Science Over the Edge:

A Mix of News, Events, History and Gossip

August 1998

In the News:

DNA extracted from a brownish softball-sized lump of fossilized dung may answer the riddle of what happened to the Giant Sloth that went extinct 10,000 years ago in North America. "...feces are a great source of genetic information," said Hendrik Poinar, from the University of Munich. A "caramelization" process has protected the DNA from destruction, but would not let normal DNA extraction processes work. Poinar discovered that using a chemical could break caramelization and release the DNA for study.

To learn more about this facinating creature go to our Giant Sloth page!

Norway's Seljord Lake is rumored to contain a monster much like the famous one in Loch Ness. This month investigators are gathering from around the world to examine the lake with state-of-the-art imaging equipment and a small submarine. Reports of the creature go back to 1750. Investigators will try to prove that people have actually be seeing something rather than fantasy or illusion.

Scientists gathered for a three day conference at NASA Ames Research Center to consider how to look for extraterrestrial life. Sessions included discussions on the biological basis for distant life and how to detect it. Discoveries in recent years show the life on Earth can exist under an extreme set of conditions, from the hot vents on the bottom of the sea to blocks of Antarctic ice. This has given hope that life maybe found within our own solarsystem. For more information, click here!

In June Maria Reiche, a German mathematician who spent most of her life guarding and studying the mysterious lines of Nazca, died at age 95. Reiche, known as the "lady of the lines" was captivated by the shapes and figures that dot the isolated Nazca plain in Peru. She reguarded them as a "very fragile manuscript" that was slowly being damaged by vandalism, acid rain and agriculture.

For more information about the Nazca Lines, click here!

In History:

On August 10th, 1979, a woman in Frisco, Texas, saw a light land near her neighbor's home. The next morning three purple blobs were found at the location. One evaporated once the sun hit it, while the other two were sent to a lab for analysis. The lab decided the material was "industrial waste."

Was it the bi-product of a flying saucer's engine? To learn more about UFOs, click here!

In the Sky:

It's August again and time for one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year. The Perseid shower should be most visable on August 12 from nightfall to moonrise. It is best viewed away from city lights. Look for streaks of light coming out of the northeast sky from the Perseus constellation.


On Tuesday June 30th observers near Mounts Bay, Cornwall, UK, saw a unusual white, circular object trailing a jetliner through the clear blue sky. The object appeared to be circling above the aircraft which was apparently unaware of its strange companion. As the group watched the object faded and disappeared.

The description sounds a little be like the "foo fighters" that trailed aircraft during WWII.

On the Tube:

Sunday August 16th with be Quest for the Lost Civilizations Week on TCL. Heavens Mirror airs August 16 at 9PM & midnight and August 22 at 6PM ET. Forgotton Secrets August 16th at 10PM & 1AM and August 22 at 7PM. Ancient Mariners on August 17th at 9PM & midnight. Sky Archaeology August 17th 10PM & 1 AM and August 23 at 5PM. The Secret of Stonehenge August 19 9PM & midnight. Mystery of Mars August 19 10PM & 1AM and August 23 at 3PM ET.

The Discovery Channel takes you to see the Titanic Live from the bottom of the Atlantic. Sunday August 16 from 8-10PM & 10PM - midnight ET. In PT August 16 5-7PM & 7-9PM. Repeat August 24 8-10PM & midnight -2AM ET/PT.

TCL has a new show called Understanding. The first episode airing on August 29th at 10PM ET is Understanding - Extraterrestrials.

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Copyright Lee Krystek 1998. All Rights Reserved.