Monday, December 1, 2014

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - A Revolution In Virtual Reality And Robotics Heralds A New Era For Mankind, Welcome To The Age Of The Machine!

December 1, 2014 - TECHNOLOGY
- It is 2014 and the machines have not taken over…yet. The  following reports document the latest technologically advanced machines and reveals the extraordinary engineering that is pushing them beyond the extremes, towards the ultimate future where they are no longer captives of humanity's wildest imagination but controllers of it.

Sony executive heralds a revolution in virtual reality

Virtual reality will revolutionise the gaming market in just two years, according to the head of Sony’s PlayStation business in the Americas, as the Japanese electronics group readies its Project Morpheus headset to rival Facebook’s Oculus Rift.

In an interview ahead of an event this week to mark the 20th anniversary of the PlayStation’s launch, Shawn Layden, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said: “In a couple of years from now, we are going to see virtual reality changing the entire gaming experience.”

The comments come as Sony scales back its ambitions in the smartphone market and pins much of its turnround effort on its video games business.

Virtual reality could give Sony a new line of revenue in both devices and content, but the technology remains unproven in the consumer market, increasing the company’s risk at a critical moment for the struggling Japanese group.

After many years of false starts for the technology, some of the world’s biggest tech companies are now investing huge sums in virtual reality

Google led a $542m funding round for a VR start-up called Magic Leap in September. 

Facebook acquired Oculus in March for $2bn and has been investing hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a consumer version of its Rift headset, expected next year.

Oculus is also partnering with Samsung on a mobile-phone based headset, Gear VR, which is going on sale to developers this month for $199.

Virtual reality will revolutionise the gaming market in just two years, according to the head of Sony’s PlayStation business in the Americas,
as the Japanese electronics group readies its Project Morpheus headset to rival Facebook’s Oculus Rift.

In March, Sony unveiled its Project Morpheus prototype headset, which it said would work with the PlayStation 4, but it has not specified a price or release date for the device.

Mr Layden said Sony would bring its VR device to market “not only when we have the technology and the production costs and the hardware issues completely worked out but also when we have the right experience”, in terms of games and content.

As well as trying to solve technical problems around input devices and displays that do not cause nausea among users, Sony – like other VR investors – is still looking for a “killer app” for the device.

“It’s not just confined to gaming,” Mr Layden suggested. Sony has been approached by more than 100 non-gaming companies about creating new content and experiences for virtual reality, from travel and education to watching live sports via the immersive headsets.

But he added: “We have to concentrate on delivering this VR experience in a meaningful and attractive way in the gaming world first. Without success in that realm, it would be difficult to start to branch off.” - FT.

Machine that runs faster than Usain Bolt could soon be on the battlefield

It's a robot unlike any other: inspired by the world's fastest land animal, controlled by video game technology and packing sensors - including one used to maneuver drones, satellites and ballistic missiles

It's one of the most advanced robots under development by the US military.

The cheetah, described as the 'Ferrari in the robotics world', could be used on the battlefield in just ten years, according to its creators.

The stealthy machine can run faster than Usain bolt, jumps 16 inches (40 cm) and gallops for 15 minutes - all while using less power than a microwave.

It is the creation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who had to design key elements from scratch because of a lack of or shortcomings in existing technology.

That includes powerful, lightweight motors; electronics that control power for its 12 motors; and an algorithm that determines the amount of force a leg should exert within a split second.

This allows the machine to reach speeds of up to 30mph (48kph) over difficult terrain.

Insight gleaned from the design of their prototype could have real-world applications, including the design of revolutionary prosthetics, wearable technologies and all-terrain wheelchairs.

There are hopes the robot will be able to be used in search and rescue operations in hazardous or hostile environments where it's too risky to send a human rescuer.

WATCH: MIT Cheetah robot 2 running fast and jump over an obstacle.

'In the next 10 years, our goal is we are trying to make this robot to save a life,' said MIT Professor Sangbae Kim.

'When the robot is running, at every step, we calculate the appropriate amount of the force to the legs so that the robot can balance itself,' added MIT research scientist Hae-Won Park.

Sensors inside the robot measure the angle of the leg and that information is sent to an onboard computer that also organises data from the Inertial Measurement Unit which is also used to manoeuvre drones.

The project is funded by the US Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency, who is developing a similar robot being alongside Boston Dynamics. - Daily Mail.

Always Be Chatty: Japanese robot Pepper will sell you a coffee machine… with a smile

Japanese telecom giant Softbank's humanoid robot Pepper introduces Nestle's coffee machines at an electric shop in Tokyo on December 1, 2014.
(AFP Photo / Yoshikazu Tsuno)

Chatty robots in human form have started selling coffee machines to customers in Japan as of Monday, with their makers claiming that they can understand 80 percent of conversations, along with being able to play games with customers and answer questions.

The robot which debuted at a promotional event on Monday was called Pepper and belonged to Nestle Japan Ltd as part of an innovative new sales technique for its Japanese stores. It has a smiling human face and an interactive tablet mounted on its chest.

