Out of this world: First Chinese man walks in space

Astronaut Zhai Zhigang became the first Chinese man to walk in space today, clambering out of China's Shenzhou VII space craft and waving to the camera.

'I'm feeling quite well. I greet the Chinese people and the people of the world,' Zhai said as he climbed out of the craft, his historic achievement carried live on state television.

Zhai, the 41-year-old son of a snack-seller chosen for the first 'extra-vehicular activity,' unveiled a small Chinese flag, helped by colleague Liu Boming, who also briefly popped his head out of the capsule.

The third crew member, Jing Haipeng, monitored the ship from inside the re-entry module.

Zhai safely returned inside the craft after about 13 minutes. The walk marked the highpoint of China's third manned space journey, which has received blanket media coverage.

Top Communist Party officials including President Hu Jintao watched the spacewalk from a Beijing command centre, breaking into applause with the successful completion of each stage of the manoeuvre.

'Your success represents a new breakthrough in our manned space programme,' Hu told the astronauts in a scripted exchange that was also broadcast live.

Zhai wore a £2m Chinese-made suit made up of ten layers and weighing 120kg. It took the three astronauts or 'taikonauts' 15 hours to piece together.Liu wore a Russian-made one and acted as a back-up.

The risky manoeuvre is a step towards China's longer-term goal of assembling a space lab and then a larger space station.

The fast-growing Asian power wants to be sure of a say in how space and its potential resources are used.

China's Communist Party leaders are celebrating the latest space mission, hailing the country's achievements in a year in which Beijing has staged a successful Olympics and coped with a devastating earthquake in Sichuan.

'On this flight, Chinese people's footprints will be left in space for the first time,' state media Xinhua news said.

'This will give the world yet something else to marvel about China in this extraordinary year of 2008.'

Zhai embarked on his walk after receiving a clean bill of health from doctors on the ground at mission control, Xinhua said.

China's first manned spaceflight was in 2003. A second, two-manned flight followed in 2005. The only other countries that have sent people into space are Russia and the United States.

Shenzhou VII took off on Thursday and is due to land on the northern steppes of Inner Mongolia on Sunday.

While out in space, Zhai will make tests and launch a football-sized 'companion satellite' to monitor the walk and broadcast it back to Earth, where hundreds of millions of Chinese are likely to be glued to their televisions.

Big bird: Experts unveil skull of giant duck with teeth and the wingspan of a family car

They are ducks - but not as we know them.

Instead of the fluffy little creatures seen today, these big birds boasted 'teeth', a 16ft wingspan and once flew over Britain.

Today, scientists announced the discovery of fossil skulls of these birds buried in clay on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

It is not the first time fossils of these duck have been found, but the experts believe this find is among the best-preserved.

The enormous birds, known as Dasornis, soared over the wetlands of prehistoric southern England when the land which now covers London, Essex and Kent was underwater.

Related to present-day ducks and geese, 50 million years ago these giants once skimmed the waters, snapping up fish and squid with their bony-toothed beak.

Their massive wingspan - the length of a family car - also meant they could cover huge distances. Dasornis was in many ways similar to the modern albatross.

Dr Gerald Mayr, from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany, who described the find today in the journal Palaeontology, said: 'Imagine a bird like an ocean-going goose, almost the size of a small plane.

'By today's standards these were pretty bizarre animals, but perhaps the strangest thing about them is that they had sharp, tooth-like projections along the cutting edges of the beak.

'Like all living birds, Dasornis had a beak made of keratin, the same substance as our hair and fingernails, but it also had these bony "pseudo-teeth".

'No living birds have true teeth because their distant ancestors did away with them more than 100 million years ago, probably to save weight and make flying easier.

'But the bony-toothed birds, like Dasornis, are unique among birds in that they reinvented tooth-like structures by evolving these bony spikes.'

The fossil is in a collection at the Karlsruhe Natural History Museum, Germany.

