Saturday, February 22, 2014

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: More Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Car Plunges Head First Into Hole After Driveway Crumbles, Swallowing Long Island Woman; Huge Sinkhole In Philadelphia, Nearly Swallows Up Garbage Truck; Car Crashes Into Big Sinkhole In Nashville, Tennessee; Sinkhole Opens Up In Pine Hills, Florida And Swallows Up Swing Set; And Sinkhole Opens Up Under Car In Burlington Mall Parking Lot In Boston! [PHOTOS+VIDEOS]

February 22, 2014 - UNITED STATES - The following stories are the latest reports of sinkholes in the United States over the last few days:

Car Plunges Head First Into Hole After Driveway Crumbles, Swallowing Long Island Woman.
The driver incredibly suffered no injuries. She said her vehicle was also not damaged and was successfully driven to another parking spot outside her home by first responders.  Jim Staubitser

A 69-year-old Long Island woman was swallowed up by a hole in her home's driveway when the pavement crumbled beneath her car without warning.

"There was no sound. The car just slid into the ground," Gayle Sorrentino of Rockville Centre said of the frightful experience Friday afternoon.

"The car went in at like a straight angle," she described the estimated 15-foot head first plunge. "I pulled in looking at my beautiful backyard and then I was looking at a mound of dirt."

 Incredibly the retiree, who was returning from an acupuncture appointment NBC reported and parking where she normally does, found herself uninjured but trapped.

Outside her windows she nervously watched as dirt steadily slid in around her making her fear that at any moment, it could get bigger.

Gayle Sorrentino, 69, said she was pulling in her Rockville Centre home's driveway and parking where she usually does when her car just fell into a hole in the ground.  Jim Staubitser

The retiree, pictured, described the estimated 15-foot plunge as coming entirely without warning.
Jim Staubitser

Sorrentino was able to call 911 from her cellphone. Within minutes firefighters arrived with a
ladder outside her window. Jim Staubitser

Sorrentino, pictured with her vehicle minutes after being freed, called it 'a little miracle.'
Jim Staubitser

Within minutes of her 911 call from her cell phone, the fire department was at the scene with a ladder at her side window, police confirmed.

Sorrentino, who described herself as standing straight up in the vertically-propped vehicle, was then safely able to climb out.

 By late Friday evening the immediate cause of the hole wasn't known. Police believe it is a cesspool and its top simply caved, said Rockville Officer Julie Grilli.

"It's very out of the norm," she told the Daily News. Grilli called it the first incident of its kind for the area.

 As a precaution Sorrentino's driveway was cordoned off while sand was filled in.

As for her car, a white Subaru Outback, she exclaimed, "It looks perfectly fine!"

"They were able to drive it, down the driveway and park it on the street, so it's functional," she gushed. "It's like a little miracle." - NY Daily News.

Water Main Break Causes Sinkhole In West Philadelphia, Nearly Swallows Garbage Truck.
The rapid change in temperatures has caused a series of water main breaks across Philadelphia. In the worst break,
the street crumbled almost swallowing up a trash truck. - Daralene Jones

The temperature warm-up and snow meltdown may have contributed to a string of water main breaks across the City of Philadelphia on Friday.

The largest of 10 active water main breaks in the city occurred on the 1300 block of N. Wanamaker St. in West Philadelphia, where a sinkhole opened up on a flooded street, nearly swallowing a city garbage truck.

"I could feel the pipes rumbling beneath my feet and the ground shaking," resident Zahir Yancey said as he described the moments before the hole opened up.

"It looks like a cave. I've never seen anything like that in my life, it's absurd," he said.

Gladys Holliday, who also lives on the block, says she saw the entire incident unfold.

"This morning around six you could hear the water running down the street and then it's like, with little creases, you could see the water coming up," she said.

"He (the garbage truck driver) got right here and then boom, he went down, water came gooshing out and the man jumped out. It seems like the truck was sinking down more and more."

NBC10 was on the scene as tow vehicles came to pull the garbage truck from the street, leaving a gaping hole of crumbled asphalt, mud and water.

Several residents have been left without water or gas while the break is being repaired.

"The gas company came and shut off our gas to make sure everything wouldn't blow up. Our gas is off, water off, it's cold. We don't really have too many places to go," Yancey said.

The man says he and neighbors tried to warn the city something bad was going to happen. He says they called 911 and 311 several times since yesterday. The city did respond to turn off  the water, but that came after the road caved.

A city spokesperson said they didn't get the first complaint until 8 a.m. on Friday.

According to residents, this is the second water main break that they've seen on their street this winter.

A Philadelphia Water Department spokesperson says crews have responded to 300 water main breaks across the city since January 1, 2014. Officials say crews are working overtime and that the extreme cold has caused the numbers to jump. - NBC Philadelphia.

Car Crashes Into Sinkhole In Nashville, Tennessee.

Early Thursday morning, a white SUV plowed into detour barriers on Hicks Road in Bellevue. The vehicle crashed into a dirt mound after attempting to clear what they quickly learned was a sinkhole.

The people inside the SUV fled the scene. Now, Metro Police confirmed they are investigating who did this and why.

"So someone must have been determined to get down here," passerby Charlie Bond said.

The sinkhole opened up around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on Hicks Road near Post Creek Road. Officials with Public Works said a drain pipe under the road collapsed for unknown reasons.

WATCH: Car crashes into sinkhole.

A portion of a road will remain blocked for a couple of weeks while crews work to repair the large hole that's grown to be at least ten feet wide.

"We've (had) a lot of mud slides in this area," driver Tony Antunovic said. "Something like this I never (expected) to happen but you never know."

The roadway has been closed in both directions between Sawyer Brown Road and Hwy 70 South, and detours have been set up.

"I just want to see why I can't go home," Antunovic explained about why he had to get a look at the sink hole for himself.

Officials said the repairs will take two to three weeks. New barriers are in place until the work is complete.
Hicks Road is used as short cut in between Highway 70 and Charlotte Pike. - News Channel 5.

Sinkhole Opens Up In Pine Hills Backyard, Florida And Swallows Up Swing Set.
A sinkhole in the backyard of a Pine Hills home swallows a bench swing set, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.
(PHOTO/Caroline Rowland, Staff)

A possible sinkhole opened up in a backyard in the Pine Hills area of Orange County, forcing fire officials to tell the homeowners to leave their home.

The hole swallowed a backyard bench swing set at the home, near Preakness Drive and Lake Horseshoe Drive, off North Powers Drive, north of Silver Star Road.

