Some More Yeti Questions - For some reason we had a horde
of questions on the Yeti (also known as the Abominable Snowman
of the Himalayas) this month from different people, so I'm just
going to go through them one by one:
there any evidence that the yeti exists? If so, what is it?
on what you call evidence. There have been any number of cases
were people claimed they saw a Yeti or found foot prints. Were
they telling the truth? If they were telling the truth, did they
think they saw a Yeti, but really saw some other creature and
mistook it for a Yeti? In the case of footprints, were they fake?
Or were they footprints of some other animal that had been misshapen
by the melting effect of the sun?
the problems with "evidence." The only really uncontestable evidence
would be a dead, or even better, a live Yeti that could be examined
by experts. A hair sample might do if it could be used to establish,
by checking the DNA, that the creature was not one known to science
and a member of the primate family.
that were supposed to belong to the Yeti have been analyzed for
DNA in the past. They are usually were identified as belonging
to either wild goats or bears.
the Yeti and Bigfoot related?
we can't prove the existence of the either the Bigfoot or the
Yeti it is really hard to say if they are related. People who
believe in the existence of these creatures seem to think they
are primates (the same family of animals as gorillas, chimps and
humans). If they are right, then they would be related. If anybody
ever finds DNA from these creatures, it could be used to determine
if they were not just related, but actually the same species.
there been any attacks on humans?
is a report of a Sherpa girl who was tending her yaks and said
she was surprised by a large ape-like creature with black and
brown hair. It started to drag her off, but seemed to be startled
by her screams and let her go. It then savagely killed two of
her yaks. She escaped with her life and the incident was reported
to the police, who found footprints.
was the yeti first seen?
of such creatures go back centuries and are part of the legends
of the local peoples. The first Westerner to see a Yeti was probably
the Greek photographer, N. A. Tombazi. During an expedition in
1925 he was shown a creature moving across the snow in the distance
and told it was a Yeti.
you think a polar bear on its hind legs can be mistaken for a
bears do not live in the Himalaya Mountains, the supposed range
of the Yeti, it seems unlikely. However, a number of people think
either the rareTibetan blue bear or the endangered Himalayan Brown
Bear may sometimes be misidentified as Yetis. According to mountaineer
Reinhold Messner he had an encounter with a Yeti that turned out
to be a Himalayan Brown Bear that was upright on his rear legs.
Mythic Snake - What is a "nãga"? - Jacob
are several meanings to the word, but the one I think you are
interested in comes from Asian cultures. There "nãga" refers
to a snake, usually a hooded one, like a cobra. Attached to the
name is not only living snakes, however, but a large number of
stories from the Hindu and Buddhist traditions about mythical
traditions the nãga is often pictured as a huge snake with
both serpent and human traits. Often the nãga can shape-shift
from one form to another and are many times depicted in drawings
with a human upper half and a snake lower half (much like the
traditional image of a mermaid with a human upper half and a fish
the snakes in many western myths which almost always given evil
roles, the n?ga of the east is more often pictured as good or
at least neutral. They are associated with water and often seen
as guardians of springs, wells and rivers. They can also bring
rain (which is extremely important as this grows crops to feed
people). Their control over water, however, also has negative
aspects and the nãga can bring drought and floods if provoked
by human disrespect for the environment. Sometimes they are also
the guardians of treasure.
version of the dragon is in many ways a type of nãga. Both
have long sinuous bodies and are associated with water and treasure.
along the Mekong River on certain days mysterious red fireballs
appear from the river and rise rapidly into the nighttime sky.
The number of fireballs varies, sometimes there are only a few
dozen and on other occasions a few thousand. According to local
tradition these fireballs are caused by the nãga under
the river shooting off fireworks to celebrate the end of the rainy
period in October. The spectacle has been greatly promoted by
the government in recent years and many towns hold festivals.
There is no good scientific explanation for this phenomenon as
yet, though some people think it might be related to gases rising
from the water. A 2002 television program argued that the fireballs
were tracers from gunshots on the other side of the river, but
this was met with furious protests from local villagers who prefer
the Nãga explanation.
appear in the great Sanskrit epic Mahabharata from India, were
they take a more negative role. In the story the sage Kasyapa
has two wives, Kadru and Vinata. Kadru's children are the nãga,
while Vinata's children are the sun god and the bird, or eagle,
god, Garuda. Garuda becomes the sworn enemy of the nãga
and devours them for food. Often an amulet of Garuda is worn by
people to guard against snake bites.
of nãga are often carved into temples or as a part of other
statuary. In addition to the half-human form they are often shown
as snakes with multiple heads. Often the heads will form a fan-shape
over a person or object as a sign of protection.
popular culture the nãga occasionally pop up in some form
in books or games. The pet snake of Voldemort, from the Harry
Potter series of books, is named Nagini which is the female version
of nãga. Also in the World of Warcraft game there is a
race of aquatic snake-people called Naga.
Biggest Bomb - Is there anything more powerful than an
H-bomb? What would the effects of an H-bomb be on a metropolitan
area such as New York? - Jacobn
H-Bomb ever detonated in history was the Tsar Bomba tested
by the Soviet Union on October 30, 1961. It exploded with a force
equivalent to 50 megatons of TNT. In theory the bomb's design
could have yielded as much as 100 megatons, but was scaled down
to limit the fallout. Even as it was the detonation was so powerful
that the pilot of the plane that dropped the bomb received a fatal
dose of radiation despite being 28 miles away.
such power is impressive, a bomb that large is not really a useful
military weapon. Because of its size it required a special aircraft
to deliver it and it could not be put on top of inter-continental
ballistic missile (ICBM). From a military point of view it made
more sense to build many smaller nuclear weapons (perhaps 1 megaton
or less). If deployed over a large area they could be much more
effective than the one big Tsar Bomba.
our mini-documentary on Tsar Bomba
So what would happen
to New York if it were hit by a standard one megaton H-Bomb that
might be delivered by an ICBM? Usually such warheads were designed
to detonate in the air above the target to get the most bang-for-the-buck.
A device exploding 8,000 feet above the ground would create a
flash of heat that would set most combustible materials on fire
up to a distance of 8.5 miles and most wood ablaze to a distance
of over four miles. If you set the bomb off directly over the
Empire State Building, Central Park along with any wooden structures
in lower Manhattan would be in flames. A blindingly bright fireball
would form and anybody seeing it out to a distance of 50 miles
(the distance to West Point, New York) would be blinded either
temporarily or permanently. Anybody with skin exposed to the flash
would suffer extreme burns if they were within about six miles
(this includes most of Manhattan along with parts of New Jersey
and Staten Island.
would be followed by a shock wave traveling outward at the speed
of sound. This would level all buildings, including skyscrapers,
within a distance of a little more than a mile. This would be
an area the width of the island and from Central Park down to
about Greenwich Village. Wooden buildings would be demolished
over most of the island. Between the flash, blast wave and following
firestorm it is estimated that everybody within a mile and a half
of the Empire State Building would be killed. On the rest of Manhattan
and much of the surrounding area within about 5 miles of ground
zero the casualty rate would be around 50 percent. Interestingly
enough the fallout from an air detonation would be a much smaller
factor that the heat and the blast as much of the radioactive
dust would decay before falling to the ground. (Note that a bomb
produced by terrorists would not nearly be as powerful, but might
have a greater fallout as it would be exploded close to the ground).
there a weapon more powerful than an H-Bomb? In theory an anti-matter
bomb would be enormously more potent. While an H-Bomb converts
matter to energy with an efficiency of less than one percent,
anti-matter coming in contact with matter would turn into energy
with 100 percent efficiency. However, anti-matter isn't easy to
obtain. In Dan Brown's bestselling book Angels & Demons
he suggests anti-matter is stolen from CERN, the European Nuclear
Research Center, to create a bomb. However, if all the anti-matter
produced by CERN in the last 30 years was preserved and brought
together it would only amount to about to 10 billionths of a gram
and would have the power of a kitchen match.
are other agencies with plans to produce anti-matter in larger
volumes (like NASA - it would make a great fuel for a spaceship
since it is a lot of potential energy in a small package) but
the cost of using it to make a bomb would still be far more than
building a regular nuclear bomb of the same power. Also for military
purposes it is important to have a weapon that can be handled
safely and only goes off when you want it too. Since anti-matter
will explode whenever it contacts matter, storing it is difficult
and should the storage mechanism ever break down a large explosion
would result. Even so, the Air Force has expressed some interest
in anti-matter, not in order to build an anti-matter bomb itself,
but to use anti-matter as a trigger for a regular nuclear bomb.
Question - Why can aluminum dust burn but a block of aluminum
will not? - John
seem strange that if I put a match to a small pile of aluminum
powder I can get an energetic fire, (in fact powdered aluminum
is used in rocket fuel and fireworks) but if that same aluminum
is in the form of a block I can hold a match to it all day without
anything much happening. Why?
perhaps it's not quite as strange as we might think. Anybody who
has ever attempted to light a camp fire knows that despite wood
being very burnable, it is almost impossible to take a large branch,
stick a match to it, and get it to burn. However if you take your
knife out and carve tiny pieces off the branch until you have
a little pile of shavings, you can put a match to it and it will
start burning without any problem.
in both the case of aluminum and the wood is that a fire needs
three things to burn: Heat, Fuel and Oxygen. Our match provides
the heat and the wood or aluminum is the fuel. The missing ingredient
is an adequate amount of oxygen.
air is about 20% oxygen. The problem is that the oxygen can only
participate in the burning if enough of it can get close enough
to the fuel to react with it. It needs a large surface area, in
comparison to the volume, to make that contact. Let's look at
of aluminum one inch square has a volume of 1 cubic inch. (1x1x1).
The surface area follows the formula of 6L^2 where L is the length
of any one side. So the surface area of the one inch cube is 6
we break up our cube into smaller cubes each with the sides a
tenth of an inch long. This gives us 10x10x10 = 1000 cubes which
still have the same volume of the original cube (1 cubic inch).
Each of the smaller cubes would have a surface area of 0.06 inches.
If we take this figure a multiple it by the number of small cubes
we have we get 60 square inches. So if the aluminum cube is in
one piece it has a surface area of just 6 square inches. If we
break it up into a 1000 pieces, the surface area jumps to 60 square
inches, though the volume has not changed one bit. The
more surface area that is available, the better contact the aluminum
has with oxygen in the air and the better it will burn.
the particles in powdered aluminum are much smaller than one tenth
of an inch the surface area of one cubic inch of the stuff is
enormous compared to the original solid cube and it burns extremely
course, the same thing is true of wood. Take a one inch square
block of wood and it is very difficult to get it to burn with
a match. Take that same block and turn it into sawdust and it
can be lit with a match quite readily. Take that same saw dust,
put it into the air as a cloud, so that all sides of particles
have the maximum amount of contact with the oxygen in the air
and it will actually explode.
once in a while you hear about a grain silo exploding. Grain by
itself will burn well, but is not explosive. When the grain is
poured into a silo, and a cloud of grain dust fills the air then
even a small spark can trigger a massive explosion.
lesson here is that the smaller the size of the particles, the
more readily anything, aluminum, wood or even coffee creamer,
burns. Check out what happened when Mythbusters took some
powered creamer, blew it up into the air to make a cloud, then
Family - Please, can you tell me more about mermaids? I've
become fascinated with them, especially about sightings of mermaids.
Thanks! -Mermaid lover
of creatures with a top half that looks like a woman and the bottom
half the looks like a fish, go back for thousands of years. Perhaps
they first appear around 1000 BC when the Assyrian goddess Atargatis,
upset after a love affair gone bad, changes herself into a fish/woman
and takes up residence in a local lake. Later stories include
the Greek legend of Thessalonike, sister of Alexander the Great,
who was turned into a mermaid when she died. Whenever she met
a ship she would ask, "Is King Alexander alive?" A sailor with
any sense of personal safety knew the right answer was "He lives
and reigns and conquers the world" because any other reply would
send the mermaid into an rage provoking a storm that would threaten
Daryl Hannah portrayed an exceptionally beautiful mermaid
in the 1984 movie Splash.
were often portrayed as extremely beautiful, but troublesome beings.
They would often use their female charms, particularly their voices,
to lure sailors off a safe course and onto a rocky reef. A mermaid
might also try to tempt a sailor to lean over the side of his
ship were she could grab him, pull him underwater and drown him.
In one tale a Scottish Lord hears a woman in the lake. He runs
to her rescue, but is stopped by a servant who warns she is a
mermaid. The mermaid then declares to the nobleman that she would
have seized him and drowned him if the servant had not intervened.
they didn't go out of their way to cause problems, mermaids were
still considered worrying and just seeing one was a bad omen.
Observing a mermaid might be a warning that a bad storm was on
in some mermaid tales the creatures turn out to be good. Probably
the most famous mermaid story is Hans Christian Andersen's 1836
work The Little Mermaid which is responsible for much of
the modern lure surrounding the creatures. In the story a pretty,
young mermaid spies a human prince aboard a ship, rescues him
when he nearly drowns and gives up her life in the sea to become
human in an attempt to gain his love. This story was interpreted
into an extremely successful film by Disney in 1989.
itself comes from the old English word for sea, mere, and
woman, maid. There is an equivalent term for a male creature,
merman. The mermen of legend, however, are said to have
little interest in humans and are quite ugly.
the years there have been many reports of the sighting of mermaids.
In 1614, English explorer John Smith wrote that he saw a mermaid
in the Caribbean. "Her long green hair imparted to her an original
character by no means unattractive." He also said he'd "begun
to experience the first effects of love," before the creature
dove and revealed the fishy parts of her anatomy.
also reported seeing mermaids off the Dominican Republic in 1493.
He was less impressed than Smith writing that he saw some "female
forms" that "rose high out of the sea, but were not as beautiful
as they are represented."
Capt. Richard Whitbourne also claimed he saw a mermaid in Newfoundland's
St. James harbor.
these sailors seeing? One theory has it that they may have observed
some kind of aquatic animal. One possibility in warmer climates
would be the manatee (sometimes referred to as a "Sea Cow"). These
creatures live along the coast and in rivers in the equatorial
regions like Florida, South America and West Africa. They measure
up to twelve feet long, weight up to 3,000 pounds and dine on
aquatic plants. They are air breathing mammals adapted to the
water and move about using flippers and a large tail fin.
would think it would take a very lonely sailor to mistake one
of these creatures for a beautiful woman, but manatee expert James
Powell, a biologist with the Wildlife Trust in St. Petersburg,
has observed "there have been times when they come up out of the
water and the light has been such that they did look like the
head of a person." To someone who had been indoctrinated with
tales of mermaids, at a distance the mistake might not be that
hard to make. "If you were expecting to see a mermaid," he notes,
"you'd see this back and tail come up with no dorsal fin" just
like in the stories.
that people now recognize mermaids as fully fictional creatures
may explain why they are rarely reported these days. People today
expect to see manatees, not the alluring half women/half fish
people that lonely sailors longed for in the past. Still, an occasional
report does surface. The Israeli town of Kiryat Yam had several
reports of a mermaid along its beach in 2009 and posted a one
million dollar reward for to the first person to photograph the
creature. One witness, Shlomo Cohen, said, "I was with friends
when suddenly we saw a woman laying on the sand in a weird way.
At first I thought she was just another sunbather, but when we
approached she jumped into the water and disappeared. We were
all in shock because we saw she had a tail."
ugly fake mermaid.
Despite the publicity
generated by the sightings, so far the reward has remained unclaimed,
so perhaps this is a simple tourist scam. Indeed, many reports
of mermaids in the past have been hoaxes. The most famous was
the "FeeJee Mermaid" first displayed to the public by showman
P.T. Barnum in the 1840's. The creature, which was small and ugly,
was simply faked by stitching together the tail of a fish with
the torso of a monkey. More recent examples of mermaid hoaxes
came after the tragic Tsunami that hit in December of 2004. People
posted photographs on the internet reportedly showing these creatures
washed ashore. It is more likely, however, that the pictures were
simply the work of a jokester.
Cruelest Pirate of Them All - I've recently became interested
in piracy. Can you tell me who the cruelest pirate was? - Anonymous.
we try an answer who was the cruelest pirate, maybe we should
explore why pirates seem to be associated with being barbarous
at all. Yes, they were "bad guys" clearly breaking the laws of
their time, but did they needlessly inflict pain and suffering?