“By simply answering my questions, I can tell which coffee machine is perfect for you,” the 120cm tall Pepper stated with confidence at the event, held at Bic Camera’s Yurakucho store in Tokyo, the Japan Times reported.

It is Pepper’s job to welcome customers at electronics stores to answer customers’ questions about the coffee machines and aid them in selecting the one that best caters to their needs.

“How do you enjoy coffee? Number one: An eye-opener coffee; Number two: A post-meal cup of coffee,”
Pepper asked a Japanese TV personality, Kyoko Uchida, at the event.

The robot is able to attempt forms of interaction not solely focused on coffee machine purpose too – and is able to play games with and quiz customers.

Pepper’s creators claim that the bot can understand 80 percent of conversation. Currently it is able to converse in Japanese only. However, it is always learning; its makers say that it can develop its abilities through “listening.”

Pepper robots started work at four different stores Monday, and in total, around 1,000 will eventually utilize the bot’s services.

“We originally introduced Pepper at SoftBank shops so that it can serve customers in ways that we weren’t able to before, providing a new type of service,” Kenichi Yoshida, vice president of the Business Development Division at SoftBank Robotics Corp told the Japan Times.

Its design was unveiled in June, and it already started selling mobile phones at SoftBank’s 74 Japanese stores. The bot will likely go on sale in February 2015. - RT.

Amazon unleashes 15,000 hauler robots for Cyber Monday packaging

Ten Amazon warehouses in five US states are making use of 15,000 Kiva robots, hoping they can cut operating costs for the mega retailer by some 20 percent during the Christmas gift fest.

The 145-kilogram robots are produced by Kiva Systems, which Amazon bought in 2012 for $775 million.

The company showcased the technology on Sunday at its year-old warehouse in Tracy, California, a day ahead of the Cyber Monday frenzy. This facility alone has more than 3,000 Kiva carriers working along with 1,500 humans.

The robots navigate across a warehouse buzzing along rows on sensors on the floor and hauling racks with goods. Each can lift as much as 225 kilos and delivers its cargo to packing workstations operated by a human.

The system requires smaller gaps between rack rows, since the robots are smaller than people and need not as much space to pass. Deploying the robotic carriers has allowed Amazon to hold some 50 percent more items and shorten delivery times in serviced areas, the company said.

WATCH: Kiva Systems Warehouse Automation at Quiet Logistics.

It comes at a cost, however. Amazon estimated last year that it would spend about $46 million on Kiva equipment at its warehouse in Ruskin, Florida, Reuters reported. But the company says it is glad about the decision.

"It's certainly proving out that it's justified itself,"
Amazon’s senior vice president of operations, Dave Clark, said of the Kiva acquisition. "We're happy with the economics of it."

Amazon insists its robot employees are not stealing jobs from humans, because the company is continuing to grow.

"That growth is driving increased hiring. We continue to add employees, and no employee has been negatively impacted by Kiva coming on board,"
he said.

"What we've done is automate the walking element. Our focus on automation is to do automation that helps employees do their job in an easier way, in a more efficient manner."

The online retail giant also uses flying robots to deliver goods to customers’ doorsteps. - RT.

White House holiday decor goes digital, with dog-bots and crowdsourced tree lights

As part of its higher-tech holiday display this year, the White House will feature robotic versions of the family dogs . Mark DeLoura, right, Senior Advisor for Digital Media, adjusts the Bo robot for White House florist Laura Dowling, second left, and Stephanie Santoso of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Few Washington events embody as much tradition as the annual holiday tour at the White House. There are at least a dozen bedecked trees inside, along with a nearly 20-foot white fir outside. There is the Neapolitan creche that has been in place for almost four decades and an official, annual White House ornament.

This year, all that tradition plunges into the digital age.

In addition to the gingerbread White House and tastefully decorated wreaths, there will be infrared motion sensors, crowdsourced lighting patterns and matching robot versions of the first family’s two dogs. And the Obamas have released what they call their “first-ever interactive White House holiday card.”

“Technology has always been an interest of this administration,” said William Bushong, chief historian for the White House Historical Association.

But the digital holiday tweaks are also a homage to the Maker movement, a high-tech, DIY philosophy that President Obama and his aides have embraced enthusiastically. It wraps into a neat package many of the attributes the administration has sought to champion: innovation, manufacturing, entre­pre­neur­ship and hipster geekiness.

In September, the White House appointed Stephanie Santoso, a PhD candidate in information science at Cornell University, as its first full-time senior adviser for “Making.” One bonus of that hire is that Santoso knows how to design a dog robot.

So last month, White House chief floral designer Laura Dowling and a handful of the administration’s science policy experts gathered around what could best be described as a robot skeleton, a chicken-wire version of Bo Obama, as the canine robot swiveled its head back and forth about once a second. They seemed pleased with the performance, especially given the White House’s previous attempt at a mechanized dog.

“We had a ‘smoking-tail Bo’ last year,” Dowling reminded the team. The mechanized dog in the 2013 White House holiday extravaganza had a little mishap: Its ribbon tail got caught in its motor and started to smolder. (“Luckily, that was the end of the season,” Dowling noted.)

