Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • 20 tons of herring wash up on Norway coast

    Molly the dog discovers 20 tons of herring on a Norwegian beach

    An estimated 20 tons of dead herring fish mysteriously washed up on the cost of Norway and then disappeared.

    The fish remains turned up on Norway's northern coast on New Year's Eve, and officials are still looking to explain just how and why they showed up.

    "People say that something similar happened in the 80s," said local resident Jan-Petter Jorgensen, 44, who was walking his dog Molly when he made the discovery.

    "Maybe the fish have been caught in a deprived oxygen environment, and then died of fresh water?" Jorgensen asked.

    Maybe so. Other possible explanations are that the herring may have been driven ashore by predators or washed onto the shore by a powerful storm. Jens Christian Holst of Norway's Institute of Marine Research told the AP that the great herring surge likely came about via a combination of factors. Holst also said the institute will be testing some of the fish to make sure they did not die from disease.

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  • Is Kim Jong-Il’s ghost controlling the weather?

    Is Kim Jong-il's ghost controlling the weather?The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claims that forces of nature have erupted across the country following the death of dictator Kim Jong-il, reports the UK's Telegraph newspaper. However, it was unable to confirm whether the outbursts involved tears of joy or grief.

    The state-controlled "news agency" claims that ice ruptured with an "unprecedented loud crack" at Chon Lake on Mount Paektu on Saturday morning. Mount Paektu was the site of a military camp used by Kim Jong-il's father. It is also where the country claims Jong-il was born. (However, historians maintain Jong-il was actually born in Siberia in 1942, where his father was in hiding away from Japanese troops.)

    And the so-called miracles apparently aren't limited to cracking ice. The KCNA reports that a huge snowstorm followed the ice capade, which itself immediately was followed by an illustrious sunrise which lit up the words carved into the mountainside, "Mt Paektu, holy mountain of revolution. Kim Jong il."

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  • Video: African Bullfrog plays video game

    In this video, a frog plays video games. No, really. Specifically, an African Bullfrog plays an app for the handheld game, Ant Smasher. The makers of the game note that more than 15 million people have downloaded it but we're pretty sure this is the first non-human player caught on video:

    Watching the bullfrog lunge at the digital bugs is entertaining enough but you might start to feel bad for the little guy. After all, he's just trying to get a bite to eat. Well, rest assured, the hungry frog extracts revenge upon his human tormentor at the end of the video.

    Other popular Yahoo! News stories:

    80-year-old grandmother fights off gunman

    Earth has more than one moon, astronomers confirm

    Healthy two-headed baby born in Brazil

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  • 80-year-old grandmother fights off gunman

    Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot!An 80-year-old grandmother in Florida successfully fended off an armed attacker who was attempting to rob her 61-year-old daughter.

    Josefa Lopez told the Sentinel Sun she felt "no fear" when she used her aluminum cane to fight off the gunman who had physically assaulted her daughter.

    "I thought she was dead," Lopez said in Spanish. "I yelled at [the gunman], 'I am going to kill you, [son of a b----]!' I wasn't myself. To me, she was dead."

    The assailant, who fired a gunshot at Lopez but missed, is still at large. He reportedly pulled Lopez from her Ford Expedition, shouting, "Give me," and pistol-whipped her. That's when the 4-foot-9 Josefa took control of the situation.

    "When you see your daughter in trouble," Lopez said, "you have to do something."

    Lopez reportedly grabbed the gunman by the back of his shirt and began pulling him away from her daughter. She was about to strike him with her cane when he fired the shot at her.

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  • Earth has more than one moon, astronomers confirm

    There are at least two moons orbiting Earth at any given timeResearchers at Cornell University say that what we know as the Moon is in fact not the only one orbiting our planet at any given time. Smaller objects regularly inhabit the Earth's orbit, usually leaving after a few months to continue on their celestial journeys.

    The discovery is considered a major breakthrough for space research because scientists had been working toward visiting asteroids outside of Earth's orbit for research. While these temporary moons are too small for a shuttle landing, they are prime for research from a relatively close distance.

    However, it's still to be determined whether the announcement will capture the public's attention like previously revealed New Moons. Either way, it should be a decidedly more pleasant experience for all involved.

    The new paper titled "The population of natural Earth satellites," from Cornell University's Mikael Granvik, Jeremie Vaubaillon and Robert Jedicke states that these "secret moons" enter and exit the Earth's orbit without notice.

    "At any given time, there should be at least one natural Earth satellite of 1-meter diameter orbiting the Earth," Granvik writes.

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  • Healthy two-headed baby born in Brazil

    A two-headed baby born in Brazil is reportedly healthyA Brazilian woman has given birth to a two-headed baby boy and doctors say the newborn appears to be in good health. Maria de Nazare has decided to name the pair, who share a heart, lungs, liver and pelvis, Emanoel and Jesus.

    "When doctors scanned her they realized that the baby had two heads and that a normal birth would be a great risk both for mother and baby," hospital director Claudionor Assis de Vasconcelos told Brazil's O Povo newspaper. "The caesarean took an hour because the baby was sitting down."

    "Despite all the problems we have as a small interior hospital we managed to save both mother and baby, which was our aim," he said. "And for us it was a great surprise to find out that the child was in really good health."

