Technology » Nature and Environment The latest Technology news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Tue, 20 Jan 2015 14:02:02 +0000 en hourly 1 Trove of 130K Air Force UFO Documents Available Online Tue, 20 Jan 2015 00:08:46 +0000 Enjoli Francis

The US Air Force’s nearly 130,000 pages of UFO records have hit the Internet.

There are countless bizarre sightings, hundreds with no explanation, and they are now easy to find online thanks to UFO enthusiast John Greenewald, who posted the entire collection for the first time last week on his site The Black Vault.

“There’s absolutely something out there,” he told ABC News. “The big question mark is: ‘Have they come here?’”

abc john greenewald ufo records jc 150119 16x9 608 Trove of 130K Air Force UFO Documents Available Online

UFO enthusiast John Greenewald posted the entire collection of 130,000 Air Force UFO documents for the first time last week on his site The Black Vault. ABC News photo.

Greenewald spent 20 years requesting and then collecting, collating and studying the documents. Though the papers had been declassified years ago, they were not easily accessible by the public.

FBI vault reveals UFO and Roswell files.

Something strange in the skies.

UFO sightings caught on tape.

After the infamous alleged alien landing in Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947, the US Air Force investigated 12,618 sightings from 1947 to 1969.

The cases were known as Project Blue Book and made up the bulk of Greenewald’s document dump.

“The military and the government want you to believe there’s nothing to this topic,” he said.

Most sightings were, in fact, debunked — including a sighting in 1965 at the World’s Fair later that was called “a photographic anomaly” — but 701 cases remain not fully explained in the papers.

Those cases include numerous sightings over Washington, D.C., in 1952.

“They really couldn’t, at the end of the day, explain some of these more important cases,” Greenewald said.

In 1969, the government announced it was no longer interested in pursuing the cases, saying that they’d found “no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as ‘unidentified’ are extraterrestrial vehicles.”

But Greenewald said he’d never bought into the US decision.

“When I look at the documentation, I’m a believer, based on that,” he said. “I believe the documentation proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a coverup going on.”

ABC News’ Jared Wiener contributed to this story.

]]> 0
Texas Town Hit by 11 Small Earthquakes in 24 Hours Thu, 08 Jan 2015 03:07:21 +0000 ABC News

When most people think of earthquakes, they think of California, Japan and maybe Mexico.

But Texas?

Nearly a dozen small quakes have clustered near the town of Irving in north Texas in the past 24 hours, leaving cracks the size of the Lone Star state and rattling the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Is “fracking” to blame for earthquakes in Oklahoma?

Residents baffled by terrifying, loud booms in Oklahoma.

Watch: Newscaster live on TV when earthquake hits.

Texas officials worked on emergency plans today after two quakes with a 3.5 and 3.6 magnitude struck Tuesday afternoon, according to ABC affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth. The last earthquake reportedly hit today at 9:57 a.m. with a magnitude of 2.7.

The temblors could be a rare, natural fluke, experts at the National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colorado, said.

They also said, however, that huge amounts of wastewater pumped deep underground — a byproduct of both hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” as well as other oil- and gas-extraction technologies – could also be the trigger. The Irving area has experienced oil and gas exploration.

Earthquakes can be triggered when the wastewater acts as a lubricant along underground fault lines that are already under stress, geophysicist Robert Williams of  the United States Geological Survey said. “If you add fluids, you’re just going to cause it to be a more slippery surface,” Williams said.

That’s what scientists believe is happening in the oil and gas boom towns of Oklahoma, now considered the most active earthquake state in the United States. A 4.0-magnitude earthquake struck the state as recently as today.

Williams said scientists were considering that the phenomena could be the start of something bigger. “The more smaller earthquakes you have,” he said, “the more likely it is that you could have a larger, damaging quake.”

]]> 0
What Mysterious Cloud Over St. Louis Turned Out to Be Tue, 23 Sep 2014 19:16:11 +0000 Alyssa Newcomb HT national weather channel mar 140923 16x9 608 What Mysterious Cloud Over St. Louis Turned Out to Be

(Image Credit: U.S. National Weather Service)

A mysterious cloud that appeared on weather radar over southern Illinois and Central Missouri last week turned out to be a swarm of monarch butterflies.