Fish surprise scientists by glowing red under the waves

Fish have found a colourful way of communicating under the ocean waves - by glowing red.

The find has surprised marine biologists, who presumed the crimson hue had no importance to fish.

They made the assumption because sea-water absorbs ‘red’ wavelengths of sunlight causing objects which look red at the surface to appear grey or black at depths below 10m.

However, researchers have now found at least 32 species can glow red below this depth.

Nico Michiels, from the University of Tübingen, Germany, led the team that captured striking images of the fluorescence at work.

He said: 'Our discovery shows that there is a lot of red fluorescence that is very indicative of an active role of red in fish communication.'

Because the light is coming from the fish themselves and not filtering down from the surface, the red glow remains visible at depth and is easily seen at close distances.

The authors speculated that red fluorescence may function as a 'private communication system' or attraction signal, as proposed for other fluorescent animals.

Pictured: The moment a jet boat was smashed to pieces in a 145mph crash... and the driver swam away unharmed

This is the astonishing moment a speedboat disintegrated in a high speed crash - and the driver walked away completely unharmed.

Crowds watched in horror as the boat Whiskey River flipped over at 145mph and was smashed into pieces at it repeatedly somersaulted with its driver inside.

Mark Workentine was pulled out of the water and taken to an ambulance - but walked away unhurt, saying his worst injury was a bruise on his arm.

'Anytime you crash these things you are lucky to be alive,' he said just minutes after the crash at the San Diego Thunderboat Regatta.

Later, he said: 'It's awesome. I'm very lucky. I've had friends lose their lives doing it.' Amazingly, he insists it has not dampened his desire to race again.

'I can't wait to get back in,' he said. 'I'd get back in tomorrow if they'd build me another boat.'

Asked how much the broken boat cost, he sighed: 'I don't want to even think about it.' But he admitted that the boat's owner 'is very grumpy with me'.

Amazing dunes reveal climate change on Mars

Spectacular detailed images of Mars have revealed how climate change shaped the Red Planet over millions of years.

More than 1,000 observations taken by the high resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed details on the surface as small as a desk.

A number of dramatic icy dunes are thought to reflect how the Martian climate changed over time.

One picture shows layered deposits in the north polar region, which have formed a layered stack of dusty ice up to two miles thick. The layer exposed on the cliff face shows not just dusty ice but sand as well, suggesting each layer was a dune field that was only later covered by ice as the temperature cooled.

The colours seen in the images are not the natural colours seen with normal human vision, but are important to distinguish ice, frost, dust and rock on the Martian surface.

The 1,005 Mars observations made between April 26 and July 21st are the latest to be released by scientists working on the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment. The camera has revealed the highest resolution images of a planet's surface ever seen from an orbiter.

'Scientists all over the world are already using these images to understand many previously-unexplained phenomena on the Red Planet. We might also discover brand new types of features never seen before,' a spokesman said.

The data forms part of NASA's mission archive, called the Planetary Data System.

The orbiter is being used to identify minerals and individual rock outcrops - information needed to choose future Mars landing sites.

Alfred McEwen, HiRISE principal investigator, is involved in selecting the best possible landing site for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory that is slated to launch in 2009.

He said recent evidence from both U.S. and European Mars orbiters shows clays that contain iron, magnesium and aluminium are widespread throughout ancient Mars bedrock.

'That's a shocking discovery,' he said.

'The actual environments and processes that deposited and altered these clay minerals is poorly understood. But these places have very quickly become where we have to go with future rovers and sample-return missions.'

Scientists hope studies of Mars will reveal more about how the Earth was formed. They believe life in our solar system formed during or even before the Late Heavy Bombardment of 3.9 billion years ago, when large impact craters were formed on the Moon and the surrounding planets.

'We know that Mars underwent heavy bombardment and that it was water-ice rich,' McEwen said.

'The rock record from this time is much better preserved on Mars than it is on Earth.'

