Mars ‘space station’

We have all heard of little green men from Mars.

But now an American ‘armchair astronaut’ claims to have discovered a mysterious structure on the surface of the red planet – by looking on Google earth.

David Martines, whose YouTube video of the ‘station’ has racked up over 200,000 hits so far, claims to have randomly uncovered the picture while scanning the surface of the planet one day.

Can humans regrow fingers?

finger with band-aid
John Foxx/Getty Images
Can you regrow your fingers?

When a hobby-store owner in Cincinnati sliced off his fingertip in 2005 while showing a customer why the motor on his model plane was dangerous, he went to the emergency room without the missing tip. He couldn’t find it anywhere. The doctor bandaged the wound and recommended a skin graft to cover the top of his right-middle stub for cosmetic purposes, since nothing could be done to rebuild the finger.

Months later, he had regrown it, tissue, nerves, skin, fingernail and all.

This particular hobbyist happened to have a brother in the tissue-regeneration business, who told him to forego the skin graft and instead apply a powdered extract taken from pig’s bladder to the raw finger tip. The extract, called extracellular matrix, lays the framework that cells use to generate any given body part. It’s like a cellular scaffolding, and all animals have it. It holds the signals that direct cells to divide, differentiate and build themselves into a specific form.

Extracellular matrix is a component of body tissue that functions outside of the body’s cells (thus the “extracellular” designation). It’s made up mostly of collagen, a type of protein. So extracellular matrix extracted from the bladder of a pig does not actually have any of the pig’s cells in it.

In human fetuses, the substance works in concert with stem cells to grow and regrow everything from heart aortas to toes. Fetuses can regrow almost anything that gets damaged while in the womb. Scientists have long believed that when a fetus reaches full development, this extracellular matrix stops functioning. But with evidence that applying extracellular matrix from a pig can initiate certain types of regeneration in humans, they’re wondering if they can trigger human extracellular matrix to start working again. After all, according to regeneration researcher Dr. Stephen Badylak of the University of Pittsburgh, children up to the age of two have been known to regrow fingertips with no outside help.

Pig-extracted extracellular matrix is already used by veterinarians to help horses repair torn ligaments. In people, it’s used to treat ulcers, closing a hole in the tissue that lines the stomach. It employs an entirely different process than the typical mammalian healing mechanism. Let’s take the case of a person who loses the tip of a finger. When the finger is severed, the cells die, and their contents seep into the surrounding tissue. This alerts the immune system to a problem. The immune system’s response to cell death is inflammation and scar tissue. The formation of scar tissue prevents any future cellular development in the area. That’s why scars last — cells are prevented from doing a repair job on that skin.

But when extracellular matrix is applied to a wound, it doesn’t trigger an immune response. Instead, when it begins to break down into surrounding tissue, it causes the cells in that tissue to start repairing the damage the way they would in a developing fetus (or a salamander that loses a limb) — they divide and rebuild, creating new, normal tissue, not scar tissue.

Combined with developments in stem-cell research, this extracellular matrix may work miracles in the area of regeneration science. As of early 2007, testing of the effects of extracellular matrix is being carried out on a military base in Texas. Scientists are using the powdered pig extract on Iraq War veterans whose hands were damaged in the war. They’re opening the wounds and applying the component to finger stubs in an attempt to regrow them. The researchers conducting the study say they don’t expect to regrow the entire finger, but are hoping to regrow enough of a finger to allow for some utility. They don’t believe it will regenerate bone, but nothing is for sure right now. That man in Cincinnati had only lost his finger tip, at the lower part of the nail; he hadn’t lost the entire finger.

Help from pigs aside, many wonder if the extracellular matrix in humans is unable to function or is simply in a latent state, awaiting some sort of trigger. Do humans in fact have the same regenerative capacity as salamanders, which can regrow an entire limb, and researchers just haven’t found a way to activate the mechanism? It’s not just amphibians that can regrow body parts: Deer regularly regrow lost antlers, composed of bone, tissue, cartilage and skin — the same things that make up human limbs. Could there possibly be an internal switch that would reactivate the regeneration capacity that humans possess in the womb? Regenerative medicine is actively pursuing answers to these questions. And in the meantime, if applying powdered pig extract to a snipped finger can in fact facilitate regrowth, the possibilities for medicine are startling. Spinal injuries, amputated limbs and damaged organs could all be coaxed back into a complete, healthy state if science finds the right combination of treatments.

Commercial Spaceport to Open in New Mexico

British millionaire and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is one step closer to his dream of providing commercial flights into space with the construction of a spaceport in Upham, New Mexico. What is certainly the product of the commercialization of the space industry, Spaceport America is destined to become the “flagship” of other spaceports throughout the world. In fact a similar spaceport project is already underway in Singapore.

Ticket pre-sales for the pricey space flights have already reached over $45 million dollars. Each ticket, costing approximately $200,000 will take you on a sub orbital flight on the VSS Enterprise. Boasting only 6 seats, it is sure to be an adventure to brag about.

The Taxpayer funded, $198 million spaceport will take tourists on short hops into space at first, but plans are already underway for more extended flights that Branson hopes will one day include orbit flights and stays in a space hotel.

Fortunately, the design allows for “green technology” by incorporating a core design implementing renewable energy. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, southern New Mexico has the second highest potential for solar power in the nation. The videos at the bottom of the page contain more information on some of the methods being incorporated into planning.

