Science Over the Edge

A Mix of News, Events, History and Gossip

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

August 1999

In the News:

Send in the Clones (Part One) - Scientists are preparing to dig a 23,000 year old woolly mammoth out of the ground in Siberia. While the head of the extinct creature has decomposed, much of the rest of the body has been frozen solid in the tundra since the it died. If scientists can recover DNA from the animals soft organs or hair, it maybe possible to clone it according to French explorer Bernard Buigues. Larry Ageneroad, a member of the scientific team and a geology professor at the University of Northern Arizona, expects that if they make the attempt it will be done using an Asian elephant as the gestating mother.

Send in the Clones (Part Two) - The Huia bird went extinct in the 1920's but scientists and ethicists meeting in New Zealand have determined that attempts to bring the creature back by cloning it should begin immediately. The Huia, prized for its large white-tipped black tail features disappeared due to a European fashion craze. The scientific meeting about the Huia was arranged by students of the Hasting Boys High School in New Zealand. The Huia is the school's emblem.

The next step in the process will be to locate cells in the preserved specimens that might be used to start the cloning process. Diana Hill, one of the scientists at the meeting, estimates that despite the green light given during the conference technical considerations will delay creating a clone for at least several years.

Cryptozoolgical Find (Part One)- It can bark for hours, weights 25 pounds and stands twenty-inches tall at the shoulder. If a dog came to mind, you are wrong. It's Muntiacus putaoensis, the world's smallest deer just recently discovered in the Annamite mountains between Vietnam and Laos.

Muntiacus putaoensis isn't the only creature to be recently discovered in this area. Within the last five years a giant barking deer and the saola (a 200-pound ox-like animal with two-foot-long horns) were also found in these mountains.

Cryptozoolgical Find (Part Two) - One species thought extinct may not need cloning after all. The Javan rhinoceros of Vietnam, believed to have succumbed to poachers and war years ago, seems to be alive. Photographs of the creatures taken by remote automatic cameras have proved that a small group of rhinos, perhaps no more than six or eight, continue to exist in a bamboo forest that was nearly completely destroyed during the Vietnam War.

To read more about creatures long thought dead being found alive click here!

Meteor Shakes Up New Zealand - With a sonic boom and a flash of blue light a meter came down over New Zealand in July and exploded while still in the air. Thousands of people witnessed the path of the rock from outer space as it flashed across the sky leaving a trail of smoke. Scientists at a local observatory estimate that the meteor was about the size of a car. The explosion was so loud it was recorded by local seismographs set up to monitor volcanoes.

Want to hear about another exploding object from space that did a lot more damage than this one? Click here!

In History:

Great Balls of Fire! - On August 12th 1970 during a violent evening thunderstorm a "red ball of fire" appeared in the air over Sidmouth, England. After crackling a few seconds it exploded with a ear-spliting bang as it sent jagged bolts of lightning to the ground. Nobody was hurt, but according to reports thousands of television sets in the area failed at the moment.

The incident seems to be another appearance of that most mysterious electrical phenomenon, ball lightning.

In the Sky:

Meteor Show - Astronomers are predicting a spectacular show this month from the Perseid meteor shower on the night of Thursday 11th and Friday the 12th. The peak of the shower should be in the early morning hours of Friday. A new moon (no moon) will darken the skies to make the show even brighter.

Last Eclipse - The last total solar eclipse of the 20th century will occur over Europe and SW Asia on August 11th. The next one will not be till June 21, 2001 over South Africa and Madagascar.


NASA Knows About UFO's - In a copyrighted story in the July edition of CNI News a former NASA employee says the agency knows more about UFO's than they have let on. Clark McCelland, who worked on several programs including the Titan-Gemini project, says he saw many situations that made him think the agency is not being forthright with public about UFOs. In one incident he had a discussion with the famous scientist Wernher von Braun who confirmed that a spaceship of unknown origin crashed at Roswell, NM, in 1947.

For more from McCelland check his website at

On the Tube:

Napoleon's Lost Fleet - Marine archaeologists search the Egyptian bay of Aboukir for the remains of L'Orient, the flagship of Napoleon Bonaparte's massive fleet. With 120 guns, L'Orient was the most magnificent battleship of its day. Airs on the Discovery Channel Sunday, August 29, at 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.; Sunday, September 5, at 7 p.m.; Wednesday, September 8, at 9 p.m. and midnight; Saturday, September 11, at 3 p.m.; and Friday, September 17, at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET/PT

The First Detective - Eugene Francois Vidocq, a rakish 19th century criminal-turned-detective started the first detective squad for the Paris police. A master of disguise and fan of scientific methods, he is credited with introducing undercover work, ballistics testing and extensive record keeping to crime solving. Airs on the History Channel Wednesday, August 4 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT

Einstein's Brain - The first part of this Lost and Found program deals with what happened to Einstein's brain and why was it removed from his body and shipped to scientists around the country. Other stories include the 19th century philosopher whose wish was to be stuffed upon his death and mounted on the family mantle. Airs on the History Channel Saturdays, August 7 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT and repeats: Monday, August 9 at 11 pm ET/ 12 am PT


Science over the Edge Archives

LGM Archive 1998, 1999.

Copyright Lee Krystek 1999. All Rights Reserved.