HiRISE images show that part of Mars' hardened, ancient crust is exposed on the planet's surface as 'megabreccia,' a collection of large, chaotic rock fragments that formed from energetic events, mostly large impacts on ancient Mars.Three potential sites for the new Mars Science Laboratory are within rover reach of the deposits.

Crows are brainier than your average apes

They may be popularly considered to be 'bird-brained' but crows are actually better at physical reasoning than our primate cousins, scientists say.

New Caledonian crows are famous for their ability to make complex tools out of twigs and leaves. Now scientists believes they are more able than apes when finding a way to access food without it falling into a trap.

Scientists at the University of Auckland presented crows with a trap-tube puzzle. In this task the birds had to extract food from a horizontal tube in a direction that avoided a trap.

When the crows were presented with variations of the problem where arbitrary cues were removed, the crows continued to solve the problem. This suggested the crows had not simply learnt how to solve it through association.

The scientist then presented the crows with a trap-tube with two holes. One hole was bottomless, allowing food to fall through it and out of the trap. The other hole had a base and so trapped food that was pulled into it.

The crows failed to consistently solve this problem and appeared reluctant to pull the food into either hole. This suggested the crows were using the position of the hole to guide their actions.

Finally, the crows were presented with a trap-table puzzle. In this problem an animal has to choose between pulling food across a wooden table or pulling food into a hole set in the table.

In a recent study 20 individuals from the great ape species were unable to transfer their knowledge from the trap-table and trap-tube or vice versa, despite the fact that both these puzzles work in the same way.

Strikingly the crows in The University of Auckland study were able to solve the trap-table problem after their experience with the trap-tube.

By solving the trap-table the crows demonstrated that they had not just learnt to pull away from the specific hole in the Perspex trap-tube, but could generalise what they understood to a novel problem.

'The crows’ success with the trap-table suggests that the crows were transferring their causal understanding to this novel problem by analogical reasoning,' Professor Russell Gray of the Department of Psychology said.

'However, the crows didn’t understand the difference between a hole with a bottom and one without. This suggests the level of cognition here is intermediate between human-like reasoning and associative learning.'

The research by Dr Gavin Hunt and Professor Russell Gray appeared online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: B

Ancient 'ant from Mars' discovered in Amazon rainforest

A new species of predatory insect known as the 'ant from Mars' because of its unusual alien characteristics, has been discovered in the Amazon rainforest.

The ant, Martialis heureka, is blind and lives underground and was probably a descendant of the very first ants to evolve. It is two to three millimetres long, very pale, has no eyes and a large lower jaw.

It was discovered in Brazil by evolutionary biologist Christian Rabeling from the University of Texas, who said the ant had a combination of characteristics that had never been recorded before.

Rabeling said his discovery will help biologists better understand the biodiversity and evolution of the insects.

'This discovery hints at a wealth of species, possibly of great evolutionary importance, still hidden in the soils of the remaining rainforests,' he wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rabeling collected the only known specimen of the new ant species in 2003 from leaf-litter at the Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária in Manaus, Brazil.

He and his colleagues found that the ant was a new species and subfamily of ants after analysing DNA from the ants' legs.

Ants evolved over 120 million years ago from wasp ancestors. They probably evolved quickly into many different lineages, with ants specializing to lives in the soil, leaf-litter or trees.

'This discovery lends support to the idea that blind subterranean predator ants arose at the dawn of ant evolution,' Rabeling said.

He speculated that the new ant species evolved adaptations over time to its subterranean habitat, such as its loss of eyes, while retaining some of its ancestor's physical characteristics.

From boatyard to scrapyard , thanks to Hurricane Ike's £7bn trail of destruction

They lie piled on top of each other like a heap of broken toys, snatched up then discarded by a brute called Ike.

These mangled wrecks at a Galveston boatyard demonstrate the ferocity of the hurricane that tore into Texas on Saturday.