The estimated size of the hole has changed since initial reports. The latest estimates put the hole at 8 feet wide and 9 feet deep -- not as deep as an earlier estimate of 50 feet, but still dangerous, as the hole was just about 3 feet from the home's foundation.

The hole is still classified as a "possible sinkhole," because only a geologist can officially say for sure. Fire officials said they believe it may just be a depression, because sinkholes usually go down to the water line.

A sinkhole in the backyard of a Pine Hills home swallows a bench swing set, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.
(PHOTO/Caroline Rowland, Staff)

In addition to the homeowners, neighbors were also told to pack up and evacuate their homes, which stand just 15 feet from the gaping hole.

Thursday's hole is the second one to open up in Central Florida in the last week. On Monday, a confirmed sinkhole opened in Clermont, in the middle of an intersection in the Hartwood Reserve neighborhood. - Bay News 9.

Sinkhole Opens Up Under Car In Burlington Mall Parking Lot In Boston.
A sinkhole opened up under a car in the parking lot of the Burlington Mall just after 3:30 Thursday afternoon.

The Burlington Fire Department said the sinkhole formed when the pavement buckled as the result of a water main break.

Emergency crews on the scene surrounded the vehicle with cones in the section of the parking lot near Sears.

The mall was closed at 5 p.m. due to water problems caused by the break in the main. The owner of the car was working inside the mall when the announcement was made.

WATCH: Sinkhole in Burlington Mall parking lot.


“So we’re all like closing the register, cleaning out the store, and then we just like left and went to the parking lot,” says Kelly Gordon. “And that’s when I saw my car.”

Kelly had joked about the situation until she went out to the parking lot. “I was really, really mad and then I started crying when I got on the phone with my dad,” she says.

Crews were working to fix the water main break late Thursday night and a spokesperson says the mall will be open at the normal time on Friday. - CBS Boston.

TERMINATOR NOW: Are The Robots About To Rise - Google's New Director Of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, Thinks So...?!

February 22, 2014 - TECHNOLOGY - Ray Kurzweil popularised the Teminator-like moment he called the 'singularity', when artificial intelligence overtakes human thinking. But now the man who hopes to be immortal is involved in the very same quest – on behalf of the tech behemoth.

The Terminator films envisage a future in which robots have become sentient and are at war with humankind. Ray Kurzweil thinks that machines could become ‘conscious’ by 2029 but is optimistic about the implications for humans. Photograph: Solent News/Rex

It's hard to know where to start with Ray Kurzweil. With the fact that he takes 150 pills a day and is intravenously injected on a weekly basis with a dizzying list of vitamins, dietary supplements, and substances that sound about as scientifically effective as face cream: coenzyme Q10, phosphatidycholine, glutathione?

With the fact that he believes that he has a good chance of living for ever? He just has to stay alive "long enough" to be around for when the great life-extending technologies kick in (he's 66 and he believes that "some of the baby-boomers will make it through"). Or with the fact that he's predicted that in 15 years' time, computers are going to trump people. That they will be smarter than we are. Not just better at doing sums than us and knowing what the best route is to Basildon. They already do that. But that they will be able to understand what we say, learn from experience, crack jokes, tell stories, flirt. Ray Kurzweil believes that, by 2029, computers will be able to do all the things that humans do. Only better.

But then everyone's allowed their theories. It's just that Kurzweil's theories have a habit of coming true. And, while he's been a successful technologist and entrepreneur and invented devices that have changed our world – the first flatbed scanner, the first computer program that could recognise a typeface, the first text-to-speech synthesizer and dozens more – and has been an important and influential advocate of artificial intelligence and what it will mean, he has also always been a lone voice in, if not quite a wilderness, then in something other than the mainstream.

And now? Now, he works at Google. Ray Kurzweil who believes that we can live for ever and that computers will gain what looks like a lot like consciousness in a little over a decade is now Google's director of engineering. The announcement of this, last year, was extraordinary enough. To people who work with tech or who are interested in tech and who are familiar with the idea that Kurzweil has popularised of "the singularity" – the moment in the future when men and machines will supposedly converge – and know him as either a brilliant maverick and visionary futurist, or a narcissistic crackpot obsessed with longevity, this was headline news in itself.

But it's what came next that puts this into context. It's since been revealed that Google has gone on an unprecedented shopping spree and is in the throes of assembling what looks like the greatest artificial intelligence laboratory on Earth; a laboratory designed to feast upon a resource of a kind that the world has never seen before: truly massive data. Our data. From the minutiae of our lives.

Google has bought almost every machine-learning and robotics company it can find, or at least, rates. It made headlines two months ago, when it bought Boston Dynamics, the firm that produces spectacular, terrifyingly life-like military robots, for an "undisclosed" but undoubtedly massive sum. It spent $3.2bn (£1.9bn) on smart thermostat maker Nest Labs. And this month, it bought the secretive and cutting-edge British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for £242m.

And those are just the big deals. It also bought Bot & Dolly, Meka Robotics, Holomni, Redwood Robotics and Schaft, and another AI startup, DNNresearch. It hired Geoff Hinton, a British computer scientist who's probably the world's leading expert on neural networks. And it has embarked upon what one DeepMind investor told the technology publication Re/code two weeks ago was "a Manhattan project of AI". If artificial intelligence was really possible, and if anybody could do it, he said, "this will be the team". The future, in ways we can't even begin to imagine, will be Google's.

There are no "ifs" in Ray Kurzweil's vocabulary, however, when I meet him in his new home – a high-rise luxury apartment block in downtown San Francisco that's become an emblem for the city in this, its latest incarnation, the Age of Google. Kurzweil does not do ifs, or doubt, and he most especially doesn't do self-doubt. Though he's bemused about the fact that "for the first time in my life I have a job" and has moved from the east coast where his wife, Sonya, still lives, to take it.

Ray Kurzweil photographed in San Francisco last year. Photograph: Zackary Canepari/Panos Pictures

Bill Gates calls him "the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence". He's received 19 honorary doctorates, and he's been widely recognised as a genius. But he's the sort of genius, it turns out, who's not very good at boiling a kettle. He offers me a cup of coffee and when I accept he heads into the kitchen to make it, filling a kettle with water, putting a teaspoon of instant coffee into a cup, and then moments later, pouring the unboiled water on top of it. He stirs the undissolving lumps and I wonder whether to say anything but instead let him add almond milk – not eating diary is just one of his multiple dietary rules – and politely say thank you as he hands it to me. It is, by quite some way, the worst cup of coffee I have ever tasted.

