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Apollo 11: How ‘dumb luck’ saved iconic Moon photos from being destroyed

By James Rogers | Fox News

The Apollo 11 Moon landing produced some of the most iconic photographs ever taken. However, a processing glitch in Houston when the films were returned to Earth nearly caused a “photographic catastrophe” of truly epic proportions.

“One of the 20th century’s defining moments was almost lost to posterity,” explains Zeiss, the company that provided camera lenses for Apollo 11, on its website. The Apollo 11 images, it adds, arrived in Houston shortly after the crew’s return from the Moon.

“However, before the moon photos were developed, the processing equipment was checked one more time with a test film,” Zeiss said. During this inspection the film processor suddenly started leaking ethylene oxide, destroying the test film.

“This turned out to be a blessing: thanks to this final test, the development team quickly fixed the defect and could successfully develop the images of the first Moon landing,” the lens maker explained. “The photographs taken during the moon missions were published around the world and made history.”

In this July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity.

In this July 20, 1969 photo made available by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity. (Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP)

It is not clear how many Apollo 11 photos would have been impacted if the ethylene oxide had leaked onto actual film from the mission. A vast array of photographs was captured during the historic mission. These include Neil Armstrong’s iconic shot of Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface, with the Apollo 11 mission commander reflected in Aldrin’s visor, and also the famous image of Aldrin’s boot print.

“The orbital and surface lunar photographs obtained during Apollo 11 the Apollo 11 mission were of good quality, resolution, and contrast,” explained NASA, in a report released in 1970. This included 1,359 frames of 70-mm photography and 17 pairs of lunar surface stereoscopic photographs.

Neither NASA nor Kodak, which provided film for Apollo 11, was able to shed any light on the incident when contacted by Fox News.

Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the lunar surface. (NASA)

Buzz Aldrin’s footprint on the lunar surface. (NASA)

However, in Billy Watkins’ book “Apollo Moon Missions: The Unsung Heroes,” Richard Underwood, NASA’s chief of photography during the Apollo 11 mission, described how the ethylene oxide had leaked onto the test film and melted it.

“The spacecraft was about to splashdown, and we were running through one final test on the film processor, which had been checked hundreds of times before,” he said.

“It was just pure dumb luck that we decided to do one more test on that processor. Had Armstrong’s film been put in there without that last test, it would’ve eaten it up,” Underwood added. “It would’ve been the greatest photographic catastrophe in the history of the planet.”

A stainless steel cover, he explained, was built to prevent any future leaks on the precious film.

July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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In a lab accident, scientists create the first-ever permanently magnetic liquid

For the first time, scientists have created a permanently magnetic liquid. These liquid droplets can morph into various shapes and be externally manipulated to move around, according to a new study.

We typically imagine magnets as being solid, said senior author Thomas Russell, a distinguished professor of polymer science and engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. But now we know that “we can make magnets that are liquid and they could conform to different shapes — and the shapes are really up to you.”

The liquid droplets can change shape from a sphere to a cylinder to a pancake, he told Live Science. “We can [even] make it look like a sea urchin if we wanted.” [9 Cool Facts About Magnets]

Russell and his team created these liquid magnets by accident while experimenting with 3D printing liquids at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (where Russell is also a visiting faculty scientist). The goal was to create materials that are solid but have characteristics of liquids for various energy applications.

One day, postdoctoral student and lead author Xubo Liu noticed 3D-printed material, made from magnetized particles called iron-oxides, spinning around in unison on a magnetic stir plate. So when the team realized the entire construct, not just the particles, had become magnetic, they decided to investigate further.

Using a technique to 3D-print liquids, the scientists created millimeter-size droplets from water, oil and iron-oxides. The liquid droplets keep their shape because some of the iron-oxide particles bind with surfactants — substances that reduce the surface tension of a liquid. The surfactants create a film around the liquid water, with some iron-oxide particles creating part of the filmy barrier, and the rest of the particles enclosed inside, Russell said.

The team then placed the millimeter-size droplets near a magnetic coil to magnetize them. But when they took the magnetic coil away, the droplets demonstrated an unseen behavior in liquids — they remained magnetized. (Magnetic liquids called ferrofluids do exist, but these liquids are only magnetized when in the presence of a magnetic field.)

