Aliens May Exist

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking says aliens almost certainly exist but warns it would be a bad idea to contact them. He said that if extraterrestrials visited the planet the outcome would be similar to when Christopher Columbus landed in America, which, he added, didn't turn out well for the Native Americans.
Quite possible...

Avatar Breaking Records

James Cameron's 3D sci-fi epic, released in the US on 22 April, sold 4 million DVDs and 2.7 million Blu-rays. The sales brought in $130m (£84.1m).
The previous record holder in the US and Canada was The Dark Knight in 2008.
It was released on 22 April - "Earth Day" in the US and Canada as well as other countries - to chime with Avatar's environmental theme.

Icelandic Volcano Crisis

The Icelandic volcano crisis cost airlines more than USD 1.7 B in lost revenue through Tuesday—six days after the initial eruption, according to estimates of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). For a three-day period (17-19 April), when disruptions were greatest, lost revenues reached USD 400 M per day.
Following 9/11, the US government provided USD 5 B to compensate airlines for the costs of grounding the fleet for three days. The European Commission also allowed European states to provide similar assistance.
No one was prepared for such an event. Isn't it funny how we take things for granted?

Brazil Christ the Redeemer statue closed

Rio de Janeiro's towering Christ the Redeemer statue has been closed to the public after landslides that hit Brazil, killing some 250 people. The death toll may rise as 200 people are still missing, officials say.
Christ the Redeemer
Access to the statue was cut off for the first time in its 80-year history as roads were blocked by debris.
The landslides in and around Brazil's second biggest city were set off by downpours that began last Monday - the area's heaviest rainfall for decades.

Brain Multitasking

An inability to deal with more than two things at a time may be "hard-wired" into our brain, research suggests.
When we try to do two things at once, each half of the brain focuses on a separate task, French scientists say.
It might also explain why people are prone to make irrational decisions when choosing from a long list of items.
Lead author Dr Etienne Koechlin told the BBC: "You can cook and at the same time talk on the phone but you cannot really do a third task such as trying to read a newspaper. If you have three or more tasks you lose track of one task."
When the volunteers completed one task at a time, one side of a certain area of the frontal lobes lit up.
But, when they completed two tasks at the same time, the lobes divided the tasks between them.
The brain was able to control switching between the two hemispheres when carrying out dual functions but accuracy suffered when a third was added.

6.9 Earthquake in China

At least 300 people have died and thousands are feared hurt after a magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck China's Qinghai province, officials say. The powerful tremor hit remote Yushu county, 500km (310 miles) south-west of provincial capital Xining, at 0749 (2349 GMT), at a shallow depth of 10km. One official told journalists more than 85% of buildings in Jiegu town near the epicentre had collapsed. Many of the buildings in Yushu, a county with a largely Tibetan population of about 80,000, were thought to be made from wood.
In 2008, a huge quake struck neighbouring Sichuan province which left 87,000 people dead or missing. Terrible disaster.

Update 4/16:
The number of people known to have been killed by a massive quake in China's Qinghai province has risen to 1,144, officials say. Another 417 are still missing in the remote mountainous region and 11,744 have been injured, a rescue spokesman told the Xinhua news agency.

Oxygen-free Animals

Scientists have found the first animals that can survive and reproduce entirely without oxygen, deep on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea.
They were discovered in the course of three oceanographic expeditions conducted over a decade in order to search for living fauna in the sediment of the Mediterranean's L'Atalante basin.
The basin, 200km (124m) off the western coast of Crete, is about 3.5km (2.2m) deep and is almost entirely depleted of oxygen, or anoxic.
Nature is amazing.


New Element

A team of Russian and American scientists has discovered a new element that has long stood as a missing link among the heaviest bits of atomic matter ever produced. The element, still nameless, appears to point the way toward a brew of still more massive elements with chemical properties no one can predict.
The team produced six atoms of the element by smashing together isotopes of calcium and a radioactive element called berkelium in a particle accelerator about 75 miles north of Moscow on the Volga River.
By scientific custom, if the latest discovery is confirmed elsewhere, the element will receive an official name and take its place in the periodic table of the elements.

Hadron Collider Success

The world's largest atom smasher threw together minuscule particles racing at unheard of speeds in conditions simulating those just after the Big Bang -- a success that kick-started a megabillion-dollar experiment that could one day explain how the universe began.
Two beams of protons were sent hurtling in opposite directions toward each other in a 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel below the Swiss-French border -- the coldest place in the universe at slightly above absolute zero. CERN used powerful superconducting magnets to force the two beams to cross; two of the protons collided, producing 7 trillion electron volts.
By comparison, burning wood or any other chemical reaction on an atom scale produces one electron volt. Splitting a single uranium atom in a nuclear reaction produces 1 million electron volts. This produces -- on an atom-by-atom scale -- 7 million times more power than a single atom in a nuclear reaction.
Some people believe the experiments could eventually imperil Earth by creating micro black holes - subatomic versions of collapsed stars whose gravity is so strong they can suck in planets and other stars. CERN and many scientists dismiss any threat to Earth or people, saying that any such holes would be so weak that they would vanish almost instantly.

Father Raped Baby Daughter

The 29-year-old man, from Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, UK raped his daughter at least twice and carried out other sexual abuse which he recorded on his phone. He has been jailed for life.

Now - how sick is that???


Cher's Son Changes Sex

Cher's son Chaz Bono has asked a judge in Los Angeles to formally change his name and gender following the sex change surgery he had last year.
The 41-year-old, who was born Chastity Sun Bono, now wants to be known as Chaz Salvatore, according to a petition filed earlier this week. The name Chastity came from the title of the 1969 film Cher made with her first husband Sonny, who died in a skiing accident in 1998.
A hearing has been scheduled for 6 May in Santa Monica, California.


Empire awards

James Cameron's 3D extravaganza Avatar has won three accolades at the Empire Film Awards in London - best film, best director, and best actress (Zoe Saldana).
JJ Abrams' Star Trek movie won best sci-fi/fantasy film.
Sir Ian McKellen, who starred in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the X-Men movies, was presented with the Empire Icon award. He is set to reprise his Gandalf role in The Hobbit.
I really like Ian McKellen and I am glad he received the award. Congratulations, sir!