Science Over the Edge

A Mix of News, Events, History and Gossip

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

November 1999

In the News:

A Tenth Planet in Our Solar System?- Astronomy text books may have to be rewritten if the theories of some scientists pan out: the solar system may not have just nine planets, but ten. Two research teams, one based in England and another at the University of Louisiana, have independently come to the conclusion that the orbits of some comets maybe affected by the gravity of a tenth planet beyond the orbit of Pluto. They estimate that the planet, if it exists, would have to be large, perhaps as much as 10 times the mass of Jupiter and extremely distant, one half a light year from the sun. Some of the scientists speculate the object could also be a "brown dwarf" (a star that was not massive enough to ignite).

Mammoth Clone Unlikely - A Russian scientist who is involved in the attempt to remove a mammoth carcass from frozen Siberia and use one of cells for cloning a new mammoth as stated that he does not believe it will be possible. Alexei Tikhonov said they would need a living cell to do a clone and no living cell could survive in the permafrost. Other members of the team were more upbeat stating the cloning would depend on the condition of the animal's DNA.

The mammoth carcass was airlifted by helicopter in October from the permafrost where it was found to an ice cave were it will be gradually defrosted.

Court Clears Titanic Visits - The US Supreme court has ruled RMS Titanic, Inc., the company who has exclusive salvage rights to the Titanic, cannot prohibit tourist from visiting, viewing, surveying or photographing the wreck. A lower court had previously barred visits. The Titanic was sunk in 1912 when it collided with an iceberg. The luxury liner's remains were discovered 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland in 1985. One British company, Deep Ocean Expeditions Ltd., had been charging $32,500 per person to visit the wreck.

Lost City is Found - A 72-year-old American adventurer claims that he has discovered one of the seven lost cities of the Chachapoyas empire on a mountain top in Peru. Gene Savoy, who is already credited with finding the ruins of Vilcabamba, Gran Pajaten and Gran Vilaya, led a team of six Americans and 40 porters on a month long expedition to Peru's high cloud forest to the remains of a city called Conturmarca. The Chachapoyas were a warrior people defeated by the Incas some 500 years ago just before the Spanish arrived.

Want to know more learn more about lost cities? Click here! Or want to read the story of another South American adventurer? Go to our Percy Fawcett page.

Angel Scroll a Hoax? - Scholar Stephen Pfann, president of the University of the Holy Land, has announced that he had been given the opportunity to study part of the "Angel Scroll." For years it was rumored that one of the Dead Sea Scrolls (a library of writings found near the Dead Sea in between 1947 and 1954) had been secretly sold to a Benedictine monastery. This document , dubbed the "Angel" scroll, recently came into the hands of a college administrator who let Pfann see part of it. According to Pfann the phrases and imagery seem similar to other dead sea scrolls, but it is still too early to determine if the document is a hoax or not.

Read about the Dead Sea Scroll that might lead to a hidden treasure!

Smell as you Surf - Two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have founded a company named DigiScents to allow you not only to surf the net, but to smell it. Their products will include "iSmell" a computer accessory that will contain a pallet of scented oils which release odors when heated. By combining smells from the pallet the device will try to produce any odor imaginable. When a user arrives at a website the website might command the iSmell unit to release a particular odor, much in the same way sites today can command the computer to play music.

In History:

Great Balls of Fire! - On November 12, 1947, the British steamer, Siberian, reported seeing a "enormous" ball of fire. The ball rose from the water to a height of fifty feet, approached the ship, then flew away. The incident was later reported in the Meteorological Journal.

New Off the Press:

Two new books of potential interest have been released this month. The Museum at Purgatory by Nick Bantock, which is the tale of a very strange museum in the afterlife. Also UFO Chronicles Volume I by Cameron DeBow which is a compilation of articles that Mr. DeBow has written on various UFO phenomena.

For reviewed books on these subjects checkout the UnMuseum Bookstore.

In the Sky:

Leonid Meteor Shower - The Leonid Meteor Shower this year may turn into a storm because the comet responsible for the shower recently passed by and the Earth may travel though a dense portion of debris it left behind. The best time to observe it will be on Thursday November 18th, between 1AM and sunrise.


Going Once, Going Twice...- Fossil excavator Larry Hakes will auction off the preserved skeletons of two mammoths found in upstate New York. The auction will take place over the web on the EBay website. The asking price for the two sets of bones is $4.5 million.

Want to know more about mammoths before making a bid? Click here!

Face In Stonehenge - Terrence Meaden, an expert in the ancient standing stones of Britain claims he has discovered a face carved into one of the sides of a pillar at Stonehenge. "I just happened to be there at the right time of day because only when the light is right can you see it properly," said Meaden. Observers say the face seems to carry a serious expression, almost a frown.

On the Tube:.

Supernature - This series on the Discovery Channel explores the amazing world of nature and the animal kingdom. Of special interest are Extra Sensory Perception which airs November 1 at 8 and 11PM and November 7 at noon. Also Time Warp on November 1 at 9 and midnight and November 7 at 1PM. ET.PT.

Amazon Women - For many years stories of huge woman warriors have filled mythology. In 1997, archaeologists uncovered evidence in Russia that offered clues to the legendary tribe of woman that suggests they might have really existed. Airs on History's Mysteries on the History Channel November 1 8PM ET, 9PM PT. Repeats November 6 at 2PM ET, 11AM PT.

Decoding Nazi Secrets - The ultimate secret weapon of World War II wasn't a plane, bomb or tank. It was Station X. The facility where colorful geniuses and eccentrics attacked the German secret codes including Enigma. Learn how the methods discovered there laid the groundwork for the digital computer of today. On PBS's NOVA November 9, 1999 at 9PM ET.

Voyage of Doom - Watch as archaeologists excavate intriguing artifacts from Belle, the sunken ship of Sieur de La Salle, a 17th century French explorer. On PBS's NOVA November 23, 1999 at 9PM ET.

Treasures of the World - A series that tells the histories and legends behind some of the world's most precious treasures. Episodes focus on two legendary paintings, two unlucky jewels and famous monuments of devotion. PBS November 11-25 at 8-9PM.

Life Beyond Earth - Is there life beyond our planet? Some scientists think so. Man's search for extraterrestrial life is chronicled in this program on PBS. Airs November 10, from 8-9PM.

National Geographic Explorers - This series on CNBC takes a look at man and nature in our world. Episodes of interest are Dinosaurs Take Wing, on November 14 and 20 at 8PM ET/PT and Shipwreck Hunters on November 21 and 27 at 8PM ET/PT.


Science over the Edge Archives

LGM Archive 1998, 1999.

Copyright Lee Krystek 1999. All Rights Reserved.