Yesterday, the biggest search and rescue operation in the state’s history was under way with nearly 2,000 people plucked to safety from their flooded homes. Hundreds more are awaiting rescue.

The confirmed death toll from Hurricane Ike stood at 13.

But search teams stocked with body bags were scouring communities including Galveston, where 20,000 ignored a mandatory evacuation order.

‘We hope for the best but I want to prepare people for the fact that we may have some fatalities,’ said

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. Some told remarkable stories of survival.

Denis Covington, 63, of Port Bolivar, southeast of Houston, had his home smashed in two by a falling pylon.

Both halves crashed into 14ft of floodwater. ‘I had to spend the second half of the hurricane in a tree just clinging on. The rain was like nails sticking in to me,’ he said.

Ike came ashore at Galveston in the early hours of Saturday, bringing a 20ft storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico and causing an estimated £7billion damage.

Nearly five million people are without electricity along the Gulf coast, and many have no running water.

Ellie Cox, 22, was airlifted from Galveston with her husband Lester and their three children, including disabled six-month-old baby Juilianna after spending the storm cowering in their third floor apartment.

A tree fell on their roof and water rose up around them.

‘I’m not going back, there’s nothing left for us now,’ she said.

Karen and Paul Thompson, both 57, were winched from their home on stilts in Crystal Beach after huddling together in a bedroom as the hurricane ripped the house around them and 14 feet of water crashed in from the Gulf.

At one point a large boat was flung past their window.

‘We called the Coastguard for help but they said they couldn’t get out to us, it was too dangerous,’ said Mrs Thompson after being winched off her porch along with her husband and five dogs.

‘I was scared to death. Glass was being blown out of the windows, things were hitting the house, the roof was being torn off.’

Mr Thompson said: ‘There were rows and rows of houses at Crystal Beach but there ain’t no more.’

Ike tore into Texas, coming ashore at Galveston in the early hours of yesterday.

It brought a 20 feet storm surge from the Gulf of Mexico and pounded the region, including the city of Houston, with eight hours of hurricane force winds.

President George Bush declared 29 Texas counties and parts of Louisiana a major disaster area.

Thousands of National Guard, military troops, police, fire and ambulance teams from around the country were assisting the recovery effort.

Nearly five million people along the Gulf coast were without power, and some were warned it could be up to a month before their electricity is restored.

Many were also left without running water.

And Pump prices jumped above $5 per gallon in some parts of America yesterday s Hurricane Ike left refineries and pipelines idled and destroyed at least 10 offshore petroleum platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed or seriously damaged in the fury of the storm and insurance industry officials estimated the damage would exceed £7billion.

Humanitarian teams planned to hand out one million ready-meals and 1.5 million gallons of water a day.

More than 40,000 Texans remained in emergency shelters, officials said, and many areas remained under curfew to discourage looters.

President Bush, who was due to visit Texas today, said: ‘This was a tough storm and it’s one that’s going to require time for people to recover.’

Dinosaurs weren't that big or clever... just really, really lucky

Dinosaurs didn't rule the Earth because they were the fittest - they just got really, really lucky, according to scientists.

Tyrannosaurus Rex and the rest of his species were actually dominated by a bunch of giant crocodiles. Dinosaurs were were just fortunate to avoid two mass extinctions that wiped out their rivals.

Crurotarsal archosaurs weighed ten tonnes and grew to 12m (40ft) but were wiped out by a massive storm in the Triassic period, leaving dinosaurs with free rein.

Scientists believe dinosaurs fared better than the crurotarsans because many of them walked on two legs, not four, and they may have been warm-blooded.

'There was no sign that dinosaurs were eventually going to succeed,' said researcher Steve Brusatte of Columbia University.

'If 210 million years ago, we had to bet on which group would dominate, all reasonable gamblers would go with crurotarsans.

'It's not that the dinosaurs weren't doing well. The crurotarsans were doing more.'

Two massive storms, one possibly caused by an asteroid, led to the extinction of many species, including almost all crocodiles.

