We all know about these commonly used inventions, but they had a dark side.

1…..Ecstasy


Anton Köllisch developed 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine as a by-product of research for a drug combating abnormal bleeding. It was largely ignored for around 70 years until it became popular in  dance clubs of the early 80s. It was only when the Rave party culture of the late 80s adopted Ecstasy as its drug of choice that MDMA became one of the top four illegal drugs in use killing an estimated 50 people a year in the UK alone. Its inventor died in World War I.

2…Concentration camps

Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts set up “safe refugee camps” to provide refuge for civilian families who had been forced to abandon their homes for one  reason or another related to the Boer War. However, when Lord Kitchener succeeded Roberts as commander-in-chief in South Africa in 1900, the British Army introduced new tactics in an attempt to break the guerrilla campaign and the influx of civilians grew dramatically as a result. Kitchener initiated plans to- “flush out guerrillas in a series of systematic drives, organized like a sporting shoot, with success defined in a weekly ‘bag’ of killed, captured and wounded, and to sweep the country bare of everything that could give sustenance to the guerrillas, including women and children.” Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as prisoners of war, 25,630 were sent overseas. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children. Over 26,000 women and children were to perish in these concentration camps.

3…ROCKETS


Despite a lifelong passion for astronomy and a dream that rockets could be used to explore space, Wernher von Braun’s talents were used to produce the Nazi V2 rocket which killed 7,250 military personnel and civilians and an estimated 20,000 slave laborers during construction. Later in the US he developed a series of ICBM rockets capable of transporting multiple nuclear warheads around the globe before redeeming his reputation with the Saturn V rocket that put men on the moon

4…NUCLEAR FUSION

Sir Marcus Laurence Elwin Oliphant was the first to discover that heavy hydrogen nuclei could be made to react with each other . This fusion reaction is the basis of a hydrogen bomb. Ten years later, American scientist Edward Teller would press to use Oliphant’s discovery in order to build the hydrogen bomb. However, Oliphant did not foresee this – “We had no idea whatever that this fusion reaction would one day be applied to make hydrogen bombs. Our curiosity was just curiosity about the structure of the nucleus of the atom”.

5…SARIN GAS

Dr. Gerhard Schrader was a German chemist specializing in the discovery of new insecticides, hoping to make progress in the fight against world hunger. However, Dr. Schrader is best known for his accidental discovery of nerve agents such as sarin and tabun, and for this he is sometimes called the “father of the nerve agents”.

6…LEADED PETROL


Thomas Midgley discovered the CFC Freon as a safe refrigerant to replace the highly toxic refrigerants such as ammonia in common use. This resulted in extensive damage to the Ozone Layer. His other famous idea was to add tetraethyl lead to gasoline to prevent “knocking” thus causing worldwide health issues and deaths from lead poisoning. He is considered to be the man that – “had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth’s history.”

7…TNT

Joseph Wilbrand was a German chemist who discovered trinitrotoluene in 1863 to be used as a yellow dye. It wasn’t until after 1902 that the devastating power of TNT as it is better known was fully realized and it was utilized as an explosive in time for extensive use by both sides in World War I, World War II. It is still in military & industrial use today.

8…GATLING GUNAdd an Image


Richard Jordan Gatling invented the Gatling gun after he noticed the majority of dead from the American Civil War died from infection & illness, rather than gunshots. In 1877, he wrote: “It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease would be greatly diminished.” The Gatling gun was used most successfully to expand European colonial empires by ruthlessly mowing down native tribesmen armed with basic primitive weapons.

9…AGENT ORANGE

Arthur Galston developed a chemical that was meant to speed the growth of soybeans and allow them to be grown in areas with a short season. Unfortunately in high concentrations it would defoliate them and it was made into a herbicide even though Galston had grave concerns about its effects on humans. It was supplied to the US government in orange striped barrels and 77 million litres of Agent Orange were sprayed on Vietnam causing 400000 deaths and disabilities with another 500000 birth defects. Service personnel to some extent were also affected

10…ZYKLON B

Fritz Haber was a Nobel Prize winning Jewish scientist who created cheap nitrogen fertilizer and also made chemical weapons for the German side in World War I. It was his creation of an insecticide mainly used as a fumigant in grain stores that was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.2 million people. His Zyklon B became the nazis preferred method of execution in gas chambers during the Holocaust.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

MICRO FOSSILS THOUGHT TO BE THE EARLIEST FORM OF LIFE IS NOW A NO-NO

This revelation comes as quite a shock to many, but a complete embarrassment to quite a few.

Once thought to have been 3.5 billion year old fossils of bacteria in Australian rock, has now been discovered as nothing more than a few insensible minerals. Oh yes, quite a few researchers had to hide their faces in shame on this one, but pretty much no one will be able to live this one down.

fossil Oops! Oldest Evidence of Life Turns Out To Be Iron Deposits
A fossil (not the one mentioned in this article)

This discovery came from a team of people at the University of Kansas. By taking a closer look at the Australian rock, it was discovered that there was no presence of the oxygen-producing cyanobacteria, but that it was only iron ferrous minerals.