“We’ve promised you that’s not going to happen,” replied Mark DeLoura, who serves as senior adviser for digital media in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. This year’s Bo-bot was created by Santoso, DeLoura and Laura Gerhardt, an OSTP intern.

The 2014 holiday decor, which will be unveiled Wednesday, includes not just dog robots but also an interactive digital snowscape that will capture the movements of visitors in front of it.

Five kinds of 3-D-printed ornaments — designed by Americans and produced in San Francisco — will be shown throughout the East Wing. The lights on the 56 trees representing U.S. states and territories in President’s Park will flash in patterns coded online by girls across the country, and the National Christmas Tree in President’s Park has its own Twitter handle.

Adding these more modern elements to the festivities “reflects culturally what Americans are doing,” said Bushong, of the White House Historical Association.
The Sunny-bot is the work of two Presidential Innovation fellows, Bosco So and David Naffis. Professional software engineers, So and Naffis are spending the year working at the Energy Department and the National Archives, respectively.

Rather than rotating its head at a set rate, Sunny-bot has eyes with infrared motion sensors that prompt it to turn in the direction of someone approaching it. Both robots use fairly basic software and hardware. Even Sunny-bot, she of the infrared eyes, uses rubber bands as ligaments to give her head flexibility. - Washington Post.

Flying robots to work as waiters in Singapore

Visitors are served by an Infinium-Serve Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that is designed to serve food and wait tables,
at the National Productivity Month exhibition in Singapore October 7, 2014.(Reuters / Edgar Su)

Flying robotic waiters, known as Infinium-Serve, will be launched in a Singapore restaurant chain by the end of 2015, local media reported on Thursday.

In what is believed to be the world’s first commercial attempt at replacing humans with machines in this field, Timbre Group plans to have robots waiting tables by the end of next year, Channel News Asia reported.

Infinium Robotics and Timbre Group – one of Singapore’s most popular restaurant chains – signed a memorandum of understanding on October 31 to launch the robots in five outlets.

They are looking for productivity-related government grants to help offset development costs, which are estimated to be a “low seven-figure sum,” according to Woon Junyang, chief executive officer at Infinium Robotics.

Woon said he believes that replacing waiters and waitresses with robots would help alleviate Singapore’s labor crunch and allow human waiters to focus on more interesting higher value tasks, such as getting feedback from customers and ordering wine.

“This will result in an enhanced dining experience which will eventually lead to increased sales and revenue for the restaurants,”
he said.

Singapore has been facing a labor shortage, particularly in the service sector, due to ever stricter restrictions on the number of foreign workers allowed into the island state in recent years.

Infinium showed off a prototype of the flying robot to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the inaugural launch of National Productivity Month in early October. - RT.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Sinkhole Swallows Car In Jinjiang, China - The Sinkhole Was 13 Feet Wide!

Screen capture from YouTube video.

December 1, 2014 - JINJIANG, CHINA
– Two men had a lucky escape on Thursday as their car was swallowed by a sinkhole in Jinjiang City in east China’s Fujian province.

As temperatures continue to drop, it should come as no surprise that there are a few more potholes you need to avoid on the road.

Regions prone to freezing and thawing can create openings on busy roads, allowing water to enter, expand and form potholes.

But what happens in the video below is a little different than the annoying potholes you're probably used to seeing.

WATCH: Sinkhole swallows car in China.

Street surveillance footage shows a white sedan stopped in the middle of the road as its left front wheel ran into the sink hole appeared after a truck passed the road half an hour ago.

The driver and a passenger got off immediately to check their car only to find the road surface further collapsed and swallowed the entire car minutes later.

Local transport authorities said the sinkhole was caused due to the collapse of sands beneath the road surface, and the road has been blocked for repairing over the next few days.

The sinkhole was 13 feet wide, according to the BBC.

Earlier this month, firefighters had to rescue a woman who fell into a three-metre sinkhole which opened up while she was hanging out her washing in Australia. - Weather | BBC.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: South Korean Ship Sinks Off Russia's Chukotka Peninsula - One Person Killed; Over 50 Missing!

The Bering Sea (RIA Novosti / Alexander Liskin)

- Rescuers are searching for 54 people who were on board a South Korean vessel that sank near the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East.

An emergency on board the Oryong 501trawler started sometime before 17:30 local time (0530 GMT) on Monday, when information the ship being in peril was sent to local rescue services.

The vessel reportedly did not send a distress call.

There were 62 people on board, rescuers said.

Eight people were recovered alive, but one died later due to overexposure.

The remaining 54 people are not accounted for and are feared dead.

Four Russian fishing boats were the first to respond to the disaster and led the rescue effort.

But their task is a difficult one due to nightfall and a stormy weather in the Bering Sea, where the Korean ship sank.

WATCH: South Korean trawler sinks off coast of Chukotka - 1 dead, 50+ missing.

Waves up to six meters high and wind gusts up to 27 meters per second hit the vessels, Interfax reported, citing the rescue services.

One of the people rescued is a Russian citizen, an official from the local fishery regulator, the report said. The sailor whose body has been identified is from South Korea.

