Faulty communications along U.S.-Mexico border are America’s blind spot

We all know that mission critical communications are vital 24 hours a day and as this article shows that even a tiny lapse in communications can lead to chaos. Even the U.S government can’t keep their radio communications up-to-date on one of the most watched borders in the world, as we can see from the article below.

Put yourself in the shoes of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. You are patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, driving through desolate terrain, and in the distance, you spot movement. You head toward a deep ravine and step out of your vehicle when a shot rings out and you hear the zip of a bullet speeding past your head. With training and instinct, you dive for cover and draw your weapon, reaching for your handheld radio.

And the radio doesn’t work.

There’s no one to call, because you are in one of the many areas of the southern U.S. border that has no radio coverage. Out there in the ravine is a drug cartel “rip crew,” heavily armed and firing on your position, bullets punching into your vehicle until smoke is rising from the hood. If they come closer, you are outnumbered. If they flee, your vehicle is disabled, and they will disappear into the vast emptiness along the southern border, where they will likely fire on one of your fellow agents, should they encounter them.

That is the state of communications along many of the areas on the U.S.-Mexico border. When the U.S. Border Patrol needs it the most, they cannot communicate with anyone. With rising threats and political propositions, U.S. border security has again risen to the top of the public consciousness. There are calls for more border patrol officers and stronger fencing, for aerial and ground based vehicles and other technology. But the lifeblood of the border security apparatus is communication, and in some areas, communication is not possible.

“If there is one thing in securing America’s borders that hasn’t changed since September 11, 2001, it’s the inability to resolve the communications lapses and gaps along the border,” said Ron Colburn, the former National Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. “Here we are almost 15 years into this, and we still have not addressed this problem.”

One reason 343 New York City firefighters died when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed was that their radios could not communicate with the emergency responders outside the buildings, who were warning the structures were about to come down. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission cited the need to create interoperable tools that allow first responders and law enforcement to communicate in the most unforgiving of environments.

And there are few environments less forgiving than the nearly 2000-miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Recognizing this, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a massive project to improve the communications capacity of officers along the U.S. border. It failed. In March last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that $945 million in taxpayer funding used to build radio towers and upgrade radio equipment has yielded little benefit and in some cases does not work as well as what Border Patrol agents were using before. The effort cost too much and was taking too long.

Colburn said that the state of communications today means U.S. Border Patrol cannot call for support in some areas. They cannot feed information from the field into the intelligence food chain, and they cannot receive images from manned or unmanned vehicles to know whether they are walking into an ambush or encountering a group of friendly forces.

Likewise, Border Patrol agents cannot communicate easily with other law enforcement agencies (like a local Sheriff’s office), nor can those law enforcement agencies run on-site biometric checks (e.g., fingerprints) of individuals they suspect may have recently crossed into the United States illegally.

“I see it in the eyes and hear it in the voices of the men and women of the Border Patrol,” said Colburn. “They understand the mission and they want to accomplish it, but they feel like they have been abandoned.”

Answering the Unanswered Question

Most Americans own a smartphone, which is a powerful piece of technology. Experts say it’s hard to understand how, in this age of technological innovation and advancement, the United States is not arming its frontline officers with the very basic capacity to talk to one another.

Part of the challenge is that we have not brought new solutions to this long-standing problem.

To advance the effort, the Border Commerce and Security Council (of which I am Chairman and CEO) helped bring multiple stakeholders to the table in December last year in Cochise County, Arizona, to see if an innovative application of several integrated technologies could solve these communications challenges. It was a Proof of Concept test that included the U.S. Border Patrol, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and a group of businesses with tools that can address a range of communications and intelligence challenges. What was tested is called the Field Information Support Tool (FIST).

FIST started in 2006 as basic research at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). NPS Information Sciences Research Associate James Ehlert said in 2010 that the goal was to create “an easy-to-use, inexpensive hand-held solution to achieving communications interoperability and a common physical and human terrain operating picture for both on-the-ground field collectors and tactical decision makers.”

The research question was, how can we use modern technology to allow officers in the field to talk to one another and to their superiors while also collecting and then acting on real-time intelligence?

“The intelligence aspect is that the local and federal law enforcement officers need to look at things from a risk-management perspective,” said Brian Conroy, Business Strategy and Strategic Development Manager at NOVA Corporation, which works with Kestrel Technology Group, the company that has produced the FIST system. “They need to find the high-risk areas [along the border], and if you have a tool that collects data and runs algorithms against it, you can conduct risk assessment and trend analyses. Human intelligence contributes to a holistic common operating picture.”

