them believe in reincarnation and fear their dearly departed will be reincarnated without their currently missing body parts.
A voodoo high priest said that grave robbing is not part of the voodoo mainstream and told the BBC that the grave robberies were condemned.

There was no police comment as to the status of any investigation, but robbing graves in the name of religion is unusual and uncommon.

Last month, five people in Thailand -- including two monks -- were arrested for stealing human skulls from graves to make love charms, and using the proceeds to buy drugs, GeoBeats reported.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Catholic Church Starts an Exorcist Hotline

The Catholic Church has established an exorcist hotline in Milan, its biggest diocese, to cope with demand. Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the diocese’s chief exorcist since 1995, said the curia had also appointed twice as many exorcists to cope with a doubling in the number of requests for help over 15 years.

“We get many requests for names, addresses and phone numbers; that’s why we’ve set up a switchboard in the curia from Monday to Friday from 2.30pm to 5pm,” he told the chiesadimilano website.

“People in need can call and will be able to find a priest in the same area who doesn’t have to travel too far.” And to that end, the number of demon-busting priests on call has increased from six to 12.

The Monsignor said he knew of one exorcist who had been seeing up to 120 people a day. “But with so little time per client he was only able to offer a quick blessing. That’s not enough,” he said. ”There should be two to four appointments a day, no more, otherwise it’s too much.”

It’s not clear why the number of suspected possessions has risen so sharply. But Monsignor Mascheroni said that part of the increase might be explained by the rising numbers of parents having difficulty controlling disobedient teenagers.

“Usually the parents call [because they are] concerned about a child who won’t go to school or who’s taking drugs or rebelling. In reality it’s not a demon, but when they’re 18 years old young people don’t want to be told what to do.”

He warned that many worried and vulnerable people were at risk from charlatans. “Magicians demand money; we … give our time, give benediction … all for free. It couldn’t be any other way.”
The Monsignor said that all those who sought help were welcomed. But he added: “The real diabolical phenomena, at least in my experience, are very rare.” He said that “mental phenomena, mental and psychiatric disorders” were often to blame for unusual behaviour.

Not all Catholic exorcists take such a pragmatic approach, however. Father Gabriele Amorth, who was the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years, claims to have dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession.

Father Amorth said that sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church were proof that  “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican”. He also claimed that satanic behaviour lay behind Vatican attempts to “cover up” the deaths of Alois Estermann, then commander of the Swiss Guard, his wife and another Swiss Guard, Corporal Cedric Tornay, in 1998.

Father Amorth also took a dim view of fantasy novels and yoga. Practising the latter, he once warned, was “satanic; it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter”.

The act of exorcism: Catholic practice
Defined by the Catholic Encyclopaedia as “the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice,” exorcism has been practised by the Church for centuries, but its use has increased dramatically over the last half century.