'The dinosaurs not only got lucky, but they got lucky twice,' Mr Brusatte said.

But well before the Jurassic period, when dinosaurs ruled, the crurotarsans - with 45cm (18in) teeth - vastly outnumbered them, the team from the University of Bristol wrote in the journal Science.

'The fundamental question is why were the dinosaurs able to become so dominant,' Mr Brusatte said.

'Evolution on a big scale often times is a matter of luck.'

Apart from the crurotarsans, there were phytosaurs that looked and lived a lot like today's crocodiles, staying submerged in rivers or lakes until attacking a victim.

The North American phytosaur Smilosuchus grew to 12m (39ft) long.

Others called rauisuchians were land predators with four powerful legs, massive skulls and flesh-tearing teeth.

Both were far more impressive than the typical dinosaur predator of the time like Coelophysis, a relatively lightly built, two-legged hunter about 3m (10ft) long.

The dinosaur plant eaters of the time like Plateosaurus were getting big, but were less varied than the plant-eating crurotarsans such as the heavily armoured aetosaurs.

Pictured: The dramatic scene after a 'Red Arrows' Hawk jet crash-landed and smashed into RAF base

As car park prangs go, this was more serious than the average shunt.

But it could have been far worse --considering it involved a runaway RAF Hawk jet.

The £5million aircraft was due to become part of the Red Arrows fleet and was being delivered to RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire to be sprayed in the display team's signature red livery when it crashed on landing and skidded off the runway.

The Hawk hurtled across the airfield, smashing into a crew building and three cars before coming to a rest next to the air traffic control tower, smashing some of the building's windows in the process.

The two-man crew ejected during the drama and were treated in hospital for their injuries.

The Hawk was understood to have been flown by Wing Commander David Firth-Wigglesworth, 43, the Red Arrows' Senior Flying Officer.

A witness to the crash said: 'As the aircraft touched down, its undercarriage-gave way and it swerved to the right. Two loud bangs followed as the aircrew ejected.'

A source at RAF Cranwell added: 'A friend of mine had just left the building hit by the Hawk. If he hadn't left when he did, he wouldn't be here now.'

An investigation is being carried out into the cause of the accident.

Bionic breakthrough as prosthetic lets woman 'feel' her missing hand

A bizarre discovery by the woman fitted with the world's most advanced bionic arm could pave the way for hi-tech limbs that feel as well as move.

When surgeons fitted Claudia Mitchell's £2million prosthetic, they hot-wired it to her brain via her original shoulder nerves so she could control the mechanical arm by thought alone.

But now she can also 'feel' sensations in her missing hand.

Miss Mitchell, a former US marine, lost her left arm at the shoulder in a motorcycle accident in 2004.

Because her real arm had been severed almost at the shoulder, she had lost the use of the nerves that ought to have been able to control a conventional prosthetic.

But in a new surgical technique called 'targeted reinnervation', her dormant shoulder nerves were implanted in her chest, away from the damaged area.

Now when Miss Mitchell wants to move her arm, her brain sends a signal to the chest muscle rather than to her useless shoulder.

'We have rewired her,' said Dr Todd Kuiken, the American who devised the technique.

Electrical pulses from her chest muscle are transmitted to the bionic limb where a computer decodes them and turns them into arm movements.

By thought alone, Miss Mitchell, of Ellicott City, Maryland, can bend her wrist back, move her thumb and clench her fingers.

'I have what I call my "eureka moments,"' she said. 'There are a lot of daily tasks that people don't even think about being able to do that I can do now.'

But the twist came four months after her 2006 operation as Miss Mitchell was taking a shower.

When the hot water hit her chest, she felt it on her missing left hand.

She found that touching her chest or applying heat and cold to it would give her the sensation of pressure, warmth or coolness in her lost arm.

This was because doctors had moved not only her motor nerves but also her sensation nerves.

