Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Moon May Have Doomed Titanic - A century after it
happened scientists are speculating that the moon may be
partly responsible sinking of the passenger ship Titanic.
In 1912 the ship struck an iceberg and sank within a few
hours killing 1,517 people. The huge number of icebergs
in the shipping lanes that night may have been caused by
the moon being the closest to Earth as it had ever been
for 1,400 years. This, combined with an alignment with the
sun, caused an exceptionally high tide. Icebergs that normally
would have been stranded along the coast of Labrador and
Newfoundland came floating down into the shipping lanes.
Captain Edward Smith had gotten iceberg warnings, but seemed
to disregard them, probably because he had made this trip
many times before and thought he knew the dangers caused
by icebergs. He wouldn't have known, however, that this
rare astrological arrangement had put more icebergs into
the shipping lanes than had been seen in a thousand years.
Einstein Speed Limit Still Holds - Back in October
of 2011 we reported that scientists with the Opera experiment,
based at the European Organization for Nuclear Research
(CERN) in Switzerland, thought they had caught tiny particles,
known as neutrinos, traveling faster than the speed of light.
This was an outcome that, if true, would shake the foundations
of physics along with Einstein's theories of relativity.
It looks like Einstein can rest easy, however. Researchers
at the ICARUS experiment based at Gran Sasso laboratory
in Italy reported they redid the experiment and found the
neutrinos traveling at less than the speed of light just
as expected. Authorities at CERN have also acknowledged
that the original results might have been caused by a faulty
wiring problem. A fiber optic cable that synchronized an
external GPS signal to the master clock of the OPERA experiment
might have been loose causing the speed measurements to
Earhart Found? - The International Group for
Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) think they have found
some compelling evidence in the disappearance of aviator
Amelia Earhart 75 years ago. What happened to Earhart, whose
plane went missing over the Pacific in 1937, has been considered
one of the great mysteries of the 20th century. TIGHAR has
long suspected she may have attempted a landing on Nikumaroro,
formerly Gardner Island, a tiny bit of land 300 miles off
her course. The new evidence is an analysis of a photo taken
of the island in 1937 by a British survey team. An enhanced
version of the image shows what appears to be part of the
landing gear of a Lockheed Electra (Earhart's type of plane)
protruding from a reef. TIGHAR, the Discovery Channel, and
Robert Ballard, the explorer who found the Titanic, are
teaming up to see if they can find the remains of the plane
during an expedition this coming July.
The Better to See You With, My Dear - Why do giant
squids have basketball sized eyes? A recent study suggests
that it helps them spot their main predator, the sperm whale.
Giant eyes (up to 10.6 inches (27 centimeters) in diameter
with pupils that are 3.5 inches (9 cm) wide) allow more
photons of light in, enabling the animals to detect lower
levels of illumination in their deep, dark, underwater environment.
Researcher Sönke Johnsen, a biologist at Duke University,
thinks that they may be detecting the faint bioluminescence
given off by ocean plankton when the plankton are disturbed
by sperm whales swimming by them. This would allow the squid
to detect the whales approaching at a distance and make
a quick getaway.
A Whale of a Find - The coastal desert of Peru
seems like a strange place to find a sperm whale, but a
team lead by paleontologist Olivier Lambert from the Muséum
National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France, did just
that. The whale had been extinct for 13 million years, however.
When it was alive it had a 10 foot long (3m) skull, which
makes it much larger than its relatives that inhabit the
ocean today. Named Leviathan melvillei (in honor of the
writer of "Moby Dick") it was apparently adapted to feed
on large baleen whales, unlike today's sperm whales which
feed mostly on giant squid. The teeth of the newly found
whale are up to 14 inches long (36cm) and are on both the
lower and upper jaw (contemporary sperm whales only have
teeth on the lower jaw). Scientists think that this means
that the whale was a hunting predator that took large chunks
out of its prey.
Creature Weekend 2012 - Interested in Cryptozoology?
(The study of unknown animals) On May 18-20 the Salt Fork
State Park, Cambridge, Ohio , will be playing host to Creature
Weekend 2012 ( Ohio's first annual Cryptozoology Conference).
Admission gets you entrance to some workshops, lectures
and access to the vendor area. Workshops are "are geared
toward the novice researcher or the person who just wants
to learn how to get into the field as a cryptozoology researcher."
For more information
go to www.creatureweekend.com
Science Quote of the Month - "An
expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can
be made in a very narrow field." - Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
New at the Museum:
The Volcano in a Cornfield -
February 20, 1943, Dionisio Pulido was working in his cornfield
just outside the Tarascan Indian village of Paricutin, Mexico,
when suddenly a volcano appeared. >Full
of the Talking Nazi Dogs -
the Nazis, as some accounts claim, really building an army
of intelligent, talking dogs to defend the Third Reich?
Where did this story come from and how much of it is actually
true? >Full Story
Mysterious Picture of the Month - What
is this thing?
Radioactive Kitchen - Is it true that granite
countertops give off radiation? - John
Granite has become
an increasingly popular surface for countertops in the last
decade. It very hard and won't easily chip. It's heat resistant
so you can take something right out of the oven and place
it on the surface without worrying about damaging it. It
also comes in a large variety of natural colors that won't
fade with time.
As a natural
stone however, some granite can have uranium and /or thorium
in it. These elements are naturally radioactive and uranium
also emits radon gas (which is also radioactive) as it decays.
