Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Bones Right Age, Location for John the Baptist -
Several years ago two Bulgarian archeologists announced
they found what they thought might be the bones of the biblical
figure John the Baptist under the altar of a fifth century
basilica on Sveti Ivan, an island off the coast Bulgaria.
Finds like this are often debunked by scientific tests which
show the artifact or relic is not nearly the age that it
should be. However, when Tom Higham, an Oxford University
scientist and an atheist, tested the fragments he got a
surprise. "We got a date that was exactly where it should
be, right in the middle of the first century," said Higham,
a radiocarbon dating expert. Plus traces of DNA in the bones
suggest that the person was from the middle-east. While
this doesn't prove that the bone fragments are from John
the Baptist, it is unusual that tests did not rule the possibility
out. Higham suggests that it might be possible to compare
the bone fragments with other supposed relics of John the
Baptist to see if the remains came from the same person.
Archaeologists Find Golden Treasure - Last month
Israeli archaeologists looking for historical treasure came
across a monetary one. A joint team from Tel Aviv University
and Israel's Nature and Parks Authority found a broken pot
containing 100 gold dinar coins worth around $500,000. The
scientists were excavating at Apollonia National Park, an
ancient Roman settlement on the coast, at the time. The
coins come from the period between 1241 and 1265 AD when
a fortress in the area was occupied by Crusaders. "All in
all, we found some 108 dinars and quarter dinars, which
makes it one of the largest gold coin hoards discovered
in a medieval site in the land of Israel," said Prof. Oren
Tal, chairman of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology.
Apparently using the damaged pot that the hoard was found
in was part of an attempt to hide the treasure. "It was
in a small juglet, and it was partly broken. The idea was
to put something broken in the ground and fill it with sand,
in order to hide the gold coins within," Tal said. "If by
chance somebody were to find the juglet, he won't excavate
it, he won't look inside it to find the gold coins." The
scientists think that before the fortress at Apollonia was
attacked and destroyed in April 1265 one of the Crusader's
leaders hid the treasure hoping to recover it later, but
Rocky Exo-Planet Smaller then Earth? - Scientists
think NASA's Spitzer infrared space telescope has detected
a world only two-thirds the size of Earth. The planet, located
33 light years away, has been designated UCF-1.01. With
ground temperatures that exceed 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit,
the surface may be volcanic or molten with little or no
atmosphere. Still, it is one of the very few exo-planets
(planets orbiting stars outside our solar system) that have
been located that appear to be the same size, or smaller
than our own planet. The Spitzer infrared space telescope
found the planet by noting slight, regular dips in the amount
of light coming from its star as the planet passed in front
Mona Lisa's Skeleton Found? - Researchers believe
that they may have found the bones of Lisa Gherardini, the
minor noblewoman who inspired Leonardo da Vinci's painting
Mona Lisa. Historian Silvano Vinceti was able to trace Lisa's
life to her death at the age of 63 at the convent of Sant'Orsola
in Florence, Italy. Records show that Lisa's daughter, Marietta,
a nun, took her elderly mother to live with her at the convent
where Lisa eventually died and was buried. Archaeologist
Valeria D'Aquino was able to unearth remains from a crypt
below the altar at the abandoned nunnery. DNA from the bones
will be tested against remains from two of Lisa's children
known to be buried in the church of Santissima Annunziata
in Florence. If the DNA shows a match, it might then be
possible to reconstruct Lisa's face, from her skull, to
see if her features match those of the iconic painting on
display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Search for Earhart's Plane Yields No Aircraft -
The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery launched
an expedition last month to try and find vanished aviator
Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Electra aircraft. The group had
long suspected Earhart, who ran out of fuel on a round the
world trip75 years ago, was forced down on tiny Nikumaroro
Island in the South Pacific. The group planned to do a hi-tech
deep water search for the plane which they believe was swept
out to sea after landing on the tiny island. After 5 days
of diving, however, the group was unable to come to any
definite conclusion on whether the plane was submerged in
the area or not. "We have volumes of sonar data and many
hours of high-definition video to review and analyze before
we will know whether we found it," the group said. "Due
to the limitations of the technology, we were only able
to see standard-definition video images during actual search
operations. Now that we're examining the recorded high-definition
video, we're already seeing objects we want our forensic
imaging specialist, Jeff Glickman, to look at. We'll also
be getting expert second opinions on our best sonar targets."
Science Quote of the Month - "Science
is facts; just as houses are made of stone, so is science
made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house, and
a collection of facts is not necessarily science."
- Jules Henri Poincaré
New at the Museum:
The Great Arena
The Flavian Amphitheater, as it was then known would
become the largest public entertainment venue in the Roman
Empire and eventually a symbol of the city of Rome itself.
For 18 centuries it remained the largest amphitheater in
the world. Today we call this zenith of Roman architecture
and engineering the Coliseum.
The Foo Fighters of World War II - As the
war came to a close airmen started seeing strange craft
following their own planes. Was it a German secret weapon,
or something even more bizarre? >Full
Mysterious Picture of the Month - What
is this thing?
Hot and Cold - Is cold the absence of heat?
Or is heat the absence cold? - John
When you first
look at this question it sounds a little bit like a riddle:
Which came first the chicken or the egg? We need to first
understand what heat and cold is before we can get to the
bottom of this riddle however.
