Science & Technology


The 'Guevedoce' boys of the Dominican Republic grow testes, penis at puberty

© Telegraph
I hated going through puberty; voice cracking, swinging moods, older brother laughing at me. But compared to Johnny, who lives in a small town in the Dominican Republic, I had it easy.

We came across Johnny when we were filming for a new BBC2 series, "Countdown to Life", which looks at the consequences of normal, and abnormal, developments in the womb.

Johnny is known as a "Guevedoce", which literally means, "penis at twelve". And the reason he's called that is because, like 1 in 90 of the boys in the area, he first started to grow a penis when he was going through puberty.

Guevedoces are also sometimes called "machihembras" meaning "first a woman, then a man". When they're born they look like girls with no testes and what appears to be a vagina. It is only when they near puberty that the penis grows and testicles descend.

Johnny, who is now in his 20s, was once known as Felicita. He was brought up as a girl and remembers going to school in a little red dress.

When he was young he would happily play with other little girls, but after the age of seven he started to change

"I did not feel good, I no longer liked to wear a skirt, and I was no longer drawn to play with girls. All I wanted to do is play with toy guns and boys"


A massive object and tail caught on SOHO going around the sun

On Sept. 13, 2015, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory -- a joint project of the European Space Agency and NASA -- discovered its 3,000th "sun-grazing comet", cementing its standing as the greatest comet finder of all time.

Prior to the 1995 launch of the observatory, commonly known as SOHO, only a dozen or so comets had ever even been discovered from space, while some 900 had been discovered from the ground.

But SOHO is not only a comet finder it also photographs unknown objects near the Sun or flying through our solar system.

The latest SOHO images captured on September 18, 2015 show a massive unknown object with tail that goes around the Sun.

The force of this object must be enormous. Instead it plunges into the Sun like a comet the object can withstand the gravitational pull of the sun.

Of course it is possible that the phenomenon is caused by charged particles from the Sun, brought by the solar wind, which hit the filters on the lens causing an artifact but a closer look at the object shows that it is solid and spherical, something that cannot be explained as just an artifact.

What kind of object can survive a close encounter with the Sun, a UFO, a huge space rock or something else?

Comet 2

Comet storm: SOHO discovers its 3000th comet


The small dot in the cross-hairs (inset) is the 3,000th comet to be spotted by Nasa and Esa's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (Soho). The comet is pictured as of 14 September 2015.
Nasa's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (Soho) keeps watch on the outer layer of the sun's atmosphere and is used by a community of stargazers to spot comets.

These include 'sungrazers' which pass within 850,000 miles (1.38million km) of the sun's surface, often shattering or evaporating in its heat.

Comment: It's not the 'heat' that does that; it's the electric stress.

This week, Soho confirmed it had discovered its 3,000th comet of this kind and captured its final moments before it was said to have been destroyed by our star's epic energy field.

Although spotted using Soho images, this milestone was actually achieved by keen stargazer Worachate Boonplod, from Samut Songkhram, Thailand.

'I am very happy to be part of a great milestone for Soho's comet project,' he said.

Comment: Windsocks?! Yeah, they're that, and they're harbingers of cyclical catastrophes.

It seems like only yesterday when we posted this:
2000th Comet Spotted By SOHO
RedOrbit, 28 December 2010
It took SOHO ten years to spot its first thousand comets, but only five more to find the next thousand. That's due partly to increased participation from comet hunters and work done to optimize the images for comet-sighting, but also due to an unexplained systematic increase in the number of comets around the sun. Indeed, December alone has seen an unprecedented 37 new comets spotted so far, a number high enough to qualify as a "comet storm."
10 years for the first 1,000, then another 10 years for the next 2,000... day by day it's getting more and more crowded out there.

Comet 2

Crowded skies: Joint Japanese-Chinese meteor observation satellite launched from ISS

Kimiya Yui conducted the mission on Thursday, Japan time. The satellite, measuring roughly 30 centimeters across, was developed by a Japanese university team led by the China Institute of Technology. It is designed to observe the meteor phenomenon, when dust in space glows like stars as it enters the Earth's atmosphere.

The one-year mission is aimed at finding out whether the dust contains elements pertaining to the origin of life.

Workers at the Tsukuba Space Center of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency applauded when Yui pressed a button on the ISS to release the satellite.

Comment: You know it's getting busy up there when space agencies send up satellites to investigate...

Mr. Potato

In the future, music will be played through your skull — not your ears


According to its designers, the device allows wearers to listen to music without using earphones.
Tangled headphone cables and having to listen to other people's poor music choice through their shoddy earphones are two perennial problems facing busy commuters. Now, a design company claims to have solved these first-world woes, by creating a device that plays music through your skull instead.

Design company Studio Banana Things, which has offices in Lausanne, London and Madrid, launched a funding page for the device—called the Batband—on crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Ten days in, they have raised more than $250,000, smashing their $150,000 goal.

