Science Over the Edge

A Mix of News, Events, History and Gossip

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

February 2000

In the News:

Meteor Shakes the North - An exploding meteor shook the Yukon-Alaska border on Tuesday January 18th at about 9AM local time. The meteor appeared as a flash of sheet lightning and a large, green object going across the sky. The explosion rattled windows in nearby villages and sent snow sliding off roofs. Scientists believe the object exploded in the sky rather than hitting the ground.

Meteors that explode in the air can be just as dangerous as those the hit the ground. Read about what happened in Siberia in 1908.

Dangerous Asteroid Number Slashed - Despite the above, scientists have changed their estimates about how many near-Earth asteroids there are that might pose a threat of a devastating collision with our planet. Original estimates placed the number of dangerous asteroids at between 1,000 and 2,000. New calculations show that the number may be closer to 500 to 1,000. Scientists hope that 90 percent of these highly dangerous objects will be detected in the next 20 years.

Unexplained Ice Fall - Scientists are puzzled by mysterious chunks of ice that have been falling from the sky in southern Spain. Nobody has been hurt, but the eight-pound, basketball-sized objects have damaged roofs and smashed a car. Scientists have wondered if the chunks are from a comet, but the the period over which they fell, ten days, seems to eliminate that as a possibility. Sometimes ice can be flushed out of jet liner waste systems, however these objects lack the coloration usually associated with such material. Scientists are also looking to see if unusual weather conditions may have somehow generated giant hail stones.

Longest Dino Discovered? - Carlos Munoz, director of the Florentino Ameghino Museum of Natural Sciences, in Argentina, has reported that scientists in the Patagonia region of the country have discovered the bones of what may be one of the longest dinosaurs ever found. The animal, which has yet to be named or classified, may have stretched some 167 feet from head to tail. That would put it some 27 feet longer than the Argentinosaurus, considered by many the longest dinosaur currently known. The Argentinosaurus, though, might be up to ten times heavier than this new dinosaur and the Sauroposeidon, which we reported on last December, would remain the tallest.

King Arthur on the Web - The British Library, in conjunction with the Arthurian Heitage Trust, has put the library's oldest and rarest manuscripts on the legend of King Arthur on the web. The site,, will display at least eight frail parchments that were previously only accessible to scholars with the "high clearance." The legends of King Arthur are thought to be based on a Celtic king that lived during the fifth century.

Find out if King Arthur's castle, Camelot, really existed!

Galileo Bolsters Europa Sea - Reports from the Galileo spacecraft, near Jupiter, seem to bolster theories a liquid ocean may exist beneath Europa's icy surface. The spacecraft, which passed within 218 miles of Europa on January 3rd, has detected that the moon's magnetic pole seems to reverse every 5 1/2 hours. The best explanation for this would be an underground sea of liquid, like saltwater.

If a liquid sea is under the ice scientists have wondered if primitive life might be able to exist near hot volcanic vents on the moon ocean 's bottom.

In History:

Devil's Footprints - On the night of February 7th, 1855, mysterious footprints appeared in new snow in the area of Devonshire, England. These marks, called the "Devil's Footprints" because they appeared to be from a two-footed creature with hoof-like feet have never been explained. According to the Times of London the prints were to be seen in all kinds of inaccessible places - on the tops of houses and narrow walls, in gardens and courtyards enclosed by high walls and palings, as well as open fields. There was hardly a garden in Lympstone where the foot-prints were not observed. Reports indicated that some 100 miles of tracks existed and each hoof-print was exactly 8 1/2 inches apart. Many suggestions have been made as to what common creature might have made the marks, but none seems to fit the evidence.


Returning to the Mothership - Roswell2K will commence on June 17th 2000 as thousands of pods (really VW beetles) arrive at Roswell, New Mexico to greet their "mothership." Is this a gathering of people interested in aliens? Or a flock of VW owners celebrating their strange vehicles? Here's their website, you can figure it out:

In the Sky:

Valentine Mercury - While you are watching the sunset with your sweetie on Valentine's Day hang around for an hour and see if you can spot the planet Mercury. February 14th is its farthest apparent distance from the Sun, about 18 degrees, making it the best time to spot our inner-most planet.. Look for it low in WSW to W sky within an hour of the sun going down.


Police see UFO - Police in Millstadt, Lebanon, Shiloh and Dupo, Mo. USA, spotted an arrowhead shaped object in the night sky on January 5th. The object appeared to move slowly along like a blimp at the height of 1,000 feet and was described as "two stories high and three times as long" with "star field camouflage." One officer took a picture with a Polaroid camera, but the image did not develop well in the cold weather.

Was this object like the famous, triangular Hudson Valley UFO?

Rex for Sale on Web, Again - Alan Detrich, owner of a 40-foot-long, 25-foot-high Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is trying to unload the extinct creature on the internet one more time. The fossil was originally offered on eBay in July, but pranksters offering illegitimate bids as high as $8 million brought the auction to a halt. This time the Rex is being sold through which prequalifies bidders by verifying their financial status. Detrich hopes to recoup the $250,000 he spent digging up the fossil and make a profit.

On the Tube:.

UFO: Then and Now - Look up toward the skies for an examination of our encounters with the unknown. This four-part world premiere mini-series runs from January 31st to February 3rd on the History Channel. On January 31st, The Innocent Years; on February 1st Cause of Alarm; on February 2nd, Nightmare; and on February 3rd Aliens and Contact. Shows air: Monday-Thursday, January 31-February 3 at 9 pm ET/10 pm PT. Repeats: Sunday, February 6 from 3 pm-7 pm ET/12 pm-4 pm PT

Ghost Plane of the Desert "Lady be Good" - Part of the History Channel's Histories Mysteries series. Airs February 7 and Repeats: Saturday, February 12 at 2 pm ET/11 am PT. On April 4, 1943, a B-24 named the "Lady Be Good" vanished in the Sahara. Sixteen years later, the plane was found, amazingly preserved in the desert. Through the diary of two crewmembers, learn the chilling account of the crew's desperate struggle to reach safety across the harsh desert without food or water. What other mysteries about this cursed plane remain buried in the sand?

Secrets of Lost Empires Series - From the people who give us NOVA this four part series airs on Tuesdays on PBS at 8PM right before the normal NOVA timeslot. Episodes are Medieval Siege (February 1st), Pharaoh's Obelisk (February 8th), Easter Island (February 15th), Roman Bath (February 22nd) and China Bridge (February 29th).

NOVA - NOVA itself will have several interesting shows this month: The Mystery of the First Americans airs on February 15, 2000 at 9 pm ET and Lost Tribes of Israel will be broadcast on Tuesday, February 22, 2000 at 9 pm ET. Ever since their defeat and banishment by the Assyrians in 722 BC., the Lost Tribes fate has inspired countless claims to Jewish ancestry by groups scattered on every continent. But now, surprisingly, new advances in genetics are dispelling myth and fantasy, and raising a curtain on the forgotten reality of the dispersal that happened so many centuries ago.

The Iceman's World - A frozen male mummy found in 1991 in the Alps has revolutionized knowledge about Middle Europe some 5,000 years ago. Find what scientists learned when they examined this most unusual of patients. On the Discovery Channel Feburary 27th, 8PM ET/PT.

Africa's Dinosaur Giants - Check out National Geographics Explorer as this episode looks at the recent discoveries of giant dinosaur fossils in Africa. On CNBC February 11th at 8PM ET/PT.


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