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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cranky Babies Yield to the Power of Reggae

Memo to all new parents: whenever your precious snowflake becomes an agitated little monster, let Uncle Bob calm him down. The magic works instantly:

8 scientific breakthroughs straight from the movies


"Star Wars"-style holograms? Fabric that mimics Harry Potter's invisibility cloak? Some of the most implausible sci-fi concepts are becoming a reality


In "Inception," a rogue scientist (Leonardo DiCaprio) controls other people's dreams. In real life, a new high-tech sleep mask promises to let you control your own dreams. Photo: Screen shot/

Hollywood has long been obsessed with ahead-of-the-curve technology — flying cars, time machines, self-lacing sneakers. In certain cases, however, science is catching up, creating functional versions of Hollywood's most futuristic ideas. Here, 8 once-merely-cinematic innovations that are being developed for real life:

1. A 3D hologram (Princess Leia hairdo not included)
It's been more than 30 years since a stunted 3D hologram version of Princess Leia implored Obi Wan Kenobi to help her in George Lucas' original Star Wars. Now University of Arizona researchers claim they're close to creating a similar effect using 16 cameras to record the original "message" from different angles. Once the data is sent to a 3D holographic printing system, lasers "write" the images on a photosensitive polymer screen.

2. An invisibility cloak worthy of Hogwarts
In H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man, a scientist learned how to prevent his body from absorbing or reflecting light. In both fiction and on film, young wizard Harry Potter stumbles upon a cloak that can do the same thing. Now, British scientists have invented a material called "Meta-flex" that interrupts and channels the flow of light so that, theoretically, an object covered with Meta-flex could not be detected by the naked eye.

3. A Spotless Mind-like memory eraser?
In Michel Gondry's 2004 movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a man (Jim Carrey) is able to erase the memory of his ex-girlfriend (Kate Winslet) using a fictional process the film describes as "technically... brain damage." Now, a team of neurologists at Johns Hopkins University have found a way to remove a certain protein "responsible for recalling fear" from the brains of mice. Lead researcher Dr. Richard L. Huganir tells The Daily Mail that the technique may, one day, be "applicable for the treatment of... post-traumatic stress syndrome associated with war, rape or other traumatic events."

4. "Precrime" detection in the style of Minority Report
Steven Spielberg's Minority Report (2002) offered a vision of life in 2054 in which law enforcers could arrest people for crimes they had not yet committed. In a real-life twist, Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice is using IBM predictive analytics software to identify teen offenders who are likely to commit more crimes. Teens who are judged high-risk are steered into intervention or rehabilitation programs — a better fate than that of Minority Report's would-be criminals, who were put into a deep freeze.

5. A real-life Iron Man suit
In the blockbuster Iron Man franchise, industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) dons dizzyingly high-tech armor and manages to end every war on the planet. Seemingly inspired, defense contractor Raytheon has developed an exoskeleton suit that it claims will let soldiers lift 200-lb. weights several hundred times without tiring, punch through three-inch blocks of wood, and walk up stairs — if not as nimbly as the acrobatic Iron Man.

6. "Beam me up, Scotty": The first step
Teleportation, a staple of sci-fi films since 1958's The Fly, was popularized by the original "Star Trek" TV series. According to Trek lore, the teleporter will not be invented until the 22nd century — but a team of scientists at the University of Vienna managed to send data through thin air using "quantum teleportation" as early as 2007. "Data," of course, is hardly comparable to a human (or Vulcan) body. True "Trek"-style teleportation remains a theory.

7. An Inception machine? You must be dreaming
In last summer's sci-fi blockbuster Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio and friends are able to enter a dreamer's subconscious to steal corporate secrets. While science is not quite there yet, a device that allegedly allows you to control your own dream is already on the market. The NovaDreamer sleep mask stimulates "lucid dreaming," a state in which the sleeper is aware he is dreaming and can exert control over the dream. The mask was developed by psychophysiologist Stephen LaBerge, who says it can help cure sufferers of nightmares.

8. Back to the Future's self-lacing sneakers
In 1989's Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) time-travels to 2015 and gets his hands on a pair of self-tightening shoes with "power laces." Watch out: Nike has patented a comparable design and hopes to release its futuristic shoes in time for the movie's 26th anniversary in 2015. Sadly, no one has yet patented a hoverboard.