From a physics
point of view heat is simply the exchange of thermal energy
from one object to another. Now you might ask "What is thermal
energy?" Thermal energy at the smallest scale is the movement
(mostly vibration) of the particles that make up matter:
Atoms and molecules and the things they are composed of
- protons, electrons and neutrons. The more movement these
particles have, the higher the temperature of the object
they are in will be. At a certain point if the particles
are bumping around fast enough the object will actually
Let's look at
water. When the particles aren't moving much water can take
a solid form: ice. As the thermal energy increases the water
molecules eventually bounce around so much that they reach
a point where they break away from the solid form and flow
freely by becoming liquid water. If the temperature of the
water continues to rise the molecules will eventually be
jumping around so much that they can't even stay in liquid
from and become a gas: steam.
Heat is the transfer
of that thermal energy from object to object. For example,
when you hold an ice cube in your hand you are heating it
because the thermal energy in your hand is higher than the
thermal energy in the cube and the energy flows from one
to the other. Thermal energy always seeks an equilibrium
when it can find it. Just like water will flow from a full
container to an empty container if there is a connection
between the two until the levels in both are equal. The
result is the ice cube starts to melt as its thermal energy
rises and your hand starts to feel cold as the thermal energy
in it drops.
So let's go back
to the original question: " Is cold the absence of heat?
Or is heat the absence cold?" Well, since heat is the transfer
of thermal energy and cold can be defined as an area of
low thermal energy I think you can make an argument for
the first case. Cold is an area of low thermal energy which
hasn't gotten a transfer of energy (heat - which is absent
in this scenario) from another location with a higher amount
of thermal energy.
Have a question?
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CE2 in England - Late on the evening of August
13th and early on morning of August 14th, 1956, radar at
two English military bases picked up high-speed Unidentified
Flying Objects (UFOs). The objects were observed by both
Royal Air Force and U.S. Air Force personnel. Their existence
was also confirmed visually by ground observers and by pilots
in aircraft using radar and visual surveillance. An official
report on the incident concluded "The apparently rational,
intelligent behavior of the UFO suggests a mechanical device
of unknown origin as the most probable explanation of this
sighting." The event remains one of the strongest chronicle
s of a Close Encounter of the Second Kind (where a UFO physically
affects its environment).
Mars, Saturn and Spica Conjunction - Mid-month
August will bring the planets Mars and Saturn close together
in the night sky with Spica, the brightest star in the constellation
Virgo 'The Virgin.' Catch this in the evening twilight sky
just above the Western horizon.
Perseid Meteor Shower - Look for the Perseid
Meteor Shower on the 12th and 13th of August. The constellation
of Perseus rises in the north east at around 9pm but the
moon won't come up till about 1:30AM, so you should get
a few hours of dark skies before the moonlight makes viewing
more difficult. Expect 50 to 75 shooting stars per hour.
Smoking Orangutan Must Kick Habit - Indonesia's
Taru Jurug Zoo is moving Tori, the orangutan, into an enclosure
located on an island to help her kick her smoking addition.
The 13-year old orangutan had developed the bad habit of
finishing off still-burning cigarette butts discarded in
her cage by zoo visitors. Despite signs that instruct the
visitors not to toss food or other objects into enclosures,
guests to the zoo have been feeding Tori's habit. The new
island puts her at a distance from the zoo's naughty guests
so she will be able to detox.
check local listing for area outside of North America.
NOVA: Finding Life Beyond Earth - Scientists are on the verge of answering one of the greatest questions
in history: Are we alone? On
PBS: August 8 at 9 pm; ET/PT.
How Will The World End? - The Mayans predict that time will end on December 21, 2012. But how
likely is a global apocalypse from a scientific point of
view? When, where and will it happen, if at all? Samuel
L. Jackson hosts this CGI spectacular.
Aug 04, 8:00 pm; Aug 05, 1:00
Mermaids: The Body Found - A team of scientists testifies that they found the remains of a sea
creature with ties to human origins - a modern day mermaid.
They claim a massive government cover-up is currenly hiding
the creature's existence from the general public. On The
Aug 10, 8:00 pm; Aug 10, 11:00
Some carnivorous species - such as fire ants - devastate everything
in their paths and pose real ecological problems. To such
a point that researchers and scientists are now preparing
a whole arsenal to combat these uncontrollable insects.
Aug 07, 8:00 pm; Aug
07, 11:00 pm; Aug 09, 3:00 am;
History of UFOs
At Washington National Airport, air traffic control reported seven slow-moving
blips over D.C. in 1952, causing the Air Force to scramble
fighter jets. During the 1980s, an increasing number of
people claimed they were abducted by aliens from their own
bedrooms! Bringing together eyewitness testimony, expert
opinions, and archival video and photos, Secret History
of UFOs investigates some of the biggest landmark UFO sightings
in history. On The
August 3rd 08:00 PM
to 10:00 PM; August 24th 09:00 PM to 11:00 ;
Emmy-winning producer/director Mark Davis turns the cameras on the team
at Californias Jet Propulsion Laboratory as they shepherd
NASAs new Mars rover, the Curiosity, from the drawing board
to the launch pad, and ultimately to the Martian surface.
But sending a craft on a 354-million-mile journey across
the solar system and having it hit the brakes from 13,000
miles per hour when it gets there is no piece of cake. On
August 9th 10:00 PM
to 11:00 PM; August 10th 09:00 PM to 10:00 PM;
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Copyright Lee Krystek 2012. All Rights Reserved.