Researcher Allison Marshall stated that she went into the study thinking that these were actually microfossils and that many people in the scientific community believed it as well. It was very hard for many to believe that this discover would have gone unnoticed, but it did. Many asked the question; why did it take so long to figure this truth out? But many did not have the answer.

This was basically a life lesson on believing what you find in the data, not going by what someone has told you to be the truth. While many went along with the belief that this was actually the oldest form of evidential life, there were a few who just didn’t settle for what everyone else thought was true.

This particular team of scientists has suggested that it is better to take a closer look at the findings of microfossils. Do not settle on the first thing you see, but look closer into what you see. You should raise questions and never stop looking for the right answer. You never know what truths you can eventually find.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

NASA Scientist

Dr Richard Hoover

claims to have found

evidence of alien life

  • From: NewsCore
  • March 06, 2011 10:10AM
Alien life

While some scientists are excited by the finds, others say more evidence is needed that we have found alien life. File picture Source: Supplied

  • Astrobiologist claims to have found alien life
  • Rare class of meteorites “prove life exists”
  • Scientists call for more evidence over claim

WE are not alone and alien life forms may have more in common with life on Earth than we had thought, according to a NASA scientist.

The out-of-this-world research by Dr Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre, was published in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.

In the report, Dr Hoover describes the latest findings in his study of an extremely rare class of meteorites, called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites – only nine such meteorites were known to exist on Earth.

The scientist was convinced that his findings revealed fossil evidence of bacterial life within such meteorites and by extension, suggests we are not alone in the universe.

“I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet Earth,” Dr Hoover said.

This field of study has just barely been touched because quite frankly, a great many scientists would say that this is impossible.”In what he called “a very simple process,” Dr Hoover fractured the meteorite stones under a sterile environment before examining the freshly broken surface with the standard tools of the scientist: a scanning electron microscope and a field emission electron scanning microscope, which allowed him to search the stone’s surface for evidence of fossil remains.

He found the fossil remains of micro-organisms not so different from ordinary ones found underfoot on Earth.

“The exciting thing is that they are in many cases recognisable and can be associated very closely with the generic species here on earth,” Dr Hoover said.

But not all of them. “There are some that are just very strange and don’t look like anything that I’ve been able to identify, and I’ve shown them to many other experts that have also come up stumped.”

Other scientists say the implications of this research were shocking, describing the findings variously as profound, very important and extraordinary.

But Dr David Marais, an astrobiologist with NASA’s AMES Research Centre, said he was very cautious about jumping on the bandwagon.

These kinds of claims have been made before, he noted and found to be false.

“It’s an extraordinary claim, and thus I’ll need extraordinary evidence,” he said.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

NASA announces discovery

of radical new life form – on Earth

By Ben Coxworth

12:27 December 2, 2010


In a press conference held today, scientists working with NASA announced the discovery of a new microorganism right here on Earth that employs a survival strategy never seen before in any other life form. Found in Northern California’s highly-saline Mono Lake, the GFAJ-1 bacteria exists in an environment that has very little phosphorous, an element that had previously been considered essential for all living things in order to build DNA. To cope with this problem, the bacteria is able to substitute highly-toxic arsenic for phosphorous, in its cell components. The fact that a microbe is able to survive in such a fashion opens up the possibilities for where life could exist on other planets, and will require a rethink on NASA’s part regarding its search for extraterrestrial life forms.

Until this announcement, it had been assumed that carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur were required for any terrestrial organism to grow. Phosphorous is considered to be an essential part of the backbone of DNA and RNA. Arsenic, on the other hand, is highly poisonous to most life forms – it is, however, chemically-similar to phosphorous.

Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA Astrobiology Research Fellow in residence at the U.S. Geological Survey, led a team that first discovered GFAJ-1 in the salty, alkaline mud of Mono Lake. Mud from the lake was taken back to her lab, and placed in a medium that (like the lake) had very little phosphorous, but lots of arsenic. The bacteria was observed growing in the mud, despite everything. When analyzed, the GFAJ-1 were found to be using the arsenic as phosphorous.

“What I’ve presented to you today is a microbe, doing something different than life as we knew it,” said Wolfe-Simon. “We’ve cracked open the door to what’s possible for life elsewhere in the universe, and that’s profound.”

“I find this result delightful, because it makes me have to expand my notion of what environmental constituents might enable habitability,” added Pamela Conrad, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We still don’t know everything there is to know about what might make a habitable environment on another planet.”

The research was published today in the journal Science.

All images courtesy NASA.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha



IBM’s annual list of five innovations about to change our lives in the following five years

IBM has announced its fifth annual Next Five in Five – a valued list of five technologies that the company believes “have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the ensueing five years.” While there is an absense of flying cars or robot servants on the list, there are however holographic friends, air-powered batteries, personal environmental sensors, customized commutes and building-heating computers.

1…3D pics of humans

2…Heat from computers generating power

3…Our breath/air used to power devices

4…Personal sensors in civilians

5…Traffic/Road studies done remotely

Read More

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


IS IT RIGHT TO CREATE NEW LIFE FORMS?

