Fortean / Alternative News: UFO Kills Brazilian Fish, 'Terminator' Technology and Dragons & Unicorns

Brazilian Community Blames Fish Deaths on UFO

eluniversal - In Llanitos neighborhood, north of the city of Barrancabermeja, the collective death of two thousand fish is being attributed by the locals, to aliens. Witnesses said that saw an unidentified object that was hovering above the waters of a mangrove. The UFO emited a bright light and then, in few seconds disappeared. After that, the fish began to appear floating dead in the water. These fish showed signs of burns on the scales and gills.

A woman that is community leader from El Llanitos reported that the apparition of UFO phenomenon's lasted about 20 seconds. In the district of Puente Sogamoso, Puerto Wilches city, others people reported that they also saw the object, which was round and flew over the area with lateral movements.

The Municipal Department of Environment says the deaths are related to lack of oxygen in the waters of the swamp but the Fishermen's Association has rejected this hypothesis claiming that there was never a fish kills like was registered, now, in Barrancabermeja.

Furthermore, there is no known reason for this supposed lack of oxygen in the water. A committee headed by Environment Secretary, Isaac Lopez will inspect the marsh in order to ascertain the real causes of the phenomenon.

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'Terminator' technology a reality

German researchers have built an anthropomorphic robot hand that can endure collisions with hard objects and even strikes from a hammer without breaking into pieces.

In designing the new hand system, researchers at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, part of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), focused on robustness. They may have just built the toughest robot hand yet.

The DLR hand has the shape and size of a human hand, with five articulated fingers powered by a web of 38 tendons, each connected to an individual motor on the forearm.

The main capability that makes the DLR hand different from other robot hands is that it can control its stiffness. The motors can tension the tendons, allowing the hand to absorb violent shocks. In one test, the researchers hit the hand with a baseball bat—a 66 G impact. The hand survived.

The DLR team didn’t want to build an anatomically correct copy of a human hand, as other teams have. They wanted a hand that can perform like a human hand both in terms of dexterity and resilience.

The hand has a total of 19 degrees of freedom, or only one less than the real thing, and it can move the fingers independently to grasp varied objects. The fingers can exert a force of up to 30 newtons at the fingertips, which makes this hand also one of the strongest ever built.

Another key element in the DLR design is a spring mechanism connected to each tendon. These springs [photo left] give the tendons, which are made from a super strong synthetic fiber called Dyneema, more elasticity, allowing the fingers to absorb and release energy, like our own hands do. This capability is key for achieving robustness and for mimicking the kinematic, dynamic, and force properties of the human hand.

During normal operation, the finger joints can turn at about 500 degrees per second. By tensioning the springs, and then releasing their energy to produce extra torque, the joint speed can reach 2000 degrees per second. This means that this robot hand can do something few others, if any, can: snap its fingers.

Why build such a super strong hand?

Markus Grebenstein, the hand's lead designer, says that existing robot hands built with rigid parts, despite their Terminator-tough looks, are relatively fragile. Even small collisions, with forces of a few tens of newtons, can dislodge joints and tear fingers apart.

“If every time a robot bumps its hand, the hand gets damaged, we’ll have a big problem deploying service robots in the real world,” Grebenstein says.

To change its stiffness, the DLR hand uses an approach known as antagonistic actuation. The joints of each finger [photo below] are driven by two tendons, each attached to one motor. When the motors turn in the same direction, the joint moves; when they turn in opposite directions, the joint stiffens.

Other hands, such as the Shadow hand designed in the U.K., also use antagonistic actuation. But the Shadow uses pneumatic artificial muscles, which have limitations in how much they can vary their stiffness.

Before developing the new hand, Grebenstein designed the hand of another advanced robot, the humanoid Justin. He says that in one experiment they would throw heavy balls and have Justin try to catch them. “The impact would strain the joints beyond their limits and kill the fingers,” he says.

The new hand can catch a ball thrown from several meters away. The actuation and spring mechanisms are capable of absorbing the kinetic energy without structural damages.

But the hand can’t always be in a stiff mode. To do manipulation tasks that require accuracy, it’s better to have a hand with low stiffness. By adjusting the tendon motors, the DLR hand can do just that.

To operate the hand, the researchers use special sensor gloves or simply send grasping commands. The control system is based on monitoring the joint angles. It doesn’t need to do impedance control, Grebenstein says, because the hand has compliance within the mechanics.

