Science Over the Edge

A Roundup of Strange Science for the Month

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

August 2001

In the News:

Brit Geo Group Says Monster is No Earthquake- The British Geological Survey has dismissed the theory proposed last month by Dr. Luigi Piccardi that earthquakes are responsible for many sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. Piccardi believes that movement along the Great Glen Fault, which runs under Loch Ness, would have released bubbles of gas that would churn up the calm surface of the lake. British Geological Survey spokesperson, Hilary Heason, said there was no evidence that the fault was currently active and that "earthquakes in the UK are generally not associated with large fault structures in the way that they are in California or Italy." She also added that , "Statements that the Great Glen Fault is a major source of earthquakes are false."

Dinosaur Fossils vs. Golf Course - William T. Caneer, a retired geologist, is fighting to save priceless sets of fossil dinosaur tracks from the construction of the a golf course over them. The tracks were discovered by Dr. Martin Lockley, a professor of geology at the University of Colorado in Denver, on a five-acre strip of abandoned clay pits at the town of Golden, Colorado. The find includes the first tracks ever found of horned dinosaurs known as ceratopsians and the only track of a champsosaur known to exist in the United States. The city of Golden plans to build an 18 hole golf course on the site. While construction of the course will not destroy the tracks, Caneer is worried that some of the fossils will be buried completely, while others will be inaccessible to the public. Caneer wants to delay construction of the course till a comprehensive survey of the pits can be done by dinosaur experts who will be looking for additional tracks.

Professor Offers Radical New Theory on Siberian Explosion - The massive, mysterious explosion over central Siberia in 1908 that most scientists have attributed to a meteor was, according to a new theory by Wolfgang Kundt, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Bonn, actually a "volcanic blowout" of ten million tons of natural gas. Kundt says, in August's issue of the journal Current Science, that seventeen factors, including the patterns of tectonic faults and fallen trees in the area, indicate the explosion was caused by gas forced upwards from the Earth's molten core. Kundt dismissed the comet and meteorite theories as pseudo-science. He also predicts that if he is right there may be a geological structure known as a kimberlite to be found close under the surface in the area of the explosion which would turn Siberia into a "rich industrial country."

Fireball Seen Over Northeastern U.S. -A fireball racing across the sky startled commuters traveling home in the Northeastern U.S. last month. The object, a large meteor, also known as a biolide, streaked across the sky trailing smoke early one evening causing drivers to stop their cars and gape. Authorities think parts of the extraterrestrial rock may have landed in central Pennsylvania. While fireballs like this aren't particularly rare (they come plunging into the Earth's atmosphere usually two or three times a month) they rarely fall over a populated region during a clear night at rush hour.

Fat Dinos Grew Fast - According to a research paper in the journal Nature the biggest dinosaurs became that way by growing faster than almost any animal that ever lived. The heaviest dinosaur that ever lived, Argentinasaurus, probably gained more than 100 pounds a day during its adolescent growth spurt. To reach this conclusion scientists examined dinosaur leg bones and estimated their body weights by measuring the bones' thickness. Then they calculated age of the animals by counting annual growth rings in the bones. A half-century ago scientists thought that dinosaurs must have grown slowly, like modern reptiles, and thought it would have taken a century for a big animal, like an apatosaurus to reach maturity. The new estimates suggest that it may have only taken between 12 and 20 years. The discovery may add weight to the argument that dinosaurs were warm-blooded.

Iceman: Accident or Murder?- Scientists have solved a 5300-year-old-mystery of what killed a Bronze Age hunter whose frozen mummy was found a decade ago in the Alps. Paul Gostner, a radiologist studying the "Iceman," said an arrowhead was found under his left shoulder. According to Gostner, the path the arrow followed as it shot through the man's body could be traced on his bones. Experts think that the wound was so sever that the man could not have lived more than a few hours after he was hit. The frozen corpse was discovered in 1991 by mountaineers climbing in the Tyrollean Alps. The mummy is now kept refrigerated in a viewing chamber at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in northern Italy.