When those droplets approached a magnetic field, the tiny iron-oxide particles all aligned in the same direction. And once they removed the magnetic field, the iron-oxide particles bound to the surfactant in the film were so jam-packed that they couldn’t move and so remained aligned. But those free-floating inside the droplet also remained aligned.

The scientists don’t fully understand how these particles hold onto the field, Russell said. Once they figure that out, there are many potential applications. For example, Russell imagines printing a cylinder with a non-magnetic middle and two magnetic caps. “The two ends would come together like a horseshoe magnet,” and be used as a mini “grabber,” he said.

In an even more bizarre application, imagine a mini liquid person — a smaller-scale version of the liquid T-1000 from the second “Terminator” movie — Russell said. Now imagine that parts of this mini liquid man are magnetized and parts aren’t. An external magnetic field could then force the little person to move its limbs like a marionette.

“For me, it sort of represents a sort of new state of magnetic materials,” Russell said. The findings were published on July 19 in the journal Science.

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Deadly fungus creates ‘zombie ants’ and hijacks their jaws to cause suicide

By Chris Ciaccia | Fox News

If you thought fictional zombies walking around on film were scary, the condition that turns creatures into mindless eating machines actually exists in nature. In ants.

According to research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, ants that come in contact with the deadly fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis have their jaw muscles taken over until they eventually die.

Image of an ant who received honeydew from aphid. (Credit: Dawidi, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Image of an ant who received honeydew from aphid. (Credit: Dawidi, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Mangold, along with her other researchers found that the infected muscles showed evidence of hypercontraction as the ants clamped their jaws tightly onto a leaf vein or twig.

“Despite the extensive colonization, both motor neurons and neuromuscular junctions appear to be maintained,” the study’s abstract reads. “Infection results in sarcolemmal damage, but this is not specific to the death grip. We found evidence of precise penetration of muscles by fungal structures and the presence of extracellular vesicle-like particles, both of which may contribute to mandibular hypercontraction.”

Ultimately, the ant dies, as it’s consumed from within by the fungus. Making matters worse, spores of the deadly fungus drop below from the stalk that grows out of the dead ant in hopes of finding a new host.

The fungus is largely found in ants that live in tropical climates such as Brazil, Africa and Thailand.

Mangold’s research follows up on a 2017 study into the deadly effects of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis.

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Remains of Napoleon’s one-legged general found under Russian dance floor

By Laura Geggel Associate Editor | LiveScience

An excavation in a peculiar place — under the foundation of a dance floor in Russia — has uncovered the remains of one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s favorite generals: a one-legged man who was killed by a cannonball more than 200 years ago, news sources report.

Gen. Charles Etienne Gudin fought with Napoleon during the failed French invasion of Russia in 1812. On July 6 of this year, an international team of French and Russian archaeologists discovered what are believed to be his remains, in Smolensk, a city about 250 miles (400 kilometers) west of Moscow, according to Reuters.

The researchers said that several clues suggested that the skeleton they found under the dance floor belongs to Gudin, who had known Napoleon since childhood. Both men attended the Military School in Brienne, in France’s Champagne region. Upon hearing of Gudin’s death, Napoleon reportedly cried and ordered that his friend’s name be engraved on the Arc de Triomphe, according to Euronews.

Records from the 1812 Russian invasion note that Gudin’s battlefield injuries required him to have his left leg amputated below the knee, Euronews reported. Indeed, the skeleton in the coffin was missing its left leg and showed evidence of injury to the right leg — details that were also mentioned in those records, the archaeologists said, according to Reuters.

Moreover, it was “with a high degree of probability” that the remains the team uncovered belonged to an aristocrat and a military veteran of both the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, they said, according to Reuters.

“It’s a historic moment not only for me, but for I think for our two countries,” French historian and archaeologist Pierre Malinovsky, who helped find the remains, told the Smolensk newspaper Rabochiy Put(Worker’s Journey), according to Reuters. “Napoleon was one of the last people to see him alive, which is very important, and he’s the first general from the Napoleonic period that we have found.”

The general has known living descendants, so researchers plan to test the skeleton for DNA. That way, they’ll be able to say for sure whether the remains are those of Gudin.