Now we should
note that we are all exposed to low levels of radiation
every day from many sources like the dirt under our feet,
ceramic tile, plant fertilizer and cosmic rays from outer
space. Even the smoke detectors that guard our house from
fire give off a tiny bit of radiation.
radiation" is so low it isn't usually considered dangerous,
however. For example, the risk of being killed in a fire
is many times higher than the risk from the tiny amount
of radiation given off by smoke detectors, so you wouldn't
want to remove the smoke detectors from your house.
gives at least a little bit of radiation, though not enough
to be considered dangerous. Occasionally, however, a piece
of granite used in countertops has been found to give off
radiation at much higher levels than just background. It
is thought this is more likely with exotic types of granite
from places like Brazil and Namibia. Even with this higher
radiation, however, it would take many, many hours of direct
contact material before the radiation coming from it would
be considered a real health threat. Of more concern would
be breathing any radon gas given off by the granite. The
EPA recommends that all houses be checked for radon gas.
Such a check would find not only radon gas from countertops,
but also gas from other building materials and from radon
seeping in from soil underground (which is a much more likely
source of the problem).
A study by the
Health Physics Society concluded that no action needs to
be taken to remove granite countertops in existing homes,
but if there is a concern a test for radon should be done
following EPA recommended protocols. If the level is high
it is a lot easier and cheaper to remove the radon from
the air via ventilation than getting rid of the countertop.
A radon gas test can be done for less than $20.
If you are still
concerned about your granite countertops giving off direct
radiation you can have them tested, but it will cost you
between $100 and $300 to have it done.
Have a question?
Click here to send it to us.
Francs from Heaven - Of all the strange things
people have reported falling from the sky - blue ice, fish,
rocks - perhaps money is the most odd. On April 15, 1957,
in Bourges, France, witnesses said that they saw thousands
of 1,000 franc notes fall from above. The money was never
Lyrid Meteor Shower - The night of April 21st
through 22nd brings us the Lyrid meteor shower. This year
there will be new moon, so viewing conditions should be
pretty good. Look for the meteors to appear to be coming
from the constellation of Lyra which will rise in the northeast
at about 10PM. You will probably see the most meteors in
the darkest hours just before dawn. You can probably expect
to see about 10 - 20 meteors per hour, but sometimes the
Lyrids surprise us with surges up to 100 per hour.
Farmer Finds UFO in Hole - Austrian farmer Franz
Knoglinger discovered a hole in his field that that he believed
must have appeared overnight. He tried dropping a stone
down it and after a long pause (indicating the hole was
very deep) he heard a metallic thump. This strange anomaly
immediately attracted the attention of people who came up
with some very bizarre explanations. The favorite was that
it was a buried flying saucer. Finally, however, somebody
did some research in the local library and found that the
hole had actually been there for decades, perhaps hidden
by weeds or grass. It was drilled by a company looking for
oil. When the drilling bit got stuck in some rock, the hole
was abandoned. What was the metal thing down at the bottom
of the hole? The broken bit.
check local listing for area outside of North America.
NOVA: Deadliest Tornadoes - Why
was the 2011 tornado season in the U.S. so extreme, and,
with advanced warning systems, why did so many die?
On PBS: April 11
at 9 pm; ET/PT.
NOVA: Secrets of the Sun- With new tools, scientists are striving to better grasp our star and
its potentially widely destructive solar storms On PBS
April 25 at 9 pm
The Resurrection Tomb - Two scientists think they have found Jesus's family tomb and evidence
that early Christains were celibrating his resurrection.
Apr 12, 10:00 pm; Apr 13, 12:00
Titan: A Place Like Home? - Titan, Saturn's moon, along with Earth, Mars and Venus is one of only
four astral bodies in the Solar System to have an atmosphere.
Titan's is very similar to that of Earth 4 billion yrs.
ago as life began. Could Titan hold the key to the origins
Apr 10, 10:00 pm; Apr 11, 1:00
am; Apr 12, 5:00 am
Will We Become Extinct? - Our ability to read the human genome means that we have a roadmap for
the history of our evolution. Humans have continued to evolve
over the past 50,000 years and that begs the most exciting
question of all: how will we evolve in the future? On The
Apr 13, 9:00 pm
Supermassive Black Holes - Scientists have discovered something even more powerful than black holes
- supermassive black holes. Far from being agents of destruction,
these giant black holes are now believed to be the seeds
from which all galaxies grow. On The
Apr 04, 10:00 pm; Apr 05, 1:00
am; Apr 06, 5:00 am
The Real Face of Jesus? - As the Shroud of Turin is put on public display for the first time in
10 years, new data reveals more than just a flat image embedded
in the ancient cloth, but an astonishing, three-dimensional,
sculpture-like figure. Using the principles of physics,
cutting-edge digital technology, and the revolutionary CGI
process pioneered in Stealing Lincoln's Body, HISTORY brings
that image to life, unveiling the most accurate representation
ever seen of what many believe to be Jesus Christ. On The
9PM April 6th
The Final Word with James Cameron
James Cameron's epic 1997 film Titanic won 11 Oscars and grossed well
over a billion dollars worldwide. Now, on an empty sound
stage, in the shadow of a massive 42-foot replica of the
Titanic and other props from the blockbuster film, Cameron
brings together some the worlds leading Titanic experts,
including engineers, naval architects, artists and historians,
to solve the lingering mysteries of why and how the unsinkable
ship sank On The
April 8th 08:00 PM;
April 9th 08:00 PM
Its the ocean like youve never seen it before. Using data from scientists
around the globe, combined with specially developed computer
animation software, NGC turns the Earths ocean waters crystal
clear. Spectacular underwater landscapes and hidden structures
are revealed. Follow sperm whales as they dive into the
dark depths of the Kaikoura Canyon off New Zealand, and
descend to the underwater mountain ranges of the Mid-Atlantic
Ridge to find never-before-seen creatures. On The
April 22nd 08:00 &
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