The Batband, which is available for preorder at 95.00 ($149), sits around the back of the wearer's head and has no earphones. Instead, three transducersone either side of the head and one at the backemit sound waves that are conducted via the skull into the inner ear. The device can be paired with a smartphone or music player via Bluetooth and has touch sensors that allow wearers to take calls or change tracks.


Mysterious energy bursts provide new way to chart the cosmos in 3-D

© Keith Vanderlinde
A lone meteor pierces the night above the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) pathfinder radio telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, Canada.
If only calculating the distance between Earth and far-off galaxies was as easy as pulling out the old measuring tape. Now University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers are proposing a new way to calculate distances in the cosmos using mysterious bursts of energy.

In a study just featured in the journal Physical Review Letters, UBC researchers propose a new way to calculate cosmological distances using the bursts of energy also known as fast radio bursts. The method allows researchers to position distant galaxies in three dimensions and map out the cosmos.

"We've introduced the idea of using these new phenomena to study cosmological objects in the universe," said Kiyoshi Masui, a postdoctoral fellow at UBC and a global scholar with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. "We believe we'll be able to use these flashes to put together a picture of how galaxies are spread through space."

Some unknown astrophysical phenomenon is causing these bursts of energy that appear as a short flashes of radio waves. While only ten fast radio bursts have ever been recorded, scientists believe there could be thousands of them a day.

Monkey Wrench

Spermatogenesis: Scientists claim they have grown human sperm in the lab


Potential benefits for infertile men and young cancer patients, as French team say in vitro cells look like the real thing
Human sperm cells have been made in the laboratory for the first time by culturing immature cells taken from the testes of infertile men. The breakthrough promises to help young boys made sterile by cancer treatments and adult men who cannot make their own sperm, scientists have claimed.

The sperm cells made in an artificial "bioreactor" look identical to those produced naturally. The technology could be used in two to four years to help infertile men have their own biological children, according to researchers based at a French national research institute in Lyon.

Cloud Lightning

Electric Universe: Astronaut aboard ISS captures first video of an enormous burst of electrical discharge known as a 'blue jet'

Astronaut Andreas Mogensen caught a rare glimpse of a blue jet over India while aboard the ISS.
From the large bay windows surrounding the International Space Station's glass-enclosed cupola, Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen caught an electric sight never before captured from space: a giant blue burst of optical activity — called a blue jet — radiating from a thunderstorm over India.

Capturing this beautiful upper atmospheric phenomenon ended up being the highlight of Mogensen's mission aboard the ISS. This was the first time a blue jet has ever been recorded from space.

People have been speculating about these "rocket-like" emissions from the tops of thunderclouds for over a century, but it wasn't until 1995 that scientists confirmed their existence after capturing a glimpse of these ejections while flying through a thunderstorm over Arkansas.

Blue jets, along with red sprites — a similar but distinct phenomena recently spotted in an image taken from the ISS — are enormous bursts of electrical discharge spiking upward from storm clouds in the upper atmosphere.

Blue jets emerge from the electrically-charged cores of thunderstorms and can spear 25 to 30 miles upwards in the shape of a cone.

To get a better look of the jet in action, check out this slowed-down version of the video.

Comment: More increased electrical activity manifesting. When scientists begin to embrace the winning Electric Universe theory, it will improve their grasp on the "basic physics of what causes lightning"; and they need not be 'puzzled' by the 'bright spots' on Ceres, facts from the Rosetta mission won't be so 'surprising' and the alignment of quasars won't seem so 'spooky'.

The Electric Universe model is clearly explained, with a lot more relevant information, in the book Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection by Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk.

Evil Rays

Sonogenetics: Researchers use ultrasound to activate brain, heart and muscle cells

© Manuel Zimmer
Scientists have bred worms with genetically modified nervous systems that can be controlled by bursts of sound waves.

The tiny nematodes change direction the moment they are blasted with sonic pulses that are too high-pitched for humans to hear.

The pulses work by switching on motor neuron cells that are genetically modified to carry membrane channels that respond to ultrasonic waves.

Researchers said the worms demonstrate the power of a new procedure, dubbed sonogenetics, in which ultrasound can be used to activate a range of brain, heart and muscle cells from outside the body.

Comment: One could deduce from this study that sound (music and speech) can influence behavior.


Epic night sky event: Rare supermoon lunar eclipse

© Maxwell Palau/StarDude Astronomy
Astrophotographer Maxwell Palau captured this view of a total lunar eclipse from San Diego, California, on Oct. 8, 2014.
Editor's note: To find out more about the rare supermoon lunar eclipse of Sept. 27-28 and how to see it, visit: Supermoon Lunar Eclipse 2015: Full 'Blood Moon' Coverage.

This month's highly anticipated "supermoon eclipse" may be a magical treat for skywatchers, but there's nothing supernatural about the event.

On Sept. 27, skywatchers throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, western Asia and the eastern Pacific Ocean region will witness a total eclipse that happens to occur when the moon looks abnormally large and bright in Earth's sky. It will be the first supermoon eclipse since 1982, and the last until 2033.

This rare celestial phenomenon has its roots in the moon's elliptical orbit around Earth.