Were they really any crueler than the "good guys?"
is that many seamen became pirates often to escape the difficult
conditions on other ships. The British Navy was perhaps one of
the fiercest opponents of the pirates during the Golden Age of
Piracy (1500AD to 1750AD) and life on a British Naval ship was
no picnic. The captain had absolute power on the vessel and could
have his men whipped and beaten at his whim. Most regular sailors
in the British Navy got only half as much as was paid for seamen
on a merchant ship. Of the money they did get, much of was taken
away in deductions to pay for the ship's chaplain and/or doctor.
Oh, and by the way, the Navy withheld your pay for six months
to keep you from deserting the ship.
so low and bad conditions you might wonder why anybody would want
to join the British Navy at all. Well, many people didn't. To
fill out their ranks ships would send ashore a "press gang" that
would, capture men and force them back to the vessel where they
would be working away from their families and homes for years
at a time. You didn't even need to be a British citizen to have
this done to you and the practice of pressing American sailors
into service on British Naval ships was one of the causes of the
War of 1812.
compare this to conditions on pirate ships. Almost always everyone
on a pirate ship was a volunteer. The ships were usually democracies
and the crew would elect the captain and the quartermaster who
would then appoint the rest of the officers. The pirates would
often have a code of conduct and rules agreed to by the crew before
the voyage started. The system also had a set of checks and balances
to make sure that nobody had too much power. The Captain was often
in charge in battle, but at other times the Quartermaster was
in charge or could at least veto the Captain's orders.
was better on pirate ships too. Whatever loot was captured was
split equally among the crew with responsible officers getting
a double share. Some of the money was set aside in a primitive
type of insurance policy to make sure that crew members that lost
a limb or eye in battle would get compensated.
were also very equanimous accepting people on the crew from many
nationalities and races. Often almost half of pirate crews were
often made up from escaped slaves.
did pirates get the reputations a being cruel even to one another?
Well, often this was a result of public relations. The pirates
wanted everybody to think they were tough so that no ship's crew
would challenge them in battle. Some of them used the rule "No
quarter after first blood" which meant if a ship put up a fight
instead of surrendering immediately, the pirates would show no
mercy when they won.
and books often pictures pirates as loving a good fight, but the
truth is they much preferred it if the ship simply surrendered
to them. If it did, the crew and passengers were usually treated
well and not killed. However wealthy passengers might find themselves
guests of the pirates until a ransom was paid. Any pirate that
was foolish enough to have a policy of not taking any prisoners
alive would find himself in constant battles as the crews of the
merchant ships would then be forced to fight to the bitter end.
when people think of cruel pirates the name Blackbeard comes to
mind. Blackbeard, whose real name is thought to be Edward Teach,
was well-known pirate that roamed the coast of the Americas in
the early 18th century. Blackbeard, who was tall and powerfully
built, cultivated a fearsome image to scare his enemies. Many
strange stories grew up about Blackbeard after his death, but
there is no record that he ever mistreated or murdered his captives.
Blackbeard, like almost all pirate Captains, was elected by his
there were a few pirates that did act in a cruel manner toward
their prisoners. One name stands out among these and that's Roche
Braziliano. We are not sure of Braziliano's real name and his
nickname is translated as "Rock the Brazilian," though Braziliano
was actually Dutch. He apparently acquired his name after being
exiled to Brazil for an extended length of time.
had numerous conflicts with the Spanish and hated them. There
are stories of Braziliano taking Spanish prisoners, tying them
to a spit set between two fires and roasting alive them like they
were pigs. Braziliano's cruelty didn't stop there, however. He
was a drunkard and would wander the streets of Port Royal, a notorious
pirate haven, assaulting people and threatening them if they refused
to have a drink with him.
stories are true then indeed Braziliano certainly ranks up there
as one of the cruelest pirates of all time.
Fate of the Young Duchess - I have recently been researching
the Romanov family out of curiosity. I have heard the legends
about Anastasia or one of the other children surviving. I was
wondering if it was likely that a Romanov child really did escape
the firing squad. Thank you! - Kelsey
at age five in 1906.
to Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, youngest daughter of the
last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, was a mystery through much of
the 20th century. Nicholas II was forced to abdicate his throne
on March 15, 1917 after a series of governing missteps threw the
country into chaos. Nicholas' family - his wife Alexandra, daughters
Olga, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia and son Tsarevich along with several
personal servants - was moved for safety by the provisional government
to a residence in the Ural mountains. In October of 1917 the Bolsheviks
seized power and imprisoned the family over several months in
different locations. In April of 1918 they were moved to a house
in the city of Yekaterinburg. At 2 AM on July 17, they were awoken
and told to get their things as they were being moved to a new
location. The family and servants were taken to the building's
basement, where the Bolsheviks, fearing that the White Army (which
was loyal to the throne) would soon take the city, had them executed
by gunfire and bayonets.
had just turned 17 at the time. She was by all accounts a vivacious
and energetic girl with blue eyes and strawberry-blonde hair.
Growing up she was given to pranks and misbehavior and according
to one source "undoubtedly held the record for punishable deeds
in her family, for in naughtiness she was a true genius." During
World War I she was too young to serve as a nurse, but with her
sister Maria visited the nearby military hospital and played games
of checkers and billiards with the injured to lift their spirits.
One soldier who knew her noted that she had a "laugh like a squirrel."
clear how the rumor that Anastasia and possibly other members
of the family, survived the execution started, but it may have
been a result of the Bolsheviks trying to cover up the murders.
Since the princesses were of German blood, the German government
sent telegrams to Russia demanding their safety. Since this was
several days after the murders the demand was too late to save
their lives. The Russians, not wanting to upset the Germans, with
whom they had just signed a peace treaty, did not acknowledge
the executions, but told them that the girls had been moved.
next few decades as many as ten women came forward and claimed
they were Anastasia. The most famous of these was Anna Anderson,
who said she had faked death by lying still among the bodies of
her family and was rescued later by a sympathetic guard. She fought
a legal battle with the German government for recognition from
1938 to 1970, but was never accepted as the missing woman. Though
Anderson was cremated after her death, in 1994 DNA was obtained
from a tissue sample gathered during a hospital stay and compared
to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a known Anastasia relation.
The results clearly proved that Anderson was not the missing Duchess.
early 1980's the graves of the family were found, but kept secret
until after the fall of the Soviet government. The find was officially
announced in 1991, but the grave was missing two bodies: That
of the son, Tsarevich and one of the sisters, either Maria or
Anastasia. This gave hope that perhaps the story of an escape
from the execution was true. However, in August of 2007 a Russian
archaeologist discovered two burned skeletons at a bonfire site
near Yekaterinburg. They were the right age to be Tsarevich and
the missing sister. This was later confirmed by DNA, though scientists
still disagree on whether the body at the bonfire site was Maria
matches records that had been locked away for most of the history
of the Soviet Union. A report by Yakov Yurovsky, who was in charge
of the execution, to his superiors indicated that all the family
and servants were killed that night. Initially the bodies were
dumped down a mineshaft, but when rumors started to spread about
that as a possible burial location, Yurovsky said that he had
the bodies moved and finally buried at a site 12 miles outside
the city. Later two of the bodies were removed and destroyed in
a bonfire. This was done so that if the burial site was found,
the remains there would not match the expected number of bodies
leaving some doubt as to whether it really was the Romanov family.
has finally been solved and the bodies of all four daughters,
the former Tsar and his wife and son have been accounted for and
confirmed by DNA testing. As much as the story of the young princess
escaping death may engaged our imaginations over the years, history
has spoken and her life, along with that of her family, was cruelly
ended on that cold morning in 1918.
Vs. Drake - What is the difference between a dragon and
a drake? - Anonymous
first start by defining the word dragon. As most people
might know it's a legendary creature with many reptilian characteristics.
Dragons are often depicted covered in scales with a lizard-like
or snake-like body. Sometimes they breath fire and the number
of feet they can have vary from none to four or even more. Sometimes
they are also shown as flying creatures with bat-like wings.
or dragon-like creatures, have been found in folklore traditions
around the world, though they often differ in many details. For
example, dragons in the Chinese culture are depicted as good,
wise, magical creatures with long snake-like bodies and no wings.
This is very much different from the dragon pictured in European
traditions. Dragons in the western countries are often shown as
malevolent monsters happy to eat sheep, goats, children and the
occasional maiden. European dragons also are often shown jealously
word dragon goes back to the ancient Greeks. The Greeks
thought that snake and dragon-like creatures had sharp, penetrating
vision so from a root word meaning sharp-eyed, they came up with
the name drako (which referred to both dragons and large
snakes). From The Greeks the Romans took the word and modified
a bit to draco. As the Romans marched all over Europe they
carried the word with them and in English it became drake
and in French dragon.
see that the words in the beginning really had the same meaning.
However, over time the word dragon became the more popular term
and started to be used to refer to any creature from any tradition
around the world that seemed to fit the bill. The term drake,
however, still only refers to the European type maiden-eating-treasure-guarding
version of the dragon.
years authors compiling fictional bestiaries and people creating
rules for role-playing games have given the term drake new meanings.
For example, some define a drake as a dragon without wings, or
as a young immature dragon. These are newly created definitions,
however, and do not really represent the original meaning of the
and dragon aren't the only terms used for these mythical beasts.
The old German word wurm, originally meaning serpent, is
used for dragons that appear in Germanic mythology. In old English
this became the word wyrm and is used in the reference
to the story of a wingless dragon in England called the Lambton
Worm. The word wyvern also comes from this root and
is often used to refer to a dragon with wings and only two legs.
dragons legends found all over the world? When dinosaur (which
look as much like a legendary dragon as any real animal could)
bones were first discovered and revealed to be giant reptiles
someone suggested that humans had some kind of racial memory of
these creatures that was translated into the dragon legend. Dinosaurs,
however, lived so many years before anything even remotely human
was walking on the planet it seems unlikely we continue to have
even an innate memory of them. It is more likely that the fossils
themselves have inspired the creation of dragon tales as people
stumbled across them over the centuries.
idea had been forwarded by anthropologist David E. Jones. Jones
has suggested that humans have inherited instinctive reactions
to snakes, large cats and birds of prey. His hypothesis is that
mythical dragons combine all these features of these real animals
and perhaps represent the worst of all our fears.
Legends - I've heard several legends about the Holy Grail,
and I was wondering if there's any evidence of an actual Holy
Grail. If there is, that what can it do? Can it grant immortal
life like in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?"
likely that there was once a "Holy Grail." Despite some naysayers
there seems to be good evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth
and a Passover supper attended by him and his disciples just before
his crucifixion. It was at this dinner that the sacrament of communion
was established using wine and bread. Wine certainly implies that
a cup was used (though perhaps a larger communal one - more like
a bowl - than we might normally think of a cup today).
that, though, the story gets a very fuzzy. There is not much in
the Bible about a Grail and there is no real significance attached
to the cup in that holy set of scripture. Most of the legend of
the Grail seems to be connected with an individual named Joseph
of Arimathea. Joseph was a rich, follower of Jesus that took possession
of his body after the crucifixion. With the help of another follower
named Nicodemus, he prepared the body of Jesus to be placed in
his own (Joseph's) tomb. During this process, the legend says
that he used the grail to catch some of Jesus's blood.
the story about Joseph of Arimathea and the Grail doesn't appear
in any document we know about until the Robert de Boron wrote
his poem Joseph d'Arimathe around the 12th century. The
poem says that Joseph was imprisoned for his burial of Jesus's
body and the Grail sustained him during this period. He later
left the middle-east and traveled to Britain taking the Grail
with him. From the Boron story came a whole wealth of Grail fictional
literature emerged having to do with King Arthur and his knights
and their seach for the Grail.
poem was clearly a work of fiction, but later writers seem to
have taken it at face value. In a history of Glastonbury Abbey
written around 1350 AD claims were made that Joseph came to Britain
bringing the cup with him and it was at the Abbey.
the remarkable powers of the cup, one of the earliest references
to this seems to be in the story of The Fisher King written
by the French poet Chrétien de Troyes around 1190 AD. Here the
Grail seems to have the strange power to keep people alive with
them only eating a small mass-wafer (like they would serve during
the sacrament of Holy Communion) a day as long as it is served
in the cup. However, the Grail clearly does not have the full
healing powers in this story as is often described in later tales.
of the Holy Grail to heal and give eternal life might actually
be connected with pagan stories that pre-dated Christianity in
Europe. In many of these stories special lakes or pools had the
power to grant eternal life if one drank or bathed in them (One
version of this story is the Fountain of Youth). As the myths
evolved the pool changed into a bowl (symbolic of a pool) and
this legend was later probably mixed with the legend of the Grail
when Christianity was brought to Europe.
story has also been mixed in with the history of the Knights Templar,
a order of knights sworn to protect pilgrams to the holy land.
In the story the Knights find the Grail and transport it back
to Europe. There is no historical record to support this story
completely separate story has the Grail left in the house of St
Mark where the Last Supper took place. Mark then takes it to Rome
where it was used as the Papal Chalice until it was moved out
of Rome in 3rd century during a period of persecution. From there
it went to a Spanish soldier and onto Spanish monks who hid it
during the Muslim occupation of Spain during the 6th century.
For a while it was held in the treasury of several Spanish Kings
until it was given to the Cathedral of Valencia, where it remains
the Holy Grail actually in a church in Valencia, Spain? Some people
might think so. However, there are a number of bowls that are
reputed to be "the one, true grail." Another contender for the
title is Nanteos Cup. For many years the cup was kept at the Nanteos
Mansion near Aberystwyth in Wales. Legend connects this bowl with
the story of the Grail held at Glastonbury Abbey. According to
the story, monks fleeing Thomas Cromwell's persecution took the
cup with them. The monks were hidden by the Powells at Nanteos.
When the last monk died the bowl was passed to the Lord Powell
and kept by the family ever since. An recent examination of the
cup by experts, however, revealed that it is typical of mazer
bowls, a type of medieval vessel, probably created in the 14th
century - far too recent to be the real Grail. However, there
are stories that people have been healed after drinking from the
vessel and the current owner of the cup, Fiona Mirylees, still
sends water that has been in the cup to people with life threatening
script was written for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade they
combined many of these myths. Where is the real Grail? Well, I
suspect that after the Last Supper everybody was so concerned
with the events that followed that nobody bothered with the cup
and it simply disappeared into the mists of history.
Birds of Death - Are there any real accounts of large birds
of prey attacking or carrying off people? - Gary S.
the first part of your question, there are certainly examples
of eagles and hawks attacking human beings that violated their
territory. Get a little too close to a nest and you could find
yourself on the wrong end of some very sharp talons. One sad example
of this happened in Mendocino County, CA, in 1895. According to
the New York Times two brothers, age 13 and 11, were climbing
a mountain to find a Bald Eagle's nest when the creature suddenly
attacked them. The boys escaped, but the younger was badly injured
and lost his sight to the eagle's talons and beak.
the question about whether an eagle or other large bird has ever
attacked a person (with the intent of eating them) and managed
to fly off with them is a more complicated question. There are
certainly a number of reports of large birds attacking and carrying
off small children. For example, in August of 1881 the New
York Times reported that an eagle with a seven-foot wingspan
swooped down and tried to carry off a 2-year-old boy. Witnesses
said that it might have succeeded if the child's clothes had not
torn, allowing him to escape.
in 1977 ten-year-old Marlon Lowe was playing with friends near
his home in Illinois when two large birds - thought to be condors
with wingspans from eight to ten feet across according to witnesses
- swept down on the children. One of the birds picked up Marlon
by the straps of his sleeveless shirt and carried him into the
air. His screams brought his parents outside to see him lifted
to the height of two feet for a distance of about 40 feet before
the creature let him go.
of these accounts, the monster birds did not get far with their
human burdens, but there are other stories where the avian giants
were more successful. The best documented of these occurred in
Leka, Norway, on June 5, 1932 when Svanhild Hansen, a five-year-old,
forty-pound girl, was picked up by a huge eagle and carried more
than a mile to a high ledge. She was found there safe and asleep
by a rescue party. With the exception of a few scratches, she
was unharmed. Zoologist Hartvig Huitfeldt-Kaas was so interested
in the story he spent a month at the time investigating it and
pronounced it "completely reliable."
are also many less well document stories including the sad tale
of five-year-old Marie Delex from the French Alps in 1838. The
girl was playing with friends when she was picked up by a large
eagle and carried away. The eagle's nest was checked, but only
piles of goat and sheep bones were found. Two months later her
horribly mutilated remains were discovered by a local shepherd
on a rock several miles from where she had disappeared.
of 1904 the New York Times published the story of 18-month
old girl in England that was apparently picked up by an eagle
while she played just outside her parent's cottage door. Searchers
at first assumed that the girl had been kidnapped, but a game
warden found her body in a rocky crevasse at the crest of a hill.
