Science Over the Edge

A Mix of News, Events, History and Gossip

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

October 1999

In the News:

Dinos Did Not Die- Zikui Zhao of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleoanthropology in China claims he has found the fossilized eggs of five different species laid thousands of years after the meteor that supposedly killed the dinosaurs hit the Earth. If this is true the leading theory of dinosaur extinction maybe overthrown. Other scientists are skeptical suggesting that Zhao may have misidentified the "KT boundary" which is the geological boundary between pre and post impact periods.

Will You Pay Extra for an Earth-View Room? - Hilton Hotels Inc. has admitted that it is looking into the possibility of building a tourist hotel in orbit. "We want to take a hard look and see if Hilton can be first into space," said a spokesperson. The company estimates the opening of such a hotel could be 15 to 20 years into the future but only if it makes economic sense. Other private companies are considering a "Cruise Ship" that would fly from Earth to the Moon and back. Hilton will be hosting a symposium on space tourism in December.

Bible Code Bunk? - An article in the journal Statistical Science refutes the "Bible Code." The code first appeared in an earlier article and popular book in 1994. Supporters of the code claim words hidden in the text of the Hebrew text of the bible thousands of years ago can be found with a computer and will predict 20th century events. The authors of the new article tried to repeat the code finding methods of the book using additional spellings and more books. They reported "Despite a considerable effort we have been unable to detect any codes."

The authors of the original article continue to stand behind their work.

Robot Wars - Like a scene from a science fiction movie, future wars may be fought by squads of robots. Robot specialist John Pretlove, from the University of Surry has predicted that within five years humans might be able to "withdraw from war completely and let the robots shoot it out." A robot flying saucer capable of hovering and moving through city streets to do recon has already been developed for the US military. Pretlove also expects robots to also be used more and more for extremely hazardous tasks like handling radioactive waste and clearing mine fields.

9,000 Year Old Flute - Archaeologists in Jiahu, China, have located what seems to be the oldest musical instrument that is still capable of playing. The flute, carved from a bone, has a "reedy, pleasant sound" say researchers. Archaeologists believe the flute shows that music in China in 7,000 B.C. was quite advanced. While an artifact that might be a musical instrument was found in the excavation of a Neanderthal site some 43,000 years old, the Jiahu flute is the oldest still capable of being used.

NASA Invests in Flying Backpack - NASA and Silicon Valley engineer Michael Moshier are developing a one-man flying backpack. The SoloTrek Exo-Skeletor Flying Machine ( will be able to carry its pilot as fast as 80MPH to a height of 10,000 feet. Two large tilting fans positioned outside and above the pilot's shoulders provide the lift for a 90 minute flight. The backpack is to be tested in hovering experiments a few feet off the ground later this year.

In History:

Clouds or UFOs? - On October 14, 1961 a pair of clouds resembling "puffy-like daubs of cotton" floated by over Sunset, Utah. The clouds appeared to be linked by a cord of long, stringy material. Following directly behind the clouds were two smooth, metallic, disc-like objects. The next day, as UFO investigators watched, two more puffy white clouds appeared overhead and flew off in the same direction as the pair the day before. No explanation has been found for what was seen.

New Off the Press:

Three new books of potential interest have been released this month. The I-Files True Reports of Unexplained Phenomena in Illinois by Jay Rath (Illustrator) and edited by Stan Stoga published by Wisconsin Trails It is the third in a series. Also Monsters of the Deep by Janet Perry and Victor Gentle is a book for younger readers published by Gareth Stevens. Finally Wonders of the World by Mark Bergin and David Salariya a children's book.

For reviewed books on these subjects checkout the UnMuseum Bookstore.

In the Sky:

Evening Planets - Both Jupiter and Saturn will be very visible this month. They will rise in the east about an hour and a half after sunset. Jupiter, the brighter of the two, will be more brilliant than any other object in the night sky other than the moon and the planet Venus which will not appear till the early morning hours.

Harvest Moon - If you've heard the expression "Harvest Moon" but never seen it, check out the sky on October 25th. The full moon on that night became known as the Harvest Moon because it gave farmers needed light to work into the evening harvesting crops.


FORFEST '99 - On November 6th & 7th in College Park, MD, USA the INTERNATIONAL FORTEAN ORGANIZATION (INFO) will be presenting FORTFEST '99: The 29th Annual Conference on Anomalous Phenomena. Speakers include Bud Hopkins author or such books as Missing Time and Intruders and John Michell, philosopher and scholar on sacred mysteries. Tickets range from $45 to $125. For more information E-mail or call (301) 294-4315.

On the Tube:.

Riddle of the Desert Mummies - In the China 4,000-year-old mummies have been exhumed - but none of them are Chinese. Where did these ancient individuals with blond and red hair come from, and how did they wind up in Asia? Airs on the Discovery Channel Sunday, October 10, at 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.; Sunday, October 17, at 5 p.m.; Wednesday, October 20, at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.; and Sunday, October 24, at 1 p.m. ET/PT

Voyage to the Galapagos - Scientific American Frontiers will premiere Voyage to the Galapagos on PBS on Tuesday October 5 at 8PM ET. Alan Alda travels with a scientific expedition on the famous Galapago Islands to observe unique species including giant tortoises and marine iguanas.

Fall of the Leaning Tower - Nova follows a decade-long search for a solution to correct the lean and save the unique building from collapse as it sinks into the unstable soil on which it was built 800 years ago. PBS on Tuesday October 5 at 9PM ET.

Time Travel - Nova explores the possibility of time travel. Many leading physicists now believe that time travel is not only possible in theory but are discussing how to build a time machine. PBS on Tuesday October 12th at 9PM ET.

The Strange Disappearance of the Anaszi - 19th century explorers in the American southwest encountered the ruins of a vanished civilization that spread across Colorado, Utah, New Mexico. Why were these spectacular cities abandoned? Where had the inhabitants gone? The History Channel October 6th 8PM ET. Repeats October 7 4AM ET.

The Mysteries of Devil's Triangles - Explore some of the most mysterious spots on earth--Devil's Triangles--where an unusual number of unexplainable tragedies occur. Includes the Bermuda Triangle, which has swallowed up ships, planes, and people, and the more deadly Great Lakes Triangle, where ghost ships routinely sail. History Channel October 4 at 8PM ET. Repeats October 5th at 4AM ET.

The Mysteries of Amelia Earhart - The fate of Amelia Earhart ranks as one of the greatest mysteries of this century. The most accepted theory was that she crashed into the ocean, but many suspect otherwise. Was she on a spy mission for FDR and captured by the Japanese? Airs on the History Channel on October8 at 8 pm ET/9 pm PT


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Copyright Lee Krystek 1999. All Rights Reserved.