Look at it this way. During the Bush administration, scientists weren’t allowed to use a majority of stem cells to research potentially life-saving therapies because the president objected to using embryonic stem cells on moral grounds. The policy, since overturned by President Obama, limited researchers from using embryonic stem cells beyond the 60 cell lines that already existed at the time, effectively tying their hands when it came to important biomedical research.

Now, however, Fox News is reporting that the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has given the thumbs up to a scientific investigation into creating man-made life forms. The move came after the release of the conclusions of a research project in which a new artificial organism was created by inserting laboratory-made genes into an existing bacteria cell.

Confused? Let Fox break it down for you.

“Man-made forms of life are just fine in Uncle Sam’s book, a new federal study into synthetic biology concludes,” the news network reported on Thursday. “No, that wasn’t a new form of life, the panel cautioned — but it sure did raise some interesting issues.”

Among the questions raised by Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics, who did none of the research, is, “Is it ethical to create new life forms? What are the religious concerns?”

As scientists are hard at work creating similar new life forms, Caplan told Fox that there’s little oversight into this emerging field and, brace yourself, “at some point these critters will come out of the factory and into the real world to do things — and we don’t have any rules at present.”

The bottom line is that the man behind this swan dive into artificial life, genome pioneer Craig Venter, did indeed build a microbe from scratch, but not, his detractors said, a new man-made form of life. That, Caplan said, is still a “remote” reality for the foreseeable future.

So, essentially Caplan wants to see more government oversight into something that isn’t remotely possible now, but could be in the distant future … if scientists can figure out if it’s even possible. Sounds reasonable. Perhaps they can get to the bottom of the “War on Christmas” next.

What do you think the government should for research on creating artificial life forms?

Scientists Test

Australia’s Moreton Bay

as Coral ‘Lifeboat’

Science (Aug. 13, 2010) — An international team of scientists has been exploring Moreton Bay, close to Brisbane, as a possible ‘lifeboat’ to save corals from the Great Barrier Reef at risk of extermination under climate change.


In a new research paper they say that corals have been able to survive and flourish in the Bay, which lies well to the south of the main GBR coral zones, during about half of the past 7000 years.

Corals only cover about 1 per cent of the Moreton Bay area currently, and have clearly been adversely affected by clearing of the surrounding catchments and human activities on land and sea, says lead author Matt Lybolt of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and The University of Queensland.

“The demise of tropical coral reefs around the world is due mainly to overfishing, pollution and climate change. There is also plenty of historical evidence that coral reefs can move from one environment to another as the climate and other conditions change,” Matt explains.

“In view of this, various places — including Moreton Bay — are being investigated as possible refuges in which coral systems can be preserved should they begin to die out in their natural settings. Indeed, some people have even talked of relocating and re-seeding corals in other locations that better suit their climatic needs.”

The team’s study of Moreton Bay reveals that it is not exactly ideal coral habitat, being cold in winter, lacking sufficient direct sunlight, subject to turbid freshwater inflows and — more recently — to a range of human impacts.

“Even before European settlers came on the scene the Bay underwent phases in which corals grew prolifically — and phases in which they died away almost completely. We understand what causes corals to die back, but we are less clear about what causes them to recover,” Matt says.

“Broadly, the corals seemed to do well at times when the climate, sea levels and other factors were most benign and stable — and to decline when El Nino and other disturbances made themselves felt.”

The Moreton Bay corals have been in an expansionary phase during the last 400 years, initially dominated by the branching Acropora corals but, since the Bay’s catchment was cleared and settled, these have died back leaving mainly slow-growing types of coral.

“Under climate change we expect winters to be warmer and sea levels to rise — and both of these factors will tend to favour the expansion of corals in Moreton Bay,” Matt says.

“However this expansion of corals may not occur unless we make a major effort to improve water quality in the Bay, by not allowing effluent, polluted runoff or sediment to enter it, and also by regrowing mangrove forests and seagrass beds within the Bay. ”

The team concludes that Moreton Bay’s potential as a good ‘lifeboat’ for corals is limited by four major factors:

  • It is highly sensitive to what the 2 million residents of its catchment do that affects it
  • It presently has very few branching corals left
  • The area on which corals can grow is limited, both naturally and by human activity
  • Finally, the historical record suggests the Bay is only a good coral refuge about half of the time.

Matt says that there is nevertheless scope for changes in the management of the Bay and its surrounding catchments that can improve its suitability as a coral environment. “The reefs of today don’t look anything like they did in the past, so it’s really a question of ‘What sort of coral reef do you want?’,” he says.

However there needs to be a clearer scientific understanding of the drivers that have caused corals to boom and bust within the Bay over the past seven millennia before we can be sure it is worthwhile attempting to make Moreton Bay a ‘lifeboat’ for the GBR, he cautions.

Matt noted that there are very few suitable coral habitats south of the southern end of the GBR to which corals can migrate, should the northern parts of the reef become untenable for corals due to the impact of global warming.

Their paper “Instability in a marginal coral reef: the shift from natural variability to a human-dominated seascape” by Matt Lybolt, David Neil, Jian-xin Zhao, Yue-xing Feng, Ke-Fu Yu and John Pandolfi appears in the latest issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Environment.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha