Thursday, August 16, 2012

Surgeon examined himself and discovered his appendix.

In 1961, Leonid Rogozov, 27, was the only surgeon in the Soviet Antarctic Expedition. During the expedition, he felt severe pain in the stomach and had a high fever. Rogozov examined himself and discovered that his appendix was inflamed and could burst at any time. With a local anesthesia, he operated himself to remove the appendix. An engineer and a meteorologist assisted surgery.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Daydreaming is good for you!

Although it has been derided in the past as infantile, neurotic or failing to be mentally disciplined, neurologists have discovered that daydreaming - and more specifically, wandering mind - is vital for certain brain functions. They've found that a wandering mind can be protective and even help you stay on course for longer term goals. 

A wandering mind helps the brain unfocus from repetitive, menial tasks. For example, driving down an empty highway, or jobs where the only requirement is to push a button at a certain time. There's also an 'incubation effect,' that happens when the mind wanders. If you're doing your homework and you can't think of how to answer a question; your get distracted and your mind wanders, your brain still processes the information and may come up with the answer later. 

It's not all good, of course. If your mind wanders while you're reading a book, you'll probably not get any information from it. If you let yourself daydream too much on a highway, you'll get into an accident. However, their studies found that for creative tasks, people need their mind to wander; however, they also need to have enough awareness to catch the creative ideas before they leave the mind.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Elephants heard the deadly 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami coming

When the 2004 tsunami struck coasts along the Indian Ocean, it was not a sixth sense that made elephants run for the hills, often carrying unsuspecting tourists on their backs to safety. It was because they heard the tsunami coming.

A tsunami is a very long water wave, its wavelength hundreds of miles long in the deep ocean. But in shallow water near land the wavelength shortens. The tsunami waves produce waves in the atmosphere of the same wavelength, which happens to be the wavelength of very low-frequency sound (called infra-sound).

It is too low in frequency for humans to hear, but the elephants can hear these sound waves. And in 2004 when they heard a thundering roar coming from the sea, they ran the other way as fast as they could. Anyone for establishing an Elephant Tsunami Warning System? For more Ocean facts check out Dr. Bruce Parker's book: The Power of the Sea

Monday, April 2, 2012

A new £2000 procedure TATTOOS a buzz cut into bald men!

Going bald upsets men more than bankruptcy or bachelorhood.

But now there’s a cure set to save them money and heartache - by tattooing ‘hair’ on.

HIS (Hair-Ink-Skin) Hair has launched an innovative new technique to disguise baldness - using a unique form of tattoos.

And it has become so popular that bookings have soared by 20 per cent in the past 12 months.

Celebrity Hairdresser, Adee Phelan, who officially opened the company’s newest clinic in Manchester, is one of dozens of customers to have had the new procedure, known as MHT (micro hair technique) scalp pigmentation
It gives the appearance of a short, cropped ‘buzz’ hair - cut by applying different shades of specifically blended pigments to the scalp to replicate the size, shape and density of micro hairs. 
TV stylist Adee, whose clients have included David Beckham, Kerry Katona, Elizabeth Jagger, Sarah Harding and the England Football team, said: 'I was 24 when I started losing my hair. I got behind the product because I know it looks good.

'Going bald didn’t particularly bother me but there are guys out there who are literally suicidal about it' 
'Stars like Wayne Rooney, tweeting about having a hair transplant, have really helped the cause and encouraged people to face it head-on.
'But not everybody has £25,000 to spend and this is a great affordable alternative.'
The technique, which costs an average of £2,000, was developed by Ian Watson, who founded HIS Hair after he developed alopecia in his mid-twenties, following the tragic death of his 32 year-old brother Paul, from cancer.
In desperation, he asked Paul’s widow, Ranbir Rai-Watson to find the finest pen she could get to draw dots onto his scalp, hoping to emulate the look of a ‘cropped’ haircut.
The ink came off in the shower but Ian, now 42, and mother of one Ranbir, 41, knew their ‘crazy idea’ could become a successful business concept.
After years of intensive research, they began honing the MHT technique alongside some of the world’s best hair loss experts, as well as semi-permanent make-up artists in Harley Street, London and Melbourne, Australia.
And a decade later the Birmingham-based company is opening clinics across Europe and the US. 
Said Adee: “The crop will always be fashionable.

The revolutionary equipment used for the treatment

'This is a great permanent, non-surgical option that can disguise everything from male- pattern
baldness to receding hair lines and scars on your head.

'I thought losing my hair didn’t bother me but even I felt younger and more confident afterwards.
'And it looks so natural, most people don’t even know I’ve had it done.'

According to statistics 10 million men in the UK currently suffer from hair loss -with 50 per cent affected by male patterned baldness by the age of 50.

A quarter go bald as young as 30 and by 60 as many as two-thirds are showing signs of it.
For many its more traumatic than going bust - or never finding the love of their life.

And British men will worry about its onset more than anyone else in Europe, even though 75 per cent believe there’s nothing they can do about it. (Source)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

In Japan they have square watermelons.

Japan appears to have cornered the market on square-shaped fruit.

Farmers in the southern Japanese town of Zentsuji have figured out how to grow their watermelons so they turn out square.

It's not a fad. The technique actually has practical applications. "The reason they're doing this in Japan is because of lack of space," said Samantha Winters of the National Watermelon Promotion Board in Orlando, Florida.

A fat, round watermelon can take up a lot of room in a refrigerator, and the usually round fruit often sits awkwardly on refrigerator shelves.

But clever Japanese farmers have solved this dilemma by forcing their watermelons to grow into a square shape. Farmers insert the melons into square, tempered glass cases while the fruit is still growing on the vine.

The square boxes are the exact dimensions of Japanese refrigerators, allowing full-grown watermelons to fit conveniently and precisely onto refrigerator shelves.

But cubic fruit comes with a caveat: Each square watermelon costs 10,000 yen, the equivalent of about $82. Regular watermelons in Japan cost from $15 to $25 each.

At $82 apiece, Winters said she didn't know if there would be a market for square-grown watermelons in the United States.

"I think that's a pretty expensive watermelon," she said. "Maybe they give them as gifts. Maybe it says something for the gift-fruit market, perhaps."

But Winters also said that there does appear to be a growing U.S. market for watermelon that is more refrigerator-friendly. She said the industry is hearing from consumers that size matters.

"Our growers grow round, seedless melons in various sizes," she said. "And that's one reason why we grow the smaller watermelons ... so they'll fit into a refrigerator."

Winters added that so-called fresh-cut watermelon is widely available at U.S. groceries, another possible solution to a crisis created by oversized melons.

A recipe on the board's website calls for half-inch watermelon squares for use in martinis.

"You can find two-inch cubes" in groceries, Winters said. "They have watermelon that's cut in quarters and halves. And you can find clamshell containers with fresh-cut watermelon in there as well." Watermelon also can be pureed and poured into ice-cube trays for freezing.

So it seems U.S. watermelon lovers will have to settle for fresh-cut for now, and the $82, square watermelon won't be showing up at American groceries anytime soon.  (Source)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A river in Thailand randomly shoots red fireballs into the air. No one knows why.

Weird things are happening some 70 - 100 kilometres downstream from the Vientiane - capital of Laos. In the nights from the muddy waters of Mekong river appear red glowing balls which quickly rise up in the air and disappear without noise (some, who manage to be close to the lights, report silent hiss). These mysterious sparkles are small, but sometimes they reach a size of a basketball.

These are not some ghosts seen by occasional people and questioned by majority. Ghost fireballs of Mekong have been seen by thousands of people, photographed and captioned on movies and, after all, investigated by scientists looking for the explanation of this interesting phenomenon.

Fireballs are observed in some 250 kilometres long sector of Mekong: approximately from Ban Muang upstreams from Vientiane down to Bung Kan. Most of them rise from the 500 - 800 m wide Mekong River, but they have been observed rising from smaller ponds and rivers as well. These places might sound exotic and remote to Europeans but they are densely populated, filled with houses, roads, schools and other usual features of civilisation.

Phenomenon of Naga fireballs is not too well documented in earlier times. Some say that Wat Luang temple (in Phon Phisai, Wat Pho Luang Phra Sai) contains centuries old written records mentioning them. There are mentioned also occasional written reports from British soldiers in 1960ies - although nothing concrete is cited. Numerous local people claim that they have seen the lights for all their life and their parents and grandparents did it as well.

Although the appearance of fireballs is celebrated at certain days in October, in fact this event is not predictable. There have been cases when the official festivity "ends without results" and fireballs come unexpected in another night. Many people have tried hard to see them for years without success, many are lucky and see them at first visit to this site. For example, in 2001 there were reported 3,000 fireballs, the festivity of 2004 was disappointing in this respect but in 2008 the illumination was excellent.

Ghostly fireballs can be seen in different times of the year but most frequent they are in late October - early November, when the long period of rains has ended and Mekong is filled with lots of fast flowing, muddy water.

Balls seem to be rising out of the water (some sceptics though say that it looks more like going up in Laotian side of river). They appear in different places, but sometimes several come out from single place.

Phaya Naga - king of serpents
Since ancient times numerous people have been living along Mekong. According to some reports, as recently as in 1980ies these balls of light attracted little attention of local people (3). It may be though possible that there are some ancient myths related to this event which later have been nearly forgotten by local people and then somehow revived.

