times would soon be a changin' for the dinosaurs.
Cold weather ahead.(Copyright Lee
Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Asteroid Chilled Earth More than Previously Thought - A
new study published in the journal Geophysical Research
Letters suggests that the environment disasters following
the asteroid impact that is thought to have killed the dinosaurs
was longer lasting than first thought. Using a sophisticated
computer model, scientists with the Potsdam Institute
for Climate Impact Research (PKI) believe that droplets
of sulfuric acid forming high in the air after the impact
absorbed sunlight a cooled the earth causing sub-freezing
temperatures three to 16 years. It may have taken the environment
as long as 30 years to recover. The dinosaurs needing more
temperate temperatures to thrive, died. "The long-term cooling
caused by the sulfate aerosols was much more important for
the mass extinction than the dust that stays in the atmosphere
for only a relatively short time," said author Georg Feulner.
"It was also more important than local events like the extreme
heat close to the impact, wildfires or tsunamis." The team
thinks that the environmental change also led to massive
algae blooms that could have created toxic substances that
poisoned life along the coastlines.
Bat Wants to Drink Your Blood - Scientists were surprised
to find that D. ecaudata, a blood drinking, vampire
bat from South and Central America, drinks human blood.
It was thought that the animals only preyed on birds until
the team checked their feces and found the presence of human
blood. D. ecaudata is just one of three species that
live on blood and was thought to have the most restricted
range of prey, but it appears that the vampires have put
humans on the menu. This is a concern as the animals can
transmit rabies. "The record of humans as prey and the absence
of blood from native species may reflect a low availability
of wild birds in the study site, reinforcing the impact
of human activities on local ecological processes," the
scientists noted in the article in the journal Acta Chiropterologica.
May Eliminate Drilling and Filling - Don't like going
to the dentist? You may find that the process will require
less drilling and filling if a new drug finds its way into
offices in the next few years. Researchers have found that
a new drug, originally developed to treat Alzheimer's disease,
stimulates the body to fill in cavities by itself. It consists
of biodegradable sponges packed with stem cells and a matrix
of materials that is inserted into a crack or cavity in
the tooth. The stem cells then change the matrix into dentin,
the calcified material that forms the center of the tooth
around the pulp. At the same time the sponge dissolves away.
The beauty of this idea is that the drug is already approved
for clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease, which should
speed the adoption of the therapy for teeth.
News that Looks Real to the Eyes and Ears - The problem
with fake new that impacted the last presidential election
maybe even worse in the future. German and American researchers
have created a technology that can take the expressions
and mouth movements from an actor and impose them over a
video clip of another person. The source actor stands in
front of a standard web cam that tracks his facial movements
and the software manipulates the target video. The result
is both real-time and photo realistic. This, coupled with
new software that can read a voice and manipulate it to
make the person say whatever the program operator wishes,
opens the door for some extremely serious abuse. Check out
these technologies at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohmajJTcpNk
Went Extinct When Its Prey Did? - The Megalodon, the
largest shark that ever lived, went extinct about two and
a half million years ago, and now scientists think they
know why. A study published in the journal Palaeogeography,
Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology shows that the 50 foot
plus shark was a big fan of the baleen whale Piscobalaena
nana and the early seal Piscophoca pacifica. They made up
a large part of the super shark's diet. The researcher dug
up bones of these animals (each growing as long as 16 feet
in length) that had clearly been attacked by Megalodon at
an excavation near Aguada de Lomas in southern Peru. The
scientists think that as these animals died out at the end
of the Pliocene Epoch, their deaths have helped drive the
Megalodon into extinction.