In addition, cooling methods such as buried air pipes will assist traditional methods. According to the Spaceport America site, ” By powering the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America, with clean, abundant solar energy, the world will look to New Mexico as the leader in implementing renewable energy solutions!”

fosters + partners, LEED Spaceport, spaceport america, virgin galactic, LEED platinum, space transportation, new mexico space, Brandson space terminal,
This image from the October dedication ceremony shows the terminal under construction

Weekly flights are set to begin in approximately April, 2012. Also on the agenda for the new spaceport are several companies who will be specializing in research and in transporting payload to space.

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According to Executive Director Steve Landeene of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA), “The groundbreaking for Spaceport America is the beginning of a historic new chapter in New Mexico’s long legacy of space and cutting-edge technology. From the pioneering rocketry work of Robert J. Goddard in New Mexico in 1930, the beginnings of America’s space program in the 1940’s and 50’s to the ongoing NASA programs at White Sands Missile Range and now to Spaceport America, the Gateway to the Future.”

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE OFFICIAL SPACEPORT AMERICA SITE!!

Construction Images

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This image shows the runway, along with the terminal (seen above the runway)

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This is a cross section image of the foundation work and surfacing material being applied to the runway.

This video documents a test flight of the VSS Enterprise. As you will see in the video, the design allows for a traditional take off, with the actual suborbital capsule being released after gaining altitude. As you can see, the VSS Enterprise is designed for optimal lift from the enormous wings, thus optimizing fuel consumption. (Side thought: It would be great if they could outfit the top of the unit with solar panels….dare to dream)

Here is a great interview with Spaceport America Executive Director Steve Landeene. Except for the inane text chat scrolling at the bottom, it is a good interview.

4000-year-old Aryan city discovered in Russia

Spiral cities built on remote Russian plains by swastika-painting Aryans

Russian archaeologists have unearthed some ancient and virtually unknown settlements which they believe were built by the original Aryan race about 4000 years ago.

According to the team which has discovered 20 of the spiral-shaped settlements in remote part of Russia steppe in southern Siberia bordering Kazakhstan, the buildings date back to the beginning of Western civilisation in Europe.

The Bronze-age settlements, the experts said, could have been built shortly after the Great Pyramid some 4000 years ago by the original Aryan race whose swastika symbol was later adopted by the Nazis in the 1930s.

TV historian Bettany Hughes, who explored the desolate part of the Russian steppe for BBC programme ‘Tracking The Aryans’, said: “Potentially, this could rival ancient Greece in the age of the heroes.”

“Because I have written a lot about the Bronze Age world, there always seemed to be this huge missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle,” Hughes was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

She said: “We are all told that there is this kind of mother tongue, proto-Indo-European, from which all the languages we know emerge.

“I was very excited to hear on the archaeological grapevine that in exactly the period I am an expert in, this whole new Bronze Age civilisation had been discovered on the steppe of southern Siberia.”

The remains of the ancient city were explored for the first time around 20 years ago shortly after then Soviet officials relaxed strict laws banning non-military aerial photography.

But because of the region is so remote the incredible cities have remained virtually unknown to the rest of Europe until now, according to the archaeologists

They are about the same size as several of the city states of ancient Greece and would have housed between 1,000 and 200 people, they said.

Hughes was driven to the vast region by the expedition’s chief archaeologist Professor Gennady Zdanovich who pointed to the cities that were buried in the ground beneath them.

The Aryan’s language has been identified as the precursor to a number of modern European tongues. English uses many similar words such as brother, oxen and guest which have all been tracked to the Aryans.

PTI reported that the items that have so far been dug up at the sites include make-up equipment, a chariot and numerous pieces of pottery.

The artifacts were daubed in swastikas which were used in ancient times as symbols of the sun and eternal life.

But the swastika and Aryan race were adopted by Hitler and the Nazis as symbols of their so-called master race.

Evidence of ritual horse burials were found at the site which ties in with ancient Aryan texts that describe the animals being sliced up and buried with their masters.

Hughes, a visiting research fellow at King’s College London, said that “ancient Indian texts and hymns describe sacrifices of horses and burials and the way the meat is cut off and the way the horse is buried with its master”.

“If you match this with the way the skeletons and graves are being dug up in Russia, they are a millimetre-perfect match.”

The artifacts were daubed in swastikas which were used in ancient times as symbols of the sun and eternal life.

‘Remarkable’ Discovery: Scientists Burn Saltwater

ERIE, Pa. (AP)—An Erie cancer researcher has found a way to burn salt water, a novel invention that is being touted by one chemist as the “most remarkable” water science discovery in a century.

John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.

The discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using salt water, the most abundant resource on earth, as a fuel.

Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, has held demonstrations at his State College lab to confirm his own observations.

The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen, Roy said. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies, he said.

The discovery is “the most remarkable in water science in 100 years,” Roy said.

“This is the most abundant element in the world. It is everywhere,” Roy said. “Seeing it burn gives me the chills.”

Roy will meet this week with officials from the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense to try to obtain research funding.

The scientists want to find out whether the energy output from the burning hydrogen—which reached a heat of more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit—would be enough to power a car or other heavy machinery.

“We will get our ideas together and check this out and see where it leads,” Roy said. “The potential is huge.”