Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Lights Explained - For centuries people have reported
seeing strange lights in the sky just prior, or during an
earthquake. In recent years these "earthquake lights" have
been documented in picture and video. Now a group of scientists
believe they know what caused them. According to a study
published in Seismological Research Letters the lights
are the result of subvertical faults that release stress-induced
electrical currents as the ground is ruptured. The stress
causes negatively-charged oxygen atoms break up in the rocks,
releasing oxygen ions which ionise in the air to form plasma.
The study notes "Assuming a plasma-like state, an instability
can develop, causing the plasma to 'explode' through the
surface, leading to a visible light flash." The team believes
that subvertical faults are involved in the earthquake lights
because in 97% of the cases they studied the lights appeared
near these type of rare faults. "We don't know quite yet
why more earthquake light events are related to rift environments
than other types of faults," said Robert Thériault, a geologist
at the Ministère des Ressources Naturelles of Québec and
coauthor on the paper. "But unlike other faults that may
dip at a 30-35 degree angle, such as in subduction zones,
subvertical faults characterize the rift environments in
Contact Lens - Google is at it again. They are developing
a smart contact lens that that will sit in a diabetic's
eyes and measure their glucose levels by checking their
tears. If they can make this work it will be vast improvement
over current methods of checking glucose levels which require
sufferers to prick themselves with small pins many times
a day and then swab the blood onto test strips. The prototypes
have tiny wireless chips and sensors, sandwiched between
two lenses that measure blood sugar levels once per second.
Google plans to put an LED lamp inside the lenses that would
flash when those levels are off from normal.
and Wolves Descended from Common Ancestor - For many
years scientist have believed that dogs evolved from gray
wolves. A new study suggests, however, that both groups
are descended from a common wolf-like creature that died
out between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago. The researchers
generated genome sequences from three gray wolves from different
locations: one from China, one from Croatia and one from
Israel. Then they compared those to genomes from a basenji,
a breed that originated in central Africa, and a dingo from
Australia. They found that dogs are more closely related
to each other than to wolves, regardless of where they came
from. The researchers also think that the genetic overlap
seen today between dogs and wolves is due to interbreeding
after dogs were domesticated. Scientists are not sure what
made the common ancestor of both dogs and wolves go extinct.
Explains Soft Dinio Tissue - In 2005 scientists unearthing
a 68-million year old Tyrannosaurus Rex made a startling
discovery: Soft tissue. Since it was generally thought that
soft tissue degrades in just a few weeks the find was controversial.
Now a group of scientist believes they have found an explanation
for the tissue preservation: Iron. Iron is an element present
in the body, but usually it is locked up to keep it reacting
with other molecules. After death though, iron can be liberated
and can react with other molecules. "The free radicals cause
proteins and cell membranes to tie in knots," said Mary
Schweitzer, a molecular paleontologist at North Carolina
State University and leader of the study. "They basically
act like formaldehyde." Formaldehyde , of course is used
to preserve, soft tissue. Now scientists will be looking
for signs of soft tissue when they dig up new fossils. "The
problem is, for 300 years, we thought, 'Well, the organics
are all gone, so why should we look for something that's
not going to be there?' and nobody looks," Schweitzer.
Found in Box, Lost in Court - A Virginia woman, Marcia
"Martha" Fuqua, lost her fight to keep a priceless Pierre-Auguste
Renoir (1841-1919) painting she bought in a box of junk
from a flea market for $7. The tiny 5½ by 9 inch painting,
Paysage Bords de Seine, apparently was given by the artist
to his mistress a few weeks after he painted it. It traded
hands until it was willed by Herbert L May to the Baltimore
Museum of Art in Maryland in 1951. Before it could be put
on display it was stolen. It is unknown how it came to be
in a box in a flea market, but the painting had not been
seen publicly since 1926. A lawsuit resulted between the
woman and the museum and Judge Leonie Brinkema dismissed
Fuqua's claim of ownership, noting that a property cannot
be sold if it resulted from a theft. The picture is valued
at around $100,000.
Quote of the Month - "The
scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn
are composed entirely of lost airline luggage." - Mark
New at the Museum:
Mystery of the Devil's Kettle
- At Judge C.R. Magney State Park, the western half of the
Brule River disappears into a hole and is never seen again.
Where does it go? Full
Picture of the Month - What
is this this?
Away Over the Earth - When I was little, I thought
of a situation whereby one can, with the help of a machine,
float in the air, letting the Earth run past below him,
as the Earth revolves with great speed. But if that was
so, then merely jumping up in the street could cause a building
(or a mast, billboard, tree, etc.) to hit him, as it's fixed
on the speeding Earth. Then I came to realize that the Earth
moves with everything on it and in its -spheres. - I'm sure
you get the picture now- Now, my question is: since the
higher a man goes above sea level, the lesser the gravity
and the pull, can one vertically float miles above (say,
in Poland,) and then vertically descend, dropping in Germany?
About how many miles would he go before the Earth starts
moving away from the spot whereon he rose? - Cheta
So, basically you are asking, "How far do you have to go
up in the air before the rotation of the Earth starts moving
it under you and carrying you away from where you started?"
the simple answer is, it never does, or it does immediately,
depending on how you approach the problem. Let me explain.
first law of motion is "Every object in motion tends to
remain in that state of motion unless an external force
is applied to it." So when you are standing on the Earth
you being carried in a easternly direction at about 1000
miles per hour (if you're standing near the equator). You
don't notice this because everything around you - the ground,
the buildings and the air - are moving with you. (In much
the same way as when you are on an airliner moving at 400
mph everything around you seems still because it's all moving
at the same speed in the same direction.)
another thing that Newton tells us is that when we are moving
we will continue in a straight line unless another force
is applied. So you might ask how come we follow the curve
of the earth as we move, instead of flying into space?
answer, of course, is gravity. It pulls us down and keeps
us stuck to the earth forcing us to follow a curving path.