But then, he has other things on his mind. The future, for starters. And what it will look like. He's been making predictions about the future for years, ever since he realised that one of the key things about inventing successful new products was inventing them at the right moment, and "so, as an engineer, I collected a lot of data". In 1990, he predicted that a computer would defeat a world chess champion by 1998. In 1997, IBM's Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov. He predicted the explosion of the world wide web at a time it was only being used by a few academics and he predicted dozens and dozens of other things that have largely come true, or that will soon, such as that by the year 2000, robotic leg prostheses would allow paraplegics to walk (the US military is currently trialling an "Iron Man" suit) and "cybernetic chauffeurs" would be able to drive cars (which Google has more or less cracked).

His critics point out that not all his predictions have exactly panned out (no US company has reached a market capitalisation of more than $1 trillion; "bioengineered treatments" have yet to cure cancer). But in any case, the predictions aren't the meat of his work, just a byproduct. They're based on his belief that technology progresses exponentially (as is also the case in Moore's law, which sees computers' performance doubling every two years). But then you just have to dig out an old mobile phone to understand that. The problem, he says, is that humans don't think about the future that way. "Our intuition is linear."

When Kurzweil first started talking about the "singularity", a conceit he borrowed from the science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge, he was dismissed as a fantasist. He has been saying for years that he believes that the Turing test – the moment at which a computer will exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human – will be passed in 2029. The difference is that when he began saying it, the fax machine hadn't been invented. But now, well… it's another story.

"My book The Age of Spiritual Machines came out in 1999 and that we had a conference of AI experts at Stanford and we took a poll by hand about when you think the Turing test would be passed. The consensus was hundreds of years. And a pretty good contingent thought that it would never be done.

"And today, I'm pretty much at the median of what AI experts think and the public is kind of with them. Because the public has seen things like Siri [the iPhone's voice-recognition technology] where you talk to a computer, they've seen the Google self-driving cars. My views are not radical any more. I've actually stayed consistent. It's the rest of the world that's changing its view."

And yet, we still haven't quite managed to get to grips with what that means. The Spike Jonze film, Her, which is set in the near future and has Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with a computer operating system, is not so much fantasy, according to Kurzweil, as a slightly underambitious rendering of the brave new world we are about to enter. "A lot of the dramatic tension is provided by the fact that Theodore's love interest does not have a body," Kurzweil writes in a recent review of it. "But this is an unrealistic notion. It would be technically trivial in the future to provide her with a virtual visual presence to match her virtual auditory presence."

But then he predicts that by 2045 computers will be a billion times more powerful than all of the human brains on Earth. And the characters' creation of an avatar of a dead person based on their writings, in Jonze's film, is an idea that he's been banging on about for years. He's gathered all of his father's writings and ephemera in an archive and believes it will be possible to retro-engineer him at some point in the future.

So far, so sci-fi. Except that Kurzweil's new home isn't some futuristic MegaCorp intent on world domination. It's not Skynet. Or, maybe it is, but we largely still think of it as that helpful search engine with the cool design. Kurzweil has worked with Google's co-founder Larry Page on special projects over several years. "And I'd been having ongoing conversations with him about artificial intelligence and what Google is doing and what I was trying to do. And basically he said, 'Do it here. We'll give you the independence you've had with your own company, but you'll have these Google-scale resources.'"

And it's the Google-scale resources that are beyond anything the world has seen before. Such as the huge data sets that result from 1 billion people using Google ever single day. And the Google knowledge graph, which consists of 800m concepts and the billions of relationships between them. This is already a neural network, a massive, distributed global "brain". Can it learn? Can it think? It's what some of the smartest people on the planet are working on next.

Peter Norvig, Google's research director, said recently that the company employs "less than 50% but certainly more than 5%" of the world's leading experts on machine learning. And that was before it bought DeepMind which, it should be noted, agreed to the deal with the proviso that Google set up an ethics board to look at the question of what machine learning will actually mean when it's in the hands of what has become the most powerful company on the planet. Of what machine learning might look like when the machines have learned to make their own decisions. Or gained, what we humans call, "consciousness".

Garry Kasparov ponders a move against IBM's Deep Blue. Ray Kurzweil predicted the computer's triumph.
Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

I first saw Boston Dynamics' robots in action at a presentation at the Singularity University, the university that Ray Kurzweil co-founded and that Google helped fund and which is devoted to exploring exponential technologies. And it was the Singularity University's own robotics faculty member Dan Barry who sounded a note of alarm about what the technology might mean: "I don't see any end point here," he said when talking about the use of military robots. "At some point humans aren't going to be fast enough. So what you do is that you make them autonomous. And where does that end? Terminator?"

And the woman who headed the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the secretive US military agency that funded the development of BigDog? Regina Dugan. Guess where she works now?
Kurzweil's job description consists of a one-line brief. "I don't have a 20-page packet of instructions," he says. "I have a one-sentence spec. Which is to help bring natural language understanding to Google. And how they do that is up to me."

Language, he believes, is the key to everything. "And my project is ultimately to base search on really understanding what the language means. When you write an article you're not creating an interesting collection of words. You have something to say and Google is devoted to intelligently organising and processing the world's information. The message in your article is information, and the computers are not picking up on that. So we would like to actually have the computers read. We want them to read everything on the web and every page of every book, then be able to engage an intelligent dialogue with the user to be able to answer their questions."

Google will know the answer to your question before you have asked it, he says. It will have read every email you've ever written, every document, every idle thought you've ever tapped into a search-engine box. It will know you better than your intimate partner does. Better, perhaps, than even yourself.

The most successful example of natural-language processing so far is IBM's computer Watson, which in 2011 went on the US quiz show Jeopardy and won. "And Jeopardy is a pretty broad task. It involves similes and jokes and riddles. For example, it was given "a long tiresome speech delivered by a frothy pie topping" in the rhyme category and quickly responded: "A meringue harangue." Which is pretty clever: the humans didn't get it. And what's not generally appreciated is that Watson's knowledge was not hand-coded by engineers. Watson got it by reading. Wikipedia – all of it.

Kurzweil says: "Computers are on the threshold of reading and understanding the semantic content of a language, but not quite at human levels. But since they can read a million times more material than humans they can make up for that with quantity. So IBM's Watson is a pretty weak reader on each page, but it read the 200m pages of Wikipedia. And basically what I'm doing at Google is to try to go beyond what Watson could do. To do it at Google scale. Which is to say to have the computer read tens of billions of pages. Watson doesn't understand the implications of what it's reading. It's doing a sort of pattern matching. It doesn't understand that if John sold his red Volvo to Mary that involves a transaction or possession and ownership being transferred. It doesn't understand that kind of information and so we are going to actually encode that, really try to teach it to understand the meaning of what these documents are saying."