Whatever the history of this myth but one is clear - since the early 1990ies Mekong fireballs gradually became famous and simultaneously there were attached myths to them. One of these myths:

One particular naga (a kind of snake or dragon) loved to crawl around the mountains right in the place where Mekong flows today. This outstanding naga still continues to travel her usual route - now underwater, and spits flames wherewer it goes - as all respectable dragons do.

There is involved also Buddhism into this story, making it more complex - although local Buddhist monks seem to be spectators of show and not active promoters of it. This "Buddhist" myth has involved the ominous Phaya Naga - serpent-king of underworld - in making of these fireballs. Phaya Naga in this story turns out to be an ally of Buddha. Buddha and Phaya Naga in their mythical battles obtained a blessing for local people - regular periods of rain. As the rain ends, Buddha returns to Earth from heaven and Phaya Naga greets him with fireballs.

There is traditional and well proven method to facilitate tourism anywhere in world, which works especially well in southern Asia: if your locality happens to have some interesting natural phenomenon, find a religious explanation to this and organise yearly festivities to celebrate it.

In a case of Phon Phisai town in Thailand (and several other towns along Mekong) naga fireballs have been perfectly well suited. Fireballs are most frequent in the end of October - thus exactly then is organised the religious Phaya Naga festival.

This coincides very well with an important event in Buddhist calendar - the end of vassa: three months long period of a kind of fasting. The end of vassa - Wan Awk Pansa - is joyous festivity of the people of Isan (North-east Thailand) and Laos. This festivity in a way marks the end of long rain period. Staying out in the evening after the long rains finally is pleasant and moon over the Mekong makes this time romantic.

Festivity is organized at full moon. Somehow the determination of full moon has ended up with a situation where Thailand celebrates the festivity one day earlier than Laos. Lately though the festivity is expanding and lasts for several days and nights.

According to locals, festivities have taken place here for many generations - but if there were any festivities before 1990, these were of truly local nature, not known elsewhere. But in early 2000ies the festivity at Mekong came into vogue.

Thus, at the end of every October tens of thousands of people flock to Phon Phisai and other Thai and Laotian towns along Mekong. In 2002 - 2004 there were hundreds of thousands of people coming. They take the "best places" along the river.

Earlier people just walked at the bank of Mekong and looked at occasional fireballs rising up. Nowadays there is organised festive program with the great Mekong in focus: in the river are floating beautiful illuminated boat processions and river receives offerings - mainly sweets. Numerous other events take place, as it is ususal in popular festivals.

But the main event is the appearance of fireballs. Thousands of people look with awe at them rising up in the air as fast as sparks from the campfire. In some nights thousands of such weird sparks rise out from the waters but sometimes - none. People cheer the lights with joy and feel happy to be together at this mystery.

Scientists get involved
Contrary to most other ghostly apparitions around the world, Naga fireballs have been observed by thousands of people and captured on numerous photographs and movies.

Most local people believe in the mythical explanation involving nagas. In 2002 there arised a scandal when independent Thai TV channel iTV reported that they observed the following: each time when Laotian soldiers shot some tracer bullets in the air, Thai side of river was greeting this with cheerful shouts. TV reporters thus proved that sometimes "fake" naga balls are greeted.

This report met with stiff resistance of local people expressing even hate towards iTV.

Government of Thailand decided that scientists should be involved and explanation should be provided. A kind of "dreamteam" of Thai experts was established, at the same time rising heated debates about the intrusion of science in traditional myths.

In 2003 thermal scanners and five teams of scientists were stationed in several spots along the river in Rattanawapi district (Thailand). A team was located also at the most famous observation spot - at the Naga temple in Phon Phisai town. There were rumours about the involvement of specific submarine in research.

Some scientific reports mention an upward movement of gas bubbles in Mekong water. According to them - as the gas bubbles reached the surface, the gas started to burn and rised up like a glowing orange bubble.

Phosphine? Methane?
Earlier some scientists considered that the most likely reason for flames is phosphine (PH3). This gas, especially in the presence of the diphosphine (P2H4), is capable of spontaneous flammability. Thus one can assume that bubbles of this substance may rise from the sediments of Mekong and, as it reaches the atmosphere, burn with yellow - orange flame. Small amount of this substance quickly is consumed in flames, and, as the burning bubble rises up in the air, it disappears.

Possible source of phosphine might be a chemical reaction in the river sediments - bacterial reduction of phosphate in decaying organic matter.

Often is mentioned another gas - methane, which, theoretically, if mixed with the same phosphine and some other gases at very specific conditions may experience spontaneous ignition.

...or hoax?
There remained unsolved issues though:

Phosphine is not a light gas, it is heavier than air. Naga lights though rise up in the air very quickly.
When phosphine burns, it produces dense, white and highly toxic cloud. None of these effects (luckily) have been observed on Mekong.