Rare New Guinea Singing Dogs Discovered in Pennsylvania

posted by: Megan Drake

Rare New Guinea Singing Dogs Discovered in Pennsylvania

A rare breed of dog, indeed, is the New Guinea singing dogs (NGSD). So rare in fact, until one month ago, only 150 were known to exist in captivity -- most of those in world zoos. They are suspected of being extinct in the wild because there have been no known sightings in New Guinea since the 1970's.

And in case you're wondering, they are called singers because of their unique vocalizations. A melodious howl becomes a chorus when other singer dogs join in. Have a listen.

The World Population of NGSD Just Exploded!

Last month, in a small town west of Harrisburg, Pa., about 80 of these unique dogs were discovered living with a hoarder. Randy A. Hammond, 58, obtained his first two NGSD at an Ohio flea market in 1995. A man gave him another pair shortly thereafter, and all the dogs found at his property are descendants from those two pairings of singing dogs.

An anonymous tip led State dog warden, Georgia Martin, to Hammond's property. Discovered among rusted out vehicles cluttering the rural landscape were about 68 adult NGSD in scattered kennels. Some had puppies and one was about to give birth. Living conditions were deplorable as the total number of dogs exceeded the 24 kennels on the property.

Jim Tuttle from Public Opinion wrote about the newly discovered singing dogs.

Greeted by the "chilling and beautiful" choir of NGSD on her first visit to Hammond's address, Martin researched the breed to determine the best way to help. Various organizations were contacted for assistance. They include:

Local veterinarians are also assisting with spay/neuter and vaccinations. None of the dogs were licensed or vaccinated against rabies, which is required by PA state law.

About New Guinea Singing Dogs

Singing dogs are a genetically and ecologically distinct canine species. They are thought to be a sister-taxon of the Australian Dingo. With New Guinea being an island, interbreeding with other canine groups did not occur. This causes the NGSD to be evolutionarily significant.

Some other unique characteristics of the NGSD are their ability to fold their legs under, much like cats do. They also give cheek rubs as a sign of affection. NGSD's can climb trees and are avid diggers. They have not evolved a dependence on humans, so they won't take to performing work of any kind for us.

Animal Planet video:

The singing dog has longer canine teeth than other dogs, as well as carnassial teeth made for sheering meat and bone. NGSD are very independent and take to training much like a cat -- on their own terms!

Due to their unusual habitat needs -- lots of room with safely enclosed fencing and large trees to climb -- NGSD do not make good or safe house pets for the ordinary pet owner. They are still considered a wild animal and should not be placed into a family with small children. If properly socialized from puppyhood, a NGSD can be an appropriate pet, but only in a household that can provide the habitat, training and socialization needed.

A study published in 2010 by Dr. Alan Wilton in the scientific journal, Nature, found the Australian Dingo and NGSD to be the oldest of dog breeds. And NGSD are more closely related to wolves than any other canine species.

Help Arrived

James McIntyre of the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society and Tom Wendt of New Guinea Singing Dog International traveled from Florida and Illinois, respectively, to assist Martin in assessing the singers. Only two of the dogs were considered safe to re-home. They were sent to Susan Oliver near Allentown, a fosterer who has experience with the breed. The others will be sent to sanctuaries or zoos.

Hoarding is considered a mental illness. Animal hoarders often do not realize what they are doing is wrong or dangerous because they collect the animals out of love. Hammond has been very cooperative with authorities and will be allowed to keep 10 of the dogs on the condition they are spayed/neutered. Even though the number of dogs exceeded 80, he had names for each one. He spent more than $100 per week on dog food -- a significant amount considering his janitorial salary at a local retirement home.

What Will Happen to the Pennsylvania NGSD

Eight female NGSD and 17 puppies are already on their way to a sanctuary in Arizona. Add to that a pregnant female and two injured dogs, one with two legs bitten off by their father and another with one missing leg. (It is not uncommon among NGSD -- if puppies are left in a pen with their father -- for this to occur.) Plans are already in motion for the two-legged dog to be fitted for a wheelchair to aid in mobility.

Because of the high inbreeding of Hammond's dogs, McIntyre says they cannot be used for the captive genetic breeding program to further the breed. Hammond's dogs show evidence of too much inbreeding by the reduced tail size and reduction in litter numbers.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is planning to take between 10 - 20 of the singers on November 11, and move them to their Utah-based sanctuary.