This is what the FIST system achieves, and it’s what was seen during the proof of concept test. In general terms, FIST uses off-the-shelf communications tools (like an Android device) to gather intelligence from officers on the front lines. With these tools, officers feed information into a larger database compiled from a variety of sources (including other officers) that informs strategic and tactical decision making. This is then passed back to the people working along the border.

The need for this kind of tool is obvious, but it has only been recently that the right technologies and software were put together in a way that makes it possible.

Moving to the Market

Over the last year, there has been a push to transition FIST into the marketplace. Research transition is tough, as DHS has found in many cases over the years. Unlike other agencies and components, such as the military branches, the homeland security and law enforcement marketplace is heavily fragmented and with limited resources. It makes it difficult to take good, workable ideas from prototype to production. As big of a challenge as creating an innovative piece of technology is finding a way to produce it in line with operational and funding realities. A local Sheriff’s office, for example, does not have an endless amount of funding and time to bring in expensive technologies and then train deputies to use them. For that matter, neither does the U.S. Border Patrol.

What’s needed is a simpler, cheaper solution, and based on the proof of concept testing, FIST appears to be that solution.

“It’s ideal for smaller law enforcement agencies because it can unify operations and reporting and scale capability, creating a force multiplier,” said Ivan Cardenas, technical director of the Kestrel Technology Group, which is helping to bring FIST to market. “It is a sophisticated system, but it is easier to use than the complexity suggests.”

There are a few moving parts here. There are applications that allow off-the-shelf technologies to record and report intelligence, such as the location of a breach in the border fence or evidence of people moving through the rugged terrain. There are existing law enforcement and Border Patrol network capabilities (or cloud-based tools) that store that information. The secret sauce, however, is the complex digital architecture that allows real-time control and fusion of multiple information sources in a way that supports the mission. This is the one thing that has been missing from the border communications and intelligence efforts, and it’s why DHS has struggled to address the challenges to this point. The innovation is in the complexity, and FIST makes it simple.

Of course, that complex innovation is for naught if the agents in the field cannot transmit and receive intelligence. Enter SiRRAN Communications, another stakeholder at the proof of concept test in Arizona.

“We often forget that without network access, we’re blind,” said SiRRAN’s Director of Sales Mark Briggs. “Our technology brings that cell network to anywhere that it is needed.”

Briggs describes this technology as a portable, battery powered cell network—a network in a box. It creates a local, closed network that any agent within range can access to communicate and record intelligence. The unit provides local communication in areas where there is no coverage, and if there is no way to access the communications grid, it captures intelligence and transmits it to the larger repository as soon as it finds a signal.

The lesson here is not just that FIST is a workable system to satisfy the mission needs of America’s border security and law enforcement professionals. It’s also that the answer to the communications challenges along the border will not come in the form of $1 billion worth of cell towers built under DHS management. If it were, we would have solved this problem by now. The fact that we have not reveals that the ultimate solution is necessarily complex and multifaceted while also being easy to use and in-line with realistic operating budgets.

Perhaps the most important lesson, however, is that there are real tools that our Border Patrol and law enforcement officers could be using. Right now there are thousands of men and women on the border, and until we give them the tools they need to do their job, it will make border security and the safety of our frontline heroes difficult to sustain.

The obituary of Batgirl actress Yvonne Craig

Yvonne Craig, the actress best known for her role as Batgirl in the 1960s Batman TV series, has died aged 78.

Appearing in the third and final series of the iconic, multicoloured adventure spoof, Craig’s portrayal of Batgirl was every bit as charming, self effacing and fun to watch as her on-screen co-stars Adam West and Burt Ward.

The creation of Craig’s iconic role was a rare example of synergy between the disparate words of television and comic book fiction. In the comics, a character called Bat-Girl (Betty Kane), who was designed as a love interest for Robin, had appeared at the beginning of the decade, but been abandoned by the series creators just a few years later. However, the new version of the character (this time with the civilian identity of Barbara Gordon), created by DC staffers Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino (at the request of editor Julius Schwartz and Batman producer William Dozier), was fresh, funky and fun, as well as an instant hit with the fanbase. The new Batgirl debuted in the comic books in January of 1967 and then in the TV show later that year.

Although the series was cancelled after season 3, Batgirl became an icon of 60’s television, as well as an integral part of the comic books, her four colour character formed, at least in part, by the spirited performance of Yvonne Craig.

The role came to define Craig and, in later years, she would admit to being surprised by the show’s enduring popularity.

“I really didn’t think we were making Gone With the Wind,” she once said. “Just an episodic TV series that would be over when it was over and then it would never rerun again”.

Instead, millions of people around the world enjoyed Craig’s performance, especially young girls, many of whom saw the character as a brave, empowering figure in an era typified by submissive female roles in film and television.

