Science Over the Edge

A Roundup of Strange Science for the Month

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

September 2000

In the News:

King Tut's Clothes - Researchers studying the clothes of King Tutankhamum believe he may have suffered from a hereditary disease that gave him large hips. The clothes were rediscovered in the storerooms of Cairo's Egyptian Museum where they had sat undisturbed for over 70 years since the opening of Tut's tomb. Scientists caution that further investigations will be necessary as their conclusions are only based on an examination of the King's clothes, not his body.

Lost Temple Found at Bottom of Lake - Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a lost temple some 100 feet under the waters of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. Researchers found a 660 foot long, 160 foot wide temple at the bottom of the lake during 18 days of diving. Eduardo Pareja, of the Bolivian National Archaeology Department as termed the discovery "the greatest archaeological find of the new millennium." Pareja believes the remains are part of a pre-Columbian culture. Lake Titicaca lies at an altitude of the 12,464 feet making it the largest lake in the world at such a high elevation.

Sereno Seeks Nigersaurus - Paleontologist Paul Sereno has embarked this month on his fourth expedition to Africa's Sahara Desert to find dinosaur fossils. Sereno has made several important discoveries during his previous expeditions including a carnivorous dinosaur that rivals a T-Rex is size, and a bizarre vegetarian dino with some 600 teeth. On this trip Sereno hopes to recover a complete skeleton of the many toothed Nigersaurus that lived some 110 million years ago.

Galileo Says Europa May have Sea - More evidence suggesting that moon Europa, which orbits Jupiter, may have a liquid water sea beneath its icy surface has shown up. Scientists looking at information gathered by NASA's Galileo probe discovered that the moon's magnetic pole shifted every five and one-half hours. The only known explanation for this would be if the moon had a shell of electrically conductive material, like a salt water ocean.

The existence of water on Europa is important as some scientists think it might allow life to exist on the moon near thermal vents on the sea bottom.

Apollo 11 Sale Raises Controversy - NASA is investigating the sale of a handle from the Apollo 11 space capsule. The part went for $34,500 at auction. The item was sold by Charles Barnes, a former radiation safety officer at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center who had kept the handle after leaving NASA to perform testing . The handle was sold with the condition that it if NASA demands the return of the object, the buyer will get a refund.

The sale of the handle and the sale of a rare fossil of a Icarosaurus siefkeri, at the auction has raised questions about the ethics of selling one-of-a-kind historical objects.

Comet Linear Spawns "Mini-comets" - Scientists watched as Comet Linear made a flyby of the Sun in late July and then apparently disintegrated under the heat and high gravity of that star. They were surprised to discover in early August a half-dozen "mini-comets" in its place. Comets have been known to break up before, but this is the first time a comet has done so close enough to the Earth to be easily studied.


In History:

Brown Mountain Lights - September 13th, 1913 marks the first known printed reference to the mysterious Brown Mountain Lights. The nature of the lights which appear near Brown Mountain North Carolina have baffled people for many years. The newspaper reported that "the mysterious light is seen just above the horizon almost every night." Some researchers contend that the lights can be explained by such common things as cars and trains. Others think that lights are "spooklights" or "earthlights" that are somehow generated by seismic activity.


In the Sky:

Antares Search - Use the moon as a guide to finding the star Antares on the evening of Labor Day September 4th. The moon will be near the head of the constellation Scorpius. Antares is the bright star at the heart of Scorpius 9 degrees (about the size of you fist as seen at the length of an extended arm) toward the Moon's lower left. Notice its red-orange color. That's because Antares is a red giant star some 700 times larger than our Sun. If you miss seeing it on Monday night, try Tuesday when the star will be 10 degrees to the lower right of the Moon.

Harvest Moon - Look for the full "Harvest Moon" on September the 13th. The early evening light from the Moon in September gave farmers enough illumination to extend harvest into the evenings before artificial lights became available.



Bay Area UFO Expo - Some 3000 UFO investigators, researchers and enthusiasts gathered for the Bay Area UFO EXPO held in San Jose, California, last month. There were 19 featured speakers at the conference which was also broadcast over the Internet on One of the most controversial speakers was David Jacobs, a professor at Temple University, who contends that aliens are creating a hybrid race among us that are neither alien or human. Jacbos admits though people should "Take everything I say with a boulder of salt. In fact, you should take everything all of us researchers say with a boulder of salt, because there are no UFO research standards."

New Pyramid to Rise - Two businessmen from Michigan have put together a plan to build a modern mausoleum in the shape of a Egyptian pyramid. The pyramid would rise to the height of a 24 story building. By using high-impact polymers they believe the structure could last for millions of years. They plan to use 18-by-18-by-31 inch blocks containing remains to build the pyramid and sell space for cremation ashes at $3,000 per unit.


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.

Monsters of the Lake - Many people believe there is some kind of unknown creature in the depths of Loch Ness. Check out this Discovery channel special that looks for Monsters of the Lake. September 2 at 5PM ET/PT.

Nefertiti: Egypt's Mysterious Queen - The beautiful Egyptian Queen Nefertiti's tomb is still undiscovered in the Valley of the Kings. Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves goes searching for it in this TCL special. September 12 at 10PM and 1AM ET/PT.

Raising the Mammoth -If you didn't catch it the first time see this Discovery Channel Signature Series which follows scientists as they dig up a frozen mammoth. Will they be able to get enough DNA from it to do a clone? Probably not, but the you'll want to watch the show anyway. Airs September 11 10PM and 1AM ET/PT.

Dinosaur Attack! - With the use of some dinosaur fossil tracks frozen in stone and some high powered computers can you recreate a real dinosaur battle? Find out on this episode of Sci-Trek on the Discovery Channel. September 2 at 9PM and 1 AM, September 9 at 4PM ET/PT.

The Curse of King Tutankhamum - Rumors about the curse of the tomb of King Tut still circulate today. Are they true? Check out this special on TCL. September 19 at 9PM and 12PM ET/PT.

Are We Alone? - Mike Wallace takes on the UFO controversy with Don Berliner, a UFO believe and Philip Klass, a skeptic. September 21 at 7PM ET/PT on the History Channel.

Body Snatchers - Why do people sometimes rob and steal dead bodies? The History Channel takes a look a this strange practice starting with robbers who plundered the Egyptian tombs to modern organ transplants. September 5 at 8PM ET/PT.



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