Other crewmembers include citizens of Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea. - RT.

ICE AGE NOW: Weather Anomalies - Rare Ice Storm Strikes Waldviertel In Austria Bringing Chaos With Unprecedented Ice-Damaged Trees?!

Firefighters preventing a tree from damaging a power line.  © APA/FF OTTENSCHLAG/FICHTINGERa

December 1, 2014 - AUSTRIA
- The fire service was called out more than 200 times over the weekend in the district of Zwettl (Lower Austria) as a rare ice storm hit the region, bringing chaos with layers of frozen ice in trees.

Firefighters have been busy clearing away hundreds of trees from the vicinity of homes and power lines. The trees' branches had been bent almost double by the weight of the ice.

The area near Ottenschlag has particularly been hit hard. A combination of very low temperatures and high humidity caused many layers of thick frost to form into heavy ice.

Motorists in the region have been asked to exercise extreme caution due to icy conditions on the roads.

Northeast Fire Department spokesman Franz Resperger described on Sunday how many trees were destroyed by the ice, including some with trunks more than a meter in diameter.

WATCH: Rare ice storm in Austria.

Traffic chaos

The fire departments around Ottenschlag, Kirchschlag and Kottes were especially busy removing the broken giant trees from roads, roofs and garages.

On Sunday, the B36 state highway had to be temporarily closed because dozens of trees were criss-crossing the street.

Such weather phenomenon is not entirely unknown in the Waldviertel, however few in the fire service could recall so many ice-damaged trees.

Fortunately, no one was injured, but the financial losses have yet to be quantified. - The Local.

MONUMENTAL DELUGE: Widespread Flooding – The Latest Reports Of High Tides, Heavy Rainfall, Flash Floods, Sea Level Rise, And Catastrophic Storms!

December 1, 2014 - EARTH - The following list constitutes the latest reports of high tides, heavy rainfall, flash floods, widespread flooding, sea level rise and catastrophic storms.

France Floods – 5 Dead, 3000 Evacuated

France has once again been bombarded with storms and heavy rain, causing floods across the south west of the country. Around 92 mm of rain fell in Perpignan, the capital of the Pyrenees-Orientales department, between 29 and 30 November 2014.

Levels of the Agly River in the Pyrenees-Orientales department were so high that between 2,000 to 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes along the river on Sunday 30 November 2014. Most of the evacuations were near the towns of Rivesaltes, Argeles-sur-Mer and Barcares. Around 400 people were also evacuated near the town of Canet in the Aude department.

Five Days of Flooding, Five Fatalities

Five people have died in the latest floods that began on 27 November. One woman was found dead on 27 November in La Londe, Var department, while 3 people remained missing. Three more deaths were reported soon after.
The fifth victim was an elderly man who, according to AFP, died of heart failure yesterday after his car was caught up in flood water in Rivesaltes, Pyrenees-Orientales.

Southern France recovers from the worst flooding it's seen in years

As southern France recovers from the worst flooding it's seen in years, The Local takes a look at some of the most shocking images of the damage done by the forces of nature. The latest victim was a 73-year-old man who died of heart failure in Rivesaltes, in the Pyrenees-Orientales region, when trying to force his car through a big dip in a road that was flooded.

Along the banks of the Agly river in the same region, some 2,800 people had been evacuated by late afternoon Sunday, the government office there said. The flooding was considered already more serious than deadly overflows in 1999 and "we are evacuating residents within 200 metres (yards) of either side of the river," the government said.

The prime minister's office dubbed the flooding "exceptional" in a statement but said "the situation is under control."

"I'm 42 and I've never seen anything like it," said Kristel Gregori, who lives in Argeles, near the Massane, a stream that often dries up but has turned into a 20-metre-wide deluge inundating dozens of parked cars.

"When neighbours woke us up at three o'clock, there was already a metre of water in the garage," she added. "The water level has subsided since but the rain hasn't stopped.

The river Berre had also flooded, reaching a metre above the level seen in flooding in 1999 that left 35 people dead and one missing in the region. About 250 people fled Sigean, located in low-lying land and lagoons just south of Narbonne.

Southern France has been hit by weeks of storms and flooding.

Three Months of Flooding and Isolation in La Leona, Paraguay

Climate change is increasing the recurrence and intensity of extreme phenomena such as cyclones, hurricanes, floods and droughts, making disaster risk reduction (DRR) paramount. As the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP20) kicks off in Lima, Peru, we look at the humanitarian consequences of weather-related disasters in South America, especially those which do not make headlines, and how European solidarity responds to them. Two of our colleagues from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) travelled to a remote region of Paraguay and spoke with a long-time resident about the recent flooding and devastation.

View of Yukyty. Photo credit: EU/ECHO

“We called the village La Leona (the lioness), because when we settled here 34 years ago, a female puma used to live in the area”,
recalls 65-year-old Don Alejandro, indigenous to the Angaité ethnicity and one of the founders of this village located in a remote area of the Paraguayan Chaco. Its inhabitants have lived on farming, fishing and hunting, selling wooden posts and sporadic jobs on cattle ranches in the area. Its remoteness in terms of municipalities, governorates and access to the main road have kept the community in relative isolation.