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service analyzed the shape-shifting cloud that was moving toward Mexico to figure out what exactly it could be.

 ‘Abnormalities’ in Butterflies Traced to Fukushima Plant

“We think these targets are Monarch butterflies.,” the National Weather Service said in a Facebook post. “A Monarch in flight would look oblate to the radar, and flapping wings would account for the changing shape!”

With the mystery solved, the fine folks at the NWS wished the butterflies “good luck and a safe journey” on their trip south for the autumn and winter.


]]> 0
FAA Investigating Drone Incident at Seattle’s Space Needle Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:18:59 +0000 Cecilia Vega

The Federal Aviation Administration told ABC News today that it is looking into reports that a drone recently hovered above the observation deck of Seattle’s famous Space Needle.

While curious tourists waved, the mysterious flying object gave security quite a scare.

Authorities said a man launched the drone out of his hotel room window on Tuesday.

“There was no malcontent or malice,” said Drew Fowler of the Seattle Police Department. “He wasn’t trying to do anything wrong. He was just trying to capture some interesting footage.”

Related: Police probe possible peeping drone outside woman’s home.
Related: Amazon wants to test delivery drones in Seattle.
Related: Growing traffic in US skies as drone almost hits passenger plane.

While recreational drone usage is legal in Washington state, today’s incident was the latest raising questions about whether it’s safe to fly drones above crowded cities.

Last year, a drone buzzed over the busy streets of New York, flying past iconic landmarks like the Chrysler building and then crash-landing, nearly hitting pedestrians during the height of rush hour.

And there have been close calls with planes. A drone last year came within 200 feet of a jumbo jet.

Drones have been exploding in popularity but the rules for how and where they can be used have not caught up. The FAA said it is working on new safety guidelines but it could take two years for them to take effect.

GTY space needle kab 140725 16x9 608 FAA Investigating Drone Incident at Seattles Space Needle

DeAgostini/Getty Images

]]> 0
Newly Discovered Mouse-Like Mammal and Elephants Are Long Lost Cousins Fri, 27 Jun 2014 15:32:17 +0000 Alyssa Newcomb GTy Micus Elephant TG 140626 16x9 608 Newly Discovered Mouse Like Mammal and Elephants Are Long Lost Cousins

(Galen Rathbun/California Academy of Sciences | Getty Images)

Imagine the family reunion: In one corner, a three-ton elephant, in the other, a mouse-like mammal weighing in at about one ounce.

The small creature, which was discovered in Namibia, looks like a mouse at first glance. However, it is more closely related genetically to elephants, according to researchers from the California Academy of Sciences.

Photos: Amazing Animals From Around the World

Like its distant relative, the tiny round-eared elephant shrew has a trunk, however the outward resemblance seems to end there.

However, genetic testing revealed the creature was a newly discovered species and had ties in the animal kingdom to elephants, manatees and aardvarks.

Scientists believe the mouse-like mammal went undiscovered so long because it lives in an isolated area and has rust-colored fur, allowing it to blend in with the terrain of western Africa.

“It’s exciting to think that there are still areas of the world where even the mammal fauna is unknown and waiting to be explored,” Jack Dumbacher,  the Academy’s Curator of Ornithology and Mammalogy, said in a news release.

It’s certainly not the first time two seemingly unrelated animals — or people for that matter — have been connected.

President Barack Obama and Brad Pitt are distant cousins, according to researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is the ninth cousin of President George W. Bush and Secretary of State John Kerry. Hef is twice removed from George W., and a slightly closer relation to Kerry, being only once removed.


]]> 0
Great White Shark Making Comeback in US Waters Fri, 20 Jun 2014 22:10:19 +0000 ABC News Nearly 39 years to the day since “Jaws” first terrified audiences, a new report shows that the real thing is making a comeback — the US is seeing a boom of great white sharks.

Related: Track a great white shark as it makes its way toward Texas.