And once the computers can read their own instructions, well… gaining domination over the rest of the universe will surely be easy pickings. Though Kurzweil, being a techno-optimist, doesn't worry about the prospect of being enslaved by a master race of newly liberated iPhones with ideas above their station. He believes technology will augment us. Make us better, smarter, fitter. That just as we've already outsourced our ability to remember telephone numbers to their electronic embrace, so we will welcome nanotechnologies that thin our blood and boost our brain cells. His mind-reading search engine will be a "cybernetic friend". He is unimpressed by Google Glass because he doesn't want any technological filter between us and reality. He just wants reality to be that much better.

"I thought about if I had all the money in the world, what would I want to do?" he says. "And I would want to do this. This project. This is not a new interest for me. This idea goes back 50 years. I've been thinking about artificial intelligence and how the brain works for 50 years."

The evidence of those 50 years is dotted all around the apartment. He shows me a cartoon he came up with in the 60s which shows a brain in a vat. And there's a still from a TV quiz show that he entered aged 17 with his first invention: he'd programmed a computer to compose original music. On his walls are paintings that were produced by a computer programmed to create its own original artworks. And scrapbooks that detail the histories of various relatives, the aunts and uncles who escaped from Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport, his great grandmother who set up what he says was Europe's first school to provide higher education for girls.

Kurzweil suggests that language is the key to teaching machines to think. He says his job is to ‘base search on really understanding what the language means’.The most successful example of natural-language processing to date is IBM’s computer Watson, which in 2011 went on the US quiz show Jeopardy and won (shown above). Photograph: AP

His home is nothing if not eclectic. It's a shiny apartment in a shiny apartment block with big glass windows and modern furnishings but it's imbued with the sort of meaning and memories and resonances that, as yet, no machine can understand. His relatives escaped the Holocaust "because they used their minds. That's actually the philosophy of my family. The power of human ideas. I remember my grandfather coming back from his first return visit to Europe. I was seven and he told me he'd been given the opportunity to handle – with his own hands – original documents by Leonardo da Vinci. He talked about it in very reverential terms, like these were sacred documents. But they weren't handed down to us by God. They were created by a guy, a person. A single human had been very influential and had changed the world. The message was that human ideas changed the world. And that is the only thing that could change the world."

On his fingers are two rings, one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied, and another that was created by a 3D printer, and on his wrist is a 30-year-old Mickey Mouse watch. "It's very important to hold on to our whimsy," he says when I ask him about it. Why? "I think it's the highest level of our neocortex. Whimsy, humour…"

Even more engagingly, tapping away on a computer in the study next door I find Amy, his daughter. She's a writer and a teacher and warm and open, and while Kurzweil goes off to have his photo taken, she tells me that her childhood was like "growing up in the future".

Is that what it felt like? "I do feel little bit like the ideas I grew up hearing about are now ubiquitous… Everything is changing so quickly and it's not something that people realise. When we were kids people used to talk about what they going to do when they were older, and they didn't necessarily consider how many changes would happen, and how the world would be different, but that was at the back of my head."

And what about her father's idea of living for ever? What did she make of that? "What I think is interesting is that all kids think they are going to live for ever so actually it wasn't that much of a disconnect for me. I think it made perfect sense. Now it makes less sense."

Well, yes. But there's not a scintilla of doubt in Kurzweil's mind about this. My arguments slide off what looks like his carefully moisturised skin. "My health regime is a wake-up call to my baby-boomer peers," he says. "Most of whom are accepting the normal cycle of life and accepting they are getting to the end of their productive years. That's not my view. Now that health and medicine is in information technology it is going to expand exponentially. We will see very dramatic changes ahead. According to my model it's only 10-15 years away from where we'll be adding more than a year every year to life expectancy because of progress. It's kind of a tipping point in longevity."

He does, at moments like these, have something of a mad glint in his eye. Or at least the profound certitude of a fundamentalist cleric. Newsweek, a few years back, quoted an anonymous colleague claiming that, "Ray is going through the single most public midlife crisis that any male has ever gone through." His evangelism (and commercial endorsement) of a whole lot of dietary supplements has more than a touch of the "Dr Gillian McKeith (PhD)" to it. And it's hard not to ascribe a psychological aspect to this. He lost his adored father, a brilliant man, he says, a composer who had been largely unsuccessful and unrecognised in his lifetime, at the age of 22 to a massive heart attack. And a diagnosis of diabetes at the age of 35 led him to overhaul his diet.
But isn't he simply refusing to accept, on an emotional level, that everyone gets older, everybody dies?

"I think that's a great rationalisation because our immediate reaction to hearing someone has died is that it's not a good thing. We're sad. We consider it a tragedy. So for thousands of years, we did the next best thing which is to rationalise. 'Oh that tragic thing? That's really a good thing.' One of the major goals of religion is to come up with some story that says death is really a good thing. It's not. It's a tragedy. And people think we're talking about a 95-year-old living for hundreds of years. But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking radical life extension, radical life enhancement.

"We are talking about making ourselves millions of times more intelligent and being able to have virtually reality environments which are as fantastic as our imagination."

Although possibly this is what Kurzweil's critics, such as the biologist PZ Myers, mean when they say that the problem with Kurzweil's theories is that "it's a very bizarre mixture of ideas that are solid and good with ideas that are crazy. It's as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can't possibly figure out what's good or bad." Or Jaron Lanier, who calls him "a genius" but "a product of a narcissistic age".

But then, it's Kurzweil's single-mindedness that's been the foundation of his success, that made him his first fortune when he was still a teenager, and that shows no sign of letting up. Do you think he'll live for ever, I ask Amy. "I hope so," she says, which seems like a reasonable thing for an affectionate daughter to wish for. Still, I hope he does too. Because the future is almost here. And it looks like it's going to be quite a ride. - Guardian.

PROTESTS & SOCIETAL COLLAPSE: Revolution In KIEV - Protesters Seize Presidential Palace; Yanukovych Cries Out "Coup" And Will Not Resign; Parliament Impeaches; MPs Vote For Release Of Ex-PM Tymoshenko, Who Calls On Protesters Not To Abandon Kiev's Independence Square!

February 22, 2014 - UKRAINE - Ukraine's opposition has asserted its authority over Kiev and parliament in a day of fast-paced events.

Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko addresses crowds gathered in the Independence Square in Kiev
February 22, 2014 (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)

MPs have replace the parliamentary speaker and attorney general, appointed a new pro-opposition interior minister and voted to free jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Police appear to have abandoned their posts across the capital.

Protesters in Kiev have walked unchallenged into the president's official and residential buildings.

President Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders signed a peace deal on Friday after several days of violence in which dozens of people died in a police crackdown on months of protest.

But the deal failed to end the protests and huge crowds remain in Independence Square, the Maidan.

 WATCH: Freed ex-PM Tymoshenko addresses crowd in Kiev.

The opposition have called for elections before 25 May, earlier than envisaged in Friday's peace deal.

The president's whereabouts are unclear - his aides say he is in Kharkhiv, close to the border with Russia.

Presidential aide Hanna Herman said he was due to give a televised address later.

A gathering of deputies from the south-east and Crimea - traditionally Russian-leaning areas - is taking place there, but Ms Herman said the president had "no intention" of attending, nor of leaving the country.

An opposition figure has announced to the protest crowds in Independence Square that the president has resigned. This has not been confirmed, but the crowds reacted with huge cheers.

'Rapid change'

Ms Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011 for abuse of power. Her supporters had always maintained this was simply Mr Yanukovych taking out his most prominent opponent, and her release has always been a key demand of the protest movement.

She is expected to be released in Kharkiv later on Saturday.

Her daughter, Yevheniya Tymoshenko, said she was thankful "to all Ukrainians, the democratic world, and the lawmakers who have just released her".

"We must go there now very quickly to ensure that nothing happens to her and to free her together," she said.

On Saturday morning as parliament met, speaker Volodymyr Rybak resigned, citing ill health. He has been replaced by Oleksandr Turchynov, an ally of Ms Tymoshenko.

Another Tymoshenko ally, Arsen Avakov, has been appointed interim interior minister. He replaces Vitaly Zakharchenko, who was sacked on Friday after being blamed for the deaths of civilians in last week's crackdown on protests.

Vitaly Klitschko, leader of the opposition Udar party, repeated his demand for the president's immediate resignation.

The protests first erupted in late November when Mr Yanukovych rejected a landmark association and trade deal with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia.

On Thursday, in the worst violence since the unrest began, police opened fire on protesters who were occupying Independence Square in central Kiev. The health ministry says 77 people - both protesters and police - have been killed since Tuesday.

The parliament building was guarded by protesters on Saturday morning

One group of protesters has been driving around Independence Square in a military vehicle

Protesters and journalists walked uncontested into the grounds of the official president's residence north of the capital

For a second day, funerals are being held in the square.

The BBC's Kevin Bishop in Kiev says journalists and protesters were able to enter freely the previously heavily guarded presidential complex.

The protesters have not entered the offices themselves. They said they were protecting the buildings from looting and vandalism.

"He's not here, none of his officials or anyone linked directly to the administration are here," said Ostap Kryvdyk, a protest leader, referring to the president.

Correspondents say police appear to have abandoned posts across the city, while the numbers gathered in the Maidan are growing.

Hundreds of people have also entered the grounds of the president's official residence, the Mezhyhirya, about 15km (10 miles) north of the city centre.

In a statement, the interior ministry said the police force was "at the service of the people and completely shares its aspirations for rapid changes".

"We pay homage to the dead," it added.

Leaders booed

The political pact was signed on Friday by President Yanukovych and opposition leaders after mediation by EU foreign ministers, and approved by Ukraine's parliament.

It restores the 2004 constitution - reducing the powers of the presidency - and says a unity government will be formed and elections held by the end of the year.

WATCH:  Ukraine MPs vote for release of ex-PM Tymoshenko.


 WATCH:  Huge Split - Eastern Ukraine rises against Kiev.

 WATCH: Ukrainian parliament impeaches Yanukovich.

All but one of the 387 MPs present voted in favour, including dozens of MPs from Mr Yanukovych's own Party of Regions.

The deal has been met with scepticism by some of the thousands of protesters who remain in the square. Opposition leaders who signed it were booed and called traitors.

The US and Russian presidents have agreed that the deal needs to be swiftly implemented, officials say.

Russia's Vladimir Putin told Barack Obama in a telephone conversation on Friday that Russia wanted to be part of the implementation process, a US state department spokesperson said. - BBC.

MASS FISH/BIRDS/ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Latest Incidents Across The Earth - 84,000 Cattle Dead From Flooding And Disease In Beni, Bolivia; Hundreds Of Cormorant Birds Found Dead On A Beach In BioBio, Chile; Large Fish Kill In A Creek In Capiata, Paraguay; And 100 TONS Of Dead Fish Found On The Banks Of River Tiete In Brazil; And 165,000 Fish Dead Due To Volcanic Ash In Bantul, Indonesia!

February 22, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest incidents of mass animal, bird and fish die-offs across the Earth:

84,000 Cattle Dead From Flooding And Disease In Beni, Bolivia.
In Beni farmers fields are completely flooded. Cattle die, and cry for help farmers to transport their animals.
Photo: APG

Beni has lost 84,000 head of cattle, valued at $ 50 million as a result of floods and disease began to spread, according to a report given yesterday by the Federation of Ranchers Beni.

In a desperate call, cattle owners asked the government and private sectors to help expedite the move livestock to higher ground.

The first to respond to that call were farmers in Santa Cruz announced that sending more boats, propellers and forage Beni to take animals that are in the middle of the flooded fields.

LAND Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land, Victor Hugo Vasquez reported that so far has recorded a loss of 39 thousand hectares of crops and 44,000 head of cattle lost due to heavy rains in the country, especially in the department of Beni, according to the agency ANF.

The official suggested that private banks grant loans accessible to the productive sector. In addition, he stressed the urgency to activate an emergency plan that allows families to recover losses caused by floods in different parts of the country.

"In agricultural issue, nationally there has been an allocation of 39 thousand hectares. With regard to the livestock side, we have to date a loss of 44 thousand head of cattle. Course the largest producer of live cattle is Beni department, "Vasquez said in an interview with Radio Panamericana.

However, the president of the Federation of Livestock Beni (FEGABENI), Mario Hurtado, reported that cattle lost due to inclement weather exceed 84 thousand. He also indicated that lack of government support for the rescue of livestock in the Beni region.

"The data exceeded 84 thousand livestock deaths.'ve Had help from the government, but is still missing. Missing boats to rescue livestock have asked helicopter fuel. Need a pier trucks we lack," he urged Hurtado.