Gudin, however, is hardly the only French fatality recently found in Russia. Earlier this year, scientists did a virtual facial reconstruction of a man in his 20s who was slashed in the face with a saber and died during the invasion of Russia.

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Massive 16-foot python with nest of 50 eggs removed from Florida Everglades

By Stephen Sorace | Fox News

A female Burmese python that stretched 16 feet was found in the Florida Everglades over the weekend with its nest of nearly 50 eggs.

Ron Bergeron, an Everglades conservationist, removed the 165-pound snake from its nest beneath a home in Possum Head Camp, about four miles south of Alligator Alley. Some eggs hatched as Bergeron inspected the nest. Brian Van Landingham and Frank Branca assisted in the capture and destruction of the snake and its nest.

“The Burmese python poses a significant threat to the Florida Everglades by disrupting the natural food chain,” Bergeron, who goes by the nickname “Alligator Ron,” told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “With good fortune, we were able to find a large female, and remove her and an entire nest of up to 50 baby snakes which would have continued killing off our precious habitat.”

The Burmese python is an invasive species of snake that is damaging the natural ecosystem of the Everglades, experts have said.

The Burmese python is an invasive species of snake that is damaging the natural ecosystem of the Everglades, experts have said. (Ron Bergeron)

Native to Southeast Asia, the Burmese python is one of the largest snakes and considered an invasive species. It began appearing in the Everglades more than 20 years ago when the reptiles were imported as pets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture states on its website.

The apex predator has caused severe declines in mammal populations in the Everglades, including endangered species, according to the Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.

Bergeron said in a video posted online that the reptiles eat rabbits, possum, deer and bobcats. A Burmese python has previously been seen devouring a 7-foot alligator in the Everglades, according to National Geographic.

The python caught over the weekend measured 16 feet, 1-inch long. It was about 1 foot shy of the record length in Florida.

The python caught over the weekend measured 16 feet, 1-inch long. It was about 1 foot shy of the record length in Florida.(Ron Bergeron)

Wildlife officials encourage the removal or humane killing of the Burmese python to reduce its impact on the environment. The pythons can be killed at any time throughout the year and no permit is required, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The snakes can reach a length of over 25 feet and weigh as much as 200 pounds. The average size of a python removed in Florida is usually between 8 and 10 feet, the agencysaid.

The Burmese python Bergeron helped remove was 16 feet, 1-inch long — about 1 foot shy of the record-setting length of the Everglades python captured in April.

Bergeron, a board member of the South Florida Water Management District, said he and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are working on a plan to “increase the pressure” on the pythons to preserve the Everglades.

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If you could choose only one? Classic Cars…

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July 2, 2019 · 7:45 pm

‘Undisturbed’ Roman-era shipwreck discovered off Cyprus

By James Rogers | Fox News

Archaeologists have discovered the wreck of a Roman-era ship off the east coast of Cyprus.

In a statement, Cyprus’ Department of Antiquities explained that the wreck is the first undisturbed Roman shipwreck found in the Mediterranean island nation’s waters. The ship is loaded with amphorae, or large ancient jars, which are likely from Syria and ancient Cilicia on modern-day Turkey’s southeastern coast.

Analysis of the shipwreck will shed new light on seaborne trade between Cyprus and the rest of the Roman provinces of the eastern Mediterranean, officials explained in the statement.

The wreck was found near the resort town of Protaras by a pair of volunteer divers with the University of Cyprus’ archaeological research unit.

The shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Eastern Cyprus.

The shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Eastern Cyprus. (Republic of Cyprus, Department of Antiquities)

It’s also the first time an underwater archaeological project is fully funded by the Cyprus government.

A team from the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory at the University of Cyprus is working with the Department of Antiquities and Cyprus University of Technology to document and protect the site.

Other Roman shipwrecks have been grabbing attention in recent years. In 2017, for example, archaeologists in Egypt discovered three Roman-era shipwrecks and other stunning ancient artifacts on the Mediterranean seafloor off the coast of Alexandria.

Climate change researchers working in the Black Sea also discovered 60 shipwrecks dating back 2,500 years, which include vessels from the Roman and Byzantine eras.

Off the coast of Portugal, the Underwater Archaeological Chart of the Municipality of Cascais contains a host of shipwrecks dating back to the Roman era.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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