Science Over the Edge

A Roundup of Strange Science for the Month

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

August 2000

In the News:

Ramses I Found in Niagara Falls - Scientists believe they may have found the mummy of Ramses I, perhaps the most famous and powerful of the Egyptian pharaohs, in a tourist museum in Niagara Falls. The body was stolen from its royal tomb some 3,000 years ago and eventually wound up in the Niagara Falls Daredevil Museum. Museum records show that Colonel Sydney Barnett, son of the museum's founder, bought it during a visit to Thebes in 1860. Egyptologists from the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, traced the mummy to the Niagara museum and purchased it. They hope to prove it is Ramses I by comparing the body's DNA with that of the mummy of Ramses I's son, Sethi I.

Ghostly Explanation I - Researchers at Coventry University in the United Kingdom may have discovered that some buildings are haunted not by ghosts, but by sounds. In a paper to be published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research Vic Tandy and Dr. Tony Lawrence claim that they have found that rooms in buildings which have a reputation for being haunted really have a low frequency (19 Hertz) source of sound. One "haunted" laboratory was found to have a faulty exhaust fan making a 18.9 Hz sound. The frequency is too low to be heard by humans, but may be "felt" giving rise to feelings of unease. The scientists also investigated the basement of the Coventry Tourist Information Center, which has a reputation being haunted, and found a intermittent 19 hz sound, the source of which they could not identify.

Ghostly Explanation II - Swiss neuroscientist Peter Brugger of the University Hospital in Zurich has come up with a new theory on "ghosts" and "doppelgangers" (A doppelganger is ghost of a living person, usually the viewer). Brugger, who's idea is detailed in an upcoming edition of New Scientist magazine, thinks the viewer is experiencing a "phantom of the entire body" just in the same way an amputee might experience a "phantom limb." The limb is no longer there, but the brain still tells the amputee it is. Brain damage can cause this effect, but people with normal brains may have the effect triggered by intense emotions such as fear, sadness, or euphoria. Burgger reports that mountain climbers who have experienced oxygen deprivation at about 27,000 feet have reported feeling a "presence" or having an out-of-body experience.

Brugger plans more experiments using a "virtual reality box" to try and prove his theory.

Bigfoot Tracks in Washington? - Biologists and bigfoot experts rushed to the Lower Hoh Indian Reservation in Washington state to look at "bigfoot" tracks discovered on June 30th. Self-proclaimed Sasquatch tracker Cliff Crook told the Peninsula Daily News that he went expecting "bear tracks", but came to believe "This was for sure a bigfoot."

Not everyone agrees. Biologist Dr. Jeffery Meldrum assistant professor of anatomy and biology at Idaho State, examined the area and concluded that there was not enough factual evidence to continue the investigation.

Nessie Explanation - Adrian Shine, a Loch Ness monster researcher, has declared the creature is no more than a invisible giant wave that moves beneath the surface of the Loch throwing debris up from the bottom. As interesting as Shines theory is, he is hardly the first person to propose it (see Monster Wave). Shine also tried to discredit the monster in 1993 by growing a giant Baltic Sturgeon in a pond near the lake to prove monster reports were actually sightings of a large fish. Many locals who have seen "Nessie" disagree with Shine's conclusions.

Desperately Seeking Kahn - Scholars from the United States are close to completing an expedition to retrace the life of life of legendary Mongolian leader Genghis Kahn. The team, led by Chicago lawyer Maury Kravitz, hopes to identify Kahn's birthplace and maybe even the location of his tomb. When Kahn died in 1227 he was buried somewhere in a mountain known as Burkhan Khaldun, which means "Buddha's cliffs." According to Marco Polo the men who buried Kahn were killed on completion of their task so that nobody would know the location of his final resting place. Kravitz speculates that Kahn was also buried with an enormous treasure. Even if the expedition is not fully successful this summer, it may open the door for future trips.


In History:

Great Balls of Fire! - Early in the evening on August 12, 1970, a violent thunderstorm rolled in over Sidmouth, England. During the storm a "red ball of fire" appeared in the air. After crackling a few seconds it exploded sending jagged flashes of lightning to the earth and causing thousands of television sets in the area to die.

