Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
or Subconscious? - A group of scientists think they
can explain some psychic abilities without the need to rely
on supernatural phenomena. In a test done at the University
of Melbourne researchers showed subjects pairs of color
photographs one after another with a small break in between.
Some of the pairs were identical. Others had minor changes.
Then the subjects were asked if a change had occurred, and
if so, what that change was. According to the paper published
in PLoS-ONE, "In this study we have provided direct behavioral
evidence that observers can regularly detect when a change
has occurred without necessarily being able to identify
what has changed…." This means people can "know without
knowing." The scientists think that this ability by which
people can sense changes they are not aware of perceiving
may explain reports of psychic powers.
Egyptian Pyramid Identified - Near the ancient settlement
of Edfu, Egypt, archeologists have uncovered a 4,600 year-old
step pyramid. Unlike the great pyramid, which was built
a few decades later, this pyramid, which measures 60 by
61 feet at the base, had no internal chambers was not meant
as a tomb. It is similar to six other pyramids that have
been found in southern and central Egypt. In fact, archeologists
aren't exactly sure what the purpose of this pyramid may
have been. One theory is that it may have been a symbolic
monument of a royal cult that asserted the king's power
in the southern provinces. This recently excavated pyramid
seems extremely similar to the other six suggesting that
they all had the same purpose. Results of the excavation
were presented at a symposium of the Society for the Study
of Egyptian Antiquities.
Fusion Milestone - For the last 50 years, or so, it
seems like they have always been saying that fusion power
plants are just 20 years away. Despite this apparent lack
of progress, researchers think that they have hit a significant
milestone. At the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
in California scientists say they have finally produced
a fusion reaction that yielded more energy than went into
making it. "Really for the first time anywhere, we've gotten
more energy out of this fuel than was put into the fuel.
And that's quite unique. And that's kind of a major turning
point, in a lot of our minds" said lead physicist Omar Hurricane.
The researchers used 192 lasers aimed at a pea-sized gold
cylinder filled with deuterium and tritium (isotopes of
hydrogen). X-rays produced by the lasers hitting the gold
crushed the hydrogen under tremendous pressures until the
isotopes fused and released energy. Despite this success
researchers are still significantly far away from another
important milestone they refer to as "ignition," where the
total energy output exceeds total input put into the gold
cylinder, not just into the hydrogen fuel within it.
"Steak Knife" Teeth Found - Scientists have found that
a pre-dinosaur reptile, the Dimetrodon, was the first known
animal to sport serrated "steak knife" teeth. The ancient
reptile was about 13 feet long, lived from 299 to 251 million
years ago, had a turtle-like head and a large "sail" fin
on its back. "The steak knife configuration of these teeth
and the architecture of the skull suggest Dimetrodon was
able to grab and rip and dismember large prey," said study
co-author Robert Reisz, a University of Toronto Mississauga
biologist. Reisz and graduate student Kirstin Brink used
a scanning electron microscope, to observe the fossil teeth
very closely. In addition to the serration they also spotted
cusps -- teeth with raised points on the crown - which are
found in mammals. This suggests that the Dimetrodon, which
some people mistake for a dinosaur, might actually be an
ancestor of mammals like us.
of Mars Stone Solved - NASA scientists were able to
solve the mystery of a "jelly doughnut" rock that appeared
out of nowhere on Mars. The Opportunity rover had photographed
the area where the rock suddenly appeared just a few days
before and the rock was not there. Then new pictures showed
a 1.5 inch long stone, nicknamed "Pinnacle Island," with
a peculiar shape and color had appeared. Where had it come
from? Was it a strange Martian creature that crawled in
to view? Was it dropped by malicious aliens perhaps? No,
the researchers determined that the rock had been part of
a larger stone that had been run over by the rover's wheel
and broken into pieces. "Once we moved Opportunity a short
distance, after inspecting Pinnacle Island, we could see
directly uphill an overturned rock that has the same unusual
appearance," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University
in St. Louis, deputy principal directory of Opportunity.
"We drove over it. We can see the track. That's where Pinnacle
Island came from."
Quote of the Month - "It
is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard
a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him
young." - Konrad Lorenz
New at the Museum:
Mons: The Mega-Volcano
- In 2013
scientists announced a startling discovery: At the bottom
of the Pacific Ocean they had discovered a gigantic volcano
that was the largest on Earth. As massive as this volcano
is, however, it is only the second largest one in our solar
system. That particular accolade belongs to the volcano
Olympus Mons on the planet Mars. Full
Picture of the Month - Who
is this this?
on Fire - Is St. Elmo's Fire a symbol related to
"The Masonic Order"? - Janie L.
St. Elmo's fire itself is an electrical effect that occurs
during bad weather. It is often appears as bright blue or
violet glow on high objects like a ship's mast or church
steeple d during storms.
effect can be caused by high voltage differentials are present
between clouds and the ground during thunderstorms. As the
voltages approach 1000 volts per centimeter along an object,
the air molecules ionize (gain an electrical charge) and
turn into a plasma which glows. Where St. Elmo's fire appears
on the surface of an object depends a lot on its geometry.
Sharp points lower the required voltage making likely that
objects, like lightning rods, will glow at their tips.