The girl's eyes had been plucked out and part of her cheek was
many stories though the years like these modern experts are skeptical.
Mike Jacobson, an eagle management specialist for the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, has been quoted as saying, "There used to
be stories about eagles carrying off babies and little kids, and
none of that has ever been documented. They can pick up and carry
four or five pounds, maximum, and actually fly off with it.They
can lift a little more and hop it along, but they can't carry
from a dead stop, however. An eagle already in motion can lift
much more. "On a wide-open beach, I have no doubt that an eagle
with a full head of steam could pick up a six- or eight-pound
dog and just keep on going," says biologist and predatory bird
expert Ronald Clarke. "If it landed to kill a ten-pounder, and
then tried to pick up and fly from a dead stop, could it get off
the ground? Probably not."
swooping down on animal on the side of mountain and then carrying
it to a lower altitude, might be even able to carry more weight
as such a maneuver requires only a downward glide (See a video
of an eagle doing this with a small goat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3n4qPpL8T0&feature=related).
there are always sightings of giant unknown birds - like those
in the American Indian thunderbird legend - whose huge wingspans
that might be able to carry very heavy loads. However, most experts
doubt these stories, if for no other reason, then legions of bird
watchers in the United States that could hardly miss noticing
a bird with a twelve-foot-plus wingspan.
today, then scientists tell us that certainly in the past there
were eagles and other large birds that could kill a child and
fly away with them. The Haast's Eagle of New Zealand is only known
from fossil remains, but it is estimated they weighed as much
as 40 pounds and were still living at the time that New Zealand
was first populated by humans about 750 years ago. The evidence
about Haast's seems to match legendary stories told by Maori people
of New Zealand about a bird so powerful it could sweep down and
kill a small child. With a lift capacity of as much as ¾ of their
weight, they could undoubtedly have flown off with the victim
Ray for Sale? -This is the link
to "death ray tubes." These are a workable model of a death ray
gun, you can buy it for 350 US$ and it works for carving rock.
It does exist and as seen in the site united nuclear.. So are
lots of other sci-fi inventions… And they do work too.. You get
warnings to not direct them toward humans… They will melt... -
Ray" offered by United Nuclear, is not the death ray as was once
envisioned by the mysterious inventor Nikola Tesla in the 1930's
that has garnered so much press over the years. That weapon was
better known as a charged particle beam. Tesla designed
a device that would send a beam of particles out at high speed
and saw it as a defensive weapon that would ensure peace. He claimed
such a device would be able to "bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy
airplanes at a distance of 200 miles from a defending nation's
no nations at the time acted on Tesla's idea, during the cold
war both the Soviet Union and the United States experimented with
charged particle weapons, but could not make them practical.
Ray" on the United Nuclear site is actually an infrared laser
(Infrared means the light the laser is generating is of frequency
too low to be visible to the human eye). Lasers, of course, have
become common devices found in such everyday objects such as DVD
players, supermarket checkout terminals and screen pointers. The
ones offered by United Nuclear, of course, are of considerably
more power. A laser pointer uses about 1 mill watt of power, where
the United Nuclear infrared laser can be bought with a power supply
of up to 100 watts. This is enough to cut thin metal and crack
rock. Commercial sealed CO2 lasers, however, can often be found
at powers of 3000 watts or more and can be used to cut carbon
steel as thick as a ½ inch.
with power levels less than a watt can be dangerous, however,
if directed into a human eye. The light the laser puts out is
"coherent" with all the light particles (or photons) going in
the same direction, at the same frequency in the same phase. This
results in the beam focusing a lot of energy into a very small
space causing the target to heat up and burn or melt. Even a fairly
low powered laser that enters an eye will be concentrated on the
retina causing damage and potential blindness. For this reason
engineers and scientists working with lasers always wear eye protection.
as lasers are, the military up to this point, has not found them
to be effective weapons. The amount of power they require limits
their mobility, especially compared with traditional weapons like
bombs and rockets. Lasers have still been used on the battlefield,
however, to guide traditional weapons to their targets. First
a laser is pointed toward a target, say a tank. Then the laser
light reflected back from the tank can be used to guide a rocket
or bomb accurately to its destination.
military has not completely given up on lasers, however, and has
recently has some success with electric lasers that are small
enough to fit into a truck and have an output of over 100 kilowatt.
With this much power they hope they will be able to use them in
the future to zap incoming rockets or mortars.
the site itself: United Nuclear seems like a fascinating place
to purchase off-beat science items and reminds me a lot of Edmund
Scientific, a similar company in operation near where I grew up.
Although Edmund is now only a catalog and web business, when I
was in High School it had a showroom complete with a demonstration
area for lasers and other cool science products. My high school
science teacher advised us geeks that this was a good place to
take a girl for a cheap date.
that United Nuclear has a showroom in Laingsburg, Michigan, and
if anybody living in the area has a girl friend who is into death
rays, it sounds like you might want to take her there for an inexpensive
Hauntings -I was wondering what the Curator's thought
was on the stories of the Dudleytown hauntings in Connecticut
. Could Dudleytown be haunted by the spirits of the old town that
once resided there? - Tim A.
to admit that I have no special knowledge of the Dudleytown legend.
However, it is a fascinating story and thanks for suggesting we
talk about it here in Ask the Curator. Let me go over the
account so that anybody not familiar with the tale will know what
we're talking about.
of Dudleytown supposedly starts in 1510 when Edmund Dudley was
beheaded for plotting to overthrow the King of England. The story
has it that a curse was placed on his family. In 1747 brothers
Abiel and Barzillai Dudley, supposedly Edmund's descendants, settled
in the area giving the town its name. The location was too rocky
and dark for farming so the town people made a business out of
making charcoal from the abundant trees. The town prospered for
while, but then, according to the legend, things turned bad.
story goes it all started when one of the Dudley brothers when
insane. Then there were a series of unfortunate accidents and
mysterious deaths. A woman was struck by lightning while sitting
on her porch. People got sick, children disappeared and houses
burned down. Finally, in despair, the villagers abandoned the
town. Soon the dark woods closed in around it and now only the
ever present owls inhabit the area. According to the legend most
other animals avoid it.
the place really haunted? Well, if you talk to Dudleytown's neighbors
they will tell you it is all a bunch of hokum and the legend has
caused all kinds of problems for them. A number of years ago some
of the property owners in the area formed an association - Dark
Entry Forest, Inc. - purchased the land designated the location
a nature preserve. For many years it was possible to visit the
location without a problem. However, after the 1999 release of
the movie The Blair Witch Project the area was inundated
by thrill seeking teenagers and paranormal investigators. Now
The Blair Witch Project was supposed to have taken place
in Maryland, but the location in the film, a dark woods, was so
similar to Dudleytown that people in Connecticut decided this
local location was a good place to try and have a Blair Witch
type adventure. The problems this caused - like late night drinking
parties and theft from the historic ruins - forced Dark Entry
Forest, Inc. to close the location to visitors.
continued to find their way into the town, however. In one incident,
perhaps even a little bit like the Blair Witch movie, a
group of five teens found themselves so lost that at 1:30 in the
morning they had to call 911 to get rescued. Fortunately, instead
of losing their lives, as in the film, they each just got a $77
ticket from the Connecticut State Police for trespassing.
that the association is just trying to down play the ghostly history
to avoid any more paranormal mayhem, but at least one author agrees
with them that the legend is all bunk. The Rev. Gary P. Dudley,
of Texas, became interested in the story because of the connection
with his name. After researching the historical records he wrote
TheLegend of Dudleytown: Solving Legends through Genealogical
and Historical Research (Heritage Books, 2001). In his book
Dudley argues that most of the stories associated with the town
are complete fiction or have been twisted to fit the legend. For
example, the wife of Dr. William Clarke, who owned a vacation
home on the site, supposedly went mad and killed herself when
she was left alone there one night. Dudley found that Mrs. Clarke
did indeed commit suicide, but that occurred in New York City,
not in Dudleytown.
Dudleytown really haunted? Well, according to people who have
visited the site the surrounding hills and heavy forest certainly
make it dark and gloomy location worthy of a haunting. However,
spooky places do not necessary mean there are spooks (Check
The Science of Ghosts and Hauntings).
The Heat is On! -How can so much of the interior of the
earth be hot molten lava, and have the ground stay around a cool
55 degrees? Why does the heat not work its way to the surface?
Where's the convection? - John
center of the Earth is estimated to have a temperature of around
12,000°F. As you move outward from the center of the planet the
temperature drops off till just below the outer crust of the Earth
it is only about 1,202 to 2,192°F. All the rock below the crust
is either molten or semi-molten and it does support a convection
current with the hottest rock moving upward, losing its heat near
the surface and then sinking back down. These convection currents
are slow, but powerful and are responsible for the movement of
the tectonic plates on the surface of the Earth. The movement
of the plates, in turn, is responsible for such events earthquakes,
tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
note, the average underground temperature when you get about four
feet or so underground runs about 50 to 55°F. It isn't hotter
because the crust, which is almost completely a solid, acts like
a thick insulating blanket. Because it is solid it does not support
a convection current that would more easily bring heat energy
to the surface.
the average temperature near the surface is about 55, does not
mean there are not spots where it isn't significantly lower or
higher in temperature. For example, in locations where the crust
is thick, or the surface temperature is consistently low, you
can get a condition called permafrost. This is where the subsurface
temperature is freezing even down to a depth of several hundred
feet. We usually associate these regions with places near the
poles, like Alaska, but permafrost can actually be found in lower
latitude locations like the Suwaki cold anomaly in the north-eastern
corner of Poland.
the crust is thinner, more heat escapes to the surface causing
higher than average sub-surface temperatures. The crust tends
to be thinnest under the sea, so much of the Earth's heat escapes
into the oceans. Places where to tectonic plates join are also
locations where heat can escape more easily. For example, the
edge of the pacific plate is known as the famous "ring of fire"
and is responsible for 75% of all the recorded volcanic activity.
Some of the volcanoes involved include those from the coast of
North America (including Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainer), Japan
(Mt. Fuji), the Philippines (Mount Pinatubo) and New Guinea and
Micronesian (Mount Tambora).
are also "hotspots" where the crust thins and a molten rock plume
comes very close to the surface. One of the most famous hotspots
created the island chain of Hawaii, which has active volcanoes
despite being in the middle of the Pacific plate. The world's
most famous hotspot is probably Yellowstone where high subsurface
temperatures cause spectacular phenomenon like hot springs, mud
pots, steam vents and geysers. The subsurface temperatures at
the Norris Geyser Basin at Yellowstone have been found to be as
high as 401 °F at only a depth of 265 feet. Yellowstone is also
one of the known locations of a "super
volcano" which, when it erupts, can lay waste to continent
these hotspots exist? Scientists think that either upward flowing
convection currents from deep within the earth melts and thins
the crust in these locations, or the crust itself melts creating
a convection current to carry heat to the surface.
does the Earth's internal heat come from in the first place? Some
of it is residual heat from the planet's formation, but planet
has also picked up kinetic energy from the impact of asteroids,
including a collision with another planet-sized body that created
the moon. However, about 80% of the all the heat is thought to
come from the natural decay of certain radioactive isotopes found
underground. Some scientists theorize that the center of the earth
may even form a natural atomic reactor generating energy at the
core of the planet.
Channels - Two Wires? -A cable vision wire for a TV only
has two wires in it. But it can have over a hundred different
signals(channels) coming through it at the same time, even more
if you count the sound and picture as separate signals. How can
all those different signals come through at the same time? - John.
really the same question for a number of similar problems: How
can we have get signals from multiple radio stations all coming
through the same airspace at the same time? How can we have multiple
video channels on a single fiber optic cable? How can we hear
different sounds at the same time with our ears? The answer in
every case is because the information is coming at us as waves
vibrating at different frequencies.
take the simple case of two musical instruments: A tuba and a
piccolo. A tuba produces long, waves of sound. We hear this as
a low pitch. Because the waves are far apart they reach us less
quickly than closer waves so we call this a low frequency (of
produces a high pitch which means it sends us shorter waves that
come at us more often giving us a higher frequency.
could see these waves as they come to our ears we would see that
they appear not as separate waves, but as two sets of waves piled
on top of each other. However, our ears can easily separate the
sounds by wavelength so we tell the tuba apart from the piccolo.
case of radio waves it is an electric field that carries the waves.
Different radio stations operate at different frequencies and
the electronics in the radio, like our ears do with sound, separate
them so the radio tunes into just one station while ignoring the
caution here: radio waves are slightly different than sound waves
because radio waves act as "carrier" waves that transport the
information on them by changing the height of the waves (amplitude
modulation or AM) or changing the frequency just slightly higher
or lower (frequency modulation or FM). Because radio waves are
used as carriers they transport all kinds of information on top
of them including music, cell phone conversation, and video. Much
of the information carried is now coded digitally on top of the
signal, such as in the case of HDTV.
the information that is carried, at the bottom level it is still
the fact that the waves are transmitted and received at different
frequencies that allow them to be separated.
also the case with cable TV. The waves are transmitted through
wires by electricity, but are very similar to the radio waves
that move through the air. Your cable box sorts out the channels
by frequency so you can then select one to appear on your TV.
places the older cable systems that depended on wire and electricity
are now being replaced with fiber optic lines that carry light.
What's the advantage? Well, light signals operate at higher frequencies
than radio signals. This means more information can be carried
on a fiber optic line allowing for more video channels.
Makes a Dinosaur? - I read on your web site and came across
some dinosaurs with descriptions elsewhere that said even though
they lived in this [Mesozoic] Era and were marine reptiles or
flying reptiles, they were still not considered dinosaurs. Can
someone explain why?....and just as important, what exactly were
they considered then if not dinosaurs? - Sydney L.
tend to think that any reptile that lived during the Mesozoic
Era qualifies as a dinosaur. However, dinosaurs actually have
a pretty precise definition. The term "dinosaur" was created in
1842 by the famous zoologist Sir Richard Owen from the Greek words
deinos meaning "terrible, powerful, wondrous" and sauros
meaning "lizard." Owens also defined the characteristics of the
basic taxon (or group).
are part of a larger collection of reptiles called Archosaurs
that include things like crocodiles and alligators. However, two
things divide dinosaurs from all other archosaurs. First, they
are by definition terrestrial. They lived on the land (so they
did not include flying reptiles or aquatic reptiles). The second
thing is that they have an upright gait. That is, their legs were
straight, perpendicular to the ground and supported the weight
of the body. This is a characteristic that they share with today's
mammals and gives both groups the ability to walk or run more
easily. Most other land reptiles (like lizards) have a sprawling
gait with their legs out to the side and their feet not underneath
reptiles that lived at the same time as the dinosaurs include
the huge Quetzalcoatlus, which with a wingspan exceeding
thirty feet was the largest flying animal ever, and Rhamphorhynchus
which had a long trailing tail with a diamond-shaped fin on the
end. The flying reptiles, including these two, had their own group
name: the Pterosaurs. (Note that there is also a species
in the group called Pteranodon and you don't want to mix
this up with the group name).
reptiles that lived during the time of the dinosaurs included
the famous Elasmosaurus, a type of plesiosaur with a long
neck, saucer shaped body and four diamond shaped fins and the
ichthyosaur Ophthalmosaurus, a dolphin shaped reptile that
grew to a length of 18 feet. There is no overall name for this
collection, except "ancient, extinct marine reptiles." However,
most of these creatures fell into three groups, the mosasaurs,
the ichthyosaurs and the plesiosaurs.
enough, recent developments in understanding which animals are
related to which may force the dinosaur group to include flying
creatures. Evidence has been mounting that modern birds are descended
from dinosaurs. Since under strict classification rules a group
descended from another is included in the parent group, birds
are dinosaurs and dinosaurs are not extinct (It is important to
note, however, that the Pterosaurs are still not dinosaurs as
they are not birds). Some scientists now refer to the original
dinosaur group as "non-avian dinosaurs" and birds as "avian dinosaurs."
This is somewhat clumsy, however, and in common speaking people
still use the word dinosaurs to refer to the original group of
extinct land reptiles that include the familiar species Stegosaurus,
Triceratops, and Tyrannosaurus rex.
the Bang -How does a gun silencer stop the loud sound
of a gunpowder explosion? - John
as a gun silencer (or to use the more official term "suppressor")
seems, it really is very similar in many ways to something we
see every day: a car muffler. Both were invented by Hiram P. Maxim
in the beginning of the 20th century. (Not to be confused with
Hiram S. Maxim, his father, who created the first modern machine
gun and tried his hand at building flying machines.)
cases a silencer or muffler needs to take a high pressure shock
wave that to our ears is a loud "bang" and lower the pressure
before it gets to us. This is done by allowing the gasses inside
the gun barrel (or exhaust pipe in the case of a car) to expand
in a closed container.
silencer that is screwed on to the end of a gun can be as simple
as a large, empty can with holes at each end to allow the bullet
to pass through. As the bullet travels through the silencer, the
gas behind it expands into the can and the pressure is lowered.