'Claudia was the first person that we did this on. We purposely directed her hand sensation nerves onto some chest skin, and it worked,' Dr Kuiken, of Chicago's Rehabilitation Institute, told ABC News.

Paul Marasco, a touch specialist at the institute, has since charted the way Miss Mitchell's hand sensations correspond with locations on her chest.

Depending on her chest is touched, he said, 'She has the distinct sense of her joints being bent back in particular ways, and she has feelings of her skin being stretched.'

Researchers hope Miss Mitchell's experiences - bizarre as they are - will open up major improvements in prosthetic technology.

She has become an honorary member of the research team, even spending her holidays testing out new equipment.

The goal is creating a prosthetic arm properly equipped with feeling.

'When you touch something with this prosthetic hand, it will feel like your hand. When you touch your hot cup of coffee, you'll know it's warm,' Dr Kuiken said.

Woman swallows screwdriver after dentist's fumble

A man told on Monday how his wife ended up swallowing part of a screwdriver during a visit to a Hungarian dentist.

Mary Reilly, 69, was being treated with implants to improve her dentures in Budapest when the dentist accidentally dropped one of his screwdriver bits down her throat.

Mrs Reilly, of Bracebridge Heath, Lincoln, was rushed to hospital in a taxi after the bit lodged in her lungs during the visit at the end of 2006.

She then spent £2,200 getting her teeth fixed in the UK at a local dentists.
Today, her husband John Reilly, 67, said: 'The bit slipped out of the dentist's hands and went straight down her throat. She had to go to hospital to have it removed.

'It all happened that quickly, we didn't have time to think. I think people should know what they are letting themselves in for.'

Mrs Reilly told the Lincolnshire Echo: 'I was a bit naive when I went to Hungary and I did not do enough research.

'If I did it again I would go to three or four clinics in the UK to get quotes. You need to know what treatment you are having done before you go.

Pictured: The frozen fighter jet tested in icy conditions... in South Korea

Covered in frost and dripping in icicles, this plane resembles a frozen lolly more than a fighter jet.

The F-4E Phantom fighter is being put through its paces at the brand new aircraft testing centre in Seosan, South Korea.

Most of South Korea's 700 strong airforce, including their 80 F-4E fighter bombers, are American designed.

South Korea shares a hostile border with Communist-run North Korea. There has been long-standing animosity between the two regions following the Korean War from 1950-1953.

Although South Korea has the 25th largest population in the world, it has the sixth highest amount of active troops.

However, on October 4, 2007, former South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, signed an eight-point agreement on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks and economic cooperation.

Most of South Korea's 700 strong airforce, including their 80 F-4E fighter bombers, are American designed.

South Korea shares a hostile border with Communist-run North Korea. There has been long-standing animosity between the two regions following the Korean War from 1950-1953.

Although South Korea has the 25th largest population in the world, it has the sixth highest amount of active troops.

However, on October 4, 2007, former South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, signed an eight-point agreement on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks and economic cooperation.

Meet Evans the Atom, who will end the world on Wednesday

The man behind the world’s biggest scientific experiment, which critics claim could cause the end of the world, is a Welsh miner’s son who has admitted blowing things up as a child.

Dr Lyn Evans, who has been dubbed Evans the Atom, will this week switch on a giant particle accelerator designed to unlock the secrets of the Big Bang.

But the 63-year-old physicist revealed yesterday that his passion for science was fuelled by the relatively small bangs he had created with his chemistry set at his council house in Aberdare in the Welsh valleys.

‘I was more interested in chemistry than physics when I was young,’ he said.

‘I had a number of chemistry sets. Like everybody, I used to make explosives. I even blew the fuses of the whole house a few times.’

His interest in physics grew at his boys-only grammar school, where lessons had an added attraction because they were attended by girls bussed in from a nearby school that lacked a physics teacher.

On Wednesday, Dr Evans will fire up the Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile-long doughnut-shaped tunnel that will smash sub-atomic particles together at nearly the speed of light.