Thus the hypothesis of phosphine is rejected and specialists focus more on other self-inflating gases: burning gas seems to be the most logical explanation for Mekong fireballs. But - even if scientists find another igneous gas rising from the sediments of Mekong - why don't we observe similar phenomenon elsewhere - in other tropical rivers and lakes? How can a bubble of gas rise up that quickly without being extinguished?

Some consider that these igneous gases are somehow pulled out of the river sediment by full moon and some researchers even build up highly complex theories involving specific composition of gases in sediments coupled with the action of moon, ultraviolet rays, Sun etc. All of this at the end looks too laborious and unlikely.

Also the imaginary organic sediments of Mekong seem not to exist - river here for most part has sandy bed with occasional rocks.

Popular Thai movie "15 Kham Duan 11" ("The 15th of the 11th Lunar Month", made in 2002) offers another explanation - here Laotian monks place clay eggs on the river bed - these rise to the surface and there light up. There are though serious drawbacks in this fine movie, which seem to make this proposed explanation flawed (if art is taken seriously): more or less safe and controlled diving in this muddy, powerful river is nearly impossible even with modern diving gear.

Often it is considered that fireballs are created artificially - just like some people find fun in making crop circles or other weird things. Now it is essential to keep the big festivities running - after all this event has been turned into highly profitable show (but spread among huge local communities - what isn't bad at all). One can easily see that there might be a commercial interest to "maintain" this phenomenon artificially.

In addition to this - some locals tell that in earlier times naga fireballs were much smaller and nearly white, they rised above the water just for a few metres. Now, with increased popularity they somehow have evolved, increased in size, fly high and fast and have orange color. A bit heretical thought - may be naga serpent has changed diet?

Hoax is impossible?
Locals deny a possibility of hoax - naga fireballs often are observed in very secluded places where the putative "organiser" of fireballs has nearly no chances to impress anyone. It is just weird to imagine countless Thai and Laotian people keeping themselves busy by making illuminations in remote lakes and rivers.

Appearance of fireballs has been reported in more than 45 kilometres long section of river in one night. River has been closely watched by numerous people for many days before. In such circumstances the possibility of fraud seems to be quite low - who would manage to organise such illumination without getting caught in the act?

Naga fireballs rised from the river during the hostilities between Thailand and Laos: the border was heavily guarded then and it is little likely that somebody would risk his life to organise the fraud.

Legend of modern times
Wondermondo will not present a judgement about the source of naga balls. One though should be recognized - if this is a hoax, it is organised very well and there are lots of people who are happy to believe in this.

But may be naga fireballs are real, natural mysterious light effects - so called Earth lights (see another example - Chir Batti)? Riddles posed by these phenomena are not that easy to solve.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Youngest Mother Ever Was 5 Years Old!

Peruvian five-year-old Lina Medina, accompanied by her 11-month-old-son Gerardo, and Doctor Lozada who attended her son's birth, are shown in this 1940 file photo taken in Lima's hospital.

When her child was born by Caesarean section in May 1939, Medina made medical history, and is still the youngest known mother in the world.

Lina Medina's parents thought their 5-year-old daughter had a huge abdominal tumor and when shamans in their remote village in Peru's Andes could find no cure, her father carried her to a hospital.

Just over a month later, she gave birth to a boy.

Medina was born on September 27, 1933 in the small village of Paurange.  She was only 5 years 8 months old at the birth of her child on Mother's Day, May 14, 1939.

Born at full term at Lima's maternity clinic, her child was taken through a caesarian operation (Dr. Lozada and Busalleu, operators, Dr. Colretta, anesthesiologist). The child (boy), weighing 2,700 grams, was well formed and in good health. Child and mother were able to leave the clinic after only a few days.

Doctor Lozada has conducted very detailed studies since the diagnostic of the pregnancy which aroused much curiosity in the country; he took an x-ray of the child and her baby, established a diagnostic of the fetal situation, observed the state of functionality of the little mother who had begun menstruating at the age of 8 months. At four years old she had already developed breasts as well as pubic hair, her body proportions were a bit amazing and her bone hardening a bit advanced, things that are often observed in cases of such premature pregnancy.

After taunting from schoolmates, Medina's son, Gerardo - who was named after one of the doctors who attended Medina and who became their mentor - discovered when he was 10 that the person he had grown up believing to be his sister was in fact his mother.

Gerardo died in 1979 at age 40 from a disease that attacks the body's bone marrow, but it was said it was not clear there was any link with his illness and the fact his mother had been so young at his birth.

Medina herself married and in 1972 had a second son, 33 years after her first.  Her second child now lives in Mexico.