Craig was comfortable, if slightly demure, about being a role model. When asked about the subject later in her life, she simply said, “I meet women today who tell me that they grew up viewing Batgirl as an important role model. If they choose to know me in that context, well, I’ll take it.”

Initially trained as a ballet dancer, Craig worked at The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and used her skills as a dancer to perform most, if not all, of her own stunts as Batgirl.

Away from Gotham City, Craig also acted alongside Elvis Presley in two of the singer’s movies, It Happened At The Worlds Fair (1963) and Kissin Cousins (1964). She appeared in the third season of Star Trek as Marta, the Orion Slave Girl from Series 3’s Whom Gods Destroy and portrayed a ballerina in Austin Powers favorite movie In Like Flint (1967).

A prolific TV actress, Craig also appeared in episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E, The Wild Wild West, My Favorite Martian, Wagon Train, It Takes A Thief, Kojak, The Six Million Dollar Man and Starsky & Hutch, amongst (many) others.

In later life, Craig worked as an estate agent and then made a living in the prepaid phone card business, however she didn’t give up acting entirely and is perhaps best known by younger fans for lending her vocal talents to the Nickelodeon cartoon series Olivia.

In a heartfelt statement to Yvonnes many fans, Craigs family praised her resilience, sense of humour, business acumen and charity work. She will be missed.

SwiftKey launches symbol-based communication app for people who are non-verbal

Any technology that can improve peoples lives is always a technology that will be championed by us here, and if it is helping people with learning or speech difficulties then that is more incentive for us to bring it to our readers. This is current available on the google store for android devices and we are stating now that this should be on apple devices as soon as possible, the original article can be found on the verge website.

SwiftKey, the predictive smartphone keyboard company, wants to help people who are non-verbal communicate with others. The company launched an experimental symbol-based assistive app today called SwiftKey Symbol, which it says can be used to build sentences using images. SwiftKey staff who have family members with autism spectrum disorder came up with the idea for the tool, according to the company’s blog.

The app, which is free and available on Android, makes use of SwiftKey’s predictive technology to suggest symbols that might be used to finish a sentence. Outside factors like the time of day or the day of the week will influence these predictions, the company says. Users can also add their own images and use audio playback to read out to sentence to others.

Symbol-based communication apps like this aren’t new. Apps like Proloqui2Go and TouchChat also rely on pictograms to build sentences. But these tools can be expensive, and SwitKey says that its own take on the assistive app will be able to form sentences faster than the competition. “A lot of the current communication tools on the market are often too slow to select a particular image a child might choose,” the company wrote on its blog. “We realized that SwiftKey’s core prediction and personalization technology — which learns from each individual as they use it — would be a natural fit for people on the autistic spectrum who respond particularly well to routine-based activity.”

In the US, about two in 100 children have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. People with autism have varied needs, so it’s possible that this app could enhance communication for some people. We haven’t tried the app yet — but we’re eager to see what it can do.

ETRI presents a blueprint of the 5G Future

We will see a huge change in the way we access the the internet in the future when 5G is here, at speeds that only big businesses and high level internet companies see at the moment, we will have this to hand on our smart phones and tablets. When 5G is hundreds of times faster than any of the UK’s broadbands, households will be looking to the mobile phone companies to supply their home broadband.

A 5G future is no longer a distant one, but an upcoming reality. High quality videos of more than 10Mbps can be served simultaneously to 100 users even in a train running at up to 500km/h. People can experience data rates that are 100 times faster than currently available technologies.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) of Korea will hold a “5G technology demonstration” on the 18th December, 2015. It will demonstrate future SNS (social network service) and several 5G core technologies such as “millimeter wave”, “Mobile Hot-spot Network”, “in-band full duplex” and so on.

5G is the next generation wireless technology that would provide even faster data rates, even lower delays, and even more devices connected than 4G. Accordingly, distinct and differentiated applications are expected in 5G.

ETRI’s “future SNS” is a kind of trial service model to apply 5G technologies that provides dynamic user-centric connection to neighboring people, things and spaces. It is characterized by instant content-sharing between users, communication with neighboring things, and Giga-bps(Gbps)-grade video applications in vehicles.

5G core technologies demonstrated by ETRI include the following:

— MHN (Mobile Hot-spot Network) is a mobile backhaul technology that provides high-speed Internet access of Gbps in vehicles at speeds of up to 500 km/h (e.g. KTX in Korea). Almost 100 passengers can watch videos of high quality simultaneously.

— ZING is a near-field communication technology that enables mass data to be transmitted with 3.5 Gbps data rate between neighboring devices within the radius of 10cm.