What Will Happen to Randy Hammond

Georgia Martin filed three citations against Hammond:

  • Operating a kennel without a license (the maximum number of dogs allowed in Pa. without a license is 25)
  • Not having the dogs licensed
  • Not having the dogs vaccinated against rabies

The maximum punishment he is facing is $1,100 in fines. Hammond also received a citation from Dennis Bumbaugh, Humane Society Police Officer with Better Days Animal League, for one count of animal cruelty due to unsanitary conditions.

Design Drool: Javier Senosiain's Snail House

by: Kristine Hansen

For this totally offbeat home just outside of Mexico City, architect Javier Senosiain was inspired by a snail.

Architect Javier Senosiain was inspired by a snail's spiral shapel when he designed "The Nautilus," a residential property completed in Mexico City in 2007. "Nature is my biggest source of inspiration -- observing and not copying it," he says.

Javier-Senosiain Mexico City Nautilus Snail House

The exterior of a house called The Nautilus. Photo: Francisco Lubbert

And so the result is actually more than a snail, says Senosiain. It's about the fluid space along a coastline where that snail might lie, with lots of curves and hips in the home's shell, and the reflective sunlight bouncing off of the textured eggshell-colored walls and stained-glass windows. All of these elements remind Senosiain of an oceanfront setting where a sunrise might create colorful patterns on the grainy, sandy shoreline.

Owners Magali and Fernando Mayorga, who have two sons, requested a simple mother-of-pearl finish for their home's interior and exterior walls and ceilings, which Senosiain promptly delivered. The result is a walk through one of the oddest (and oddly beautiful) homes you've ever seen.

In looking over photos of this uniquely shaped home, we quickly came up with ideas on how to use the space.

Javier-Senosiain Mexico City Nautilus Snail House
Photo: Francisco Lubbert

Seriously, is there any room more colorful and sunnier than this one? The outdoors comes in, quite literally, with pockets of lush grass growing next to curvy couches. This is the ideal spot to sip morning coffee or afternoon tea. Even during a tropical rainstorm, one can keep dry indoors but still relish the sweet scent of rain.

Javier-Senosiain Mexico City Nautilus Snail House
Photo: Francisco Lubbert

I bet you've never seen a TV room like this one. We certainly haven't.

Senosiain calls this space the "belly" of the house. It's where the structure bloats outward. Perfect for hosting movie nights! Otherwise, the room could be used as a gathering space for a small, intimate party; the pinwheel seating style makes it easy to carry on a conversation with several guests.

Javier-Senosiain Mexico City Nautilus Snail House
Photo: Jaime Jacott

Peaceful naps and nighttime slumber wouldn't be a problem in this room since there is a lot less light than in other areas of the home.

The absence of stained-glass windows -- a dominant feature elsewhere in The Nautilus -- provides for more of a retreat-like space in the bedroom.

Mexico City Nautilus Snail House
Photo: Jaime Jacott (left) and Francisco Lubbert (right)

The home was designed to invite waves of rainbow-like color, as seen in the photo above left. Wouldn't this be a sweet spot to host a dance party? Who needs disco globes and smoke machines when you've got patterns of colorful light zipping across the floor and walls as twilight approaches?

On the right, a sink displays exquisite handicraft with small blue stones molded into Grancrete, also used to construct the home's exterior. The trickling sound of water helps cultivate a relaxing feeling, sure, but it also helps us to imagine the sounds a snail hears along the water. Pull up a chair next to this stone-and-gem work of art. Who needs a spa?

PETA To Sponsor Lindsay Lohan’s Rehabs

Lindsay Lohan is broke. She’s also in need of some serious rehab. What’s a girl to do?

Go vegan, of course. If she sticks with it during the duration of her three-month stint at California’s Betty Ford Clinic, PETA will cover the bulk of her expenses and throw $10,000 her way. Should she stick with the diet for a year afterwards, she’ll receive another $10,00

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk told the LA Times, “Lindsay Lohan is the most visible example of a real addict, and if she can conquer her addiction to meat and cheese, absolutely anyone can. If she does, she’ll not only save animals but save her own health, and she’ll be an example to the millions of people who watch her every step.”

Medical Marijuana Coming Soon To Israeli Pharmacies

By Steve Elliot

Graphic: says it supports Israel's sick, ill and dying with free medical marijuana.