Built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the collider lies beneath the French-Swiss border, near the institution’s headquarters in Geneva, at depths ranging from 170ft to 600ft.

The aim of the £4.4billion experiment is to recreate the conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang – the birth of the universe – and provide vital clues to the building blocks of life.

It will track the spray of particles thrown out by collisions in a search for the elusive Higgs Boson, a theoretical entity that supposedly lends weight, or mass, to the elementary particles. So important is this mysterious substance that it has been called the ‘God Particle’.

Scientists also hope to shed some light on the invisible material that exists between particles – dubbed ‘dark matter’ as no one knows what it really is – which makes up most of the universe.

But a handful of scientists believe that the experiment could create a shower of unstable black holes that could ‘eat’ the planet from within, and they are launching last-ditch efforts to halt it in the courts.

One of them, Professor Otto Rossler, a retired German chemist, said he feared the experiment may create a devastating quasar – a mass of energy fuelled by black holes – inside the Earth.

‘Nothing will happen for at least four years,’ he said. ‘Then someone will spot a light ray coming out of the Indian Ocean during the night and no one will be able to explain it.

‘A few weeks later, we will see a similar beam of particles coming out of the soil on the other side of the planet. Then we will know there is a little quasar inside the planet.’

Prof Rossler said that as the spinning-top-like quasar devoured the world from within, the two jets emanating from it would grow and catastrophes such as earthquakes and tsunamis would occur at the points they emerged from the Earth.

‘The weather will change completely, wiping out life, and very soon the whole planet will be eaten in a magnificent scenario – if you could watch it from the moon. A Biblical Armageddon. Even cloud and fire will form, as it says in the Bible.’

He said that attempts were still being made in the European Court of Human Rights to halt the experiment on the grounds that it violated the right to life. The court has, however, already rejected calls for a temporary delay in the project, and it is unlikely to come to a speedy decision about whether the CERN experiment should be halted for good.

Meanwhile Dr Walter Wagner, an American scientist who has been warning about the dangers of particle accelerators for 20 years, is awaiting a ruling on a lawsuit he filed a fortnight ago in his home state of Hawaii.

He fears the experiments might unwittingly create something he calls a ‘strangelet’ that could result in a fusion reaction that might ultimately turn the Earth into a supernova, or an exploding star.

But Dr Evans, the leader of the project, who has devoted 14 years of his life to building the vast particle accelerator, is dismissive of the doom-mongers.

In fact, he is so relaxed about the project, he even wears shorts to work.

He said that Prof Rossler was a ‘crazy’ retired professor who had invented his own theory of relativity.

‘We have shown him where his elementary errors are, but of course people like that just will not listen,’ said Dr Evans.

Meanwhile, Dr Wagner’s fears were ‘totally and completely’ unfounded. ‘There are thousands of scientists around the world who have been preparing this machine and they know what they are talking about, unlike these guys,’ he added.

Dr Evans says his real nightmare is not that he will destroy the world but that, with the cameras rolling, the machine will break down. ‘This is not the first accelerator I have commissioned, but the first under the glare of the whole world,’ he said.

‘My main worry is that we’ve got a huge amount of equipment and it is new. If something trips off, we are down for hours and we have all these Press people sitting around.

‘We are not used to that. We are used to setting things up quietly and announcing it afterwards.’

* Experiment produces lab rap hit

The Large Hadron Collider may be causing fears for the future of the world, but it has become the bizarre setting for an unlikely music hit.

Written and performed by 23-year-old Kate McAlpine, who works in the Press office at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland, the video features Kate and two background dancers bopping about in lab coats.

A long way from rap’s usual subjects of violence and crime, the rap focuses on the science of high-energy particle physics. One section goes: ‘Two beams of protons/ swing ’round./ Through the ring they ride/’til in the hearts of the detectors/ they’re made to collide!/ And all that energy packed/ in that tiny room/ becomes mass,/ particles created from the vacuum.’