What's New at the Museum:

Gustave Whitehead - Did a poor, German immigrant named Gustave Whitehead build the first working airplane three years before the Wright Brothers did? Check it out: Gustave Whitehead

Those Fabulous and Foolhardy Flyers - Man has always wanted to fly, but his experiments with flight have sometimes had disastrous consequences. Follow our history of flight from Icarus to Orville - Those Fabulous and Foolhardy Flyers


To Do:

Kraken Contest - Kids and Adults alike can draw a picture of what they think a Kraken looks like and send it to the Activated Storyteller website contest, then go there and read the story of "Old Stormalong." For more details goto Hurry! The contest closes on August 10th.


In History:

Early Loch Ness Report - One of the earliest, modern reports about the Loch Ness Monster was published in the Northern Chronicle on August 27, 1930. The article stated that three men out fishing in the lake noticed "a commotion about 600 yards up the loch." Spay was being thrown to a considerable height, said the report, by something that appeared to be alive and was about 20 feet in length. Witnesses added it was not "anything normal."


In the Sky:

Perseids Meteor Shower - Catch the summer meteor show: the Perseids, this month. The shower peaks early on the morning of Sunday August 12th, but some shooting stars may be visible the evening before and after. The best way to observe a shower is on your back someplace with a full view of the a dark sky.



Russian Officials Blame Crop Circle on Aliens - The Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported last month that officials outside Maikop in the Krasnodar region have attributed five concentric circles of wheat, flattened in a clockwise direction, to a visit by extraterrestrials. The officials think that the aliens came by to collect soil samples.

UFO Lights Over New Jersey - Officials are still trying to explain a set of dazzling, orange lights that hovered over Carteret, New Jersey, last month. Witnesses said there were 16 lights, some in "V" formations, other scattered around. Police reported at least 30 calls about the lights. Neither the nearby Newark Airport or National Weather Service could find anything to explain the what people saw.


On the Tube:

Currently we are only able to give accurate times and dates for these programs in the United States. Check local listings in other locations.

The Beast of Loch Ness - Nova repeats this investigation about the search for the Loch Ness Monster. Is it just a fairy tale, or could a primeval beast lurk in the deep, dark waters of this Scottish lake? On PBS: August 14 on PBS at 9PM, ET/PT.

Ghost Ships - Ships sailing without a crew? It was the case for The Flying Dutchman, the Mary Celeste, the Dash, the Teazer, and the more recent Joyita. Part of the History Channel's History's Mysteries series: August 9 at 11PM and August 10 at 3AM.

The Abominable Snowman - Is Yeti an eastern cousin of our own Bigfoot? Can these creatures truly live, prowling civilization's perimeters? See what the experts say. Part of the History Channel's Incredible But True? series. August 13 10AM and 4PM.

Quest for the Giant Squid - The Discovery Channel and Smithsonian Institute go looking for a bus-size marine monster alive in its deep sea habitat. August 12 at 8PM and 12AM ET/PT.

Loch Ness and Giant Squid - Two mysteries for the price of one in this show: The legend of the Loch Ness monster, and the life of the 60-foot-long giant squid. On the Discovery Channel: August 16 8PM and 12AM, August 18 2PM ET/PT.

Allosaurus: A Walking with Dinosaurs Special - Go back in time to see how a huge Jurassic carnivore, the allosaurus lived and died. On the Discovery Channel: August 19, 8PM and 12AM ET/PT.

Anaconda: Giant Snake of the Amazon - Over 30 feet long and weighing nearly 500 pounds, the deadly Amazon anaconda is the world's largest and most powerful snake. With its great coils it can kill in seconds. On the Discovery Channel: August 20 9PM and 1AM ET/PT.

Bermuda Triangle -Hear new theories that try to explain of the mysterious tragedies that occur in the Bermuda Triangle. Is there a massive whirlpool or "gas ice" that bubbles up and sinks ships? On the Discovery Channel: August 30 8PM and 12AM ET/PT.

Extra Sensory Perception - Does extra sensory perception (ESP) really exist? It there a mental link between identical twins? Can people tell if they are being watched? On TCL: August 25 8PM and 11PM. Also August 26 2PM ET/PT.



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Copyright Lee Krystek 2001. All Rights Reserved.