— Single-RF-Chain compact MIMO technology enables a single antenna to simulate the effect of multiple antenna. It can reduce antenna volume and cancel inter-antenna interference in a multi-antenna system.

— Millimeter wave (mmWave) beam switching technology provides fast switching of radio beams to mobile users, and therefore allows seamless Gbps-grade service in mobile environments.

— Mobile Edge Platform (MEP) is a mobile edge cloud server on vehicles that enables passengers to enjoy customized Gbps-grade content and connects them with neighbors, things and spaces. It provides user-centric services.

— In-band Full Duplex technology can transmit and receive signals simultaneously over the same frequency band. It can increase spectral efficiency by up to two times.

— Small cell SW technology is designed for AP(Access Point)-sized small cell base stations that can reduce communication dead zones and improve data rates per user in a hot-spot area.

“With this demonstration event, we are officially introducing our R&D results on 5G. We will continue to lead the development of 5G technologies. Also, we are trying to develop commercialization technologies needed by businesses, and to construct a 5G ecosystem.” said Dr. Hyun Kyu Chung, vice president of ETRI Communication & Internet Lab.

In January, 2016, ETRI will demonstrate Giga internet service and future SNS in a Seoul subway train installed with MHN and ZING kiosks. ETRI will also introduce hand-over technology on a millimeter wave mobile communication system and 5G radio access technology that satisfies 1 millisecond radio latency.

About ETRI

Established in 1976, ETRI is a non-profit Korean government-funded research organization that has been at the forefront of technological excellence for about 40 years. In the 1980s, ETRI developed TDX (Time Division Exchange) and 4M DRAM. In the 1990s, ETRI commercialized CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) for the first time in the world. In the 2000s, ETRI developed Terrestrial DMB, WiBro, and LTE-A, which became the foundation of mobile communications.

Recently, as a global ICT leader, ETRI has been advancing communication and convergence by developing Ship Area Network technology, Genie Talk (world class portable automatic interpretation; Korean-English/Japanese/Chinese), and automated valet parking technology. As of 2015, ETRI has about 2,000 employees where about 1,800 of them are researchers.

Theportable Motorola DP4800 that is top in class

Despite the massive onslaught of mobile phones and smartphones in recent times, portable radios have managed to hold firm ground as they specifically cater to special communication needs across industries where clear and precise interaction is paramount. Motorola is considered a pioneer and a household name in the radio communications industry. The Motorola DP4800 portable radio proves yet again that the company is committed towards delivering world class communication products that make use of the latest in technology.

The inclusion of GPS, Bluetooth audio and data and full-fledged text messaging capability makes the DP4800 an extremely powerful and well-rounded communication device. Moreover, it provides quick call-capability to individuals as well as to groups. The built-in full color LCD display has day/night modes that facilitate easy reading of messages. Plus, the DP4800 is no slouch in the audio front as well. Its Intelligent Audio feature along with customizable audio announcement capability guarantees enhanced audio performance every single time you communicate with it.

The Motorola DP4800 supports both VHF and UHF frequency bands and has a 5-line keypad with clearly visible and well-aligned alphanumeric buttons. This 5-tone device has a capacity of 1000 channels and comes with five quick programmable buttons, an additional emergency button on the top, IP57 certification for waterproofing, a tri-color LED that gives feedback on the radio operating status, and a FM intrinsically safe option. Apart from these major features, there is a whole host of other notable highlights which makes the DP4800 an appealing choice for consumers. Some of these include VOX capability, option board capability, privacy features, analogue mode compatibility, and digital phone patch compatibility.

Like all other modern day portable radios manufactured by Motorola, the Motorola DP4800 takes complete advantage of the customized applications that have been built for it. Some of the applications include the likes of email gateways, location tracking, remote monitoring, management of work order tickets and man down emergencies. The DP4800 works flawlessly with Motorola’s MOTOTRBO system which maximizes the radio’s capacity using a technology called ‘Capacity Plus’ and thereby permitting high volumes of voice and data to be transmitted up to a thousand users without the need to add any new frequency bands. On the other hand, the ‘Linked Capacity Plus’ technology of DP4800 allows users to use the MOTOTRBO system for covering a wide area in order to link teams working across multiple sites.

Users can benefit from secure communication channels when using the DP4800 as it comes loaded with built-in scrambling. The DP4800’s Transmit Interrupt functionality provides users with an option to interrupt an ongoing communication in order to relay important or highly critical messages. Its mechanism for Emergency Calling ensures safety of employees. Communication is further improved with the help of PTT ID. The calls are received every time with the help of its channel scanning schemes. In terms of design, the DP4800 ticks all the relevant boxes as it exudes compactness, looks toughened to handle harsh conditions and is also water and dust proof. After going through the features and capabilities of Motorola’s DP4800 portable radio, it is fairly easy to conclude that the product has been built to last and deliver a unified and seamless communication experience which is hard to match by its rivals.