INDEMNIFICATION Deputy Rural Development and Land, Víctor Hugo Vásquez, reported yesterday that about 1,000 hectares of crops lost to rain effects will be compensated by the National Agricultural Insurance Institute (INSA).

On January 29, the Cabinet of Ministers issued Supreme Decree 1883 which provides for the transfer of Bs 24 million from the General Treasury of the Nation (TGN) to the INSA, in order to perform the compensation to farmers who lost their crops due rainfall. - Opinion. [Translated]

Hundreds Of Cormorant Birds Found Dead On A Beach In BioBio, Chile.
Hundreds of birds, belonging to the species of black cormorants found dead on a beach in Lota, in the region of Biobío.

The residents of the area claim that power plants would be the cause of this phenomenon.

WATCH: Mass bird die-off in Chile.

Officials of the Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) have announced an investigation into the incident, neighbors said that this is the first time something that is recorded in the sector.

As happened a few weeks ago back to varazón sardines in a sandy Coronel and what happened in the south, with an incredible bird watching in the Araucanía.  - Chile Vision. [Translated]

Large Fish Kill In A Creek In Capiata, Paraguay.
A lot of different species of fish found dead in the creek Capiatá. Residents of the area claim that the situation creates unpleasant odors. The situation drew the attention of the authorities of the SEAM and the Municipality, so they announced that they will conduct an investigation to determine the cause.

Several units of eels and mbusu also found dead at the banks of the creek. The locals point out that this is not the first time this happens, but this time the number of dead animals is quite significant.

WATCH: Mass fish kill in Paraguay.

Residents believe that somewhere is throwing some chemical to stream channel also receives sewage and garbage is full, informed Telefuturo.

The Capiatá creek is one of the many streams flowing into the lake Ypacara, which shows a high degree of pollution in recent years. - Ultimahora. [Translate]

100 TONS Of Dead Fish Found On The Banks Of River Tiete In Brazil.
Biologists suspect that heat and low water volume are behind the death of fish in the Tietê River and it tributaries , in São Paulo .

In recent days , nearly a hundred tons of fish were found dead on the banks of the river and tributaries .

Only in Arealva , another 20 tons of tilapia died in the breeding tanks . In San Manuel , another 50 tons of fish were also lost .

"We fight so much, anytime you 're starting out, these things happen there. 's To break even , it's hard ," said the farmer William Land of the Saints .

The damage will weigh in the pockets of farmers . " Four , five months of lost service, each approximately R $ 200 thousand . Here is complicated for people 's right to recover ," said Marcos Antonio Bortoloto also fish farmer .

Technical Environmental Sanitation Company of São Paulo collected water samples along the river to see if there is some sort of contamination . The intense heat that made the region may have triggered an environmental imbalance.

WATCH: Mass fish die-off in Brazil.

" We also note the presence of dead algae , which have a very large spread where the dissolved organic matter in the light of which is deteriorating oxygen consumes oxygen and may have caused the mortality of fish ," says the coach Cetesb Martin Raggio .

In the Piracicaba River , another tributary of the Tietê River , the water level dropped because of the drought . Lacked oxygen and more than 20 tons of fish died .

According to experts , the Piracicaba can take three years to recover from this environmental disaster . " The cleansing power of the river is extremely committed and balance for the recovery itself ," says the environmentalist Richard Schmidt .

" I've fished in that river too . To me it is a lot and I 'm very sad about it ," said the cook Santa Dias Ferreira. - Globo. [Translated]

165,000 Fish Dead Due To Volcanic Ash In Bantul, Indonesia.
Kelud volcanic ash

Department of Marine and Fisheries Bantul, Yogyakarta, noting as many as 165 550 fish fry in the local area due to volcanic ash die pascahujan Kelud eruption.

"The data that goes into service until today (Wednesday), fish seed mortality due to volcanic ash fall as much as 165 550 tails, catfish and carp seed well," said Head of Division (Head) Department of Marine Aquaculture and Fisheries (MMAF), Bantul, Hadi Subiyanto, Wednesday.

Due to the death of hundreds of thousands of fish seed, farmers groups who are victims of natural disasters suffered material losses estimated total of Rp 50 million.

He said there are five groups of people hatchery operations (UPR) is a victim of the disaster, ie each group in the District Jetis, Pundong, Srandakan, Pandak and Kercamatan Sewon.

"The death of these fish occurs only in seed catfish and carp were aged between one and three weeks. However, fish that are ready for consumption or over the age of two months can still survive," he said.

Deaths due to fish seed is exposed to rain water ponds dense volcanic ash. These conditions make it difficult for fish to breathe and cause death.

To prevent more deaths, he said, it was suggested to the owner to replace the aquaculture pond water pond with clear water or adding water to reduce the concentration of water due to the ash. - Republika. [Translated]

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Subsurface Seismic Activity Continues At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Latest Public Briefing And Flyover Videos!

February 22, 2014 - LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES - The following report and videos constitute the latest information on the giant Louisiana sinkhole, courtesy of the Assumption Parish Police Jury.

February 21, 2014 - Update from the Office of Conservation

Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou Response Activity

Sinkhole Activity Code 1 – indicating work is allowed on sinkhole and within containment berms. Seismic monitoring indicates continued low levels of subsurface activity near sinkhole/Oxy 3.

Air Monitoring/Sub-slab Sampling and Ventilation

- Conducting ventilation system inspections


- Installing check valve on ORW 21 (north of Sauce Piquante, west of Crawfish Stew) for pump test

- Installing new pump and check valve on ORW 39 (north of containment berm) in preparation for de-watering

- Connecting de-watering piping along ORWs south of La 70 for future de-watering

- Surveying settlement rods on ORW 21 and ORW 38 (north of Sauce Piquante)

Containment Berm/Roads/Sinkhole

- Surveying north containment berm and original south containment berm

Texas Brine advised that the tagging of Cavern 3 (performed last Friday) was at 3,642′ which is 6′ from the cavern roof.

WATCH: The latest flyover videos - February 18, 2014.


WATCH: Public Briefing - February 18, 2014.


On February 19th, the University of Memphis' Center for Earthquake Research and Information produced a graph which suggest a uptick in seismic activity.

See more readings HERE.

ICE AGE NOW: It's Back - Polar Vortex Set To Return Next Week, Plunging Temperatures In The U.S. Midwest And Northeast To 35 Degrees Below Normal! [MAPS]

February 22, 2014 - UNITED STATES - Just when you thought you were safe - the Polar Vortex is back.