    De Nazare was expecting twins and only found out about the two-headed child minutes before doctors advised her to have a caesarean birth in order to save both her life and that of her baby. Along with two heads, the 9.9 pound newborns have separate spines.

    In some two-headed births where one brain is less developed, one head is removed in order to save the child's life. But rarer cases like this one, where there are two functioning brains, complicates the decision making process for doctors.

    "If both their brains are functioning, how are we going to choose which head to remove?" said Neila Dahas, director of the Santa Casa hospital. "We are not considering the possibility of surgery. What we've got to think about at this moment is to maintain the children in good condition and see how they will develop."

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  • Scientists say Turin Shroud image created by ultraviolet lasers

    The Turin ShroudThe exact origins of the Turin Shroud remain a great mystery, but scientists are now disputing the long-held belief that the religious artifact is a medieval forgery.

    Italian researchers at the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development say they believe the image was created by an ultraviolet "flash of light." However, if that theory is true, it remains a mystery as to exactly how that technology could have been implemented at the time of the Shroud's creation. While the technology is readily available in present day, it was far beyond the means of anyone around pre-20th Century.

    The Turin Shroud is said to be the burial cloth of Jesus, but has long been believed to be a fake, created during medieval times. It is currently kept in a climate-controlled case in Turin cathedral. Scientists at the Italian agency have reportedly spent years attempting to recreate the Shroud's imagery. 'The results show a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,' the scientists said.

    "When one talks about a flash of light being able to color a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things such as miracles," said Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, who led the study. "But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate."

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  • ‘Ninja Cow’ beguiles Nebraska town

    The elusive and "really smart" Ninja CowIt didn't happen overnight, but residents of Plattsmouth, Nebraska have finally outsmarted a deceptive, wayward bovine known as the "Ninja Cow."

    "It sounded like hoofs on the pavement, and by the time I could focus on it, all I could see was the rear end of whatever it was," local computer programmer Kevin Moon told the Wall Street Journal.

    Wayward livestock can pose serious threats to human and other animals. Even a small deer can destroy a car, seriously injuring the occupants in a collision. Still, for months, the Ninja Cow eluded police and locals, making late night appearances on private lawns, leaving behind only cowpies as evidence of its existence.

    The effort to bring in, or even bring down, the Ninja Cow was not lacking. Police and local experts tried just about everything from luring the cow with biscuits and gravy to capturing her on an infrared camera. They played cow sounds on a laptop. But every attempt failed. Pretty much the only thing they didn't try was recreating the cow costume from Top Secret.

    And the more adept Ninja Cow became at eluding capture, the more her story captured the hearts and minds of Plattsmouth residents, spawning several Facebook fan pages and talk of an annual Ninja Cow Day celebration.

    Local Police Chief Steve Rathman refused to bring his gun to bear on the animal. "This isn't something they teach at the police academy," he said.

    The town even brought in a contractor, 55-year-old Terry Grell, to capture the beast. "If you're interested in getting this cow caught, you can give me a call," Grell said. "But that answering machine was probably full of people that thought they could catch it."

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  • Possible UFO in Kansas mystery solved

    Residents of Cowley County, Kansas caused a sensation last week when they captured video of the military towing a concealed object on a flatbed truck down US Highway 77. It wasn't long before a wave of speculation hit, claiming the object was a UFO.

    Depending on the angle from which you spotted it, the 30 foot-wide mysterious craft appeared to be saucer-shaped. It was so large that local law enforcement had to remove roadside signage so it could pass through. But it was covered in a tightly concealed tarp, making any further examination impossible.

    However, as Gizmodo points out, the craft does not technically meet the definition of UFO. For starters, even if it were an alien craft, the object was not flying. And more important, it's no longer unidentified.

    Local sheriff Don Read announced that the tarp was in fact covering a flying object, but one of decidedly Earthly origins. More specifically, it was a drone aircraft manufactured by Northrop Grumman. After Read's disclosure, Northrop Grumman senior manager of public relations Brooks McKinney stepped forward to provide more details, telling Life's Little Mysteries that the "UFO" is a X-47B unmanned combat drone designed to operate from aircraft carriers. It was headed to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

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  • German scientists growing skin from baby foreskins

    The "Skin Factory" may soon replace all animal testing on cosmeticsNo, this is not an ill-conceived sequel to  an Ira Levin novel. Scientists at a laboratory in Germany have begun growing human skin from the cells of infant foreskins.

    According to the German Herald, the "medical breakthrough" is being used to test cosmetics and other consumer products and could someday replace all animal testing. The so-called Skin Factory, at the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart, takes foreskin cells donated to the project and uses them to grow the skin, according to spokesman Andreas Traube. More from the Herald:

    Scientists extract a single layer of cells from each foreskin and then grow on layers of collagen and connective tissue in the Skin Factory, a sealed growing environment just seven meters, by thee meters, and three meters high and kept at a constant temperature of 37 degrees centigrade.

    The scientists use the Skin Factory machine--some 22 feet long, 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide--to grow the new skin. Parents provide the scientists with permission before they are allowed to use the donated foreskins.

    Once the cells are multiplied inside the machine, researchers then inject them into a gel that causes them to grow into a sheet that simulates the epidermis. The layers are then fused together, creating a replica of natural human skin.

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