To detect whether an object is soft and must be handled more gently, the hand measures force by keeping track of the elongation of the spring mechanisms.

“In terms of grasping and dexterity, we’re quite close to the human hand,” he says, adding that the new hand is “miles ahead” of Justin’s hands.

About 13 people have worked on the hand, and Grebenstein insists it’s hard to estimate the cost of the project. But he says that the hardware for one hand would cost between 70,000 and 100,000 euros.

The researchers are now building a complete two-arm torso called the DLR Hand Arm System. Their plan is to study innovative grasping and manipulation strategies, including bimanual manipulations.

Grebenstein hopes that their new approach to hand design will help advance the field of service robots. He says that current robot hardware has limited new developments, because it's costly and researchers can't afford to do experiments that might damage them.

“The problem is," he says, "you can’t learn without experimenting.”


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Kentucky Creationist Museum Will Feature Dragons, Unicorns

theatlanticwire - Kentucky's state-backed $150 million creationist theme park, The Ark Encounter, will allow visitors to explore a literal interpretation of the Bible's story of Noah and the ark. But pseudonymous liberal Kentucky blogger Media Czech raises two important questions about that interpretation and how it will be manifest in theme park form. First, were there dinosaurs on the original ark? Second, what about unicorns?

Now, the blogger has found answers to both questions at Answers In Genesis, the official blog of the group behind The Ark Encounter. The group says "yes," to both, which implies that their creationist theme park will include dinosaurs and unicorns on the Ark. Here's Answers In Genesis explaining why dinosaurs were on the Ark, although the group prefers to call them "dragons":

Being land animals, dinosaurs (or dragons of the land) were created on Day Six (Genesis 1:24–31), went aboard Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6:20), and then came off the Ark into the post-Flood world (Genesis 8:16–19). It makes sense that many cultures would have seen these creatures from time to time before they died out.

And here's their position on Biblical unicorns:

The biblical unicorn was a real animal, not an imaginary creature. ... The absence of a unicorn in the modern world should not cause us to doubt its past existence. (Think of the dodo bird. It does not exist today, but we do not doubt that it existed in the past.). ... To think of the biblical unicorn as a fantasy animal is to demean God’s Word, which is true in every detail.

The Kentucky blogger fumes:

Kentucky will now be known as the state whose governor endorsed and gave $40 million in tax breaks to people who want to tell children that science and history explain that a 600 year old man herded dinosaurs, fire-breathing dragons and unicorns onto a big boat 4,000 years ago.

NOTE: Imagine, a cryptid paradise at a creationist museum...Lon

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Arkansas fish, deaths still a mystery after tests

AP - Arkansas wildlife officials say the mystery of what killed tens of thousands of fish that washed up along the Arkansas River late last year can't be solved.

But there is a theory about what caused birds to fall out of the sky in a small Arkansas town on New Year's Eve.

Scientists determined it's likely that unusually loud noises frightened the birds so much that they flew off in the dark, even though they have poor night vision. New Year's Eve fireworks likely led the birds to fly lower than normal and into buildings or trees.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission say less is known about the Dec. 29 fish kill. Tests on fish and water samples didn't turn up anything.

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Gorilla that walks like a man filmed at zoo in Kent

telegraph - Over 150,000 people have viewed the short clip on YouTube, where the 21-year-old is captured strolling around Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent.

A second and longer clip of Ambam has since been posted on the video-sharing site.

Phil Ridges, gorilla keeper, said: "Ambam’s father Bitam used to display the same behaviour if he had handfuls of food to carry.

"Ambam also has a full sister, Tamba, and a half sister who also sometimes stand and walk in the same way. All gorillas can do it to some extent but we haven’t got any who do it like Ambam and he is quite a celebrity at the park.

"We think he might use it to get a height advantage to look over the wall when keepers come to feed him and standing up can also help him in looking for food generally in his enclosure as it gives him a better vantage point.

"Ambam can also carry a lot more food if he stands and uses both hands and walking on two feet also means he doesn’t get his hands wet when it is raining."

Ambam was born at Port Lympne’s sister park, Howletts, in 1990. Both parks are dedicated to protecting rare species and are managed by an international conservation charity called The Aspinall Foundation (TAF).

TAF are pioneers in the conservation of gorillas both at the Kent Parks and at its gorilla rescue and rehabilitation projects in Congo and Gabon where it protects over 1 million acres of unique ecosystem.


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