Consider the weather this week a mere pause in a tough winter that will resume next week with cold air and the potential for snowstorms.  Signs are pointing toward another southward dip from the polar vortex. The polar vortex is essentially a mass of very cold air that usually hangs out above the Arctic Circle and is contained by strong winds.

Here we go again: An image taken in January in Detroit, Michigan shows a homeowner shoveling snow in scenes that are expected to continue for the rest of the month following a brief thaw in the Midwest.

The Midwest and North East are thawing out after being covered with more than a foot of snow over the past week, but forecasters have warned it won't be for long as another cold front is on its way.

The wintry storm is expected to slam the Midwest this weekend, bringing ferocious winds and freezing temperatures as low as 35 degrees below normal.

After rattling the Midwest, it will stretch into the South and East at the start of next week, according to Weather Underground.

A six-to-ten-day forecast from NOAA also reveals a terrifying swathe of cold temperatures starting in the Midwest on Tuesday and stretching south and to the coast - where the mercury is expected to plummet to temperatures below average, while a higher than average amount of rain is also due.

According to AccuWeathe's Long Range Expert Mark Paquette, "We noticed a minor Sudden Stratospheric Warming event taking place back on Feb. 6-7, 2014."  When sudden warming takes place high in the atmosphere, it initiates a chain of events that tends to displace the polar vortex between 14 and 30 days later.  "In addition to the exact timing of the cold outbreak is you never know for sure initially which continent the cold air will be directed," Paquette said, "This time it appears it will take aim at the eastern part of North America."

Snow escape: A 6 to 10 day forecast shows a swathe of cold temperatures expected to hit the country next week - with the Midwest, South and East expected to get temperatures colder than normal.

Brutal: Another file image shows a man battling cold temperatures in Michigan. This weekend, temperatures around 20 F below normal are expected to creep into the area.

'Temperatures 20°F below normal will likely invade the Upper Midwest on Sunday, and gradually spread southeastwards during the week,' Dr Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground said.

'The peak cold is predicted to occur late next week, with temperatures 20 - 35° below normal covering much of the eastern 2/3 of the country.'

Ten-day forecasts by show that temperatures will stay below freezing, with Embarrass, Minnesota enduring lows of -29F next Friday.

And it won't be over quickly as forecaster predict that the best chance of snow is believed to be between February 26 and March 3, as temperatures on the East Coast remain at least 15 degrees below normal, reported.

Masters added that due to these predicted temperatures, the cost of natural gas is soaring.

Cold air is poised to return in stages to the North Central states, the Northeast and interior South beginning next week.  As the magnitude of the cold air fully is gauged in the short term, most likely temperature forecasts will be adjusted downward for multiple days.  One reason for the cold blast carrying more weight than you might expect is the fact that the Great Lakes are largely frozen over. The air will not moderate to the extent as if most of the lakes were not frozen. In addition, while the amount and extent of snow on the ground will diminish this week, many areas will retain some sort of snow cover.

New storm: A forecast shows the Northeast can expect high winds on Saturday, while the Midwest will see heavy snow from Monday as the South suffers heavier rain.

The latest polar vortex follows a major thaw across the Midwest, where temperatures remained above freezing in Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit for the second day.

But Dr Masters warned that with these warmer climes - with temperatures reaching the low 50s - come new problems of dangerous flash flooding.

'Much of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Indiana are covered by snows of 10 to 30 inches that if melted, would be equivalent to 2 to 6 inches of rain,' he said.

In New York City, there are other warnings - as sheets of ice are falling from buildings as temperatures begin to rise, posing risks for pedestrians below.

There is the potential for high temperatures to be in the single digits and teens during a several-day stretch from Chicago to Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo, N.Y. Farther south, from St. Louis to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York City, highs may wind up in the teens and lower 20s, if the cold air drives forcefully to the south and east.  Further updates on the cold air will follow through this weekend.  According to Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "For all practical purposes, the upcoming pattern next week will be a continuation of the weather that has occurred during much of the past winter concerning not only temperatures, but also storms."  At times, clipper storms will roll in from western Canada to the Midwest and Northeast. On other occasions, storms will move up from the Gulf coast or develop along the Atlantic Seaboard.  The setup next week may present one to several such Atlantic Coast storms next week in the Sunday to Thursday period.

Cold ahead: A March forecast shows temperatures will remain below normal in the Midwest for the month. How quickly and forcefully the cold air moves toward the coast will determine whether one main storm forms or multiple significant storms develop. The degree to which the cold air moves toward the coast will also determine which areas get snow versus rain or a wintry mix.  People along the middle and upper Atlantic coast and the Appalachians to the west should anticipate at least a couple of days of travel delays and disruptions to daily activities.  Like Rayno said, "It will be business as usual for this difficult winter as the familiar pattern resumes."  AccuWeather's long-range meteorologists expect the pattern of lower-than-average temperatures and rather frequent storms to continue over the Upper Midwest to the Northeast next week into the first part of March.  However, there may be a few mild days in between the cold outbreaks. In other words the cold will not likely be as persistent as it was much of the winter, but the colder weather will take its toll on averages.

It will come as yet more grief for the Midwest, southern and eastern areas of the country, which has been battered with grueling weather while the West largely suffers from droughts.

The relentless snow and ice storms this season have been connected to scores of traffic-related deaths and have led to the highest number of flight cancellations in more than 25 years.

U.S. airlines have canceled more than 75,000 domestic flights since December 1, including roughly 14,000 last week - the highest total number and highest percent of cancellations since at least the winter of 1987-1988, when records began.

SOURCES: Daily Mail | AccuWeather.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Landslide In Croatia - Heavy Rainfall And Widespread Flooding Results In Deep Cracks Near The Village Of Racari; Some Land Areas Fall More Than 16 FEET! [STUNNING PHOTOS]

February 22, 2014 - CROATIA - Due to the large rainfall as the country opened up in a village near Racari crabs in Buzeština. Half the arable land with barley slid ten feet in some places fell more than five meters (16.4 feet). .

Photo: Glas Istre.

Part of the crevasses deeper than a meter, and some ended up in the abyss and rift that opened on a gentle slope below the village Racari. Of the four thousand square meters of skating terrain destroyed almost two thousand.

The sight of the green area under cultivation crevasses, collecting treasures creeps. Even the oldest villagers Racari not remember such a case.

Photo: Glas Istre.

Photo: Glas Istre.

Photo: Glas Istre.

Photo: Glas Istre.

Photo: Glas Istre.

Photo: Glas Istre.

Photo: Glas Istre.