According to a study by a team of scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, since 1997, the white shark population has increased by an estimated 42 percent.

“Our white sharks and all of our sharks are the real balance keepers,” said Chris Fischer, founding chairman and expedition leader of research firm Ocearch. “We need them in our oceans. …  There’s just no robust path forward for the ocean without lots of sharks.”

For years, the number of great whites plummeted — around the time “Jaws” was made, their population had fallen by 70 percent — but now they’re back.

The report credited the comeback to an increase in seals, their favorite food; a federal ban on hunting great whites; and conservationists’ efforts to change their image.

Fischer and a team of scientists put a geotracker on a great white named Katharine last year to track her journey from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to the Gulf of Mexico, and understand how sharks spawn.

A dozen or so other sharks were also tagged and named and are swimming off the East Coast and the west coast of Florida, as well as throughout the world.

There are four tagged sharks off the coast of Georgia; one each off the coasts of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia; and two off the coast of New York’s Montauk.

Katharine now has 12 fans following along online.

“People have fallen in love with her,” Fischer said. “I think that people are fascinated with the sharks for the first time ever. … I’m just thrilled the whole world is just jumping into the project.”

ABC News’ Matt Gutman, Catherine Cole and Colleen Curry contributed to this story.

]]> 0
Arctic Freezes Aren’t What They Used to Be Wed, 15 Jan 2014 16:54:35 +0000 Clayton Sandell HT cold snap tshirt 16x9 608 Arctic Freezes Arent What They Used to Be

Clayton Sandell holds up a frozen t-shirt during the cold snap of December 2013. ABC News

It was cold.  It was brutal.  Many T-shirts were frozen in the name of TV news.  But a new analysis from the National Center for Atmospheric Research shows that lately, those Arctic cold snaps like the one earlier this month just aren’t lasting as long.  The graphics below show how things are changing for cities like New York, Atlanta and Chicago (43 consecutive days below freezing in 1977, versus just 11 days this season.)  Climate scientists say it’s part of a years-long trend in which extreme heat records are outpacing extreme cold records 2-to-1, as humans continue burning fossil fuels that are warming the planet.

Duration gx NYC new ice rev 13x11 608 Arctic Freezes Arent What They Used to Be

Duration gx Chicago new ice rev 13x11 608 Arctic Freezes Arent What They Used to Be

Duration gx Atlanta new ice rev 13x11 608 Arctic Freezes Arent What They Used to Be


]]> 0
Whales, Dolphins Putting on Spectacular Show in Monterey Bay Sat, 30 Nov 2013 14:45:20 +0000 Clayton Sandell

In the wild, animals go where the food is, so for hundreds of killer and humpback whales as well as dolphins, the place to be is California’s Monterey Bay.

They’re showing up for a booming seafood buffet thanks to an unusual late-season abundance of anchovies.

Related: Whales seen mating off the coast of California

“We haven’t seen anchovies in this kind of mass in years and years,” said Chris Arcoleo, owner of Chris’ Fishing and Whale Watching.

He said charter companies could not keep up with customer demand for whale-watching trips.

“It’s incredible.  We don’t have enough boats. We don’t have enough tim

GTY killer whale monterey bay 136139921 jt 131130 16x9 608 Whales, Dolphins Putting on Spectacular Show in Monterey Bay

A killer whale is seen in Monterey Bay, Calif. Getty Images

e to do it,” Arcoleo told ABC News. “You’ve got hundreds of whales in the bay, along with sea lions and dolphins.  It’s magnificent.”

Humpbacks can scarf down 3,000 pounds in a day. Their feeding frenzy is a once-in-a-lifetime show, with dozens of whales jumping into the air and lifting giant tails out of the water as they dive.

“Typically during the year you’re fortunate if you see four or five,” Arcoleo said.

The underwater bounty is the exact opposite of what researchers were seeing a few months ago in Southern California when hundreds of sea lion pups were washing ashore skinny and starving.

Related: Protester, 12, targets SeaWorld float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

In March, Peter Wallerstein of Friends of Animals, Marine Animal Rescue, said he’d done 200 sea lion rescues since January.