More sophisticated silencers may also have "baffles" that further
suppress the sound by adding additional smaller chambers near
the final exit hole.
these devices also utilize water, liquid, a gel or grease inside
to cool the hot gases and which will further decrease the pressure
and sound. This is an effective approach, but often these materials
are partly vaporized each time the weapon is fired and must be
replenished after a limited number of shots. Some disposable silencers
are designed to only work for a handful for rounds before they
lose their effectiveness.
silencers can lower the sound of high pressure gas coming out
of the barrel of a gun, there are other sounds a weapon makes
that it has little effect on. In particular, if supersonic rounds
are used the bullet will break the sound barrier with a loud crack
after it leaves the front of the silencer. For this reason sub-sonic
rounds are often used with silenced weapons, but this reduces
the range and effectiveness of the bullet.
we often picture silencers as always being screwed onto the end
of a gun, some are built right into the weapon. Many are not as
effective as often seen in the movies and may not even lower the
volume of a gunshot enough that the marksman can avoid wearing
hearing protection. However, in many cases it is not necessary
to lower the sound of the shot as much as change the character
of it so that it is not easily identifiable as a gunshot. In an
urban setting this allows the sound of the shot to blend it with
the ambient noise.
countries and jurisdictions silencers are highly regulated. They
are legal to own in the United States in most places, but require
an expensive permit.
or Galaxies? -When I look up at the night sky, how many
of those stars are really stars and how many are galaxies? - John
let's start with defining the difference between a star and a
galaxy, for those not familiar with these terms. A star is a giant
ball of hydrogen gas massive enough support a fusion process that
generates heat and light. Our local example is the sun. There
are also dimmer white and brown dwarf stars and these are usually
stars that have burned off enough of their material that they
can no longer really support fusion.
galaxy is a group of stars bound together by their gravity. A
galaxy often takes the shape of a flattened, rotating disc (left).
The stars are pulled into arms that give the galaxy the appearance
of a whirlpool when viewed from above. Not all galaxies have this
shape. Scientists speculate that galaxies with other shapes may
be the result of a collision between two galaxies. Galaxies typically
are composed of billions of stars. Scientists all speculate that
most galaxies may have a supermassive black hole at the very center.
On a good,
dark night if your vision is exceptional, you might be able to
spot some 2,500 stars in the sky with your unaided eyes. However,
only a handful of galaxies can be seen without binoculars or a
telescope. There is, of course our own galaxy (the Milky Way)
and if you live in the Southern hemisphere you may be able to
spot the large and small Magellanic Clouds. In addition if you
know where to look you might be able to find the great Andromeda
Galaxy (M31), the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) and the Centaurus A
at best six compared to twenty-five hundred. And not all of those
galaxies can be seen from one location on the Earth.
of course, doesn't mean there are not a lot of galaxies in the
sky. They are just mostly too dim to be seen without a telescope.
question might be, are there more stars in own galaxy that galaxies
in the visible universe? Current estimates put the number of stars
in the Milky Way Galaxy at around 100 billion. That's a lot, but
it's only a drop in the bucket when compared to the estimated
number of visible galaxies: Over seven trillion.
only those galaxies we can, in principal, see with our telescopes.
There may be trillions beyond the reach of our current equipment.
In fact, many astronomers suspect the universe, and the number
of galaxies, is infinite.
the Hair, Not the Humidity - I have a thermometer hanging
on the wall that also has a humidity gauge. The humidity gauge
is just a round strip of metal. How can a strip of metal tell
how much humidity is in the air? - John
is a measure of water vapor in the air. We usually refer to it
as relative humidity as it is measured as a percentage of the
maximum amount of vapor the air can hold. If the humidity reaches
100 percent, it is sure to start raining as the water in the air
will condense into droplets.
device you have there is probably a mechanical hygrometer. It's
not really the metal that is doing the work, but a small bundle
of human hair (chemically treated to remove any oil). Hair, being
organic in nature absorbs water in the air and stretches (That's
why bad hair days are usually those with high humidity).
mechanical hygrometer is like others I've seen there is a needle
that points to the level of humidity. On the shaft that turns
the needle there is one spring that is spiraled around it pulling
he needle back toward zero. The shaft also has a chain (or possibly
some inorganic thread) wrapped around it that goes from the shaft
to the center of the hair bundle. Attached to the other side of
the center of the hair bundle is another, more powerful spring.
The two springs pull the mechanism in opposite directions. What
actually controls the position of the needle is the length of
the hair. As the hair lengthens a tiny bit, it deflects under
the pull of the powerful spring, and this, in turn, pulls the
chain to move the needle more toward 100%
hard to describe, so hopefully the attached diagram will help.
Strange Orbit -Does the moon revolve the Earth directly
above equator? If yes, does it mean that people in upper northern
hemisphere will be see it on the horizon? - Anonymous
unlike most moons in our solar system, does not follow a path
directly above its planet's equator. Instead, our moon follows
an orbital path very much closer to Earth's ecliptic plane. Earth's
ecliptic is the path Earth follows as it orbits the Sun.
earth's equator is tilted off its ecliptic by a little more than
23 degrees. This angle is what gives us the seasons as the northern
hemisphere is more tilted toward the sun during the summer and
away from the sun in the winter (The opposite is true for the
southern hemisphere where the seasons there are reversed).
also explains why the moon traces a different path across the
sky depending on the season. Like the sun, during the winter it
is closer to the horizon. In fact, further north than the Arctic
Circle the moon will not be visible for 14 days at a time as it
passes out of sight behind the tilt of our planet for half of
its orbit. Or course when it does re-emerge it rises and stays
up for fourteen days (The same is true at the Antarctic Circle).
that the moon orbits close to the Earth's ecliptic plane has been
used as evidence against the theory that the moon was created
at the same time the Earth. In this theory, most of the spinning
material in the region of Earth was pulled together by gravity
to form our planet, but some of pulled together to form the moon.
If that was the case, however, we would expect out moon to be
orbiting along the equator. The current leading theory as to the
creation of the moon is that a body the size of Mars hit Earth
throwing massive amounts of material into orbit. Over the course
of the next century this material was drawn together by gravity
to form our moon.
how old is the Earth? Biblically it is accurately about 6042 to
7000 years and scientifically it counts on millions. Should we
believe in God's wisdom or mere knowledge of man? - Cheta A
has been a dispute going on in some circles between some biblical
fundamentalists, who argue that science is wrong about the age
of the planet because the Bible says that the Earth is only 10,000
years old; and some scientists who claim that the Bible must be
inaccurate because clearly the Earth is millions of years old.
There are, however, a number of people who hold the views that
these differences are not irreconcilable. Though I am not a theologian,
I will endeavor to give you the highlights of some of these ideas.
View - One of the major reasons that science doesn't seem
to match up with the Bible is the creation story in Genesis that
seems make the universe and the earth appear in only 6 literal
days. This view says that the days mentioned in Genesis are not
24 hour days, but "ages." These "ages" might have lasted millions
of years or even billions of years and may have also overlapped.
Though some critics argue that a "day" in this context in the
Bible must only be 24-hours long, others argue that this alternate
interpretation is not really inconsistent with some Biblical understandings
of the word "day."
one author, Israeli physicist and Genesis scholar Gerald L. Schroeder,
argues that depending how you define "time" these days could be
both 24 hours and millions or billions of years long. For more
information on this idea check out his book The Science of
God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom.
Creation - Another view is that the Earth and Universe were
created in seven days 10,000 years ago, but they have been given
a whole consistent history of billions of years. This idea isn't
really inconsistent with other parts of the Bible. For example,
Adam is created as an adult man without the usual 20 years or
so need to grow from baby to mature human under the usual laws
of nature. Perhaps the earth and universe were also created in
a relatively short amount of time without the 15 billion years
that might normally be needed for such a process.
accept this view then for theological reasons the world is 10,000
years old, but for purposes of science the world is some 4.5 billion
that this seems somewhat disingenuous of God to create a false
history. However, it isn't any more dishonest then creating Atom,
calling him a man, though he never went through the normal human
creation process. Indeed in our own poor attempts to create worlds
and universes inside computers (i.e. video games like "The Sims")
we always apply this method and it never seems dishonest to us
within that context.
meant to be a complete discussion on the subject - just a starting
point. Debates over this subject have already filled thousands
of web pages, so I recommend you take a look at what has already
been written about these ideas across the internet.
Vitamins - What is a "vitamin", and how can sunlight make
vitamin D? - John
is an organic compound needed by a human or animal in tiny amounts
in order to stay healthy. Usually a compound is only called a
vitamin when the animal is unable to make it by itself, but must
get it by eating it. This means that some compounds are vitamins
for some animals but not really for others. For example, vitamin
D is not really a vitamin in the human diet because we create
it ourselves when sunlight hits our skin. It is a vitamin for
most fish, however, who must get it by eating algae (Or by eating
other fish who have eaten algae). The algae in turn create when
they float in shallow waters under the sun.
years scientists suspected that certain foods contained tiny amounts
of some substances needed for health, but they didn't know what
those substances were. For example, in 1749, the Scottish surgeon
James Lind discovered that citrus foods helped prevent scurvy,
a particularly deadly disease often suffered by sailors who did
not get fresh fruit in their diet. As it turns out the sailors
were not getting vitamin C - otherwise known as ascorbic acid
- which is found in the fruits. Though Lind didn't exactly know
what the missing ingredient was, he recommended eating lemons
and limes to avoid scurvy, an idea which was adopted by the British
Royal Navy and led to their nickname "Limies".
Russian doctor Nikolai Lunin did an experiment where he gave one
group of mice milk and the other group an artificial mixture of
all the separate parts of milk known at that time: proteins, fats,
carbohydrates, and salts. The mice that got the regular milk were
fine, but those which got just the parts got sick and died. This
told Lunin that there was something in the milk that science was
unaware of that was needed for the mice to stay healthy. The first
scientist to extract one of these micronutrients was Japanese
researcher Umetaro Suzuki in 1910. He named his discovery aberic
acid. It would later become known as vitamin B1.
more facts about vitamins:
world "vitamin" is a blend of the words "vital" and "amine" where
amine is a specific sort of organic compound. However, as other
vitamins were found, not all turned out to be amines, but the
an animals will have to eat the vitamins they need every day because
their bodies will not store the vitamins for any length of time.
D is produced photo-chemically when ultra-violet light interacts
with the substance 7-dehydrocholesterol. In the case of humans
the creation of the Vitamin D takes place in the epidermis, the
top layer of our skin, when light from the sun penetrates it and
hits the 7-dehydrocholesterol our bodies put there. How much and
how quickly you make your Vitamin D depends on how much sun light
you get and the color of your skin. People with darker skin produce
it more slowly than people with lighter skin.
with fur, who can't get sunlight to their skin at all, the Vitamin
D is synthesized in oily secretions that are deposited onto the
fur. As those oils sit on the fur and are exposed to the sun,
the vitamin D is created. The animal then must lick the oils off
and swallow them to get the Vitamin D into their systems.
Arthropods -Why do scorpions fluoresce under a UV light?
is a subject that scientists don't know a great deal about, but
let's start with some basic facts. Some materials when hit by
a light with a wave-length shorter than humans can see will absorb
that light energy and then radiate back light within the visible
spectrum so when a person looks at the object, it seems to glow.
This process is called fluorescence.
is a substance in the epicuticle (sometimes called the hyaline
layer) of the scorpion's exoskeleton that fluoresces when exposed
to ultra-violet light. Nobody knows exactly what this stuff is
but some scientists speculate it is a complex of mucosaccharides
(a simple form of sugar) and proteins. Also ß-Carboline, a trytophan
derivative, is known to play an important part.
really knows how the fluorescence gets there either. Baby scorpions
aren't born with it and scorpions that have just molted don't
have it. This has leads some people to suggest that it is either
secreted by the scorpion over time, a side effect of the animal's
exoskeleton as it is tanned by the sun or the result of chemical
reactions as the new exoskeleton hardens. The fact that some scorpions
that live their entire lives in dark caves and still fluoresce,
however, leads some people to think that it unlikely to be the
we also don't know what advantage this gives the scorpion. Some
have speculated that this property somehow helps the scorpion
with their ultra-violet light sensitivity, but studies have shown
that different levels of UV light seem to have little effect on
the animal's behavior.
know that scorpions have had this characteristic for a very long
time. This kind of fluorescence has even been seen in some of
the fossils of ancient scorpions. We also know it is not unique
to scorpions as some sow bugs, millipedes, centipedes, solfugids
and a few beetles also will glow in ultra-violet light. We also
know that with each molting the effect grows stronger so that
older scorpions glow brighter than young ones. The amount a scorpion
glows is also connected the particular species. Some glow brightly,
others hardly at all.
it is, this characteristic has been a boon to scientists and scorpion
enthusiasts. A small camping lamp can have its fluorescent bulb
replaced with one that produces ultra-violet (or "black") light
that will cause scorpions to glow a soft blue or green at a distance
of one or two feet. This is a great aid in finding the small animals.
Scientists can then easily use tongs to collect specimens and
many new species have been found this way. A flashlight that produces
UV light can also be useful when camping in scorpion habitats
to check your sleeping back to make sure you are not crawling
in with one of the tiny critters.
on the moon -Is it possible to channel a pipe from Earth
to Moon and pump in some of earth's atmosphere so as to support
free life? - Cheta A.
of a pipeline from the Earth to the Moon would be a difficult
and probably impossible construction problem. Though scientists
think it might be feasible to build an elevator that would lift
people and materials in earth orbit, the space station that the
elevator would be connected to would rotate in sync with our planet
so it would always be directly overhead. The moon orbits the earth
once a month, however, while our planet spins every 24 hours,
so a pipeline from earth to moon would quickly get twisted and
would be little point in building one, anyway, in an attempt to
pressurize the moon and give it a breathable atmosphere. The moon
already has an atmosphere, (mostly created by out gassing from
the underground chemical reactions) but the atmosphere is so thin
it almost does not exist. The gravity of the moon, only one-sixth
that of Earth is too weak to hold any significant amount of gas
on the surface. Most of it drifts into space to be swept away
by the solar wind.
we still might have an interest in putting stations and maybe
even cities on the moon. (These would probably be airtight and
partly or completely underground. By putting a couple of meters
of rock above the habitations you can protect life from the stray
radiation that often bombards the lunar surface) If we do build
underground cities we will need air for the inhabitants to breath.
Rather than pipe it up, or even bring it up in large cargo spaceships,
it would much more efficient to create it from materials already
on the surface. There is plenty of oxygen and nitrogen (to major
components of air) locked up in lunar rocks and soil. Getting
these out of the rocks will require energy, but there is plenty
of that on the moon. It gets lots of sunlight (no cloudy days)
that can be turned into electrical power. For that reason NASA
is thinking of locating the first lunar stations near the poles
so they can get an almost continuous exposure to energy from the
Magnets for Traveling Through Space - I'm wondering if
it's possible to use the principles of magnetism for travel (besides
Maglev). For example, could a ship with a highly focused electromagnet
aim and pull itself to a planet's magnetic field, or to the heavy
metal core of an asteroid? Could this same idea be used to create
a flying car, by pushing or pulling off more than one point at
the same time? Thanks - Maxwell
magnets and magnetic forces are very important in present and
future transportation designs, the type of arrangement you suggest
- focusing a magnetic field toward a distant object to pull yourself
toward it seems an unlikely mechanism to be used. The problem
is that magnetic fields lose their strength very quickly over
long distances. So if you attempted to build a ship using this
principal to pull yourself toward to a distant object you would
need an impractically large magnetic field requiring a tremendous
amount of energy. You would also have the problem that your engine
would be attracting every piece of ferrite material (those attracted
to a magnet) within miles -the wrenches in you tool kit, you belt
buckle, other ships near you etc... You vessel would soon be covered
with loose ferrite objects.
using Maglev does not have this same difficulty. The train uses
magnetism to float just above its rails (often less than an inch)
so that distance is not a problem. By changing the poles on the
magnets involved the train can be not only pushed upward by the
magnetic field but also down the track to give the vehicle forward
flying car might be workable, but only if it was levitating above
a special magnetic road. Like the Maglev train it would be limited
to "flying" just a few inches above the ground.
many engines used in transportation now use magnets to operate.
