comets cause the famous "WOW" signal?
Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Behind the WOW Signal? - Way back in 1977 SETI researcher
Jerry Ehman from Ohio State University noticed a powerful
signal from space. It became known as the "WOW" signal from
the notation Ehman made on the printout when he saw it,
and it remains of the biggest astronomical mysteries. It
falls short of proving extraterrestrial civilizations exist,
but no other scientific explanation has been found. Now
Antonio Paris, a professor of astronomy at St Petersburg
College in Florida, thinks he has found a source of the
signal. Two comets -- 266P/Christensen and P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs)
- only discovered in the last decade, may have been the
cause. Comets release a lot of hydrogen as the sun warms
them and hydrogen can give off radio signals in the frequency
range where "WOW" was detected. To prove his theory Paris
is crowd sourcing $20,000 to buy time or build a radio telescope
to see if he can find a "WOW" type signal from the comets
when they are at about the same position they would have
been in 1977. This will happen in January of2017 and 2018.
Though Paris thinks he can reproduce the incident, other
astronomers are skeptical that hydrogen from a comet could
produce anywhere near the strength signal found four decades
ago. For information on the WOW signal, see our page here.
Coin Cashe Found - A farmer in Switzerland has discovered
a treasure in his orchard that stretches back to the time
of the Romans. A total of 4,166 coins, made of bronze and
silver and weighing 1,300 pounds, were found buried in Ueken,
in the northern canton of Aargau, Switzerland. They are
thought to date back more than 1,700 years. Archaeologist
Dr George Matter, speculates that "the treasure might have
belonged to a tradesman or a landowner who lived in the
area and put his savings aside for years. And for whatever
reason he hid them in this hideout." Matter also thinks
it seems likely the person who hid them was unable to come
back for them or he could no longer locate them. In the
days before a reliable banking system, treasures were often
hidden underground. Unfortunately, under law, the farmer
will not be able to keep them, but will be given a "finders
Record Breaking Big Bug - Phryganistria chinensis
Zhao has been declared the longest insect in the world
according to China's official news agency, Xinhua. It is
a "stick bug" which measures 24.4 inches (more than a ½
a meter). The previous record holder was also a "stick"
insect discovered in Malaysian in 2008 that's 22.2 inches
long. According to Scientist Zhao Li, "I was collecting
insects on a 1,200-meter-tall (3,397-foot) mountain in Guangxi's
Liuzhou City on the night of Aug. 16, 2014, when a dark
shadow appeared in the distance, which looked like a tree
twig." For more big bugs, check our article here.
Rex Probably had Lips - Our images in such movies as
"Jurassic Park" of a Tyrannosaurus rex with a bunch of fangs
hanging out may be just a bit of Hollywood. A new study
by University of Toronto vertebrate paleontologist Robert
Reisz suggests that all dinosaurs had their teeth covered
by lips when their mouths were closed. Teeth that have enamel
(like the T-rex's did according to fossil evidence) must
be kept hydrated or they get dried out. Modern day lizards
have scaly lips for this purpose. However, many T-rex, drawings
show them with teeth exposed when their mouths are closed,
like crocodiles. Crocodiles, as it turns out, don't have
to worry about keeping their exposed teeth wet as they live
in the water. "Thus, the comparison is flawed," Reisz states.
"Their teeth are kept hydrated by an aquatic environment."
Why, then, does Reisz think Tyrannosaurs are usually drawn
with big exposed teeth? To match "their impressive size."
Mammal Outlasted Dinosaurs - A careful look at the mitochondrial
DNA of the tiny and endangered Hispaniolan solenodon
reveals that it once lived with the dinosaurs and survived
the asteroid that ended the reptile's reign. The rodent-like
animal, which is about the size a shew, is a venomous mammal
that lives in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. According
to an examination of the creatures DNA scientists believe
it separated from other mammal species about 78 million
years ago during the Cretaceous Period when tyrannosaurus
rex roamed North America. "It's just impressive it's survived
this long," stated Adam Brandt, a postdoctoral researcher
at the University of Illinois. "It survived the asteroid;
it survived human colonization and the rats and mice humans
brought with them that wiped out the solenodon's closest
relatives." However, the animals luck may be running out
soon. Since it evolved in an island ecosystem without predators,
it may be unable to survive the challenges of the modern
world from people, pets and loss of habitat.
Quote of the Month - "An
American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never
touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men." -Charles
New at the Museum:
from the Curator's Office: Fun with a 3D Printer - Recently
my son convinced me that the museum needed a 3D printer.
To be honest, I'd already been thinking about the usefulness
of one for a while already to fabricate art objects and
various parts. He's a mechanical engineering student and
he thought that having one might also be helpful for his
senior project. > Full
Picture of the Month - Who
is this this?