In April 2014, the family of Don Alejandro and 780 others suffered the worst floods in living memory. “The water came up to our chests, we did not have enough food and it was hard to reach families who were more isolated. Some people could not be helped on time”. Five people died of hunger, including two children.

After the floods, La Leona and 16 other villages in the area remained, for three months, completely isolated. Access roads were cut off by water. Crops and small livestock were lost in the floods and food stocks declined rapidly. Despite increasingly drawing upon fishing and hunting, families ended up drastically reducing their daily food consumption. Trucks with merchandise could not enter the village, and the inhabitants could not go to work in the haciendas to earn income. The floods also damaged water storage tanks and filled wells with contaminated water.

La Leona was not featured on international news. During those three months of flooding and isolation, they received little support, due to the inaccessibility of the area. It is a typical example of a small scale disaster event that fails to cause an emergency at national level nor create an international appeal, but causes huge damage to a group’s food security, thus compromising their livelihood and survival.

With funding from ECHO, the Italian organisation COOPI has begun to support the most affected families. They have received food baskets for three months, with each basket covering half of the food needs per person during that time (1074kcal) and also including soap for personal hygiene. European aid focuses on the 500 most vulnerable families, and the National Emergency System provides packages for the remaining 281, thus reaching all the families affected. “These are still very difficult months for us”, says Jacinta Barreta, mother of six children. “These baskets have helped me to feed my family”.

The Chaco is the largest forested area on the South American continent after the Amazon. Climate change, deforestation and inadequate land use make it suffer from opposite extremes: severe droughts and heavy rains resulting in floods. This affects families’ access to potable water and food. These floods have also made communities realise they need to be better prepared, with emergency shelters or tents, food stocks, canoes to be able to move if they become isolated, and emergency healthcare.

- Floodlist | The Local.

PLANETARY TREMORS: "It Was Pretty Intense" - Strong 4.7 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Sedona Area, Arizona!

USGS earthquake location map.

December 1, 2014 - ARIZONA, UNITED STATES
- The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting a 4.7-magnitude earthquake near Sedona, Arizona.

According to the USGS website, the quake struck just before 11 p.m. Sunday seven miles north of Sedona.
Sedona Fire Department spokesman Gary Johnson said they'd had many phone calls but no reports of damage or injuries.

Coconino County sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair said they got a few calls about the possibility of gas leaks or the smell of gas from the Munds Park area.

USGS shakemap intensity.

The Arizona Department of Transportation tweeted after 4 a.m. Monday, reporting that ADOT crews removed rocks and some debris on SR-89 A, and after checking, the roadway and area was safe.

Tom Herrmann with ADOT says if you need to travel the area, you shouldn't run into any issues.

Several emails came into ABC15 Sunday night from people reporting their experiences.

Calvin Johnson said his Flagstaff apartment was swaying back and forth and that it was “pretty intense, scary.”

Jackie Speakman said she’s lived in California all her life and was “pretty sure it was a long earthquake.”

WATCH: 4.7-magnitude earthquake hits Sedona area.

\Another viewer named John said, "Must have been an aftershock just shook a mounted deer head off the wall!" He added that he and his neighbors in Flagstaff were outside looking around and that it really shook.

On Facebook, Jordyn Baxter wrote "everyone at NAU definitely felt it! my entire dorm shook, even tho I thought it was my neighbors banging on their doors."

Raymond Razo felt the earthquake in Cottonwood.

Donna Kearney Lomeo tweeted that she felt the earthquake in the Chapel of the Holy Cross area. - ABC15.

Arizona - Earthquake History

The earliest documents which describe Arizona earthquakes were those recorded at Fort Yuma, located in the 1800's on the California side of the Colorado River. Shocks which probably centered in the Imperial Valley of California, or in Mexico, have been noted there since late 1852.

No earthquake in recorded history has caused deaths or injuries in Arizona. In the past century or more, 14 tremors of intensity V to VII have centered within its borders, of which 12 were reported after Arizona entered the Union in February 1912. All of these shocks, however, were moderate in intensity, with one intensity VII, one VI-VII, four VI, and eight V.

Probably the most famous earthquake in this region occurred in 1887 near Bavispe, Mexico, about 190 miles southeast of Tucson. The temblor caused great destruction near its epicenter. From Guaymas to Nogales, Mexico, Benson and Tucson, Arizona, and at towns as far distant as Albuquerque, New Mexico, water in tanks spilled over, buildings cracked, chimneys were toppled, and railroad cars were set in motion. An observer at Tombstone, near the Mexican border, reported sounds ``like prolonged artillery fire.''

The first damaging earthquake known to have centered within Arizona's borders occurred on January 25, 1906, the year of the great San Francisco earthquake, and of a damaging series of shocks at Socorro, New Mexico. The shock was violent at Flagstaff, about 115 miles north of Phoenix.

USGS seismic  hazard map.