Almost every electric motor uses magnetic fields to generate movement
and some advanced space probes use magnetic fields to shoot particles
out the of the back of the probe at high speeds to push the device
example of a magnetic transportation system that I could find
that was similar to your design was a satellite engine being developed
in conjunction with NASA. While details of the design are limited,
the engine would interact with Earth magnetic field to allow satellites
to maneuver while in orbit. Last year a model of the engine exploded
during testing, but the inventors of the engine think they have
worked out the bugs and are hopeful that they will be able to
try a test in space in the next few years.
Satellites - Is it true that for a satellite to hold the
same position over the earth it can only be over the equator?
of satellite you are talking about is called a geostationary satellite
and the idea for it was first proposed by Herman Potonik, a Slovenen
rocket engineer, in 1928. Most people connect the idea, however,
with famed science fiction writer Arthur
C. Clarke. Clarke wrote an article about the idea for Wireless
World in 1945.
with which a satellite in orbit circles the Earth is dependent
upon how high above the Earth's surface it is. Objects in low
Earth orbit circle the globe much faster than those in higher
orbits. For example, the space shuttle orbits the earth at a height
of between 115 and 380 miles and will circle the Earth about 16
times in a 24 hour period. If an object is placed in orbit at
a much higher level, say 22,300 miles, it will circle the globe
only once in a 24 hour period. This makes it the object a geosynchronous
satellite orbiting at the same rate the planet turns.
unless the satellite is also in an orbit over the Earth's equator,
it will appear to move back and forth in the sky along a north
to south line during the course of the day. To be a geostationary
satellite the object needs to be in a circular orbit directly
over the equator at the height of 22,300 miles (This is sometimes
refered to as the "Clarke orbit"). Only then will it appear to
be fixed in a single location in the sky.
are many uses for geostationary satellites including communications
(for example, the dish television broadcast satillite I get my
TV on) and weather observation. Since they do not move in the
sky, geostationary satellites allow receivers on the ground to
use a simple fixed antennal to point to them and pickup broadcasts.
Because the satellites are over Earth's equator, however, any
northern hemisphere location wishing to point an antenna at them
must have a clear view of the southern sky. The opposite is true
in the southern hemisphere.
Death of Bruce Lee - Was Bruce Lee Assassinated? - Ashiva
of movie star/martial arts expert /cultural icon Bruce Lee in
1973, at 32 years of age, has inspired more conspiracy theories
than almost any other death in modern times. The list possible
Fu traditionalists - They resented Lee's open portrayal of
their sect's secret arts on the screen.
Hong Kong filmmakers - They wanted to eliminate the competition.
Ninjas - Who were angry about how the Japanese were portrayed
in Lee's films.
Triad (Chinese "Mafia") - They had him killed because he did
not bow to their extortion claims on his motion picture salary.
Mafia - Lee refused their offer to be made an American movie
star choosing instead to return to Hong Kong.
unnamed prostitute - Lee had taken a powerful aphrodisiac
which had caused him to become very violent. The prostitute, fearing
for her life, hit him over the head with a glass ashtray.
spirit - The Lee family was cursed and this accounted for
his death and the death of his son, Brandon Lee (Brandon Lee was
killed in an accident involving a gun on a set in 1993 while filming
the movie "Crow").
not all of these can be true and it is likely that not any of
them are true. However, there are some strange circumstances surrounding
his death that have allowed these rumors to flourish:
indication that not all was well with Lee occurred on when the
actor collapsed at Golden Harvest studios in Hong Kong on May
10th of 1973. He was rushed to the hospital were doctors determined
he had cerebral edema - swelling of the brain. He was successfully
treated at the hospital and released.
months later on July 20 he was again in Hong Kong visiting the
apartment of actress Betty Ting to go over a script when he felt
ill. Ting gave him a tablet of Equagesic (a combination aspirin
and muscle relaxant) and he lay down for a nap. Later on Ting
and producer Raymond Chow were unable to wake him and called a
doctor. The doctor examined him but was unable to help him and
he died. The body was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
showed that Lee had died from a cerebral edema similar to the
one he had experienced back in May. The official report called
it "death by misadventure." The only foreign substance found in
Lee's body was the Equagesic and trace amounts of cannabis in
his stomach. It seems likely that Lee's brain had swollen because
of a rare allergic reaction to some substance. However, there
was no evidence that Lee had taken Equagesic before the May incident
and the amount of cannabis is his system seemed far too small
for that to be the cause. Most doctors who reviewed the case,
however, feel that he most have died of a hypersensitivity to
the Equagesic, or the cannabis, or some combination of the two.
theorists have suggested that someone murdered Lee by giving him
some substance that caused the swelling. They contend that the
poison either did not show up on the toxicology tests used or
officials were bribed to suppress the evidence.
proof of any murder conspiracy has ever surfaced and the death
remains a sad end to a promising life. Lee, at age 32, was incredibly
popular at the time of his death and many of his fans refused
to believe Lee - who many considered the fittest man on the planet
at the time - was dead. Others blame his death on over training,
though there is also no evidence of this either.
Laser Gun, Will Travel -Hey, you know laser guns? Could
they even exist? - J. Smith
guns have long been a popular device used in Science Fiction literature.
Probably the first story to describe something that appears to
be laser cannon was H.G. Well's heat-ray from the 1898 book War
of the Worlds. When actual lasers first became available in the
early 1960's weapons seemed like a natural application. Several
Sci-fi TV shows from the period including Lost in Space and the
pilot for Star Trek, featured characters using laser pistols.
that real weapons designers soon found themselves confronted with
was the how much energy was needed to power such a weapon. A laser
capable of projecting enough energy to due significant damage
could not be powered with battery small enough to be carried by
a man. The same was true for more powerful laser cannons that
might be mounted on a truck or a tank. The power source was too
heavy to really make the weapon easily mobile, especially if you
consider a laser's effectiveness when compared to more conventional
and cheaper rockets, bullets or bombs.
lasers have become a major part of the military's inventory. Usually
they are used to guide missiles or bombs to their targets. The
target is "painted" with a laser beam by an observer and the bomb
or missile then flies to the laser light reflected off the target.
hasn't given up on using laser for more than just guiding weapons,
however. Currently there is joint development program by the U.S.
and Israel on a device known as the Tactical High-Energy Laser
or THEL. THEL is designed to knock out airborne weapons from a
fixed location or mobile platform (like a truck or tank). Critics
argue that counter measures, such as equipping the target with
a mirror-like surface to reflect the laser, will make the system
Air Force is also experimenting with a plane based chemical laser
system that would vaporize a ground target. This might be more
advantageous in some situation than using a missile or bomb as
it avoids damage to the places immediately adjacent to the target.
may actually turn out to be more useful in the end as non-lethal
weapons. The U.S. military has been working on a low powered laser
gun that could be carried by a man that would temporary blind
Assassinated?-I've read a couple of short articles about
the idea that FDR was actually assassinated. Is there any evidence
or proof to this? Who thought of this theory? - Thanks, Frank
12th, 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died at the "Little White
House" in Warm Springs, Georgia. According to the history books
he had a massive cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain).
to have made some people suspicious of this explanation was that
the President was buried with a closed casket. According to some
stories not even close family members were allowed to view his
body. This eventually led to two rumors. A) That he was assassinated
and the body was disfigured (shot in the face with a .45 pistol)
or B) that he didn't actually die, but was spirited off somewhere
by people unhappy with his policies.
rumor appears to have gained some popularity in the 50's when
a group called the Christian Nationalist Crusade(CNC) put
out a pamphlet entitled "The Roosevelt Death: A Super Mystery."
In the anonymous handout (written by "Mr. X") the group suggested
that FDR had been murdered (or maybe driven to suicide) by an
international secret organization for whom he worked. The organization
supposedly found that his accelerating illness was making him
more of a liability than an asset. The CNC pamphlet alleged that
this secret organization was controlled by the Jews and/or Communists.
These CNC claims aren't much of a surprise, however, as the group
was known to have antisemitic, racist, and anti-communist views.
hard evidence for this story has been ever found. Another rumor
was that FDR was poisoned, not shot. This story, however, would
seem to undermine the one fact that might support the assassination
theory: The closed casket. A closed casket would not be needed
if the cause of death was poison.
seems no real reason to question Roosevelt's death given the poor
state of his health. He had been struck down by polio when he
was young and lived as an invalid for many years. He was also
an extremely heavy smoker with emphysema, very high blood-pressure,
atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and angina. You can
add to this more than a dozen years of stress from running the
country during the Great Depression and World War II and you begin
to wonder how he lived as long as he did. In fact, a prominent
pathologist, Dr. Emanuel Libman, after seeing Roosevelt's image
in newsreels in 1943 prophetically said, "It doesn't matter whether
Roosevelt is re-elected or not, he'll die of a cerebral hemorrhage
within 6 months."
wasn't the only one who questioned FDR's longevity. When Roosevelt
ran for elections for a fourth time in 1944 many of the members
of his party did not expect to see him live to the end of his
term. They were so concerned that they insisted that Vice-President
Henry A. Wallace (who was thought to be soft on communism) be
dropped from the ticket. He was replaced by Harry Truman.
conspiracy theories linger on. There were certainly people who
might have wanted to do him harm and he had already survived an
attempt on his life in 1933 while he was President-Elect. Here
are some places you can check these theories out: Bill Hanson's
book entitled "Closely Guarded Secrets" supports the poisoning
hypothesis. You can also read an excerpt from "The Roosevelt Death:
A Super Mystery" which can be found on archive.org.
on the Surface -I often see drops of water hanging but
not falling. Gravity is pulling on them, so what's holding them
up? - John
you are referring to is known as surface tension. Surface
tension is responsible for many of the strange things we see liquids
do, but are so familiar we don't usually even think about them.
Surface tension is caused by forces in nature that pull the tiny
particles that make up substances (molecules) together. A general
name for these is intermolecular forces and they are only
effective at a very short range. So short that the molecules have
to be practically touching for them to take effect.
forces tend to pull molecules of the same substance together more
strongly than molecules of substances of different types. This
is what causes water to form into beads on a waxed surface. The
wax does not attract the water molecules as much as other water
molecules do, so they pull themselves together into a sphere shape
which allows the most volume of water with the smallest surface
area letting the water molecules to get as close to each other
as they can. Because gravity is also acting on the water sphere,
however, it tends to flatten out a bit forming into a bead.
this have to do with hanging water? Let's take the example of
a droplet hanging from a leaking facet. The water forms into half
sphere to get as close as possible to each other. Even though
the metal of the facet doesn't attract the water molecules as
much as other water molecules do, there is still enough attraction
to counteract gravity and keep the half sphere from falling or
turning into a full sphere.
water from the leak flows into the droplet, however, it gets bigger
and heavier until it weighs so much that the surface tension of
the droplet to the facet isn't enough to keep it attached. The
droplet becomes elongated with less and less of the water touching
the metal. As less and less of the water touches the metal the
surface tension drops even more until the droplet falls free.
the air the droplet, now free from the attraction to the facet,
can form into a perfect sphere to minimize the distance between
the water molecules. Rain drops, contrary to popular belief, are
spheres. They only appear to be shaped with an elongated tail
because that's the way our eyes see them as they zoom by us on
the way to the ground.
tension also explains why water droplets on wax paper pull together
when brought close to each other. Again the water molecules are
trying to get as close to each other as they can by minimizing
the outside area and maximize the volume. Surface tension also
explains how a bug like the water strider can walk on the
surface of a pond. The bug so light his weight is not enough to
push the water molecules apart so his foot can sink in.
a question?Click here to send
it to the curator.
of Life on Earth -With recent news about global warming
and the slow depletion of the Earth's natural resources due to
mining, hunting, killing of plants and animals to make way for
modernization, is it possible for man to render the Earth virtually
un-inhabitable? If yes, how do you think this will happen, how
fast, and given the current state of the Earth, how long until
it will happen. - Harris
mention in your email if you meant virtually un-inhabitable by
just humans or almost any living thing. Given the choice let's
go for the big enchilada! Could man end life on Earth entirely?
Probably not given we know there are bacteria that live two miles
underground getting their energy not from the sun but from radiation
in the rock. These things would be very hard for us to get at,
let alone kill. However, we might be able to do in just about
everything else on the planet, including ourselves, if we let
our most advanced technology get into the wrong hands.
(or perhaps worse) scenario for this would be the deliberate misuse
of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology will allow us to produce machines
as small as or even smaller than bacteria. The positive uses of
this technology include the ability to make a tiny robot that
would live in a human body and hunt down cancer cells. Such a
thing seems like science fiction, but researchers and engineers
are thinking about ways to do this now, and multi-millions of
dollars are being poured into this technology both in the United
States and abroad.
the danger though if someone were to reprogram that tiny robot
to kill all living cells. A handful of those nano robots
might not be that dangerous to large populations, but suppose
that these robots also had the ability to self-replicate. The
result would be a plague would spread across the earth killing
possibility is creating a self-reproducing nano-robot that would
enter plants and disrupt photosynthesis. A plant that cannot carry
out photosynthesis (create food from sunlight) is a dead plant.
Without plants to provide food, life would soon vanish from the
earth (with the exception of those bacteria we mentioned before
that live off radiation instead of sunlight).
no sane man (or woman) would build such a robot, but the world
is filled with crazy people and terrorist groups. Suppose they
got a hold of this technology? People thinking about this problem
have already coined a term for it: Nanoterrorism. Nobody
is quite sure at this point how difficult it will be to build
such a robot. Obviously nature has already engineered some organic
self-reproducing machines in the form of bacteria. At some point
in our future - perhaps in the next decade or two - we will be
able to do the same thing. Our machines, unlike bacteria, will
be programmed to do specific functions of our own design. Some
of them will give us great benefits (think of a self-reproducing
nano-robot that be dropped into the ocean to clean up an oil spill),
while others may bode of great danger.
saying here we should blindly panic and start burning down laboratories
that work with nano-technology, however. What we do need to do
is carefully think how the technology should be used and what
safeguards should be in place.
Battery for Electric Cars? - "Has the Babylon battery
on your site ever been tested out for a power source for cars?
How about lamps etc.?" - Sheryl Skoglund
the German archeologist Wilhelm Konig discovered an object in
the Baghdad museum's collection that looked to him like it might
be the remains of a battery: a clay jar which seemed to have an
iron bar running from the top surrounded by a copper cylinder
Other scientists disagreed with his idea claiming the jars might
have been used to contain scrolls or have some other purpose,
but Konig published his conjecture in 1940 and people have been
fascinated with the possibility ever since.
people have actually made replicas of the Baghdad Battery and
tried it on different applications. The voltage produced is pretty
low compared to modern batteries. Perhaps a half volt. (Your everyday
AAA battery produces one and one half volts.) This might be sufficient
to light a LED bulb, but given the size of the ancient battery,
it really has no modern practical use. It has been suggested that
the ancients might have used it to electroplate objects.
amazing about the battery - if that is truly what it is - is that
it exists at all. It was thought the discovery of how to make
electricity though a chemical reaction was not discovered until
beginning of the 19th century. The battery, and other devices
like the Antikythera Mechanism (http://www.unmuseum.org/amechanism.htm),
which is a mechanical computer used to predict the movement of
the stars, suggest that the ancients knew a lot more about technology
that we originally appreciated.
Too Heavy for the Earth? - This may be a very stupid question,
but I have been curious about this for a long time. When the earth
was first formed, there were no people inhabiting the earth. Now
there are over 6 1/2 billion people on the earth (along with all
the animals now roaming the earth). I realize living things consume
the resources of earth but why has not the weight of 6 1/2 billion
people affected the orbit or tilt of the earth? It is an incredible
amount of weight on earth that was not there before. - Diane
are a few reasons why this weight does not affect earth's orbit.
If we take the average weight of a human being as 150lbs and multiply
it by 6.5 billion, then converte it to kilograms by dividing by
2.2, we get an approximate mass for all the human life on our
planet as 443.19 billion kilograms (this is probably an over-estimate
as the much of the world's population are children which would
lower the average weight). This seems like a large number until
you compare it with the mass of the earth, however, which is 6,000,000,000,000,000
billion kilograms. We are only a tiny, tiny fraction of the planet's
estimates of the planet's total biomass (all plants and animals)
are hard to come by, but one often cited figure is 69,181 billion
kilograms. Still only a tiny fraction of earth's total mass.
if people did represent a large percentage of the earth's weight
our growth in numbers on the planet would not represent a change
in the planets total mass. Why? Because all that we are was once
part of the earth. For example 80% percent of our bodies are water.
