Science Over the Edge:

A Mix of News, Events, History and Gossip

April 1998

In the News:

NASA will finally end the controversy surrounding the so-called "Mars Face." The Mars Global Surveyor space probe will be routed over the Cydonia region of Mars to take close-up pictures of the formation shaped like a human face. Though most scientists think the object is natural, some people have speculated that it was sculpted by intelligent life on the fourth planet.

For more information about the possibility of life in our solar system, click here!

Astronomers have detected an object farther from Earth than ever observed before. A young galaxy dubbed "0140+326RD1" is more than 90 million light-years more distant than the previous record holder. It is about 12.22 billion light-years away. Scientists hope that observations of this "baby" galaxy will help them understand cosmic evolution.

Egyptian authorities have just finished a 2.5 million dollar restoration on the famed Sphinx. Workmen placed 12,244 white limestone bricks along the animal's paws, legs and stomach to restore and shore up the statue. Examination of the head shows that during ancient times the face and body of the Sphinx was painted red, while its headdress was yellow with blue stripes.

To learn the full story of the Sphinx, clear here!

Professors at Vanderbilt University are developing robot bugs that might someday be used by the military to scout the enemy or NASA to explore other planets. The metallic bugs, each with either four or six legs, would be about the size of a large beetle. By making the bugs cheap the professors hope that many can be built and released, for example, to explore the planet Mars. The bugs could cover a large area and if one failed, there would be hundreds to take its place.

The bugs use piezoelectric ceramics to move. A tiny electrical charge is applied to the ceramic to get it to bend. This, in turn, moves the legs. This technique allows the robots to crawl using very little energy.

To read about piezoelectric effects in crystals, click here!

In History:

On April 8th, 1912, near Chisbury, Wiltshire, England, Charles Tilden Smith observed two triangle-shaped shadows in the clouds. Amazingly the dark patches seemed to remain stationary even as the clouds rolled by. It was as if a heavy shadow was being cast on a thin veil of clouds by something unseen.

Modern UFO literature suggests that these objects were UFOs, but no positive explanation has ever been found.

In the Sky:

On Thursday, April 23nd you'll have a rare chance to see the conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon as they rise together. You'll have to get up early in the morning, though. At latitude 25 degrees North they come up 2 hours and 10 minutes before sunrise. At latitude 50 degrees North they will rise only 1 hour and 16 minutes before sunrise. Watch toward the East and East-South-East.


Several witnesses in Devenport, Tasmania, Australia, reported seeing two bright, white triangular objects zoom across the sky heading west at "an incredible speed." The objects made no sound. The second one appeared to have a green glow following it.

One of the witnesses speculated that the object may have been American spy planes. He might be right. Some sources have indicated that US spy planes may have been responsible for many UFO observations. They even leave a green glow. Click here for more info!

On the Tube:

The Discovery Channel is doing a series on Mysteries of the Unexplained. The first part, Strange Beings and UFOs, airs at 3PM on April 5th. Part 2, Sacred Places and Mystic Spirits, airs on April 5th at 4PM. The final part, Power of the Paranormal, airs on April 54th at 5PM. ET/PT

Dinosaurs -- Inside and Out is appearing on the Discovery Channel. It is a four part series. Land of the Giants, The Killer Elite, and Then There Were None and airs at 4,5,and 6 PM on April 26th, 27th and 28th, respectively. The series repeats on May 3rd again at 4,5, and 6 PM. A final segment, Renaissance of Dinosaurs airs on April 29th. Check local listing for the time. ET/PT.

TCL is running a new series called Science Frontiers. It runs Monday through Friday at 10PM and 1AM, and Sunday, from 1PM to 6PM, ET.

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

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Copyright Lee Krystek 1998. All Rights Reserved.