Science Over the Edge

A Mix of News, Events, History and Gossip

Applet credit: Ed Hobbs

December 1998

In the News:

In Alexandria Egypt's harbor, a granite sphinx head, thought to be the likeness of Cleopatra's father, Ptolemy XII, has been found. The 550lb statue , submerged for some 1,600 years since that portion of the city sank beneath the waves during an earthquake, was located at the underwater site of Cleopatra's palace. Adjoining the area is what is thought to be the ruins of the Great Lighthouse at Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The statue was removed, examined, photographed, then returned to the deep. Officials plan to turn the site into a underwater museum sometime in the future.

More competition for the T-Rex as biggest-all-time-land-carnivor: Paleontologist Paul Sereno, from the University of Chicago, has unearthed a new theropod dinosaur that "was easily the size of Tyrannosaurus rex. And it was not fully grown." The 36 foot long animal, found in Africa, lived some 100 million years ago. It had a long snout, like a crocodile, and 16 inch long thumbs tipped with 12 inch sickle claws. that apparently adapted it for eating fish, though given it's size it may have consumed just about anything it wanted. The new find, now on display at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., has been designated Suchomimus tenerensis.

For more information about T-Rex challengers, click here!

Want a pet that lived with the with T-Rex? Try a parrot. Researchers suspect fossils found in Wyoming that date from 65 to 70 million years ago are from parrots. If true that would make the squawkers with an affinity for pirates the oldest known group of land birds still around. The evidence centers around X-rays of the fossils showing a K-shaped impression characteristic of parrot beaks.

Not all experts agree, though, pointing out that previously found parrot skulls from 53 million years ago bear little resemblance to modern day parrots.

After a few anxious weeks NASA engineers were able to get the Deep Space One's ion propulsion system running again. The engine originally shutdown after only operating for four and one half minutes. The probe is the first test in space of an "ion drive" engine which has long been the stuff of science fiction.

In History:

On December 5th, 1945, five Avenger torpedo bombers, designated Flight 19, left the Naval Air Station at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a routine practice mission and never returned. Some have pointed to this incident as proof the existence of the Bermuda Triangle in which planes and boats disappear without a trace. Others see the story of Flight 19 as an example of how the truth gets in the way of a good yarn. Make up your own mind by checking out our Bermuda Triangle page.

In the Sky:

This is good month to take a look at the "Queen of UFOs" better known as the planet Venus. Venus is probably the most misidentified object in the sky. You can observe it by looking toward the SW or WSW just after sunset. Venus will set just 15 minutes after the sun at the beginning of the month, but a full hour by December 31st..


An alleged alien radio contact has been branded a hoax by the SETI league. An engineer at an electronics company reported detecting a strange signal emanating from the constellation Pegasus on Thursday October 22nd on his company's 10-meter dish antenna. The engineer posted the information about the contact on the internet, but other SETI stations were unable to confirm the incident. The SETI league blasted the engineer for "not fulfilling the carefully-crafted SETI League signal detection protocols to which all of our members are signatory." The SETI League spokesman also stated that the signal "lacked the bandwidth required of a SETI signal."

On the Tube:

Pirates! Travel the routes of buccaneers of the Caribbean who preyed on homeward-bound Spanish galleons. TLC Sunday, December 6, at 9 p.m. and midnight. Saturday, December 12, at 8 and 11p.m., Saturday,.December 19, at 6 p.m. ET.

Science Frontiers on TLC. Every weeknight, this anthology patrols the cutting edge of science and technology. Of special interest is In Pursuit of the Shroud that airs on December 22. Monday-Friday, at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.; and Sundays from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. ET.

TLC Legends The faces that have shaped history. Saturdays at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET. Of special interests is The Greatest Magician - Houdini on December 5

Science over the Edge Archives

Copyright Lee Krystek 1998. All Rights Reserved.