The water was here before people were on the earth; it was just
located in the lakes, rivers and oceans of our planet. As a human
body grows it takes on this water that was already on the planet.
The water is shifted from sitting on the surface of the earth
to inside your body, but the mass does not change. This is the
same for all the other materials in your body and for all life.
way to significantly increase the weight of our planet would be
for it to be hit by a large object (by large I mean planet-sized).
If such a collision occurred, however, the impact would probably
wipe out all life on the planet and any modifications to the orbit
would be a moot point as far as human beings were concerned.
vs GENES - I would like to know the difference between DNA
and genes. - Kamini
for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is a double-stranded, helical
nucleic acid molecule that encodes information hereditary information
for almost all living organisms. A gene is one section
of the DNA that controls a specific function or characteristic.
arranged like a twisted ladder with the up and down rails composed
of sugar molecules and phosphate molecules connected to rungs
made of either adenine and thymine or guanine and cytosine. One
section of rail and a half rung is called a nucleotide
and each nucleotide can be connected with others to make both
sides of the ladder and to make the ladder longer. Because the
half rungs (called bases) can be either adenine, thymine,
guanine or cytosine, there are four different types of nucleotides.
The order of the nucleotides on the ladder is important as this
is how information is encoded into the DNA. It is not unlike the
zeros and ones that encode information for computer program.
group of consecutive nucleotides on the ladder that composes the
instructions necessary to make one protein is called a gene. The
protein molecule that the gene makes may control characteristics
like a person's eye color, hair color, etc. On average a gene
includes 3000 nucleotides, but for some simple proteins only a
few dozen may be needed. Not all DNA nucleotides are part of a
gene. There are lengthy intergenic regions in between most genes
that either have no function or a regulatory function the scientists
are only yet beginning to understand.
are believed to have about 20,000 - 25,000 genes. More than ninety-nine
percent of these genes are shared by all humans with only less
than a percent involved in giving us all those traits that make
use individuals. (In fact chimps, our closet biological relatives,
have the 96% of the same DNA we do). Human DNA is also split up
into unconnected sections called chromosomes. Humans have 23 pairs
of chromosomes. A child gets one half of each pair from their
mother and the other half from their father which is why a child
might have their father's wide set eyes, but their mother's eye
color. Chromosome number 23 is known as the sex chromosome because
females carry two X types and males carry one Y and one X.
in a gene is divided up into two components. A "non-coding" section
that simply indicates whether the gene is "on" or "off" (sometimes
referred to the gene being "expressed" or not) and a "coding"
section which contains the instructions to build the protein.
The DNA does not build the protein itself but transcribes the
information to RNA (Ribonucleic acid) to do the work. RNA looks
and acts a lot like DNA, but is made up of only one half of the
twisted ladder and uses a few alternate materials. In a few cases
gene may not make a protein at all, but just RNA which is then
used in another part of the protein synthesis operation.
cell in our body carries a copy of our DNA and parts of that DNA
are very specific to each person, which is why it has become as
important as fingerprinting to establish identity. Just a few
cells left behind at a crime scene through a strand of hair can
be enough to let police positively identify someone as the perpetrator.
DNA can also predict if a person will get certain disease. For
example, Tay-Sachs, which is a fatal disease often afflicting
Eastern European Jews, has been shown to be the result a mutated
and non-functioning HEXA gene. Other genes may not directly cause
a disease, but increase the likelihood of a person getting ill.
For example, researchers have shown that people with a nonfunctioning
CREB gene are at an increased risk for anxiety and alcoholism.
actually looks like a super-tiny thread and is impossible to see
without the use of an electron microscope. Typically it is curled
up on itself so it can fit inside a microscopic cell. If you were
to uncurl the DNA in a single cell, however, it would stretch
out to about three feet in length and contain three billion base
and Bostrom - Is the idea that we are all just living in a
big computer simulation related to what Jacques Vallée and people
like that are talking about when they try to explain UFO's as
not extraterrestrial craft but "control devices" and so on? That
is, do they mean that the ones behind the UFO's are the programmers
of this big simulation we're living in, who are doing experiments
on us by sending these weird, anomalous phenomena and seeing how
we deal with them? I never really understood what Vallée was getting
at till I read the article on the world as a computer simulation
in the current edition of the Museum of Unnatural Mystery. Thanks.
- Alan Meyers
F. Vallée, a computer scientist, venture capitalist and former
astronomer, has long been one of the "deep thinkers" in the arena
of Ufology. Born in France in 1939 he became interested in the
subject when he observed a UFO in 1955. At first Vallée was convinced
that UFOs were extraterrestrial spacecraft and published his ideas
in his book Anatomy of a phenomenon: unidentified objects in
space--a scientific appraisal. By 1969, however, his thinking
had changed and he began to see UFOs and alien abduction reports
as part of a much larger phenomenon that included other paranormal
events. He outlined his thinking for this in his book Passport
to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers. Vallée suggested
in his book that flying saucers and alien visitors might not be
from other planets, but from other dimensions or even different
time periods. These ideas did not sit well with many UFO enthusiasts
and Vallée soon found himself an outcast among their ranks, or
as he put it a "heretic among heretics".
sees one possible explanation of the UFO phenomenon as that of
a "control mechanism " with incidents as deceptions created to
manipulate people and society. Sometimes this is done by other
humans. For example, we know the US Air Force encouraged UFO reports
to hide the flights of SR-71 Blackbird spy aircraft in the 80's.
The Soviet Union also did the same thing to cover the launch of
rockets that were not in compliance with the SALT treaty they
the social manipulation caused by UFOs reports, however, Vallée
suggests are done by non-human entities who have an agenda of
which we are totally unaware. Vallée's initial thinking was that
these entities were from another dimension, and were not operators
of a simulated world that we are living in (See last month article
in a Video Game). "There is a distinction to be made between
a Matrix-like virtual world and what I first proposed in 'Messengers,'
[Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults his 1979
book] namely an information multiverse with fully physical manifestations"
said Vallée, in an interview with SUB ROSA online magazine.
he is thinking about is related to some of the interpretations
of quantum theory which suggest that reality consists of many
nearly parallel universes. If beings from one universe successfully
figured out how to cross to another universe we might interpret
them as extra terrestrials. A visitor moving from one quantum
parallel universe to another also might be jumping in time also
leading to the suggestion that flying saucers are our ancestors'
attempts to manipulate their past.
Vallée initial ideas with control mechanisms didn't involve our
living in a simulated universe, in my opinion the idea that UFO
incidents (and other paranormal experiences) are attempts by those
outside the simulation to influence our society seem to make just
as much sense as the multi-dimensional approach. Remember Vallée's
initial thinking on this subject was published in 1979 long before
Bostrom's 2002 paper on the simulation argument came out. Perhaps
Vallée, after pondering Bostrom's thinking, will address this
possibility directly in some future book.
AD, BCE, and CE- Why are the years are called by BC
and AD and how exactly did the year change to BC to AD'? Did ancient
people follow this? - Gajendra K.
numbering system is based on the presumed year of the birth of
Jesus Christ. Years before his birth are given the abbreviation
B.C. ("Before Christ") designation and are numbered backwards
so the further back in time you go in time the higher the number.
For example, the Great Pyramid is thought to have been built 2560
years before Christ was born which would be expressed as 2560
stands for "Anno Domini" which is Latin for "In the year of our
Lord." All recent dates are expressed in the number of years after
Jesus's birth. This year is A.D. 2008 which translates to "The
year of our Lord 2008" or 2008 years after Christ was born. Technically
the A.D. abbreviation should go before the number, but more recently
it has become common to put it either at the beginning or the
end, for example "2008 A.D.".
people prefer to use the designation C.E. (for "Common Era") instead
of A.D. so there is no religious connection (though C.E. can also
thought of as "Christian Era."). The same thing can be done changing
B.C. - Before Christ - to B.C.E which means "Before Common Era."
system wasn't invented until A.D. 525, and was not commonly used
until the 8th century. Before then dates were typically numbered
years based on the start of the reign of the current king. For
example, Babylon was established as the center of the Babylonian
Empire during the 30th year of King Hammurabi's reign. In some
cases dates were not established by the beginning of the reign
of the current king, but the beginning of the dynasty of kings
to which he belonged.
early calendars (like the Hebrew Calendar) tried to base their
dates of the number of years since the world was created, but
given that different religious scholars disagreed about when this
occurred, the number system was never universal.
previous number systems were adequate in ancient times when there
were few contacts between different peoples and little shared
history, as interactions between cultures spread, it became difficult
to constantly match the years of different king's reigns together
to establish correct dates. The A.D. system first became popular
in Western Europe and is now the defacto standard though out most
of the world. Its popularity can also be attributed to the success
of the Gregorian calendar (our system of months and days) to which
it has been closely tied.
re-examination of the birth of Christ in the last century suggests
Jesus was actually born several years before A.D. 1, but given
that the system is now so well established there has been no attempt
to fix it. Another quirk with the system is that there is no "year
zero." This means that if you go one year backwards from A.D.
1 you will find yourself at 2 B.C.. Incidentally some people incorrectly
attribute the A.D. to the abbreviation of "After [Christ's] Death"
but this is incorrect as it would yield dates 33 years too low
- The length of Jesus' life.
of Egypt - We studied Ancient Egypt and I was absent when
we studied Queen Cleopatra. Who is she? - Samantha
are several Cleopatra's in Egyptian history, but the most famous
one was Cleopatra VII. She was the last Pharaoh of Egypt, at a
time just before the country was completely taken over by the
Rome. Cleopatra herself was not of Egyptian heritage, but Greek.
In 331BC Alexander the Great (who was from a section of Greece)
liberated Egypt when he defeated the Persian Empire. After Alexander's
death in 232BC, Egypt fell under control of one of Alexander's
generals, Ptolemy. The Ptolemy family kept power there until Cleopatra
was born to her father, Ptolemy XII, in 69BC. Cleopatra showed
great interest in the traditions of Egypt and was the only member
of her family in 300 years that bothered to learn the language.
She followed the Egyptian beliefs and while she ruled she was
considered the re-incarnation and embodiment of, Isis, the Egyptian
goddess of wisdom.
her father died in 51 BC, a 17 year-old Cleopatra and her 12-year-old
brother, Ptolemy XIII, took over. In addition to be siblings,
Cleo and her brother were married (a common trick used to keep
power in the family back then). Cleo attempted to push her husband/bother
into the background and get sole control of the kingdom, but lost
the battle and was forced to flee Egypt.
chance to get back into power came in 48BC when a political miscalculation
by her brother got the Roman ruler Julius Caesar angry with him.
Cleopatra took advantage of this situation: It is said that she
had her servants bring an expensive Persian carpet to Caesar as
a gift. When it was unrolled, Cleopatra tumbled out. Caesar, age
50, enchanted by her beauty and youth (she was only 21) and fell
in love with her. He helped her returned her to the Egyptian throne
which led to Ptolemy XIII's death. Caesar and Cleo had a son,
Caesarion, together. It was Caesar's plan to have Caesarion rule
Egypt after his death and leave Rome to grand-nephew, Octavian.
Cleopatra, however, wished her son to be heir to all of Rome.
was killed by members of the Roman Senate in 44BC, Cleopatra made
Caesarion her co-regent and successor. Later she allied herself
with Mark Anthony, one of the three men ruling Rome after Caesar's
death. They married and had children. It is likely that Cleopatra
had plans to take on Rome and make herself and her son rulers
of the known world, but the Romans, under Octavian, attacked first.
Anthony and Cleopatra's forces were defeated at the naval battle
off the coast of Actium. Soon the armies of Rome were marching
through Egypt and Anthony was mortally wounded in battle. Cleopatra
was held under house arrest and commited suicide (legend has it
that she killed herself by letting a deadly Asp snake bite her)
in 30BC at the age of 39.
is remembered for her immense beauty and even more immense ambition.
She ruled in a time when Greek women were expected to be submissive
to their husbands. Instead of taking a back seat to men, however,
she cleverly used her charms to gain political advantages over
her enemies and was nearly successful in ruling the known world.
"Death Beam" - I'm wondering about Tesla's Death Ray. Did
anyone ever try to build one after his death? Was it ever proven
as a viable weapon? - Frank
Tesla, the almost forgotten genius of electricity, hated war and
for years searched for a way to put an end to it. In 1934, at
age 78, Tesla thought he had found it. He had an idea for a death
beam based on sending a concentrated stream of charged particles
though the air. The beam would carry tremendous energy and would
disrupt or melt whatever it hit. The weapon, he thought, could
be used to down any hostile airplane approaching a country's borders.
The beam could only be sent in a straight line and would not follow
the curve of the earth, so it only had a range of only a couple
of hundred miles. Because of this, Tesla felt that his invention
could be used only as a defensive weapon to prevent aggression.
to get much interest in it until he wrote a technical paper entitled
"New Art of Projecting Concentrated Non-Dispersive Energy Through
Natural Media" and mailed it to a number of Allied nations including
the United States, Canada, England, France, the Soviet Union,
and Yugoslavia. According to him the weapon would be "capable
of destroying 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 250 miles."
The nation that showed the greatest interest in it was the Soviet
Union, which tested one stage of the weapon in 1939 and sent Tesla
a check for $25,000.
design was clever. One the problems with a charged particle weapon
is that the particles need to be accelerated in a vacuum, but
then must be able to emerge from the weapon into the atmosphere
to make the beam. To keep the interior of the weapon a vacuum
Tesla devised a gateway for the particles that consisted of a
blast of high-speed air blowing across the weapon's barrel. The
blowing air helped maintain the vacuum, but would not hinder the
this, experts say his exact design appears unworkable. However,
after his death some of his papers appeared to have gone missing
and then, during the "cold war" both the United States and the
Soviet Union tried to developed "charged particle" weapons similar
in principal to Tesla's designs. Conspiracy theorists suggest
this is more than a coincidence. Later a similar weapon was designed
to be put aboard a rocket as part of the SDI ("Star Wars") program
to down approaching missiles, but the idea was never implemented.
Currently one company is experimenting with a charged particle
beam weapon code named MEDUSA which they hope can be used to defend
against planes and light tanks. So far, however, no charged particle
weapon seems to have made it into the standard defense inventory
of any nation.
Zapotec's Little Tunnels -I've heard of tunnels found
in buildings from the Zapotec empire, somewhere in Central or
South America. These tunnels, as I have heard, were too small
for adults or normal-sized children to enter, but still had little
staircases carved into them, and ceremonial-type items were found
in them. I can't find much information on them- are they real?
Are people still trying to explore them? Any idea what they were
used for? Many thanks - Tango.
Empire of central American (now Mexico) existed from about 500
BC to 700 AD, and reached peak population of around 16,500 around
500 AD. At this point in time they abandoned their old capital
and built a new one, Monte Albán, atop a high plateau in the valley
of Oaxaca. Beneath the central plaza of this city runs a labyrinth
of small tunnels. The tunnels, many only a foot high, are - as
you note - too small for adults and most children. Some appear
to have steps and are connected chambers containing artifacts
like human skeletons and funerary objects. Despite Monte Albán
being one of the most studied archeological sites in the Americans,
the reason behind the tunnels is unknown, but ideas have been
proposed ranging from water drainage to a transportation system
for diminutive aliens. One explanation seems to be that the tubes
were used for sighting the different positions of the sun, moon
and stars as they moved across the sky, but the existence of the
chambers snd artifacts seems to also suggest a ritual connection.
by far, is not the only mystery about Monte Albán. On the north
side of the site is an area called "The Gallery of Dancers" with
many stone tablets carved with reliefs of human figures in contorted
positions. Nobody is exactly sure what these figures mean, except
that they are not really dancers. The leading theory is that they
may be human sacrifices.
we could understand more about the city and its strange features
if we could read the Zapotec hieroglyphics that cover city walls.
While the language is still spoken in Mexico, the meanings of
the glyphs have been lost and only a handful are now known. Without
a key, like the Rosetta Stone which
allowed Egyptian script to be deciphered, the translation of these
texts may never be known. For a look at the plaza and the tunnels
BIG CRUNCH -What is the Big Crunch and when will it occur?
