Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mexico’s Bermuda Triangle - The Zone of Silence

There’s an area in Mexico’s Chihuahuan desert that’s just plain different. Many people are familiar with the odd phenomena at Sedona and electromagnetic anomalies and disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle. But Mexico’s La Zona Del Silencio, or Zone of Silence, seems to exhibit all of these phenomena, plus a lot more.

Located about 400 miles west of El Paso, Texas near a place called the Trino Vertex in Mexico, the Zone of Silence is a weird patch of desert that is all but uninhabited. There is a tiny settlement called Ceballos about 25 miles from the heart of the Zone. It is not yet well known, visited only by few outsiders and researchers working at a complex built by the Mexican government to study the area and its plants and animals.

The earliest known documented incident in the Zone occurred in the 1930s when pilot Francisco Sarabia reported his instruments went wild as he flew over the area and his radio stopped working. This phenomenon bears a striking resemblance to many incidents reported by people crossing through the Bermuda Triangle.

In the 1970s, an errant American missile fired at the White Sands Missile Base in New Mexico inexplicably went off course and crashed in the region. The Mexican government allowed the U.S. Air Force to investigate the crash. The Americans made a remarkable discovery. Local magnetic fields create a zone strong enough that no signal can penetrate the area. This includes both radio and satellite signals.

Scientists have discovered some unusual geological phenomena in the Zone. For example, it contains substantial magnetite and uranium deposits. Some scientists believe these deposits create electromagnetic pulses which disrupt radio and other signals. The area also attracts more than its share of meteorites.

Naturally, there are numerous reports of UFOs and aliens, which is surprising considering the Zone’s sparse population. Most of the reports follow familiar patterns. Area ranchers report strange lights and UFOs. Burned brush and vegetation have sometimes been found at reported UFO landing sites. Area ranchers have said that the night skies are often filled with mysterious lights.

 Some of the oddest stories involve three blonde strangers, two men and a woman, who all speak perfect Spanish.  These people have often been seen by multiple witnesses. According to one story, these long-haired people are regular visitors at one ranch. They ask for water, but never for food or other supplies. When asked by the rancher where they came from, they answered "from above."

There’s another interesting story involving the blonde strangers. When a visitor to the research facility became lost in the desert, the trio appeared and directed him back to the center. A TV news crew that became stuck following a cloud burst was helped by the same three strangers. This story has an odd distinction: The news crew reported that the trio was wearing long raincoats and baseball caps. No one seems to know where they live. In an area with such a tiny population, usually someone knows where their neighbors live, but in this case the locals either do not know or they are not saying.

There is yet another weird fact about the Zone of Silence. It is located just north of the Tropic of Cancer and at the same latitude as those of the Egyptian pyramids and the famous Bermuda Triangle. Many scientists and researchers see this as nothing more than an interesting coincidence, but others see much more.

If you’d like to find out more, visit here and here

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Can This Simple Discovery Stop Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is one of the most feared diseases in today’s world. Worse yet, this infection, which killed 1.4 million people in 2011, has become increasingly resistant to the drugs used to treat it. Experts estimate that about 650,000 people currently have multi-drug resistant cases with about 9% suffering from extensively drug-resistant infections.

Now a team of researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Israel’s Yeshiva University has stumbled over what may be a simple, inexpensive addition to existing tuberculosis drugs that can destroy the bacteria causing the disease.

The team, led by Dr, William Jacobs, Jr., were attempting to discover why TB bacteria were becoming resistant to isoniazid, a front-line drug used in treating tuberculosis. They grew tuberculosis bacteria in laboratory cultures and began studying them in hopes of finding out how the bacteria developed drug resistance. They discovered that the isoniazid-resistant bacteria lacked a molecule known as mycothiol.

The team reasoned that the bacteria that could not make their own mycothiol might contain more cysteine (an amino acid). They added isoniazid and cysteine to their cultures, expecting the bacteria to develop resistance. To their great surprise, the cultures died.

The team then recreated the experiment, this time using vitamin C instead of cysteine. Once again, their culture died.  Another experiment showed that Vitamin C by itself produced the same result.

Since an estimated 95% of tuberculosis deaths occur in poor or low-income countries, the discovery that vitamin C, which is cheap and easily available, can kill the bacteria, there is now hope that cheaper drugs can help mitigate the horrific effects of tuberculosis.

So far, researchers do not know whether vitamin C will actually work on humans. But they have enough evidence to proceed with a clinical trial. The results should be interesting.

For more technical information on this discovery, visit

Monday, June 10, 2013

Amphibians Are Disappearing

For more than two decades, amphibians such as frogs, toads and salamanders are known to have suffered significant population declines all over the world. Now it seems that they are vanishing at a faster rate than previously estimated, at least in the United States and likely throughout the rest of the world.

In the United States, amphibian populations may be completely gone from half of their current habitats in another 20 years. A study of 48 species at 34 sites in California, Colorado and Florida was conducted over a ten-year period by the U.S. Geological Survey. Researchers were shocked to find that amphibian population declines are more widespread and severe than had been previously thought. In fact, scientists have calculated that amphibians are vanishing at a rate of about 3.7 percent per year.

What is even more disturbing is that amphibians considered threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are vanishing at an even faster rate calculated at 11.6 percent per year, which means that these already- endangered animals will disappear from half of their current habitat in only six years.

About one-third of the world’s amphibian species are in decline. The IUCN report attributes the causes of the population declines to habitat loss, disease, invasive species, pollution and climate change. Some scientists believe that declining amphibian populations point to a general collapse of the world’s ecosystems. Amphibians may be more sensitive to pollution and climate change than mammals and reptiles. Amphibians are important in pest control and occupy a significant place in the food chain by serving as prey for many species of birds, snakes and fish. Their decline will almost certainly lead to population reductions in these predator species.

Is this the beginning of the end for many species throughout the world?  Can we learn from this disturbing trend?  Is there anything we can do about it?  Only time will tell, and time is certainly not on the side of these ancient animals.

There’s more on the amphibian declines, especially as it relates to Colorado, here