Types Of Two Way Radio Antennas

An antenna is essentially the most crucial element of a two way radio and other transmitting application such as cell phones, television, radar, or satellite communication. It is responsible for performing the most important task – converting electric power to transmittable radio waves and the other way round.

How an Antenna Works

To transmit a signal, the transmitter provides an electric charge that oscillates at a specific radio frequency to the terminals of the antenna. Consequently, the antenna sends out corresponding electromagnetic waves. During reception, the antenna takes some of the power of the transmitted electromagnetic waves to generate an extremely small voltage for the terminals, which is then redirected to a receiver that amplifies the signals. This is basically how an antenna works.

Extensive Applications

The applications supported by an antenna go beyond communication. The same concept powers today’s high tech wireless applications that run computer networks; Bluetooth enabled systems, garage door openers, and baby monitors. It’s important to know that a perfectly functioning antenna is not only critical to the functioning of your two way radio; it also helps maintain the life or longevity of your equipment.

The Bigger, The Better

The first and most important rule of thumb about an antenna to keep in mind is that the taller it is, the higher your db gain. A high volume of db gain is critical to achieving a stronger reach and better performance of your two way radio equipment. This basically translates to, “the bigger, the better.” However, in order to achieve results in practical situations, the antenna can have only so much height. In essence you have to sacrifice convenience for performance or vice versa. You can’t walk around or even install a gigantic antenna for all your needs, say for example your car radio.

Positioning of Antenna

The second rule of thumb pertains to the positioning of your antenna. The most optimal position for then antenna would be the centre of your metal car roof. In situations where this is not possible, you would need a “no ground plane” antenna. A no ground plane is basically just a metal surface that goes around the base of your antenna so that you have something for the radiating signal to react with. The next aspect you need to consider for your antenna is the frequencies at which you would be transmitting on. A VHF radio transmits and receives in a range from 136 to 174 MHz.

Chubby and Long Antennas

There are different kinds of two radio antennas available depending on how you want to use it. The large stock antenna is powerful and can be replaced or upgraded as you require. The shorter or stubby antenna provides a great deal of convenience. You can add a longer whip antenna to enhance your range. When it comes to two way radios, you stand to gain a great deal of advantages by having a business radio that comes with a removable antenna. The one problem is that removable antennas may not necessarily be compatible with all kinds of radios.

The Doctor, The TARDIS and The Future: Just What Does 2016 Have in Store for our Favourite Time Lord?

Just a few weeks after some 4.8 million viewers tuned in to see the MASSIVE finale to Doctor Who series 9, I thought it would be a good idea to do a little digging and find out what the future may (or may not, time is relative, after all) hold for our grumpy Gallifreyan Guitarist.

Firstly, there’s this year’s Christmas Special to Review. The episode is titled The Husbands of River Song and, as the name suggests, it features Alex Kingston’s return as the eponymous Professor. The episode also guest stars Matt Lucas (Little Britain, Shooting Stars, Alice in Wonderland, Casanova) and Greg Davies (The Inbetweeners, Mock The Week, Man Down, Cuckoo). The special also features actor Phillip Rhys (CSI, The Adventures of Tintin) and according to IMDB.com, the ever-welcome Michelle Gomez will be returning as Missy. So that’s my Christmas evening sorted!

So, onwards to next year, a few days back, the news broke that Steven Moffat was bringing two new “brilliant, prominent and amazing” writers into the Doctor Who fold, however Mr. Moffat himself was characteristically tight-lipped regarding their actual identities. He did say, however, that neither of the new writers had written for the programme before, “If I told you their names” promised the series boss “Your brain would explode!” If this isn’t hyperbole on Moffat’s part, then that suggests that Series 10 will feature contributions from at least two heavyweight writing talents, in addition to Moffat himself.

My mind immediately turns to J.K Rowling, purely because Moffat is such a fan and she was considered as a guest star for the show during the Russell T. Davies era, but that seems extremely unlikely. Still, you’d have to wonder what a Doctor Who episode written by the author of the Harry Potter series might be like…

On the subject of Series 10, the exact filming dates are still unconfirmed, with some fans speculating that we’ll only see a few specials, rather than a full series, next year.

For his part, Peter Capaldi has gone on record to say that, not only will he be staying put in the role for the foreseeable future (yay!), but also that we’ll definitely be seeing more from his Doctor in the new year.