Crunch" is one of several theories about how the universe will
end. Probably everybody is now familiar with the leading theory
about how the universe started, the so called "Big Bang." According
to the Big Bang theory, at the beginning of the universe all matter
and energy was compressed into an infinity small point with infinite
density and temperature. Then followed a period of rapid inflation
and expansion (the Bang). Matter in the universe cooled and coalesced
into stars, planets and galaxies. The expansion continues today
as each of the local groups of galaxies, including ours, grows
further apart from each other.
years scientists pondered what would happen at the end of the
universe. While the expansion continues, gravity is trying to
reverse the process and pull all matter back together. Scientists
figured that either gravity would be too weak and the expansion
would continue forever while just getting slower and slower, or
gravity would be strong enough to bring all the matter and energy
back together in a "Big Crunch."
also speculated if the universe did come back into a "Big Crunch"
it might precipitate another "Big Bang" which would create another
universe. Ours, they suggested, might be just one in an unending
series of universes.
measurements suggested the amount of gravity and the speed of
the expansion were very nearly balanced. This meant that scientists
had to impatiently wait for decades until better technology was
available so that more accurate studies could be made and they
could find out what the fate of the universe was.
of those moments that proved that Sir Arthur Eddington was right
when he said "not only is the universe stranger than we imagine,
it is stranger than we can imagine," the results came back
showing that the expansion wasn't slowing at all. It was - much
to the shock of almost everybody - accelerating. Scientists
have decided that the reason for the acceleration must be something
they've dubbed "dark energy," but they have almost no idea what
this energy might be and how it works.
expansion continues at the current rate the universe may end in
"The Big Rip." At some point about 50 billion years in the future
the expansion will become so great that everything will be ripped
apart. Galaxies will fly apart as individual solar systems go
their own way. Later stars will lose their planets and eventually
everything down to the subatomic level will be torn asunder.
a "Big Crunch" seems unlikely due to this most recent finding,
because scientists know almost nothing about what "dark energy"
is, they can't rule out that it might suddenly reverse and cause
a rapid collapse of the universe. When this might happen is also
a mystery. If there is a Big Crunch, the universe would end as
all matter was sucked into black holes, then the black holes were
pulled together to create a single massive black hole. Scientists
have no idea whether this singularity might lead to a new universe
and a new expansion or not.
a Well - If a person is in a deep well in the daytime
and he looks straight up will he be able to see the stars? - M.
that you can see the stars during daylight hours from the bottom
of a deep well or chimney has been around a long time. The ancient
Greek philosopher Aristotle mentions it as does the 19th century
author Charles Dickens. However, any theoretical or practical
evidence for this seems lacking. The British astronomer Rev. W.F.A.
Ellison tried it from the bottom of a bottom of a colliery 900
feet below the surface and found the he wasn't struck by the sight
of stars, but the brilliant blue of the sky when compared the
darkened tube he was looking up through.
see the stars in the sky during the day because of the sunlight
is scattering off gas molecules in the air, sending light in all
directions - including into our eyes. (Blue is scattered more
than the other colors so that is why the sky is blue). The light
radiating this way during day is much brighter than most stars.
A few extremely bright stars, like Sirius, are visible in the
day if you know where to look, though they do not stand out against
the day sky like they do at night. If you were at the bottom of
a well shaft, and Sirius was directly overhead during the day,
the well shaft might reduce the glare from the sun enough to make
the star more visible. It would not, however, allow you to see
the fainter stars and the real world chance of Sirius being exactly
over your shaft would be extremely small.
planets, like Venus, can be seen in the daylight and viewing them
from a well or chimney might reduce the Sun's glare and make them
more visible, but you could probably get the same effect by using
the cardboard cylinder from a roll of paper towels that you hold
up to your eye.
of Universe vs. Speed of Light - I read "K-Pax IV,"
a fictional book, and an alien character suggested that light
only travels because the universe is expanding. She suggests that
light cannot exceed the speed of light because that's the speed
of the expanding universe and if the light exceeds that speed
then it's going out of the universe's bounds. Is this somewhat
true or completely fictional? - Melqui
the literature on this subject I see no credible theories that
connect the expansion of the universe, as we know it, to the speed
of light. Usually when we talk about the "expansion of the universe"
we are referring to the way things in the universe get farther
away from each other over the course of time. This started with
the "Big Bang" and continues today. Recently this speed was measured
to be about 71 (km/s)/megaparsec. That means that if two objects
in the universe are a megaparsec apart (3261.5 light years) they
will be moving away from each other at 71 kilometers a second.
speed is well below that of light so there doesn't seem to be
a direct connection. In addition, the effect is additive so that
at great distances - billions of megaparsecs apart - two objects
can actually be moving away from each other at more that the speed
of light. This would seem to defy Einstein's Theory, but remember
that the movement of these objects is because they are just being
carried along by the expansion of space, not because the objects
themselves have been accelerated.
is also recent evidence that the rate that the universe is expanding
is increasing for some unknown reason. This is also unlike that
speed of light which almost all scientists believe is a constant.
Even the few people that suggest light speed may not be a constant
speculate that it is slowing down, not speeding up.
theory may find a connection between the speed of light and the
expansion of the universe, but it is not obvious at point in time.
Still, we do not know everything about the universe - in fact
we do not even know what we don't know - so there is always the
possibility of new discovery over the horizon that would change
in SETI - What do you know about the WOW signal, and have
scientists found any possible source (other than aliens)? Could
it have even been faked? Or is it more likely to be a genuine
signal from aliens? If that's the case, why haven't we heard any
more? - Jonathan .
signal (called the "WOW" signal because that's what the scientist
who first saw the data wrote on the printout) was observed by
the "Big Ear" radio telescope at Ohio State University on August
15, 1977. The Big Ear was part of a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence) project run by the college for almost 30 years.
The signal was the closest thing to an alien contact that the
project - or anybody else involved in SETI - has ever found.
are several things that make the signal so interesting. The first
is the strength. It is extremely high: The most powerful signal
ever received from space from an unknown source. Second is its
duration. Almost exactly 72 seconds. This is significant because
the Big Ear was a fixed radio antenna which swept the sky as the
earth turned and 72 seconds was exactly the length of time it
would take for the antenna to sweep by a pinpoint source in space.
Also the growth and decay pattern of the signal is exactly what
one would expect for a fixed celestial source, making it unlikely
it was an earthbound transmitter. Third is its frequency: It is
very near the frequency of hydrogen and very concentrated. The
hydrogen "line" is considered to be by most scientists the logical
frequency to choose if you where trying to broadcast to another
civilization. The fact that that signal did not extend much above
or below that frequency is a strong indication that the broadcast
was artificial, as natural sources a rarely so concentrated.
intriguing aspect of this signal is that is that it was only observed
from one of the Big Ear's two "horns" but not the other. They
scanned the same section of sky about two minutes apart, so in
that short period something, or somebody, stopped the transmission.
as the signal was, it has never been found again despite many
researchers revisiting that location in the sky using, in many
cases, much more sensitive equipment. This both deepens the mystery
and makes it almost impossible to hope for a solution. The follow
up surveys have almost eliminated the possibly of some weird natural
source. However, the lack of any additional signals also makes
it seem very unlikely that aliens are trying to contact us. Most
scientists believe that they definitely would try more than once
(although we ourselves have only sent a sent an outbound signal
once). The only way we may have missed their additional signals,
if they exist, is if they are being repeated at very long intervals
(at least 14 hours apart).
unless something is repeatable, it doesn't count for much. Some
have suggested that the signal may have been a man-made space
probe that the SETI team wasn't aware of, but there is no way
of proving that one way or another. So, the mystery continues.
We can only hope that if E.T. was trying to contact us, he tries
to phone again, soon.
Speeding Up? - Someone just said to me she thinks the last
3 years have aged everyone more than in the past because the actual
minute itself (the unit of time) is speeding up. Can this be possible?
- Jennifer E.
your friend is referring to the insertion of "leap seconds" into
the calendar in the last few years. If this is the case, it isn't
so much that time itself is speeding up, but that the earth's
rotation is slowing down.
how you look at it depends on how you define time. We casually
define our days as one rotation of our planet, hours as one 24th
the length of that day, minutes as one 60th of the length of that
hour and seconds as one 60th the length of that minute. If the
Earth rotation slows (which it does due to the pull of the moon
and sun's gravity on our oceans which create friction between
the water and land) the days get longer by a few fractions of
a second each year.
this tiny difference is unimportant to most people, it is of great
concern to scientists who need to measure things carefully down
to the thousandths of a second for many scientific experiments.
If the length of a second is changing as the earth slows down
it can't be used to compare the results of one experiment with
a similar one done years earlier. To solve this problem scientists
invented the "physics second." A physics second is length that
the second was according to the rotation of our planet in 1900.
Scientists then use atomic clocks (that measure time as a function
of the change of states in the element cesium) to track time without
having to refer to the earth rotation. When the atomic clocks
slip out of sync with the rotation of the earth by about a second
a "leap second" is inserted into the clocks tracking to keep it
aligned with the astronomical day.
thought of the real value of time as the length of the day, then
indeed you might come to the conclusion that time is going faster
- after all we are inserting extra fractions of a second into
those days so time must have sped up, right? Well, not really.
It is probably more accurate to think that time has stayed the
same, but our days are getting longer.
Findings - What do you do if you find pieces of a creature
unlike that of anything of this earth? - Charlie
your best bet, when trying to identify an unknown animal (extraterrestrial
or not) is to contact a biologist professor at a local college
or university. They will be familiar with animals in your area
and can eliminate some possibilities of an unusual, but earthly
species. Most scientists would jump at the chance to identify
a new species (even an earthly one) if given the chance. If they
find one, they get to write a paper on it and they become famous
(at least within the biology world).
for fossils too. If you find a fossil, which you think might be
something significant you can contact a geologist or paleontologist
at a local college or university. It could be an important find.
It has happened before:
a contractor working on a housing development in South Dakota
came across some strange bones. His son, who was a college student,
recognized them as fossils and contacted a university. Scientists
came out and examined the location and immediately discovered
the remains of at least four Columbian Mammoths. Later excavations
revealed that the location was an ancient sinkhole which had trapped
mammoths for centuries and was a treasure trove of important fossils.
The housing project was abandoned and a museum built on the location:
The South Dakota Mammoth Site near Hot Springs. It's great place
to learn about mammoths while visiting South Dakota.
Berkeley Horror -I have a book by Daniel Cohen called
Worlds Most Famous Ghosts. In it is a chapter on something
called the "Berkeley Square Horror" in London. It is something
about a room at 50 Berkeley Square that if anyone stays one night
in there they will either be dead or have gone insane. Supposedly
this has happened several times. I have searched several sights
including wikipedia.com and I have found nearly no info. It would
be much appreciated if you could help me out. - Frank
are multiple stories about 50 Berkeley Square, many of them contradictory.
The house was constructed in 1740 and for a number of years was
the home to British Prime Minister George Canning. The source
of the haunting stories starts around 1830 with either young woman
who committed suicide by jumping from the top floor, or a Mr.
Myers was preparing the house for the just new bride and went
insane after he was jilted. Or maybe the haunting really comes
from a Mr. Dupre, who confined his insane brother in an upper
story room. Or maybe the story about the little girl who was tortured
to death by a sadistic servant is what started it. Well, take
your pick. According to the story after Mr. Myers/Dupre/young
woman/little girl was gone and a new family had moved in, a maid
was found in a third floor bedroom screaming and muttering she
has seen something "horrible" there. The story continues next
with a Captain Kenfeild, fiancée, to the family's daughter (In
other versions this is a young aristocrat named Robert Warboys)
who decides to challenge the apparition by staying in the room
overnight. He sees something that either kills him with fright
(in some versions) or leaves him crazed.
tale connected with the house brings the story into the 20th century
with two sailors in 1943 who break into the long empty house to
stay overnight and encounter a monstrous, shapeless, oozing mass
in the third floor room. One sailor escapes to tell the tale while
the other jumps out the window to his death (speared on the points
of an iron railing) to avoid the horror.
became famous for these stories and by the beginning of the 20th
century and was listed by some authors as "the most haunted place
in Britain." The current owners still get visitors from time to
time curious about the house. The stories were also an inspiration
for a 1947 movie "The Ghosts of Berkeley Square."
as I am aware nobody has carefully researched the history of the
house to determine if any of the 18th century stories are real.
This could probably be done by checking records to see who owned
the house, who died there, and going though police reports associated
with the house, etc. Clearly there are problems with the 1943
story as it indicates the house was empty, but history shows that
in 1938 Maggs Brothers Rare Books moved into the location.
The company reports no ghostly incidents since they have been
there even though there were many all-night fire watches held
during the Second World War.
visit the building, even the supposedly haunted 3rd floor, by
going to the Maggs Brothers website and taking a virtual tour.
So far nobody has reported any virtual horrors. http://www.maggs.com/maggstour/0/exterior.asp
Night Reflections -If you look at the reflection of a
street light from across a body of water, it appears long in one
direction but not the other? Why? - Tariq
under the right conditions, reflects light just like mirror. Of
course, a mirror is a usually composed of solid material (most
commonly glass with a silver backing) and water is liquid. As
long as the water is perfectly still and flat the image reflected
is almost mirror-like, but should a breeze start to ripple the
water, strange things start to happen.
cause the shape of the surface of the water to change into a series
of up and down curves. This means that the light normal reflected
by the surface doesn't come straight to the viewer, but is distorted
much like in a fun house mirror. While fun house mirrors are usually
static - either making you look tall and thin or short and fat
- the many ripples in the water are always moving and changing
giving the reflected image a vibrating quality.
a lake might have thousand of ripples between the viewer and a
distant object on the other side of the lake each ripple as it
moves is capable of picking a tiny bit of the light coming from
the object and reflecting it back to the viewer (see diagram)
making it look like the object is in thousands of different locations.
the day when everything is evenly lighted these bits of light
are overwhelmed by all the other reflections involved and only
contribute to the overall reflected image by making it look fuzzy.
At night, however, when the most of the background is dark, all
these tiny reflection become visible. They tend to appear to elongate
the lighted object in the direction where the ripples appear spaced
closely together from the viewer's perspective. That is vertically
as you have observed. It is possible to see some spreading horizontally,
however, depending on what direction the wind is blowing the ripples.
Big Bang -I'm a 60 year old scientist and I have a rock-solid
understanding of the concept of entropy, including the idea of
life as a temporary bump in the overall decline of order and organization
in a system. All I want before I die is to know if there is any
credible scientific theory about how the spring originally got
wound 14-or-so billion years ago - Bob W.
re-phrase you question as, "What was there before the Big-Bang
and where did all the energy it requires come from?" At this point
I don't believe there are any "credible" theories to explain this
as none of the ideas scientists have about this area can be tested
by experimentation. In fact, there is not likely to be anything
testable until scientists can first create a Grand Unified theory
of everything combining Einstein's General Relativity with
Quantum Physics. That quest, which has been pursued by
physicists like the Holy Grail for almost a century, so far does
not seem near a conclusion.
best I can do is to throw out one of the more intriguing ideas
floating around cosmology circles these days. This particular
model comes out of string theory (One possible candidate for the
Grand Unified Theory that says all energy and matter is composed
of super-small vibrating loops of strings.) This idea was worked
out by Paul Steinhardt (Princeton University) and Neil Turok (Cambridge
University). They suggest our universe is part of a much larger
universe. The model says that our universe exists on a three dimensional
membrane ( or "Brane" in string theory lingo) and there are other
branes close to ours, only millimeters away, but invisible.
trillion years or so these branes are drawn together and when
they collide a huge amount of energy is released making a "Big
Bang" that creates a universe on the brane (other universes can
be created at other locations of the brane that may collide at
other times) This process of collision Steinhardt and Turok named
ekpyrosis which is the Greek word for conflagration. In
addition to creating a smaller universe, ekpyrosis also pushes
the branes apart.
life of the universe some of the big bang energy turns into matter
which becomes stars, galaxies and, of course, us. Eventually the
energy involved in our universe spreads out as stars burn out
and the universe grows cold. According to this idea, however,
the branes which still contain the energy, and they are drawn
back together again to collide and create another universe in
an eternal cycle.
problem with this, and alternate theories like it, is that there
is no way to test these theories experimentally to know if there
is any evidence that they are true. Even if this idea is true,
however, we may have just moved the question back a little bit
further: What created that greater universe and where did all
its energy come from?
Packaderm vs. Little Sport Device - Could an elephant have
the same momentum as a golf ball? - Anonymous.
way of thinking about momentum is the force necessary to stop
a moving object. It involves both the mass of the object and speed
of the object. Technically, in classical physics, this can be
expressed as the mass of the object mulitpled by its velocity.