The Israeli Health Ministry's committee on medical cannabis recommended last Wednesday the addition of marijuana to the official list of medicinal drugs. That means it should be available in Israeli pharmacies within six months, if the Health Ministry accepts the recommendation, reports Phillip Smith at

Dr. Yehuda Baruch, who heads up the medical marijuana committee, made the recommendation. Baruch said medical cannabis is helpful for multiple sclerosis, patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, and for the relief of chronic pain.

Photo: Russia Today
Israel has the first medical marijuana program in the Middle East.
​ Until recently, Dr. Baruch was the only physician in Israel authorized to write medical marijuana prescriptions. But in another sign of loosening restrictions on medical cannabis, the Israeli Health Ministry announced in September that five more doctors will now be allowed to prescribe marijuana.

Only two Israeli citizens had marijuana prescriptions in 2000. The number had grown to only 10 by 2005, but it reached 700 around the middle of 2009. There could be as many as 2,000 medical marijuana patients now, according to estimates.

That number could increase to 5,000 by year's end, with tens of thousands more in the future, according to one Health Ministry official, with the loosening of the marijuana prescriptoin bottleneck.

The next step is to form an inter-minsterial committee to resolve open questions about the inclusion of marijuana on the list of medicinal drugs.

Israel's supply of medicinal cannabis is grown by three licensed national growers, according to

Incredible Mountain Biking Jumps At Red Bull Rampage

More Mountain Biking Videos — Beautiful jumps captured in HD at the 2010 Red Bull Rampage in Utah.

Guy In Wheelchair Stops Robber

Guy In Wheelchair Stops Robber - Watch more Funny Videos

This guy in a wheelchair puts a would-be thief in a choke hold. The mayor is going to give him the key to the city, but they have to install ramps to all the doors, first.

Nutrition Professor Drops 27 Pounds on a Twinkie Diet

Megan Bedard


Mmmm, mmm, delicious? (Photo: Professor Haub's Facebook Page)

Kansas State University nutrition professor Mark Haub has been making headlines lately for his two-month Twinkie stunt. For 60 days straight, Haub ate a snack cake for every meal, with Doritos, Oreos and sugar-soaked cereals for snacks between meals.

The crazy part? He lost 27 pounds, and his cholesterol dropped.

Those results are so dang counterintuitive, the questions flood to your head—like a sugar rush.

First of all, what was he thinking?

Believe it or not, the professor had a larger plan in mind. Haub had a hunch that when it comes to dieting, calorie counting is the single most important factor in weight loss. It wasn't what he ate, he thought; it was how many calories it amounted to. He committed to proving his theory as a living example to his students.

But he's a nutrition professor?

Yep. That's exactly what left him conflicted. Having proved his point after 60 days, Haub wasn't so sure he wanted to tout the Twinkie Diet. "I'm not geared to say this is a good thing to do," he told CNN.

Commentors on his Facebook page have applauded and abhorred his actions.

"This is phenomenal, congratulations. Hopefully you will continue to update with your maintenance plan, because I felt on top of what you have done so far—but maintenance is another game altogether from my experience," one fan wrote.

"This 'experiment' boarders on CRIMINAL for a Professor of Nutrition to... be espousing this... Just think how many LAZY YO-YO's in this country will now think eating convenience store food will help them lose weight," complained a dissenter.

Why'd he lose weight, instead of gaining it?

In short, Haub's theory about caloric intake held up. He burned more calories than he ate, and that caused him to shed pounds. As for the other health improvements, like lowering his "bad" cholesterol and upping his "good" cholesterol? "When you lose weight, regardless of how you're doing it—even if it's with packaged foods, generally you will see these markers improve when weight loss has improved," explained Dawn Jackson Blatner, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Will he ever eat another Swiss Cake Roll again?

Yes, actually. Though he's planning to eat more healthfully and add 300 calories back into his daily diet, Haub hasn't sworn off snack cakes.

So overweight people should switch to Little Debbie diets?

Haub wouldn't recommend it. There are other health factors, he says, that we can't predict, such as the link between junk food and cancer. Plus, there's one other factor to consider: energy levels.

What's the lesson here?

Haub pointed out one real-life application to his experiment: tackling obesity rates in "food deserts," areas across America where people don't have access to grocery markets and rely on the food they can find in convenience stores.

"These foods are consumed by lots of people. It may be an issue of portion size and moderation rather than total removal," he said. "I just think it's unrealistic to expect people to totally drop these foods for vegetables and fruit. It may be healthy, but not realistic."