He told Doctor Who Magazine that, “I’m amazed that people ask me all the time, when I am going? It makes you feel very unwelcome! Please, when are you leaving? Or…someone said this morning; You’re only doing six episodes next year because you’re too tired? I don’t know where they’ve made this stuff up from. Six episodes?! That’s not what I’m contracted to do. (…) And I would do 20 episodes if they let me. I could do Doctor Who all the year round, quite happily.”

Capaldi’s much-vaunted enthusiasm for the role, both on screen and off, hasn’t diminished even a little bit, despite the fact that he visibly winced at the notion of filming two series per year at a recent Q&A session.

Back in November, the 57-year-old actor discussed the demands of filming Doctor Who saying that although he finds the job tiring, he still loves it. “If I did have an ambition it would be not to regenerate for a while.” He said.

I, for one, certainly hope he stays true to his word.

Mysterious Floating City Seen Floating Over China

A mixture of panic, fear and awe gripped the residents of the Chinese cities of Jiangxi and Foshan earlier this month, when an ethereal floating city appeared to be hovering amongst the clouds.

It’s the sort of thing you’d usually expect to find in video games, fantasy literature and the deranged ranting of conspiracy nuts (more on them later) – and that’s probably where the rest of the world would have consigned it if the beguiling phenomena hadn’t been captured on video and disseminated to the world via YouTube.

The footage is certainly eerie and doesn’t appear to have been tampered with in any way. In fact, it appears to depict an actual floating city hovering in thin air. Now, there is a perfectly scientific explanation for this unusual sight, but before we get to that, I just had to see what the David Icke crowd were saying about it.

So, after getting my (virtual) jabs, I headed off to YouTube in search of comedy. Here are a few of the best explanations for this event (spelling mistakes and grammatical catastrophes left in deliberately). Enjoy!

First, here’s an observation from a guy who took off his tin foil hat just long enough to share this little nugget with us.

“This is more than just clouds that assume shapes, these are holigraphic pictures, wonder what else they have in store for us, they probably have differant countries developing things in differant areas of technology to make all the tech, miricles start appearing around the world to make us think they are gods, when infact only saten needs technology, The real God allmighty dosnt, he created all and everything!”

…Including Saten and his evil tech? Or am I just being pedantic?

Next up, here’s someone who just went out there one day and never came back:

“I’ve explored about E.T’s and their history on planet Earth , this is true , this is what ancient people called home of the god’s , there are cities in the sky and under the ocean , many of truth is hidden from humans becouse humans like to panic. We are not alone , there are about 100 different alien species on planet Earth , co-existing with us , shapeshifters as well , with more advanced technology than ours”.

…If I were him, I would have explored about the rules of grammar before posting my comment.

Now, here’s an exercise is complete logical disconnect.

“A scientist named AL Bielek, who worked on the Montak Project and the Philadelphia Experiment and other Top Secret Fringe science programs, said that he was taken into the future by ET’s to live in floating cities in the sky around earth, for 2 years. I believed him because I have a close friend who knew him very well and she said that AL was an honest man, before his death in 2011. Or did he die? He maybe there right now in the year 2315”.

Uh huh. I believe in aliens, time travel and floating cities because my mate has a mate who swears it’s true! Your Doctorate is in the mail.

Oh here’s another prize winning pudding brain. Possibly the best of the bunch!

“The point is to make everyone believe there is no God and that aliens exist they’re trying to manipulate you into believe something just like they did with earth it’s flat not round there is Proof about it search it up find it yourselves cause who would believe someone that just says things without showing so please do your research”.

Yes, please do your research before you say crazy, unscientific nonsense such as “the earth is flat!” with a straight face.

Last one now, I promise!!

“It’s actually a breif invasion of parallel universes intervening with our own reality this was proven by scientists and is scientifically possible”

1) No it wasn’t.

2) No it isn’t.

The reality, of course, is far less exciting. The mysterious cloud city is actually an example of a naturally occurring phenomenon known as a Fata Morgana, which is a rarely seen (but very cool) mirage that occurs when a hot atmospheric layer converges with a cool one, creating a temperature gradient that reacts to light. This light then bends, creating the optical illusion that a distant object being witnessed at ground level is higher up than it actually is. This means that the floating city seen in the video clip is actually a projection of the Foshan city skyline itself and was, in reality, nowhere near the clouds.

A quick trip to Google images reveal’s Foshan’s skyline to be very much in keeping with the architectural style of the floating city…

A Fata Morgana is also mooted to be the origin of sailor’s tales about the famous ghost ship The Flying Dutchman. A similar phenomenon, known as a Brocken spectre is thought to be the cause of Scotland’s Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui as well.