Kate, who wrote her first physics rap while studying at Michigan State University, says: ‘Rap and physics are culturally miles apart and I find it amusing to throw them together.’

A CERN spokesman said: ‘We love the rap and the science is spot on.’

Fetch Fido! The robotic dog that could revolutionise the military

A robot dog that runs, climbs rough terrain and carries heavy loads has become an internet sensation after video footage attracted millions of viewers.

BigDog was created by engineering company Boston Dynamics for the American military.

The robot, which is the size of a large dog, is powered by a gasoline engine that drives its hydraulic system.

In trials the intrepid hound was able to run at 4 mph, climb slopes up to 35 degrees steep and walk across rubble while carrying a 340lb load.

The robotic rover has legs that move like an animal's and can absorb shock by repositioning its three joints up to 500 times a second .

During a demonstration video, which was viewed by more than 6m people on YouTube, it managed to keep its footing on an uneven surface after being shoved sideways.

BigDog has an on-board computer that helps it to balance, steer and navigate as conditions vary. Other sensors focus on the internal state of the robot, monitoring the hydraulic pressure, oil temperature, engine temperature and battery charge.

Current models are remote-controlled from bases, however it is believed scientists are working on sight sensors that will allow BigDog to make basic movement decisions.

The project was sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which comes up with radical inventions for the military.

Watch BigDog in action here...

Teenage girl's head 'doubles in size' after drinking an exotic holiday cocktail in Crete

A teenager has vowed never to touch alcohol again after an exotic holiday cocktail containing a 'secret ingredient' caused her head to swell to abnormal proportions.

Corinne Coyle, 19, was rushed to hospital in Crete's popular party resort of Malia after just a few sips.

The cocktail, bought in a Greek bar for 10 euros (£7.80), and served in a bowl, is said to contain a mixture of Baileys, chilli powder, tequila, absinthe, ouzo, vodka, cider and gin, plus a 'secret ingredient'.

Today Corinne was safely back home after her ordeal but her facial features have still not returned to normal.

As she tried to sleep off the devastating side-effects in a darkened room, her mum Fiona Roth, 43, of Astonbury Green, Easterside, explained how one drink turned her daughter's dream holiday into a nightmare.

She said: 'She drank about a third of it then her friend said 'have you seen your head?' Then Corinne said 'I know, I have brain-freeze'.

'When they went to the toilet her forehead had doubled in size. She panicked and they got into a taxi and went to hospital."

Corinne, who went on holiday last week with her friend Nicola Galbraith, 21, a nursery nurse, also of Middlesbrough, was put on a drip and tablets and spent two days in hospital following the Friday scare.

Doctors said the swelling was caused by a chemical reaction and they had seen a similar incident within the last couple of weeks.

Fiona, a home care assistant, said: 'She couldn't see out of her right eye because of the swelling. It was the first bar they had been to that night. Within 20 minutes of drinking it that was the reaction she got.'

Corinne, an administrator in media and arts at the University of Teesside and a former pupil at Macmillan Academy, Middlesbrough, was flown home in the early hours of Tuesday morning and has spent the last two days being examined at the James Cook University Hospital and by her GP.

Doctors are still waiting for the results.

Corinne tried to get home earlier but she was not allowed to fly due to the swelling. However, she sent pictures on her phone to her mum.

Fiona said: 'I couldn't even recognise my own daughter. I just hope to God it goes back to normal because she's a really pretty girl. I just hope there's no lasting damage.

'I tried to get a flight out but I couldn't get one in time. I felt useless. I just wanted to be with her.

'The swelling went down a bit but then the flight back made it worse again with the altitude.

'Corinne has a little beauty spot on the corner of her right eye and it's dropped down her face by about an inch.'

The teenager, who lives with her mum, sister Ashleigh Coyle, 14, and Fiona's husband Stephen Roth, 42, has vowed never to drink again.

Her mother said she was relieved to have daughter back at home.