“Commercial bait fishermen, friends of mine, said there’s no bait in the water,” Wallerstein told ABC News. “No anchovies, no sardines, no mackerel — the kind of food these animals eat.”

For now, however, there’s plenty to feast on both for the humpback whale and those watching the spectacle from a boat.

]]> 0
New Dinosaur That Rivaled T-Rex Discovered in Utah Fri, 22 Nov 2013 19:43:37 +0000 Alyssa Newcomb AP Siats meekerorum2 ml 131122 16x9 608 New Dinosaur That Rivaled T Rex Discovered in Utah

(Image Credit: The Field Museum/AP Photo)

Meet the biggest bully from 100 million years ago that even rivaled the mighty tyrannosaurus rex.

The discovery of the siats meekeroreum (pronounced see-atch), a new dinosaur species, was announced today by Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History.

The partial skeleton of the meat-eating predator, which weighed more than four tons and was 30 feet long, was found by paleontologists in Utah’s Cedar Mountain Formation in 2008.

After years of careful excavation and cleaning of the fossils, the new species was officially announced today.

“We were thrilled to discover the first dinosaur of its kind in North America and add to mounting evidence that dinosaurs were widely dispersed across the globe 100 million years ago” Peter Makovicky, curator of dinosaurs at the Field Museum, said in a statement.

Paleontologists also found tyrannosaurs teeth near the siats fossils, they said, indicating that the T-Rex was smaller in stature and did not compete with the newly discovered species for a top predator role.



]]> 0
Robot Penguin Spy Cams Capture Rare Moments Fri, 22 Nov 2013 17:07:00 +0000 Linsey Davis

A penguin couple attempting to stage a “chick-napping” after losing their own baby. Another penguin flipping its tail under to keep its egg from freezing. A hungry predator that thought it had picked up dinner instead inadvertently became the first bird to capture an aerial-view shot.

These are just some of the incredibly rare penguin moments caught on cameras filmmakers hid inside life-sized animatronic penguins and then placed among colonies of the real marine birds. There are 17 species of penguin worldwide and these robots look and move like the real thing.

“They have cameras in their eyes and they can get really close to the animals, the penguins, and they can get these kinds of shots that are really in the penguins works and also capture extraordinary behavior,” producer-director John Downer said.



HT penguin robot 1 sr 131120 16x9 608 Robot Penguin Spy Cams Capture Rare Moments

                                  (Photo Credit: Discovery/BBC/John Downer)

HT penguin robot 2 sr 131120 16x9 608 Robot Penguin Spy Cams Capture Rare Moments

                                (Photo Credit: Discovery/BBC/John Downer)

Downer, with producer Phillip Dalton, used the spy-cam embeds to capture unprecedented footage for their new documentary, “Penguins: Waddle All the Way,” which premieres on the Discovery Channel Saturday 9 p.m. ET.

“The cameras actually caught the moment the egg came round and you saw the tail flip round protecting the egg, saved it from the ice,” Downer said. “You know it was a moment that you wouldn’t have seen any other way.”

Downer and his team deployed 50 of these cameras, which were also placed inside fake penguin eggs rocks and ice formations.

The cameras caught emperor penguins as they took the treacherous 60-mile journey to their breeding grounds, rockhoppers as they bobbed and weaved their way through snapping sea lions, and Humboldts as they tried to evade vampire bats. They even captured moments of jealousy.

“The rockhoppers up in the colony, they were waiting for their females to return and most of them had, except for one individual that was quite lonely, and so he turned his eye on our robot and they very quickly bonded,” Dalton said. “But he was caught in the act, the female did return and she wasn’t very happy.”

Indeed, Dalton said, the angry female knocked the animatronic penguin to the ground.

Through these spy cams, the birds were seen slipping, sliding, and stumbling their way through a course of seemingly endless challenges on their annual pilgrimage to the harshest of destinations, all in hopes of creating new life.

“They reflect a lot of our lives,” Dalton said. “They would survive all the knocks in life, get back up, and just keep going.”

]]> 0