It should be noted that a couple of YouTubers actually pointed this out – and were met with a shower of abuse for their troubles, including one user who typed, without a trace of irony “LOOKS LIKE A F*CKING CLOUD TO ME” and another who responded with “Ya, what you say is bullsh*t. The reflection has to look like what it was reflected from dumbass”. Which it does, so, in the immortal words of Captain Kirk, “double dumbass on you!”

Another user, rather more patiently, explained that “the media want you to believe its some bullsh*t scientific thing”. Damn media, wanting me to believe in science…

Well, I guess that settles it then. It’s obviously aliens. Or magic. Or magic aliens. FFS.

The Holy Grail: Have These types of Scientists Just Located The Solution for Cancer?

Cancer affects millions of lives, possibly even more. Everybody knows somebody that has been forever hurt, either physically or emotionally, by this vicious, unforgiving ailment. Most of us know somebody who has lost their life to the disease.

Despite this, cancer survival rates are higher than ever before. In recent years, cancer treatment has improved rapidly, but a complete cure has always appeared to be just beyond reach, a tantalising Holy Grail of medical science. This month, however, an announcement was made that could have the potential to end all that.

The good news is that human trials could begin in as little as four years’ time. If those trials prove to be successful, then science will have made a major stride towards eradicating the disease completely.

A joint Dutch/Canadian team stumbled across this miraculous discovery whilst searching for ways to treat malaria in pregnant women.

According to the team, the carbohydrate that malaria attacks in the placenta is exactly the same as a carbohydrate present in cancer cells.

As Metro.co.uk reports, Ali Salanti from the University of Copenhagen said, “for decades, scientists have been searching for similarities between the growth of a placenta and a tumor (…) The placenta is an organ, which within a few months grows from only few cells into an organ weighing approx. two pounds, and it provides the embryo with oxygen and nourishment in a relatively foreign environment. (…) In a manner of speaking, tumors do much the same, they grow aggressively in a relatively foreign environment.”

Intrigued by this idea, the team tailored a special malaria protein to include a toxin designed to target cancerous cells. The cancer cells absorb the protein and are then in turn killed by the malaria virus. Theoretically, this idea is sound and experiments on mice with cancer have already begun.

It’s definitely early days yet, but the team are hopeful that this innovative new treatment could provide scientists with a valuable weapon in the fight against cancer. If the trials are successful, the potential benefits are simply staggering to consider. It just goes to show that no dream is too big to accomplish, provided we never stop believing that it’s possible. Imagine a world without cancer and perhaps, in time, we won’t have to.

Wrestling Legend Rowdy Roddy Piper Dies At 61

The world of professional wrestling is in mourning following the death of the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper last month. Piper suffered a cardiac arrest whilst at his home in Hollywood, California. He was just 61 years old.

For many kids (including myself) that first became fans in the mid-late 1980’s, Roddy Piper was the definitive wrestling heel (industry jargon for a bad guy). Whether hosting his notorious Piper’s Pit segment, or facing off against Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (with partner Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorf) at the inaugural WrestleMania event, Piper was one of the industry’s biggest starts during one of its most popular and lucrative periods.

He was also instrumental in making the WWF (now WWE) brand the biggest in professional wrestling. In addition to headlining the very first WrestleMania event (a pioneering Pay-Per View extravaganza that could easily have ruined the company had it proved to be a failure), Piper also featured in one of WrestleMania II’s three main event matchups, thus securing his position as one of wrestling’s most bankable stars.

His undercard matches at WrestleManias III, VI and (the stone cold classic against Bret The Hitman Hart at) VIII are absolute highlights of a classic era of pro wrestling. He even acted as a guest referee for the main event of Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna at WrestleMania X. Younger fans, however, will undoubtedly remember Piper teaming with fellow veterans Ricky Steamboat and Jimmy Superfly Snuka to face Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXV.

In an era defined by outlandish babyface characters with bodybuilder physiques and sometimes questionable in-ring abilities, Roddy Piper stood out as a genuine wrestler’s wrestler, an authentic tough guy – and the necessarily evil counterpoint to the simplistic, superheroic good guys being featured at the time by the WWF.

Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1954, Roderick Toombs was always an unruly personality. Expelled from school at a young age and subsequently falling out with his father, (a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Toombs hit the road, staying in various youth hostels and earning a buck wherever he could. Eventually, the tempestuous youth wound up in a wrestling ring, making his in-ring debut at the tender age of just 15-years-old.

The kid was tough (he had a Black Belt in Judo), displayed a natural affinity for the ring and he had a roguish charisma all of his own. In addition, he really could play the bagpipes. After early stints jobbing in Verne Gagne’s AWA, NWA Houston and Fritz Von Erich’s Big Time Wrestling promotion in Dallas, Texas, Piper debuted for Mike and Gene LeBell’s NWA Hollywood promotion and soon became the outfit’s top heel. A slew of regional Championships followed.