The cumulative terror produced by a series of 52 earthquakes, from September 10 to 23, 1910, caused a construction crew in the Coconino Forest near Flagstaff to break camp and leave the area. Boulders rolled down on their camp from nearby mountains, and the earth maintained a constant quiver. The shocks grew in intensity until September 23, when a very strong shock raged throughout northern Arizona. It was so severe north of the San Francisco Mountains that Indians fled from the region.

A tremor on August 18, 1912, caused a 50-mile-long crack in the earth north of the San Francisco Range. Houses were damaged at Williams, and the shock was strong in Coconino County, north of Flagstaff. Rockslides roared down the mountainsides, and the earth seemed to roll ``like waves on the Colorado River.''

A shock that cracked walls and plaster at Wellton, located a few miles east of Yuma in southwestern Arizona, occurred January 2, 1935. Although few residents of the small town were frightened by the tremor, everyone felt the ground quiver, and homes shake.

Eight days later, a slightly stronger earthquake awakened sleepers at Grand Canyon, 175 miles north of Phoenix. Many were frightened by the distinct subterranean rumble and the movement of their houses. Walls were cracked in some cases, and rockslides occurred in the mountains. Three slight foreshocks were felt by Grand Canyon residents during the first week of January, and one very minor aftershock was noted on January 15.

On January 16, 1950, a strong earthquake in Apache County left several cracks in the ground as it rumbled through the small town of Ganado. The cracks, one-half inch wide and up to 12 feet long, extended in a north-south direction near the Ganado trading post. - USGS.

RATTLE & HUM: Mysterious Explosions And Loud Bangs Heard All Over The United Kingdom, Ministry Of Defence Stumped - Listen To The Recording And Learn How To Recognize An Overhead Explosion?!

December 1, 2014 - UNITED KINGDOM
- Last night, Britons from Aberdeen to Devon were left baffled by a series of mysterious explosions which shook windows and disturbed sleeping children.

Hundreds of Twitter users reported the sounds between around 9pm and 11pm last night, with many describing the noise as sounding like 'distant fireworks'.

But despite suggestions of RAF jets, meteors and aliens flooding the social media site today, no one has been able to explain what was heard. Even the MoD has said it is stumped.

Now a recording of the 'loud bangs', taken by a woman as she sat at home in Croydon, south London, might shed light on what is really behind the unexplained noise.

LISTEN: Mysterious "banging" heard across the United Kingdom.


Some suggested that unusual weather conditions might be the source, but the Met Office today dismissed the claims.

Others on Twitter suggested that it could be traced back to controlled explosions or military exercises. Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists took to social media to claim that aliens were to blame.

Claudia Angiletta said that she was watching TV at home when the unexplained sounds started.

She told MailOnline: 'I was just at home watching TV when I couldn't hear the program due to the loud noises. It was very distracting as it went on for ages.

'I went out to look for fireworks but I couldn't see anything in the sky. That's when I recorded the clip to send to my family to see if they could hear the same thing.'

The 27-year-old said that her family, who live roughly seven miles away in Norbury, south London, could also hear the sounds, which lasted for about 30 minutes. She then turned to Twitter to see if anyone could explain what they were.

Many suspected sonic booms similar to ones which shook Kent last month when two RAF jets intercepted a Latvian cargo plane in British airspace.

But a Ministry of Defence spokesman told MailOnline she had no records of any jets being scrambled last night.

The denial only served to fuel an outpouring of Saturday night speculation on social media.

Within minutes Twitter users had started spreading hashtags from the straightforward (#loudbangs) to the slightly melodramatic (#omgwereallgoingtodie).

Many of the reports were picked up by Twitter user Virtual Astronomer, who said space debris re-entering the earth's atmosphere could have been responsible.

'Space debris such as old satellites and things can cause sonic booms heard over very large areas,' he told MailOnline.

'It's the same for big meteors or rocks that come in.

'There are also some rare meteorologic phenomena that can cause rumbling or bangs apart from thunder.

'The only other explanation could be supersonic aircraft. There was very little wind last night so conditions were perfect for sound to travel very long distances.'

Science writer David Dickinson was among the experts who dismissed the theory.

He told MailOnline that there was one piece of debris from Russian satellite Kosmos 2251 scheduled for re-entry, but said that the timing was 'not a good fit' for it to have been over the UK.

He added: 'I do not think it was a meteor or a piece of space-junk, as the noises mentioned spanned a large segment of time. Plus, unless it was cloudy over the U.K., there would've been visual sightings.

Others thought that the loud noises might be due to unusual weather events, such as space weather, electrical storms or ferocious thunder storms.

But the Met Office said today that there had been no reports of such weather last night.

A spokesman told MailOnline: 'It definitely wasn't meteorological'.

Other conspiracy theories revolved around whether the noises could be the testing of a secret jet.

Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said: 'If an aircraft is responsible, then it's worth noting that it may not be local at all.

'Because the sound wave that causes the boom can be reflected by the stratosphere, the source of the event could conceivably be hundreds or thousands of miles away from the place where it is heard on the ground.

'I don't know how to interpret the sound itself, or whether certain sound patterns would correspond to certain types of aircraft engines.'

Dozens of the reports focused around Croydon, south London, where baffled Twitter users were asking each other what had happened.

The Metropolitan Police said that a fireworks display in Croydon could have been the source.

But that does not explain why other noises were heard in Bedfordshire, Glasgow, North Devon, Leicestershire and West Sussex.

Dave Reed, who lives in Fareham, Hampshire, said his dogs 'went crazy for a couple of minutes' after hearing what he had assumed were fireworks.

The noises prompted conspiracy theories and immediate claims of a 'media blackout'.

Twitter user Carrie Proctor wrote: 'This is how we'll find our that WW3 has begun. It'll be a Twitter hashtag long before any official announcement!' - Daily Mail.

DISASTER PRECURSORS: Omen – The Latest Incidents Of Strange Animal Behavior, Mass Animal Die-Offs, Appearance Of Rare Creatures And Warnings From Mother Nature!

December 1, 2014 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

20ft-long minke whale found dead on Cornish beach, UK

The decomposed carcass of a whale was found at the popular holiday destination of Pentewan Sands near Mevagissey in Cornwall

This was the scene at a Cornish beauty spot this morning after walkers discovered a 20ft long whale washed up on a beach.

The decomposed carcass of the huge mammal was found at the popular holiday destination of Pentewan Sands near Mevagissey in Cornwall.

Stunned dog walkers could be seen stopping to take pictures of what is believed to be a dead juvenile Minke whale.

Although it was in an advanced state of decay, it was a rare opportunity to witness the size of the seagoing giants up close.

A spokesman from Falmouth Coastguard said it was alerted to the discovery about 3pm today.

The decomposed carcass of a whale was found at the popular holiday destination of Pentewan Sands near Mevagissey in Cornwall

Their colleagues at Mevagissey dispatched a team to the beach this afternoon to take measurements and a report is due to be sent to the Receiver of Wreck.

The spokesman said it was the responsibility of the owner of the beach to dispose of the carcass, adding that it was not yet clear what kind of whale had been washed up.

Although it is relatively rare for them to be washed up on British beaches, Cornwall is no stranger to whale sightings.

Two years ago, a full size adult Fin whale weighing 65 tonnes washed up alive just along the coast at Carlyon Bay.

Sadly however, despite the efforts of volunteers the mammal had to be humanely destroyed.

According to the, Minke are the smallest of the baleen whales found in UK waters, measuring between seven and ten metres when fully grown.

They can be found in seas across the Northern hemisphere, except in the Arctic Ocean, and are often seen off the coasts of Ireland and Scotland. - Daily Mail.

Arctic snowy owls may be preparing for another irruption into the US

A snowy owl sits in the grass in a courtyard at Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill. . Sean Simmers, November 25, 2014.  © SEAN SIMMERS

Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill was visited Tuesday by a snowy owl, one of several of the Arctic birds that have shown up in Pennsylvania in recent days.

The large, mostly white birds may be the precursors of a repeat of last winter's mass invasion into Pennsylvania and several other states.

Scott Weidensaul, one of the owl researchers who organized the Project SNOWStorm banding and radio-tracking effort in response to last winter's record-setting irruption by snowies, said already this year owls have been spotted in the Gratz Valley of northern Dauphin County, near Morgantown in Berks County, on Presque Isle in Lake Erie and "a bunch on the coast."

Dozens of additional snowy owls have been reported throughout the Northeast, around the Great Lakes, and as far south as Illinois and Maryland.

Owl watchers initially thought the region might be seeing the start of an echo irruption, which sees older snowies that irrupted the previous year making another foray to the south, he explained, but more recent evidence indicates a "whole new irruption of young owls" making their first visits to Pennsylvania and other states may be shaping up for this winter.

Jean-Francois Therrien, senior research biologist in charge of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary's research projects in the Arctic, and others documented "record breeding" on Bylot Island in the High Arctic this summer, according to Weidensaul, who speculated that it "could be the same dynamic as last year," although it's too early to be sure.

And, on the Project SnowStorm blog, he noted some differences already emerging this year from last. "The first indication of last winter's irruption was the appearance of hundreds of snowy owls in Newfoundland, weeks before they showed up in numbers farther south. This winter, there's been nary an owl seen in Newfoundland. And the irruption zone extends farther west, into North Dakota."

He said none of the birds spotted this year were any of the 22 fitted with tags last winter by Project SNOWStorm, which plans to tag at least seven to 10 additional snowies this year.

Some have speculated that the owl that showed up in the internal courtyard at Cedar Cliff may be injured or otherwise impaired, given its choice of a sheltered resting spot and the appearance of its eyes. However, the bird flew off before any wildlife rehabilitators arrived for a closer look. - The Patriot News.

2 Rare Arctic Ross's Geese turn up in Hardeeville, South Carolina

DA Ross's Goose photographed in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. © CAROL CLEMENS 

When avid birdwatcher Carol Clemens had a chance to see a rare species -- one that usually migrates only along the West Coast -- just 45 minutes from her Hilton Head Island home, she couldn't pass it up.

A Ross's goose, similar to but smaller than a snow goose, had been spotted in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge near Hardeeville, and Clemens hopped in her car almost as soon as she heard.