Quote of the Month - "It
is strange that only extraordinary men make the discoveries,
which later appear so easy and simple." - Georg C. Lichtenberg
New at the Museum:
The Mandela Effect - Is this a serious scientific enigma,
or just another internet conspiracy theory? -
Picture of the Month - What
is this this?
of the Minotaur - Was there actually a minotaur under
the Knossos' temple, and if so could we find bones? - Sean
story of the Minotaur comes from Greek mythology. In the
story the King of Crete, Minos, by tradition sacrifices
his best bull to the sea god, Poseidon, each year. Then
one year the god sent him a perfectly white bull to use
in the sacrifice. Minos is so taken by the bull he decides
to keep it and sacrifice a lessor animal.
displeases Poseidon and he causes the king's wife, PasiphaŽ,
to fall in love with the bull. She develops complex plot
(involving a hollow, fake cow) to mate with the bull. Nine
months later she gives birth to a horrible man/bull hybrid
monster which is named the Minotaur.
word, Minotaur, is actually a proper name, by the way, meaning
"bull of Minos." It has been more recently been used, however,
as the designation of class of bull/man creatures found
in fantasy stories and games.
Minotaur turns out to be a powerful and angry creature with
a taste for human flesh. He is traditionally depicted as
a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man.
Minos builds a maze (called the Labyrinth)
for him under his palace where he is confined. At the time
of the story the city of Athens is under the control of
Crete and is forced to send as tribute every year (or every
seven years depending on the version of the story) seven
young men and seven maidens to be sent into the maze to
be consumed by the monster.
King of Athens son, Theseus, volunteers to be in the group.
He enters the Labyrinth and slays the beast with the help
of Minos' daughter, who has fallen in love with him.
is there some basis for this myth? Was there really a Minotaur?
For that matter, was there even a Labyrinth?
you discount the supernatural, it seems unlikely that the
union of a bull and a woman would result in the birth of
a living creature. Certainly animal hybrids exist (For example,
the half lion, half tiger, liger). However, most scientists
agree that humans and cattle would be too far apart on the
genetic scale to make this combination work. (For some insight
on this check our page on the likelihood of a human/chimp
the Minotaur been a man that was born deformed with bull-like
features? Or perhaps a man who was simply physically powerful
with a raging temper? These seem like more realistic possibilities.
If we accept that, can we find his remains in the Labyrinth?
Well, that's another problem. Nobody can say for sure where
the Labyrinth was. The explorer Arthur Evans excavated the
ruins at Knossos. He didn't find an underground maze underneath
and came to the conclusion that the Knossos palace itself,
with is many complex rooms and passageways, was the inspiration
for the Labyrinth. If this is that case, however, it would
seem to make the story of the Minotaur simply a legend.
people argue, however, that a site some 20 miles from the
palace, called the Gortyn caves on the coast of Crete is
the site of the ancient Labyrinth. The caves are about three
miles of interlocking tunnels with different chambers and
dead ends. The caves have been explored and used for many
years now (the Nazi's utilized it as an ammo dump during
World War II) but no remains of the Minotaur have ever been
found. However, if you wanted to look for creature like
that, the caves might be the logical place.
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send it to us.
Soft Moon Landing - On February 3rd, 1966, the Soviet
Union managed to make a safe landing on the moon with an
unmanned probe named Luna 9. The probe, which touched down
in the Ocean of Storms, was the first to make a soft landing
on any celestial body. The probe ejected a 250-lb capsule
which took pictures of the lunar surface and sent them back
to Earth till its power ran out on February 6th.
Ring of Fire in the Sky - If you are living along a
narrow path in the Southern Hemisphere you may get to see
a "ring of fire" solar eclipse on February 26th. This phenomenon
is also known as an annular solar eclipse and is caused
by the moon passing in front of the sun, but not covering
the entire disc of the sun as with a total eclipse. The
result is a bright ring around the shadow of the moon. The
path starts in the Pacific Ocean, crosses over South America,
and ends in Africa.
CIA UFO Reports - The CIA released millions of pages
of previously confidential documents last month including
some historical UFO sightings. The Central Intelligence
Reading Room allows users to query on any subject and putting
"UFO" gives you 1738 items to check including a report from
August the 3rd, 1966, which details an "unusual phenomenon"
on the border between Iran and the USSR. "We suddenly observed
a brilliant white sphere approximating the coloration and
intensity of [a] full bright moon. The sphere appeared suddenly
and at the first sighting was approximately three times
the size of a full moon," says the report. To try it yourself
go to https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/
and Meep are on a well deserved vacation. In their place
we feature highlights from their past adventures.
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