But suppose you had a personal anti-gravity device you could
switch on that would negate this force? (And let's also
suppose that there was no atmosphere with wind to blow you
about). Well, the moment you switched it on you would find
yourself floating away because you would be headed off on
a straight line while the surface of the earth followed
as Newton's first law tells us our movements does not change
unless an outside force is applied. So even as you rose
above the earth you would still be traveling at the same
speed (let says a 1000 miles per hour) that you were standing
on the surface. In fact, you would continue moving on that
straight line for the rest of eternity unless you were acted
on by some other force. So the answer seems to be that you
would never "slow down" so that Earth would drift beneath
you. However, things are just a bit more complicated than
you switched on your ant-gravity device it would appear
that you were drifting away into the sky, but what would
actually be happening is that the ground, following the
curve of the earth, would be falling away from you. You
would be the one traveling on a straight line. As you started
to move away immediately the angle that you would consider
to be "straight down" would start changing. This effect
would grow slowly so you would need to be a great height
before you would start to notice it. It would appear that
you were slowly drifting backwards (westward) although you
actual speed would not have changed.
you see you can make a case that in never does, or does
immediately depending on how you think about it. In reality
if you were to try this with a balloon the direction and
speed of the wind would be a far greater factor in how you
moved that any effect from the rotation of earth.
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send it to us.
Held Calculator Premieres - On Feburary 1st of 1972,
the first hand-held, electronic scientific calculator was
introduced by Hewlett Packard. The HP-35 calculator cost
$395 and could do trigonometrical, exponential, and logarithmic
functions. Now, of course, you can get an app on your smart
phone that will do the same thing for free.
Moon Goes to the Dogs... - Feburary 14th isn't just
Valentines Day, it's also the night of the "Wolf Moon."
Traditionally the name "Wolf Moon" is given to the second
full moon of winter. Apparently the name comes from the
habit of hungry wolves looking at the moon howling about
the lack of food in the cold winter months this time of
Killer Offers Proof - Rick Dyer, the big foot hunter
who claimed he bagged the beast in 2012 says he will finally
offer solid proof of owning a sasquatch corpse. "Every test
that you can possibly imagine was performed on this body
-- from DNA tests to 3D optical scans to body scans," Dyer
told station KSAT. "It is the real deal. It's Bigfoot and
Bigfoot's here, and I shot it and now I'm proving it to
the world." Dyer also has said he has shown the body to
more than a hundred people. "We wanted to get people's reactions,
make them believers, and we did it to over a 130 people,"
Dyer said. "We definitely made them believers." Skeptics
still doubt Dyer claims, but this has not prevented him
from planning to take the corpse on a tour across North
American where he will charge people for seeing the supposed
check local listing for area outside of North America.
Roman Catacomb Mystery - Who or what killed hundreds
of people hidden in a burial chamber nearly 2,000 years
ago? On PBS February 5 at 9 pm ET/PT
Mystery of Easter Island - A team of scientists and
volunteers test a theory on how the ancient stone statues
were moved, using a 15-ton replica. On PBS February 19 at
9 pm ET/PT
God Create Evolution? - Is life the product of evolution
or is it thanks to the guiding hand of God? Believers in
Intelligent Design argue complex life could not have evolved
randomly. Was life created by evolution, by God or both?.
On the Science Channel: Feb 3th 8:00PM;
by a Black Hole - In the heart of the Milky Way, 26000
light years away, a rare cataclysmic drama is about to unfold.
A cloud of gas three times the size of our planet is travelling
1200 miles per hour right into a super-massive black hole.
On the Science Channel: Feb 4th 8:00AM;
Island- Haven, graveyard, legend and lore. History was
made and lies buried on Pirate Island -- the coral ringed
Isle Saint Marie off the coast of Madagascar that sheltered
the world's most ruthless 18th century pirates. This real
"Treasure Island" was home for pirates like Captain Kidd,
who continue to capture our modern day imagination, and
sailed from this very real place in history. This two-hour
special voyages with underwater explorer Barry Clifford
as he dives for treasure on sunken pirate ships and reveals
secrets on land of hidden pirate tunnels, forbidden graveyards
and mysterious symbols. Interlaced with reenactments of
the pirates' lives and exploits in the busy shipping lanes
of the Indian Ocean, Pirate Island offers a wealth of modern-day
adventure. On the History Channel: February 5, 8:00 PM ET/PT.
of Hell - There are six places on Earth believed to
be actual entrances into Hell. They include a volcano in
Iceland, a cave in the jungles of Central America, and a
lake of fire in Africa. According to ancient myth and Christian
legend, each is a passage to a terrifying underworld for
the damned. Even today, some believe they are still portals.
Eerily, they share striking similarities. We'll visit these
six locations, and along the way, reveal how the concept
of Hell emerged in history and why it still evokes fear
today. On the History Channel: February 6, 8:00 PM ET/PT.
Hitler?s Stolen Treasures: The Monuments Men - NGC presents
the true story of an unlikely World War II ?band of brothers.?
The unsuspecting group of scholars, academics, historians
and architects headed to the front lines of the bloodiest
war in history to rescue thousands of years' worth of European
art and culture from Nazi-occupied Europe. Through extensive
archive sources and photographs, journals and letter excerpts,
along with the personal accounts from surviving family members,
this special sheds light on the remarkable story. On the
National Geographic Channel: January 13, 8:00 PM;
Archive 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007,
Copyright Lee Krystek 2014. All Rights Reserved.