"This bird is so unusual that if I hadn't called my friend to go out and see it, then it would have been a lost opportunity," said Clemens, membership co-chairwoman of the Hilton Head Island Audubon Society.

"We were hoping to get a glimpse of the goose, but thought that it would be just a white speck on the horizon," she added. "But then we got almost 10 feet away and could really admire it."

Sadly, the visit by both the goose and its apparent companion proved short-lived -- both have been found dead, within about 10 days of their arrival, according to refuge spokeswoman Monica Harris.

The first goose is believed to have been killed last week by a bobcat, Harris said. The second was found dead Monday morning, though the cause is not yet known.

It might have been a "depressional loss," Harris said, as Ross's geese mate for life.

The rare pair drew much attention after they were first spotted about Nov. 15.

The species normally breed in the central Arctic, then migrate to central California or Texas for winter, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The geese -- which have a small but growing population -- are rarely seen east of the Mississippi River.

That's part of what makes this sighting so special, Clemens said.

She keeps yearly lists of the birds she sees, hoping to add one or two new species each year. The Ross's goose sighting was a first for her, and one of her favorite sightings since she began birding nearly 10 years ago, she said.

"The goose was beautiful -- very white, very calm and did not seem to be bothered by people," said Clemens, adding that as many as eight people stopped to take pictures when she was there.

Although the birds' deaths are a tragedy, their visit to the area is indicative of a larger trend of more and greater varieties of birds visiting the Lowcountry. This year is shaping up to be one of the best in years for Lowcountry birders, according to several wildlife specialists. They are spotting songbirds, wood storks, black skimmers, painted buntings, ducks, thrushes and warblers.

Just last month, Clemens said she spotted another rare bird to the area, the bay breasted warbler, in her backyard.

Across the country, many species are declining because of habitat and food-source loss, human disturbance, and new predators, such as domestic cats.

But that decline isn't as apparent in the Lowcountry, perhaps because of the area's vast expanses of open and protected land and shore. Not only are these conserved acres used by native species, they also serve as a refuge for species forced from their habitats, according to Clemson University ornithology professor emeritus Sid Gauthreaux.

The Lowcountry's cooler weather in recent weeks might also have brought different species to the area, Clemens said. - The State.

30 Kemp's ridley sea turtles suffering from hypothermia taken from Cape Cod to the Florida Keys

Bette Zirkelbach checks a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle’s heart rate Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Fla. The
hospital received 30 cold-stunned Kemps ridley turtles to care for after they were rescued suffering hypothermia on a Cape Cod Bay, Mass., beach.
The species is endangered, according to NOAA Fisheries.   © Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO

The Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital is caring and warming up 30 Kemp's ridley sea turtles suffering from hypothermia just days after they were rescued from a frigid beach on Cape Cod Bay, Mass.

On Wednesday, each cold-stunned turtle had a full physical examination, X-rays, a swimming test and was administered intravenous fluids and Vitamin D, according to Bette Zirkelbach, the hospital's manager

"We're trying to slowly raise their body temperatures," Zirkelbach said. "We're hoping they will get healthy enough so they can be released."

Zirkelbach said some of the turtles have secondary issues including head trauma and pneumonia.

The 30 are a portion of 193 flown to Orlando in banana boxes by the U.S. Coast Guard Tuesday evening with the balance going to four other Florida-based marine animal rehabilitation centers.

WATCH: Rescue of turtles.

In fall, sea turtles migrate to warmer waters to escape the cold climate of the north. That is because sea turtles, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded creatures that rely on the environment to control their body temperatures. But sometimes they get trapped in the coastal waters near the shore and are exposed to cold conditions.

Cold stunning is a phenomenon in which hypothermia sets in because of being exposed to extreme cold weathers. The animals affected by it develop laziness, with the heart rates lowering to critical levels and muscles fatigue. If it is untreated then it can lead to the setting of pneumonia, shock and even in some cases - death."  - Eyes on News.

Texas releases over 50 sea turtles treated for cold-stunning

More than 50 green sea turtles were released into the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast on Friday after recovering from cold-stunning, or hypothermia, brought on by a drastic drop in water temperature.

The release has taken place in phases, with Friday being the last major release for sea turtles rescued after a mid-November cold snap in Texas sent temperatures below freezing in large parts of the state.

"We wait until the Gulf waters are warm enough to prevent a repeat cold-stunning event for these individuals," said Donna Shaver, chief of the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island National Seashore.

As with other reptiles, sea turtles rely on their external environment to regulate body temperature and cold-stunning occurs when water temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), she said.

Symptoms include decreased heart rate and lethargy, which renders the turtles virtually paralyzed and leaves them vulnerable to injury or death by predators and boats.

Over 100 cold-stunned green sea turtles were found floating or washed ashore on the Padre Island National Seashore this month.

Rescuers brought turtles swaddled in towels to the rehabilitation facility where they received treatment that included intravenous fluids in the most severe cases.

"I hope that there are no more events this year but we just don't know," Shaver said.

Source: Reuters

- Yahoo.