Science Over the Edge:

A Mix of News, Events, History and Gossip

March 1998

In the News:

NASA is conducting experiments in conjunction with the University of Alabama to explore the claims of researcher Eugene Podkletnov, of Finland, that a disk of high-temperature superconducting material spun at high speed can shield objects above it from the force of gravity. Antigravity has long been a staple of science fiction, but seems to be impossible under what is currently known about physics. Superconducting discs a foot in diameter will be used for the testing and are currently under development. The project is funded through the rest of this year.

It may be a long time before antigravity can be harnessed to drive a spaceship. Check out some other engine designs here.

Someone's been swiping dinosaur bones from the Russian Paleontological Institute in Moscow. There are claims that the fossils, some of which have been valued at a half a million dollars, have been stolen by a "bone mafia" operating inside the museum. Authorities suspect that the missing fossils are being sold in Germany, Japan and the United States.

Well, we don't have any of them here at the Unmuseum, but we do have some great dinosaur stuff. Take a trip on our Dinosaur Safari!

Hold tight everyone! It's going to hit! According to Rosemary Wyse, an astrophysicist at John Hopkins University, our own Milky Way Galaxy is under going a collision with the Sagittarius dwarf spheroidal galaxy. Because the dwarf galaxy is only a tenth the size of ours and weighs only a thousandth the Milky Way, it isn't likely to do much damage. According to Wyse it will probably just get sucked right inside.

In History:

On March 19, 1963, R.C. Jennison, a professor of electrical energy, was taking a flight from New York to Washington when the plane was struck by a bolt of lightning. Seconds later a burning globe of light entered the plane and went drifting down the aisle. This remains one of the best documented sightings of ball lightning ever recorded.

Click here to learn more about strange electrical phenomena.

In the Sky:

On the night of March 25th of this month you can catch the Camelopardalids meteor shower. While it is a minor shower, it has the distinction of having the slowest meteors. This means that they will move across the sky at a comparatively lazy speed of 7 miles a second.. Some meteors hit Earth going faster than 44 miles a second.


A former guard at the Reina Sofia art museum in Spain has filed a complaint with the Madrid government saying that he had to quit the job because of depression, nervousness and dizziness brought on by a ghost that haunted the premises. The guard has asked that the condition be declared a work-related illness. The government replied that in regard to the apparition, which the man claimed was named Ataulfo, Madrid had "no jurisdiction in paranormal phenomena."

While it is uncertain if the former guard will receive money, he probably deserves to get a prize for the most original workman's compensation claim.

On the Tube:

The Discovery Channel is premiring a series on Egypt Uncovered. The first part airs from 8PM to 11PM on March 2nd. Part 2 airs on March 3rd at 10PM. The final part airs on March 4th at 10PM. The entire series is repeated on March 15 from 1PM to5PM.

Want to know how those tricks are done? TLC is exposing The Secret World of Magicians and Mentalists on March 10th at 9PM and midnight. This is the middle part of a three part series that includes looks at the world of the circus (March 9th) and daredevils (March 11th).

TCL is running a new series called Understanding. It looks in to the mysteries that we confront everyday. Of special interest is the episode on Uncertainy which is about quantum mechanics (March 21st at 10AM). For a full schedule, check your local listings.

The Science Channel will be running Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World on Thursdays at 11PM.

Copyright Lee Krystek 1998. All Rights Reserved.