Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BOO! 5 super-scary places to surrender your scream

Just in time for Halloween … Are you ready for an adventure steeped with spooks? These places combine the thrill of an historical experience with a slight taste of down-right spine-chilling spooky. The U.S. offers a wealth of frightening parks, haunted houses and creepy attractions. Consider, for example, these scary spots.

1. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. One of the most famous battles of the Civil War was fought here. While visiting the park and memorial, guests have reported armies marching in step. Others have reported sad ghostly wives looking for their spouses who had fallen during battle. You can explore Gettysburg with Discovery Student Adventures. We’ll leave the haunts behind!

2. St. Augustine, Florida. This quaint historic city was the first Spanish settlement in the United States. The Castillo De San Marco is a famous tourist attraction in the oldest city where hauntings supposedly take place. Reported spooky areas of the castle include the watch tower and the dungeon.

3. Jonesboro, Arkansas. Jonesboro is the largest city in Northeast Arkansas, bordering the Ozark mountains. While visiting local Craig’s Lake, beware of the ghost of a person who drowned while swimming with three teenage friends. He is often spotted swimming in the water, yelling for help.

4. Asheville, North Carolina. Called the Paris of the south, Asheville is home to the famous Biltmore House that supposedly still houses the occupants’ ghosts. George W. Vanderbilt and his wife Edith, are often heard throughout the mansion. His wife can still be heard in the library, softly talking to her husband.

5. San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio is known as the home of the Alamo. Nearby Mission San Jose has a romantic ghost story – a stonemason fell in love with a maiden while constructing the mission. She fell ill and after dying, the stonemason built a rose window with a memorial in honor of her. If you are lucky, you can catch sight of her in the window.
Do you believe in real-life haunted houses?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ping pong-playing robots make their debut

Robots are already taking away jobs at factories. Now, it appears, they're ready to rule the table tennis court, too. Two ping pong-playing humanoid robots named Wu and Kong recently debuted at Zhejiang University in China where they showed off their skills in front of engineers and journalists. The twin 5 foot, 3 inch, 121 pound robots have 30 individually-powered joints, giving them an impressive range of motion. Each arm, for example, can move seven directions, according to the university's description.

Key to their ability to serve and return balls with forehands, backhands, and stoic focus are eye-mounted cameras that predict the path of the ball so the robot get can ready for the next shot.

Each camera captures 120 images per second, which are transferred to the robots' processors that calculate the balls' position, speed, angle, landing position and path, the Xinhuanet news agency reports.

It takes 50 to 100 milliseconds for the robots to respond and their ability to predict the balls' landing position has a margin of error of just less than an inch.

Friday, October 7, 2011

That's one MONSTER croc!

A hunting team in the southern Philippines caught a 21-foot crocodile in September that weighs a whopping 2,370 pounds and is estimated to be at least 50 years old. It is believe to be the largest reptile of its kind ever captured. It took roughly 100 people to pull the beast from a creek by rope and then hoist it by crane onto a truck.

Villagers suspect the animal of fatally attacking a farmer in the town of Bunwan, as well as a 12-year-old girl who was killed in 2009. But villagers are not resting easy just yet. They are not certain this is the man-eater, because there have been sightings of other crocodiles in the area.

In fact, local residents believe there may be an even bigger crocodile that could be the culprit. The local government in Bunwan said that it would not kill the animal and would instead establish a nature park where tourists could visit the enormous animal.

Are you surprised that this crocodile’s life is being spared?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Barcelona says adios to bullfighting

Centuries of toreador history recently ended in Barcelona, when Spain's northeast region of Catalonia held its last bullfight after voting to stop the practice. But the bullfighting ban in fiercely independent Catalonia remains controversial.

Some critics charge that the move—the second in Spain, after the Canary Islands outlawed the fights in 1991—was tied more to Catalan nationalism than concern for animal rights. Throughout Spain, the younger generation calls it murder, but still sees matadors as icons and related events like "bull running" still draw thousands of tourists.

Bullfighting is also popular in southern France, Mexico (one Mexico City ring seats 48,000 people) and some South American countries, including Colombia and Peru. In Ecuador, voters approved a controversial May referendum to outlaw the spectacles, though the ban has not yet been put into effect.

Even in Spain, the number of fights has fallen by a third over the past three years as the residential construction bubble burst and Spanish town halls, which funded many fights, lost income from building licenses.

Should bull fighting be universally banned around the world?

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