Flying Disc - In November of 1984 I was traveling
to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake when I saw a disk
shaped aircraft come over the horizon and fly over me at
low altitude. It was powered by two conventional jet engines
and had Air Force markings as shown. Do you have any information
about this aircraft? When I got to China Lake I was greeted
with a blank stare when I mentioned it. - W. A.
has certainly been a lot of speculation about secret disc
shaped aircraft over the years and very little hard evidence.
We know that disc-shaped aircraft are possible and the United
States built one, the Vought "Flying Flapjack" during WW
II. The Flapjack had a conventional tail and fuselage with
an oval-shaped wing. Powered by two counter rotating propellers
it could lift off of a short runway, like an aircraft carrier
with ease. By the time it was done testing, however, the
war was over and the military was more interested in jets
than flying saucers.
the 1950's the Avro Canada company developed a saucer-shaped
aircraft. The Avrocar had a turbo jet engine that was mounted
vertically in the center of the saucer so that the exhaust
would flow outward from it and, because of the Coand? effect,
over the top of the craft to the edge were a flap would
direct it downward giving it lift. This, in theory, would
have permitted the plane to do a vertical takeoff and maneuver
in any direction like a classic "flying saucer." Unfortunately
it never had the high performance expected, which was originally
supposed to allow it to go supersonic, and the Air Force
lost interest in the project. The Army funded it for a while,
hoping it might turn out to be sort of a super-helicopter,
but when a prototype was built it turned out to be unstable
and difficult to control. The project carried several names
over the years, so if you've have heard of project "Y2"
or "VZ-9" or the Silver Bug, they are all talking about
a variation of the Avrocar idea.
have also been other rumors, here and there of other disc-shaped
aircraft. For example, on a website called "USAF Flying
Saucers" Michael H. Schratt claims that U.S. Navy aviator
and aviation writer Jack D. Pickett and his business partner
Harold Baker visited MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa Florida
in the late 60's and saw several disc-shape, jet-powered
aircraft, waiting to be scrapped. They ranged in size from
20 feet in diameter, to 116 feet in diameter. With his article
Schratt include a number of startling photographs of these
disc-shaped aircraft. However, he admitted they were only
computer generated images combined with real USAF photographs.
Schratt's story, which was never confirmed independently
is highly suspect, but that hasn't stopped his fake photos
from appearing on many websites since (often without the
disclaimer that they are just an artist's conception).
there has always been a persistent interest in disc-shaped
aircraft through the years. They have several useful characteristics,
like already mentioned ability to take off or land over
a very small distance. Another feature is that they are
naturally very stealthy. Radar tends to bounce well off
of flat surfaces. Since a flying saucer as few of those
it can more easily be made radar invisible that more conversional
fact, in the 1980's before pictures of the Lockheed F-117
Nighthawk stealth fighter were released, a lot of people
expected that it would look exactly like the object you
described seeing: A disc-shape with jet intakes on top (hidden
from surface radar as they tend to stand out) and twin,
small, raked tails at the back. One difference from what
you saw is that an operational stealth aircraft would almost
always be dark in color.
course, the F-117 Nighthawk turned out not to look like
a disc at all. Instead it used flat, angular surfaces to
bounce any radar signals off in a direction away from the
it a possibility that what you saw was an alternate stealth
fighter design under assessment? A design that was tested
in flight, but never chosen for production? It certainly
would have been the right era as the F-117 was under development
right about that time. As far as I'm aware, however, the
U.S. military has never released any information about such
an alternate project, if it existed.
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Spacewalk - On June 3rd of 1965 the first American took
a walk in space. Major Edward White II spent 20 minutes
outside his Gemini 4 space ship while orbiting at 120 miles
above the Earth. White moved around outside the capsule
tethered by a 25 foot cable/airline and using a handheld
oxygen jet propulsion gun to maneuver around. White's walk
was the second ever done following Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei
A. Leonov three months earlier.
in Opposition - June will be a good time to get a great
look at the planet Saturn. On the 3rd it will be in opposition
to the sun and the closest it will be to Earth. With its
face fully illuminated by our star it will brighter than
at any other time of the year and will be visible all night
long. With a medium sized telescope you should be able to
get a good view of its famous rings.
"X-raying" Egyptian Pyramids - Scientists have successfully
used cosmic rays to analyze the interior of an Egyptian
pyramid for unknown rooms and passages. Last January a group
of scientists from the Institute for Advanced Research of
Nagoya University, Japan, retrieved plates they had placed
in a lower room in the "Bent Pyramid." The plates were designed
to detect muons that continually shower the Earth's surface
from outer space. These particles can easily pass through
heavy rock like X-rays pass through the human body. By using
a computer to analyze the patterns found on the plates a
3-D reconstruction of the interior of the pyramid was possible.
While the test did not find any unknown rooms or voids in
the Bent Pyramid, it did prove that the technique was viable
and will soon be applied to other Egyptian pyramids.
and Meep are on a well deserved vacation. In their place
we feature highlights from their past adventures.
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