Science Over the Edge

A Mix of News, Events, History and Gossip

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

June 1999

In the News:

Ball Lightning? - According the New Scientist (May 22) two researchers have come up with a possible explanation for ball lightning. Ball lightning is a mysterious, glowing ball of light that may appear after a regular lightning strike. John Abrahamson and Peter Coleman of Canterbury University in New Zealand, were able to create a vortex of air, like a mini-tornado, fill it with combustible gas and get it burning. The result was a hovering, fireball. The researchers think a natural vortex pulling up fuel from the ground might get ignited by a nearby regular lightning strike. This theory, though, does not explain some of ball lightning's stranger reported behaviors which include passing through solid walls.

Tiger Clones - Australia's Tasmanian Tiger, which went extinct in 1936, maybe back if scientist Mike Archer has his way. Archer discovered a preserved tiger baby in a jar at a museum. According to Archer the tiger, which was preserved in alcohol, rather than formalin which would have destroyed its DNA, could be used to clone a new animal. Archer has knows of several other baby tiger specimens which have been preserved at other museums whos' DNA could be used to give that new population diversity.

Largest Land Mammal - French paleontologists have discovered the bones of an enormous rhinoceros-like mammal in Pakistan. It is the most complete skeleton of a Paraceratherium ever found. The Paraceratherium is the largest land mammal ever to live and was 18 feet high and 23 feet long. Scientists estimate the creature lived about 30 million years ago.

Robot Fido - Sony has unveiled its newest consumer entertainment invention: A robot dog named AIBO. The electronic animal can bark, wag it's tale, walk, sit and play a tune. You can order over the internet from Sony. At the list price of $2,500 you might just want to go with the biological, battery-free version instead.

Young, Active Mars - The Mars Global Surveyor in orbit around the red planet has detected traces of a magnetic field that once must of spanned the Martian globe. Scientists believe the evidence of the field indicates that at one time Mars had a molten, hot core. If, so the planet also probably had plate tectonics like Earth, and at one point in its history was very Earth-like. If so, this increases the probability that the planet was, or is, the home of some microbial life.

In History:

Fifty-Two Years of Flying Saucers - The modern UFO age was born on June 24, 1947 when pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing flying discs skimming over a mountain range in the state of Washington. The next day a newspaper reporter who interviewed Arnold coined the term "flying saucers" and the name stuck.

In the Sky:

Queen of UFOs - Will the number of UFO reports jump this month? Maybe. Venus, often called the "Queen of UFOs" because it is so often mistaken for an unidentified flying object, is high in the sky this month and visible toward the end of the day and early evening. Look toward the West. The planet will set about three to two and one-half hours after the sun this month. As a bonus look early in the month and you might glimpse the hard-to-see planet Mercury. Look very low on the horizon in the WNW to the lower right of Venus soon after sunset.


Wedges in British Columbia - Last month residents near Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, reported seeing wedge, triangle and boomerang-shaped objects in the sky. Some of observers reported what they saw resembled a stealth fighter or bomber, but the object hovered, something the stealth aircraft can't. A spokesman from the nearby Whitby Island naval base denied the wedge shaped craft were military traffic saying, "They're pretty cool, but we don't have them here."

To Read:

UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe - Ballantine Publishing Group has released this volume by Richard Belzer this month. Belzer, comedian, actor (who appeared on TV's in Homicide) and conspiracy researcher takes a look at some well-known, but far out theories illuminating them with his own sharp wit. To take a look at the UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe website, just click. If you want to buy the volume take a look at its entry in the UnMuseum Bookstore.

On the Tube:

Cryptozoology of the Depths - Discovery Channel takes a look at the relatively unknown waters off of the coast of Cuba in Forbidden Depths. Scientists identify many previously hidden species during this two hour expedition. June 6, 9PM and 1AM; June 12, 8PM and Midnight; June 13 and June 19 at 6PM and June 21 at 9PM and midnight ET/PT.

Easter Island - The history channel presents The Mystery of Easter Island on June 14 at 8PM ET and 9PM PT. Easter Island, the most isolated habitated place in the world is home to giant stone statues whose origins are a mystery. Did immigrants from Peru carve them? Or Aleins?.

Incredible, But True Week!- The History Channel takes a look at the weird, but true: Episodes are: Ancient Taboo: Cannibalism, June 7at 8PM ET/ 9PM PT. Truth About Science Fiction, June 8 8PM ET/ 9PM PT. Shark Attack 1916, June 9 8PM ET/ 9PM PT. Miracles, June 10 8PM ET/ 9PM PT. The Real Dracula, June 11 8PM ET/ 9PM PT.

America's Playthings - The history channel presents The History of Toys and Games on June 26 at 2PM ET and 11PM PT. John Ritter hosts this two hour look at toys starting with the home made items that entertained Colonial children to the latest video games from the 1990's.


Science over the Edge Archives

LGM Archive 1998, 1999.

Copyright Lee Krystek 1999. All Rights Reserved.