Science Over the Edge

A Roundup of Strange Science for the Month

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

May 2000

In the News:

Little Dino, Big Heart - A fossil chiseled out of the Hell Creek formation in South Dakota may rewrite what we know about dinosaur anatomy. Mike Hammer, a professional fossil-finder spotted the object and brought it to the attention of Dr. Andrew Kuzmitz and paleontologist Dale Russell of North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. Dr. Kuzmitz used a CAT scan to examine the fossil, which appears to be the chest region of a dinosaur. The CAT scan also shows a grapefruit-sized object that looks like the remains of the creature's heart. The configuration of the heart indicates that is had four chambers rather than three making it more like the heart of a bird or mammal rather than a reptile. This may bolster the theory the birds descended from dinosaurs.

Other scientists disagree that the formation is a fossilized heart.

Area 51 Aerial Photos - That most unsecret of secret bases, Groom Dry Lake Air Force Base, also known as Area 51, in the remote Nevada desert, is on display at a website through a series of satellite photos. The site,, sells aerial photos and is using the Area 51 photo spread to publicize its trade. The photos were taken with a Russian launched satellite. There is little fear of a breach of security as the Air Force is aware of when Russian satellites pass overhead, and can take steps to shield secret activity.

Fixing Easter Island - Easter Island, the small Pacific land covered with mysterious megalithic busts, has long been the scene of an ecological catastrophe. Overuse of the Island's resources destroyed all of its native animals and much of its trees and shrubs. Now a group of biological gardens is attempting to restore the toromiro, which was unique to the Island. The last of the toromiros was destroyed in 1960, but seeds gathered by explorer Thor Heyerdahl in 1958 have allowed the tree to survive. If the reintroduction of the toromiro is successful other native trees, plants and animals may follow.

Croc Temple Found - The legendary temple that contained the nesting place of ancient Egypt's sacred crocodiles has been found. Archaeologist Edda Bresciani has unearthed a room that dates to between 200 and 300 BC and contains a nesting hole with 30 crocodile eggs and pool. The temple, located at the ancient town of Crocodilopolis, was dedicated to Egypt's Crocodile God, Sobek. Writers that visited the temple in ancient times told how the animals were adorned with gold jewelry and pampered with by being feed grain, meat and honey cakes, then later sacrificed and mummified.

Stone Observatory One - The mysterious "Skystone" located in a field 20 miles southeast of Tacoma, Washington, is a three-dimensional map of the sky according to archaeologist Gerald Hedlund. Hedlund, who presented a paper on the stone to the Northwest Anthropological Meeting in Spokane, claims that the stone, which is about 4 foot high, 12 foot across, and dotted with man-made holes, was used to predict solstices or equinoxes. He contends it may have also been used to predict lunar standstills, which occur every 9.3 years. The stone was thought to be used by the Puyallup Indian Tribe.

Stone Observatory Two - A set of stones sticking up out of the ground in southern Egypt may have been an ancient observatory the predates Stonehenge by 2000 years, according to an article in an April copy of the journal Nature. Nabta, as the site is called, consists of a number of rock lined ovals and a circle in the remote Sahara desert. Fred Wendorf an archaeologist from Southern Methodist University and one of the articles authors, said that the site was likely also a ceremonial center. Charcoal recovered from campfires at the site dates back to 7000 years ago. Although it is unclear if the stones were erected at the same time, if they did date back to that era, that would make Nabta the oldest known astronomical monument.


In History:

Coins from Heaven - On May 28, 1982 a girl walking through the yard of St. Elisabeth's Church in Redding, England, saw a fifty-pence coin seem to fall from nowhere. Other children also discovered coins apparently dropping at the same spot at other times during the day. The local minister conducted his own investigation of the phenomena, but could not see how any prankster could have pulled off a deception. Some of the coins, he reported, seemed imbedded edgewise into the ground apparently having fallen from a great height.

No satisfactory explanation for this strange rain of coins has been found.

J. Allen Hynek - May 1, 1910 is the birthday of Josef Allen Hynek, one of the first scientists to make a serious study of UFOs. Hynek was retained as a consultant to what would eventually be called "Project Blue Book", the Air Force investigation into UFOs. When Blue Book was abandoned, Hynek started is own organization, the "Center for UFO Studies" to fund scientific research into the phenomenon. Dr. Hynek died in 1986.


In the Sky:

No Disasters -The much-hyped "alignment" of planets occurs on May 5th. The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn fit within a span of 26°—about the same length as the Big Dipper. The notion that natural calamities will result from the event has no scientific basis. It would be nice to view, but the Sun's glare hides all but two of the objects from sight. It will be much more interesting to look for Vega, the brightest star of the Summer Triangle. It can be seen in the NE just after sunset starting on May 13th.



ET Does not work for Pentagon - The Pentagon officially denied that extraterrestrials participate in classified U.S. military programs. Spokesman Ken Bacon responded to questions about the posting of satellite pictures of the infamous "Area 51" and whether there were any alien spacecraft stored at the facility by saying "I think I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have no classified program that relies on aliens from outer space." UFO buffs have long contended that the base houses alien technology.

Stock Market by the Stars - Tired of using those scientific methods to predict the market's action in these troubled times? Some traders are turning to astrology to get an edge on Wall Street. How is it done? Well like everything else, there is a website for it. Try if you don't believe it.


To Read:

Invisible Eagle - Virgin Publishing has released Alan Bakers book "Invisible Eagle," a look at the history of Nazi Occultism. The book covers some of the more bizarre beliefs within the Third Reich including disc shaped aircraft and a hollow Earth. The book, at this time, is only available in England or via's UK branch.


On the Tube:

Venus Unveiled - Nova takes a look at the conditions on the planet Venus as seen by the radar spacecraft Magellan. Our neighbor appears to be one of the most bizarre environments in the solar system. Airs Tuesday, May 2, 2000 at 9PM ET on PBS.

Prehistoric Sharks - Sharks swam the sea long before the dinosaurs roamed the land. Learn about these fascinating creatures in this special on the Discovery Channel. Airs May 6, 4PM ET/PT.

Modern Marvels Challenge: Caesar's Bridge - Julius Caesar reported that his army built a wooden bridge across the Rhine River in only 10 days. Chris Wise, a modern engineer, takes up Caesar's challenge by trying to construct his own bridge across the river using the same materials and techniques the would have been available in 55 BC. Can he do it in ten days?. Airs May 15 at 10PM ET/PT on the History Channel. Repeats May 20 at 7PM ET/PT.

Secret Passages - Enter secret passages and trap doors in search of treasure and mystery. Check out a hidden speakeasy, a secret bomb shelter and Al Capone's escape tunnel. Airs May 19 at 9 PM ET/PT on the History Channel. Repeats May 20 at 12PM ET/PT.

Crash and Burn Week - This set of special shows what happens when technology goes wrong. Episodes are Disaster Technology, Train Wrecks, More Engineering Disasters and Engineering Disasters, Airs on the History Channel at 10 PM ET/PT May 8 to May 11.



Science over the Edge Archives

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Copyright Lee Krystek 2000. All Rights Reserved.