What was this strange phenomena? Probably that most enigmatic of all electrical events: ball lightning.


On the Web:

Cosmiverse Site - A new portal site with information on space and science has premiered at The site features live space news, NASA cams, moon and star charts, and other interactive features for space fans.


In the Sky:

Meteor Shower - The Perseid meteor shower appears this month. As the Earth crosses the track of Comet Swift-Tuttle, dust and debris left behind by the comet hit our atmosphere. As they burn up they create streaks across the sky that seem to come from the constellation Perseus (hence the name). The shower will start to appear on August 9th and will reach a peak on Saturday morning the 12th. For the best view go out after the moon has set (2 or 3 AM) and take a blanket or lounge chair to lie down on and view as much of the sky as possible.



Lake Monster Trap for Selma - On August 12th GUST (Global Underwater Search Team) will deploy "Comet." Comet is, according to GUST, "the world's first functional serpent trap." Comet will be deployed in the waters of Lake Seljordsvatnet in Norway in an attempt to trap "Selma" a sea serpent-like creature that many people contend resides in the Lake.

Big Snake on the Loose? - Residents of Foreman, Arkansas, suspect that a 30-foot long snake is roaming the woods around town. Rumors have flown through the small community a few months ago a boa constrictor or some other big snake has gotten loose in the area and since then small animals have been disappearing from around town. Cats and bullfrogs have gone missing and cranes and herons have moved out of the area. Not every one is convinced a snake is on the loose. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is skeptical of the story. Officers searched the area and discovered big snake, but it wasn't nearly 30 feet in length and it was of a species common to the area. Residents suspect the snake is still there somewhere in hiding.

Meteorite Confirmed - Many of us have had the windshield on our cars broken by a stray pebble thrown up from a truck a couple of car lengths ahead of us. The rock that broke Rich Wirth's windshield though came from much farther. Outer space to be precise. The rock crashed into his car as it was parked outside his house on October 21st, 1996. Wirth thought it might be a meteorite, but didn't follow it up until his son took to a rock show. Someone there identified it and Wirth took it to professor Paul Weiblen at the University of Minnesota who confirmed it as coming from outer space. Weiblen said he'd seen thousands of rocks in the past 35 years that people had brought to him thinking they were meteorites, but this was the first case where it had actually panned out.


On the Tube:

The Lost Ark -The Hebrews built it and put the pieces of the Ten Commandments in it. Then it was mysteriously carried off. Indiana Jones went after it in the movies. Now follow this special as it goes after in on television. August 6 at 8PM ET. Repeats at 11PM on TLC.

Shark Week - Discovery Channel will be running shark shows all week but episodes of special interest are: Sharks 3-D August 13 at 9PM, 1AM, August 20 at 7PM ET/PT and Jurassic Shark August 16 at 9PM, midnight, August 20 4PM ET/PT.

Chariots of the Gods -- The Mysteries Continue -Did aliens build the pyramids? Author Erich Von Daniken thinks so. Learn about his controversial theories in this program on TLC. Airs August 12 6PM ET/PT.

Into the Unknown - Check out these episodes this month on this fine series from the Discovery Channel: Giant Creatures August 10 at 10 PM, 1AM August 12 at 2PM, UFOs and Alien Implants August 19 at 2PM and Mysteries of the Sea August 31 at 10PM and 1AM ET/PT.

Science Mysteries - The following episodes are of special interest on this Discovery Channel series: Atlantis Found? August 24 at 9PM and midnight, August 26 at 5PM, Monsters of the Lake August 31 at 9PM and midnight ET/PT.

UFO's Over Phoenix - In March of 1997 hundreds of people saw strange lights in the sky near the vicinity of Phoenix, Arizona. Hear theories about what they saw on this Discovery Channel Signature Series special. August 7 at 10PM and 1AM, August 12 at 1PM ET/PT.

Ghost Ships - From the Flying Dutchman to the Mary Celeste history is full of legends of ghost ships and mysteriously missing crews. Hear about them on this History Channel premiere. Part of the Histories Mysteries Series. August 21 at 8PM. Repeats September 3 at 12PM ET/PT.




Science over the Edge Archives

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Copyright Lee Krystek 2000. All Rights Reserved.