Whilst working for promoter Roy Shire in the NWA’s San Francisco territory, Piper developed his character and ring work. In Los Angeles, he feuded with Chavo Guerrero Sr, Hector Guerrero and ultimately locked up against their father, Mexican wrestling legend Gory Guerrero (father of future WWE Champ Eddie). In The Pacific Northwest, he unseated former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco for Mid Atlantic’s version of the World Heavyweight Championship, a title he would go on to hold twice more.

In the mid 1980’s, Piper entered Vince McMahon’s insurgent WWF. He was billed as being from Glasgow, Scotland and was well known for being the only wrestler to wear a kilt to the ring. Fans ate it up. Feuding with such stars as Hulk Hogan, Adrian Adonis, Andre The Giant, Jimmy Superfly Snuka, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Jerry The King Lawler and Bret Hitman Hart, to name but a few, Piper always brought out the best in his opponents and it was with the WWF that he became a household name, as well as one of the industry’s biggest ever stars.

In the mid-1990’s, Piper wrestled for WCW (World Championship Wrestling), where he debuted as one of the company’s headline stars. He feuded, once again, with Hulk Hogan and also battled old rivals such as Ric Flair, Bret Hart and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Whilst working for WCW, he was even chosen to headline ‘Starrcade’, the company’s flagship Pay-Per-View event.

In his later career, Piper made sporadic reappearances for the WWE, briefly worked for TNA, enjoyed a reasonably successful acting career and also hosted his own podcast. He battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after being diagnosed with the illness in 2006, but had completely beaten it into remission as of last year. Despite the setbacks caused by his ill health, Piper wrestled his last match in 2011.

Although he never held a recognised World Heavyweight Championship, Piper will be remembered as one of the greatest WWF Intercontinental Champions of all time, a reign that was attested to during his appearance at this year’s WrestleMania XXXI, where he congratulated then-IC Champion Daniel Bryan on his victory. He also held other notable belts, such as the United States Championship, the WWF/E Tag Team Championship (with Ric Flair) and the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship.

Piper was a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, as well as the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Cauliflower Alley Club.

On the August 3rd edition of RAW, the entire WWE roster, each member clad in Roddy’s signature Hot Rod t-shirts opened the show with a very moving ten bell salute in tribute to the fallen legend.

WWE boss Vince McMahon said, “Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”

UFC Bantamweight Champion Rowdy Ronda Rousey dedicated her 34-second victory over Bethe Correia to Piper’s memory, “I just want to say that we lost a really close friend, Rowdy Roddy Piper, who gave me permission to use his name as a fighter (…) And so I hope him and my dad had a good time watching this today.”

Former WWE and WCW Champion (and Piper’s frequent in-ring rival) Bret Hart wrote, “I can’t find the words to describe the sorrow in my heart upon learning the news of my dear friend, Roddy Piper, passing away. He was my closest friend in the business, a man that schooled me and guided me throughout my career. In fact, if it wasn’t for Roddy Piper reaching out to help me, I’m sure I would’ve been a mere footnote in wrestling. He was always there for me. He was family to me.” Hart also recalled that, following his stroke in 2002; Piper was the only wrestler who visited him in hospital.

Hulk Hogan, another of Piper’s famous adversaries, said of Piper that, “He was my best friend. He is a legend. God’s gain is our loss. May his family in this time of need, find peace”

Other friends, colleagues and admirers of Piper’s included former WWF Champ The Iron Sheik, who said “Roddy Piper. I love you forever. God bless you Bubba” and multi-time World Champion Chris Jericho Tweeted, “Sorry to hear of the passing of my friend and Wrestlemania rival #RoddyPiper. One of the greatest who ever lived, but more importantly a legit sweet family man with a good heart”. Former WWE Divas Champion Paige called Piper a “legend” and Tweeted a picture of a broken heart, an image which reflected the feelings of many a wrestler and wrestling fan.

Roddy’s son, Colt, said that his father was his “best friend” and a “great man” saying that he would miss him forever and “always try to be the man he raised me to be”.

Rowdy Roddy Piper lived a life littered with accomplishments. Not many of us will ever be declared as legendary by our peers and fewer still will be able to stack 30+ Championship reigns anywhere on our resume, but those weren’t the man’s proudest achievements. Piper had been married to his wife, Kitty, since 1982 and is survived by her and the four children they lovingly raised together. My thoughts are with them, as well as everyone else who knew, worked with, or simply enjoyed to watch the late, great man work his magic in front of a capacity crowd. R.I.P Roddy.