Elmo's Fire has been known to appear on flag poles, spires,
chimneys, aircraft wings and even the horns of cattle. One
theory holds that the airship Hindenburg was the victim
of St. Elmo's Fire coupled with a gas leak.
does that have to do with the Masons? Not all that much
that I can find. Although a fair number of Masons lodges
use the name of St. Elmo, St. Elmo's fire does not appear
as a symbol in any of the Masonic sources I have access
to. However, since the Masons are a secret society, the
reference may be buried out of public sight.
however, does led us to a vague, possible connection. There
is a secret club known as the St. Elmo's Society. It does
not appear to be related to the masons, but is a Yale club
very similar to the more famous Skull and Bones.
It was founded in 1889 as an independent club for seniors
within the nationally chartered fraternity, Delta Phi, Omicron
Chapter. St. Elmo's split with the national fraternity in
1925. The Society still operates to day and some of its
former members include John Ashcroft, the former United
States Attorney General, and actress Allison Williams of
the HBO series Girls.
If have any other readers who know of any other connection
between St. Elmo's Fire and the Masons, drop us a line.
a question? Click here to
send it to us.
Tut's Finder Dies - On March 2, 1939, the discoverer
of King Tutankhamen's tomb, Howard Carter died. Carter spend
many years unsuccessfully looking for the resting place
of the little known pharaoh, but his persistence paid off
on November 4th of 1922 when one of this crew discovered
a set of steps leading to the long lost tomb. It turned
out to be the only Egyptian King's resting place that had
not been plundered in ancient times. Was that because of
a curse? Check our page on it.
vs. Autumnal - The 20th marks the March Equinox. On
this day at 16:57 UTC. the Sun will shine directly above
the equator and give nearly equal amounts of day and night
throughout the world. This day is also known as the spring
or vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern
Hemisphere it's the fall or autumnal equinox.
to "Found" Renoir Painting - Reader Ghislanie Jackson
points out that there is more to the "Renoir found at a
flea market" story than we reported last month. A Virginia
woman, Marcia "Martha" Fuqua, maintained the she had bought
the tiny painting, perhaps worth as much as $75,000 for
$7 at a flea market in 2009. However, her brother has disputed
her story, saying that he had seen the painting around family
home numerous times before his sister supposedly bought
it. He believes that it may have been given to his mother
who was an artist who specialized in reproducing paintings
from Renoir and other masters. He said he asked his mother
several times about the painting's origins, but she would
not tell him. In any case, the painting cannot be sold as
it was found to have been stolen from the Baltimore Museum
of Art in 1951. The museum was able to reclaim it and plans
to have a special unveiling of the painting sometime in
check local listing for area outside of North America.
Cold Case JFK - Can modern forensic science uncover
fresh clues about the assassination of JFK? On PBS March
26 at 9 pm ET/PT
Wild Predator Invasion - Can we return apex predators
to their natural environments without endangering humans?
On PBS April 2 at 9 pm ET/PT
Squid: The Giant is Real - Mankind finally confronts
the creature of the deep as the Discovery Channel reveals
the first ever footage of the giant squid where it lives.
On the Discovery Channel: March 2 7:00PM & 11:00PM;
Ness: The Original Cyptid - Jeremy Wade is on a mission
to track down the famous monster of Loch Ness, but can he
succeed where so many have failed? The journey will take
him from the depths of Loch Ness to the volcanoes of Iceland,
all in pursuit of the mother of all monsters. On the Discovery
Channel: March 2 9:00AM & March 3 1:00AM;
Aliens: Mysterious Relic- Sacred bones... Golden hats...
And fragments of sacred objects thought to possess healing
properties. All around the world, archaeologists have uncovered
mysterious relics revered by ancient cultures for thousands
of years. Now on display in museums, temples and churches,
millions of people travel great distances just to be in
their presence. What is it about these ancient objects that
draws people to them? Could the truth of mankind's origins
be found in the fabric, metal, stone and bones of our distant
past? And could these mysterious relics really provide us
with the ability to access divine or otherworldly power?
On the History Channel: March 1, 9:00 PM ET/PT.
for the Lost Ark - The existence and location of the
Ark of the Covenant has remained one of the most enduring
mysteries in archaeology. Professor Tudor Parfitt from London's
School of Oriental and African Studies will reveal where
he believes the Ark is. Parfitt is well-known for discovering
that the Lemba tribe in Zimbabwe is one of the lost tribes
of Israel. Follow this global quest-detective as he decodes
ancient texts and pieces together clues. Ultimately he builds
a picture of what he thinks the Ark looks like and where
it is. The journey takes viewers through Israelite wars,
Philistine shrines, Solomon's Temple and Africa to the final,
critical clue which led Parfitt to its current location.
On the History Channel: March 12, 8:00 PM ET/PT.
A Spacetime Odyssey - NGC presents it's new version
of the classic science series originally hosted by the late
Carl Sagan. Neil deGrasse Tyson is the renowned astrophysicist
at the helm of this new program which will present the wonders
of the universe. The series kicks off with a Simulcast Event
on Sunday March 9 at 9PM On the National Geographic Channel.
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