"It happened literally overnight. In the morning I went to cut a branch in a nearby vineyard. When I got closer, I had to see. I cried in anguish at the sight of deep cracks and ravine. Missing my most productive half of arable land ", says the owner, 52-year-old Dario Matkovic. A big landslide near the village Racari a quarter of a mile away as the crow flies from the first village houses and the village is not jeopardized.

North Istria because of its geological structure, abundant landslides. Launched more plentiful rainfall some of them occasionally trigger. - Istramet. [Translated]

FIRE IN THE SKY: The Risk Of Asteroid Impacts May Be More Common Than Expected - Rather Than Expecting An Impact Every 150 Years, Researchers Believe The Risks Could Be TEN TIMES GREATER!

February 22, 2014 - SPACE - Researchers warn that the risk of space rocks, like the one that exploded over Russia in February 2013, hitting the Earth is ten times larger than previously estimated.

The Chelyabinsk asteroid, which shattered window panes up to 75 miles away, is now said to
be ten times larger than previously estimated. (CC/Nikita Plekhanov)

Using videos from security and dashboard cameras, researchers were able to reconstruct the asteroid and its trajectory through the atmosphere.

Three separate papers out this week agree that the asteroid, which caused an intense flash of blinding light at daybreak on Feb. 15 near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, was nearly twice as heavy as earlier estimated and had the explosive power of 500,000 tons of TNT.

"Luckily, most of the kinetic energy was absorbed by the atmosphere," said Jiri Borovicka, an asteroid researcher at the Astronomical Institute near Prague and lead author on a study published in Nature. "A more solid rock that might have blasted closer to the ground would have caused considerably more damage."

According to Borovicka, the asteroid approached the Earth from a region in the sky that is inaccessible to ground telescopes. The asteroid should have been visible six weeks before the impact, but only during the day, when the sky is too bright to spot objects of its size.

Peter Brown, a planetary scientist at the University of Western Ontario and lead author on a separate paper published in Nature, said that previous models suggested that asteroids like the Chelyabinsk asteroid would hit the earth once every 150 years. But looking at the number of observed impacts over the last 20 years suggests the impact risk could be substantially higher.

Brown suggests that a sensible response to the Chelyabinsk asteroid is scanning the visible sky with asteroid detection and early-warning system like ATLAS, which is currently being developed in Hawaii. - UPI.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Sinkhole Terror In The United Kingdom - Woman In Critical Condition In Hospital After Car Was Swallowed Up By A Sinkhole In Morriston!

February 22, 2014 - UNITED KINGDOM - The vehicle was parked at the rear of her property when the ground opened up.

South Wales Evening Post.

The victim, who is believed to be in her 50s, sustained serious injuries in the incident.

Emergency services were arrived at the house on Caemawr Road in Morriston yesterday morning.

The woman was rushed to hospital and is said to be in a critical condition.

Police have launched an investigating into the incident and are still waiting to interview her, the South Wales Evening Post reported.

A South Wales Police spokesman said: “Emergency services were called to Caemawr Road in Morriston on Wednesday morning following reports that a woman had suffered injuries after being involved in an incident involving a car at the rear of a house.

“The woman, who is in her 50s, has been taken to Morriston Hospital with serious injuries.

“An investigation to establish what happened is underway.” - Mirror.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Latest Incidents Of Fireballs Over The Earth - Huge "Greenish" Fireball Seen Over Puerto Rico Caught On Camera; Meteorite Smash A Roof In Sri Lanka And Fireball Seen Over Oxfordshire, UK!

February 22, 2014 - SPACE - The following constitutes the latest incidents of meteor fireballs seen in the skies over the Earth:

Huge Green Fireball Seen Over Puerto Rico Caught On Camera.
The fireball was seen from several towns in Puerto Rico and even from the Dominican Republic   Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe

A huge meteor was seen in Puerto Rico in the early evening of Tuesday, February 18th. The space rock was filmed at the moment it penetrated the atmosphere.

The Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe (SAC) released information that shortly after 7:02 p.m., it had received witness reports from different Puerto Rican towns describing a "greenish fireball that left a trail as it traveled down from the sky."

The SAC explained that the green color many witnesses saw suggests that the meteor contained nickel, a mineral frequently present in space rocks, since they are highly metallic and contain iron.

The SAC pointed out that those who had seen the meteor fall with their own eyes would have perceived it as bigger than it shows in video footage, since cameras use a lens with a wide angle, which zooms out away from the visible objects in order to cover a wider area in the sky.

WATCH: Puerto Rico fireball.

Even though the video shows that it occurred at 6:58 p.m., the SCA explained that the cameras were 4 minutes behind. Therefore, the event is determined to have taken place at 7:02 p.m. - El Nuevo Dia.

Did A Meteorite Smash A Roof In Sri Lanka?
Scientists at several universities in Sri Lanka have been examining unknown stones that fell on a house in Ragala, Walapane - in a mountainous part of Sri Lanka - early in the morning yesterday (February 19, 2014). At least one scientist, Professor Athula Senarathna of the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, said today that the stone was a meteorite, or rock from space.

The owner of the house upon which the strange stone fell in Ragala is H.B. Ranjanee.

According to Hiru News, a local news outlet, the Crime Division of the Ragala police conducted an investigation into the fall of the unknown stone. Police Media Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana told Hiru News that particles of the stone scattered within an area of 26 square feet.

WATCH: The following video is not in English, but it gives you a clear idea of the possible meteorite fall in Ragala.


Bottom line: Scientists are examining unknown stones that fell on a house in Ragala, Walapane, Sri Lanka on February 19, 2014). It's possible the stone is a meteorite, or rock from space. - Earth Sky.

Fireball Over Oxfordshire, UK.
Alexandre Legris, 41, was driving from Banbury to Woodstock with his 16-year-old son Isaac when he saw the object descending over Deddington Hill last Friday at about 6.30pm.

He said: "I don't know exactly what it was - it was just falling from the sky - but it was a big object on fire and then suddenly the flame went out.

"I thought it was a shooting star at first but realised it was far too close to be that. It was a few miles away and I didn't see it fall to the ground. It was fascinating - I've never seen anything like it. I said to my son it's probably the only time he will see something like that."

Mr Legris, who lives in Maidenhead but was staying in Woodstock with his partner Caroline, said the moment passed too quickly to record it but when he returned home he researched it online. This led him to believe it could have been satellite debris.

The business development manager added: "It would be great if someone else saw it. I posted about it on Facebook and I've been told I'm weird but I'm certain about what I saw.

"My son was with me and he saw it too. Maybe at some point someone could find where it landed. Judging by the distance it would probably have fallen south of Oxford." - Oxford Mail.