The formula is:
P = mv
P is the momentum, m is the mass and v is the veolocity.
had and elephant that weighed 7200 Kg (about 15840 pounds) running
at 1 meter per second, the elephant would have:
m/s = 7200kg 1m/s
that 7200kg is the mass, 1 meter/second (m/s) is the velocity
and 7200 kg m/s ("kilogram meters per second") is the momentum.
easy to see a trivial situation where any two objects, no matter
the size of their mass, would have the same momentum. Any object
that has no veolocity has no momentum. So both an elephant and
a golf ball would have the same momentum if neither were moving.
are also cases where the elephant and the golf ball could have
the momentum even if they were both moving. Imagine our
7200 kilograms elephant from above and a golf ball weighing .046
kilograms. If we set up the equation with the elephant on the
left and the golf ball on the right:
Mv = p
1m/s = 7200kg m/s = .046kg V m/s
need to solve for the V, the velocity of the golf ball:
1m/s = 7200kg m/s = .046kg 156521 m/s
see that an elephant running along at 1 meter per second has the
same momentum as a golf ball moving at 156,521 meters per second
(around 351,000 miles per hour). So an heavy elephant moving along
at a trot would have the same momentum as small golf ball going
very, very fast.
couple of additional considerations. This is the formula for momentum
under classical (Newtonian physics). The formala under relativistic
physics is slightly different and allows for objects like photons,
which have no mass, to still have momentum. Also a complete description
of momentum for an object includes the direction (or vector) of
Very Cold -Is it possible to attain 0° Kelvin? -Feloxi
the Kelvin temperature scale is often referred to as absolute
zero. To get an idea of what absolute zero is, we first need
to know a little bit about heat and temperature. All atoms and
molecules "vibrate" with thermal energy. The more vibration, the
more heat the atom or molecule has. As the atoms and molecules
of a material are cooled, the vibration slows down and the energy
decreases. The point at which all heat energy has been removed
from a material is called absolute zero. This is approximately
-459.67 °F on the Fahrenheit scale or 0° on the Kelvin scale.
to the third law of Thermodynamics you can never completely achieve
absolute zero but only approach it, but scientists have come darn
close. In September of 2003 scientists at MIT managed to get a
small group of sodium atoms down to 240 millionths of a degree
above absolute zero. Larger objects are harder to cool, but another
group at MIT managed to get a mirror about the size of a dime
down to just 0.8 °K above absolute zero. They did this by shooting
laser pulses at it to "trap" and "damp" the molecular motion.
laboratory temperatures are just a bit colder than any reported
in nature. The coldest known place is about 5,000 light years
away from Earth in the Boomerang Nebula located in the constellation
Centaurus. Astronomers think the temperatures there run around
1°K. If you ever visit it, better bring a jacket.
are very interested in the behavior of objects very close to absolute
zero. It may give them the chance to observe quantum physics effects
that normally are too small to see because the are lost in the
heat motion of the material. Just a final note: There is also
something called a negative temperature (less then absolute zero
on the Kelvin scale) but negative temperatures are actually hotter
then absolute zero.
Physics Weirdness -I noticed on your site that quantum
physics is mentioned often. I was wondering if you could explain
its origins and why it's considered more reliable than the physics
used prior to its emergence? (If that is so) - Robert D.
Mechanics is one of the two great physics theories of the
20th century that replaced classical (Newtonian) physics. The
other was General Relativity. Interestingly both were fathered
by the same man: Albert Einstein. While he loved the one child
the other was disliked. Einstein never felt comfortable with Quantum
Relativity is mostly used to describe how the world of big things
work: The movement of planets, stars, rockets, etc. Everything
down to about the size of an atom. Below that size scientists
almost always use quantum physics to do their calculations. Both
were needed as classical physics created by Issac Newton in 17th
century couldn't predict how the things worked when dealing with
extremely large objects (like planets and stars) or extremely
small objects (like photons and electrons).
the rules of general relativity seem to make some kind of sense
to us, the rules involved with quantum physics are bizarre and
challenge our understanding of reality. Little in this realm is
for certain. Everything is based on the probability of something
happening. This is one of the reasons Einstein disliked it. He
has often been quoted as saying, "He [God] does not play dice"
with the universe.
illustration of the strangeness of quantum theory is the dual
nature of light. Is light a particle or a wave? The experiment
that scientists used to find this out is called the double-slit
experiment. A barrier with two narrow slits is placed between
a light source and a screen. If light is a stream of particles
we could expect to see each particle pass through one slit or
the other and create two separate lines of light on the screen
behind it. This isn't what occurs, however. We see a pattern of
light and dark lines all across the screen. This, known as an
interference pattern, is the result of waves of light passing
through the two slits, then interacting as they hit the screen
with the wave crests reinforcing each other to make the light
lines and the wave troughs making the dark lines.
So I guess
light is a wave them, huh? If you close one of slits, though,
suddenly light starts behaving like a particle again. We see it
piling up behind the open slit. Well, maybe light only behaves
like a wave when a lot of light particles are moving together.
Unfortunately this is not the case. When the double slit experiment
is performed sending only one photon (light particle) though the
barrier at a time the photon doesn't show up behind the slits.
It can show up anywhere on the screen. In fact, as you send more
and more photons though the experiment one at a time the interference
pattern slowly builds up, just as before. Does that mean that
each individual photon is a wave that interferes with itself?
Yep. Does this mean that the photon passed through both slits
at the same time? Indeed, this seems to be the case.
have placed photon detectors at each slit to see which side the
photon goes though a strange thing happens. Suddenly the interference
pattern disappears and there are just two lines of light one behind
each slit. The detector has somehow forced the photon to stop
behaving as a wave and act like a particle again. Even if the
detector is placed on the opposite side of the barrier,
after the photon passes though the slits, the photon still acts
like a particle. How did it know that there was going to be a
photon detector on the opposite side of the barrier so
it would behave like a particle and not a wave when it passed
though the barrier?
end, light is both a wave and a particle at the same time. If
you think that doesn't make sense, you are right. However, that
doesn't change the fact that it is true. If you can explain why
all this happens and support your ideas with experimental proof,
you're probably on your way to a Nobel prize.
just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Quantum Physics weirdness.
As you get deeper and deeper into it what you find seems to make
less and less common sense. You might try to argue that scientists
simply have gotten the thing wrong except that quantum theory
is one of the most successful theories of all time and is used
in the design of such everyday things as TVs and cell phones.
Experiments show that not just light is both a particle and a
wave, so are electrons, protons and atoms. These maybe small things
too, but remember we are just made of atoms. At some level are
we just waves too?
have grappled to figure out what this means in the real world.
Some interpretations include the ideas like "nothing is real until
it is observed" or that there are countless "multiple universes"
each differing just slightly from the one next to it. There isn't
room here to discuss all the ramifications of quantum theory,
so I'm going to give you a couple links that may help. Prepare
to see the world in a different light after reading these, or
at least have an awful headache:
of Magnetism? -If the earth's magnetic field collapsed
would there still be magnets? - Anonymous
is one of those funny things we see everyday - use everyday -
but never know how it works. As it turns out, it is the result
of moving electric charges. Almost everybody has done the experiment
of wrapping a wire around an iron nail in a spiral pattern, then
connecting the wires to a battery to product a crude electromagnet.
The current flowing though the wire (in the form of electrons)
creates the magnetic field. This field then influences the iron
nail to become a magnet also, adding to the strength of the effect,
though it would work even without the nail.
need a moving electric charge to make a magnetic field, how do
permanent magnets work? After all there is no battery involved
and no apparent electric charge. Well there actually is, however,
a moving electric charge at the atomic level. The electrons orbit
around the nucleus of each atom in the material. The electrons
also have a quantum-mechanical property called "spin" which looks
like a moving electrical charge. These two effects produce a tiny
magnetic field for each atom.
materials the magnetic fields of each atom are aligned in no particular
order so they cancel each other out. In some special materials,
however, the fields line up (or can be made to line up) in a particular
pattern so that their strength adds up. That's why the nail in
the electromagnet experiment above becomes a magnet when exposed
to a magnetic field. The field created by the moving electric
charges in the wire lines up the nail's fields properly and then
those fields can add their own strength to the overall effect.
want to see this at home take a paper clip and hang it from a
permanent magnet. The paper clip isn't a magnet in itself, but
will become a temporary magnet in the presence of a magnetic field.
You can then hang a second paper clip from the first one and it
will also become a magnet because of the field of the one before
it. It is easy to construct a whole chain of paper clips this
way. Detach the first one from the permanent magnet, however,
and the whole chain falls apart as each of the magnetic fields
fall apart one after another.
scientists have puzzled about why Earth has a strong magnetic
field. (The magnetic field of Venus is barely detectable.) They
still don't understand the details, but they do know that the
outer core of the Earth is mostly molten iron that moves in a
convection pattern due to heat at the core. This movement, along
with the Earth's spin seems to make the Earth into a big electromagnet.
The magnetic field of our planet isn't as stable as we might think,
however. There is evidence that the poles of this gigantic magnet
have moved, changed intensity, and even reversed many times in
magnetic field of the Earth went away would we still have magnets?
Yes, because each magnet generates its own magnetic field independently.
The Earth is just a big version of our experiment with the wire
and the nail. A collapse in the Earth's magnetic field, however,
would mean that compasses (which are just little magnets in the
form of pointers that align with the Earth's magnetic field) would
not point the right direction. This would cause problem not only
for humans who depend on compasses for navigation, but also for
animals that have developed internal compasses in their bodies
for use in migration.
though the Earth's magnetic field has weakened in the past 150
years, it looks like it will many centuries before a full collapse
and reversal. In fact it may be just as likely that nothing will
happen at all in the near future and the original orientation
will regain its strength.
End of the Universe -Our small Earth and other planets
are in space. It's a big area; can you tell me the total size
of space? Will it have a beginning and an end? - J.R.
the fundamental questions scientists have struggled with over
the years is the size, shape and destiny of the universe. The
prevailing theory is that the universe came into being about 13.7
billion years ago in what has been whimsically called "The Big
Bang." It has been expanding (some people use the term "inflating")
ever since. Gravity - the force that pulls all forms of matter
toward each other - is working against the expansion. For a long
time scientists debated over whether there was enough matter in
the universe given its size (what we call the density) to bring
the expansion to a halt and eventually reverse it. If there isn't,
gravity will just slow down the expansion but never stop it. If
the universe came back together it would end in a "Big Crunch."
If it continued with a slow expansion it would just sort of slowly
die out as all energy was expended and evenly distributed through
out all of space.
were blown away when recent observations showed that the universe
is unlikely to either be pulled back together or just slowed down.
The universe's expansion actually appears to be accelerating,
for some unknown reason. Scientists have speculated that is due
to an unknown force we can't detect which they have dubbed "dark
energy." If this is the case, if the universe is accelerated enough
it may end when it is actually ripped apart at the atomic level
in some distance future.
of the universe is related to its density because higher density
means more gravity. If the density is beyond a certain critical
value, space, as seen in four dimensions, will be rolled up into
the shape of a ball. If the density is just at the critical
value, it will be as if the surface of the ball had been flattened
out into a sheet. If the density falls below that critical point,
it will be as if the sheet had been bent down on two sides and
up on the other two forming a "saddle" shape.
of the universe, in turn, has an impact on theories about how
large it is. For example, the observable universe (that is the
part we can see) is about 92-94 billion light-years across. If
the universe were a closed sphere, however, it could actually
be quite a bit smaller than this because light traveling in a
"straight line" would eventually follow the curve of the sphere
and come back to its starting point. This means that if you used
a telescope to look at a distance galaxy, you might be actually
be looking at your own galaxy from the other side. It might seem
that it would be easy to look at a distant part of space and see
if the galaxies there matched up with any galaxies in opposite
direction, but an experiment like this is extremely difficult
to do. In reality the great distances involved mean that we are
seeing the galaxies at different times in their history, so they
may not look the same or be in the same position.
data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) NASA
launched in 2001 suggests that the shape of the universe - at
least the observable universe - is nearly "flat" with a minimum
size of around 78 billion light years. However it is more likely
that it is quite larger and may indeed be infinite. For comparison
the diameter of the orbit of Neptune, our outer most planet, is
a little more than one thousandth of a light year wide.
than the Speed of Light? -I read somewhere that they found
a star that's traveling faster than the speed of light (because
of its red shift.) Is this true? If it is, then it contradicts'
Einstein's theory. - Rowell
there are whole galaxies (collections of billions of stars) moving
away from us faster than the speed of light. As amazing as it
sounds, this does not really contradict Einstein's theories.
start at the beginning. If you stand along a road and listen to
a car zoom by you will hear the pitch of the sound it makes suddenly
drop as it passes you. This is because the pitch of the sound
is based on how many sound waves per second reach your ear. When
the car is traveling toward you, the waves come by you faster
than normal because the speed of the car is added to their normal
speed. The sound becomes lower when the car passes by because
then the speed of the car moving away increases the time it takes
each wave to pass you by. This is called the Doppler Effect.
Effect works with sound, radio (you may have heard of Doppler
radar) and light waves. As a lighted object moves away from you
the light is pushed to a lower frequency (toward the red end of
the spectrum therefore scientists say it is "red shifted"). Using
this red shift is one important way of measuring how fast an object
is moving away from us in space. The famed astronomer, Edwin Hubble,
also noticed that, in astronomical terms, the speed an object
moving away from us will also tell us how distant the object is
from us. Why? Because apparently the universe is undergoing an
expansion and had been for the last 13.7 billion years starting
with the "Big Bang." The best way to imagine this expansion is
to picture a balloon with two marks drawn on it. As the balloon
inflates the marks are pushed farther apart.
those marks with galaxies and the balloon with the universe. As
the universe expands it carries the galaxies father apart. In
fact, if the galaxies are far enough separated, they will move
apart at a speed faster than the speed of light. This can be confirmed
by looking and seeing how much a galaxy's light has been "red
probation on faster-than-light travel isn't broken; however, because
the galaxies were not accelerated to those speeds like a rocket
ship, they are simply being carried along by the inflation of
the universe. In fact, if you were sitting in that distant galaxy
it would seem to you like you weren't moving at all (Our galaxy
would seem to be the one speeding away).
are in this position relative to ours. In fact, any galaxy father
away than a distance of 4,200 mega parsecs would be moving away
from us at the speed of light or faster. Eventually, over billions
of years, as these galaxies get far enough away they will first
appear to freeze, then fade, as the light from them can no longer
out run the movement of their galaxy away from us.
Light Slow Down? -I heard that light never stops or slows
down. The beam from your flashlight only seems to dim in the distance
because the light waves are spreading out so you can't see them
as well. If that is true, couldn't you "fill up" a sealed room
with light. If the light waves just keep bouncing around the room
and you keep adding more from a bulb, wouldn't the room just get
brighter and brighter or where would the light go? - Wick W.
vacuum, like out in space, light always travels at approximately
186,000 miles a second. However, if light travels through some
other medium it can slow down. You can see this with a lens, a
prism or a glass of water. When light hits a denser medium at
an angle, part of it slows down sooner than the rest. This causes
the light to change direction. This property, called refraction,
allows a lens to focus light to a point. Because different wavelengths
also travel at slightly different speeds in a medium like glass,
a prism can be used to change the angle of each color differently
allowing normal white light to be split up into is component colors.
If you put a straw in a glass filled with drinking water it will
look as if the straw is bent because as the light passes into
the water it slows down and bends making the straw look out of
to just slowing it down, scientists have even managed to stop
light completely in recent experiments where they channeled light
through special materials. They hope to harness this capability
to make ultra-fast quantum computers.
a beam of light will get faint in the distance because the light
is spreading out, it also loses strength because it is being absorbed
and reflected by dust, water vapor and other materials floating
in the air. In fact, the only reason you can see a light beam
in the air is because part of it is reflected off of material
floating in the air back to you. In a perfect vacuum light is
a flashlight in a sealed "clean" room empty of air and dust would
remove that problem, but the walls of the room would still absorb
much of the light as the beam bounced against them. You could
replace the walls with mirrors so that the light would be reflected
and bounced around the room, but no mirror is perfect and a little
light would still be absorbed with each reflection so the room
would never "fill" with light.
Gravity -I was wondering if you could help me to track
down a hill I remember reading about as a young boy. In the article
it mentioned that you could roll a vehicle up the hill without
any mechanical assistance. - Ian W.
are a number of these locations throughout the world going under
names like "Gravity Hill," "Mystery Hill," "Confusion Hill," "Magnetic
Hill," "Spook Hill," etc.. Some are just locations along the road.
Others have become commercialized. Basically they all work the
same way: They are natural optical illusions. The horizon in these
places is obscured, or partly obscured so that it can't provide
a reference to your eyes about what is level. The objects in the
area the might tell you want is straight up or down (like trees)
are slightly off-kilter giving you a false impression.
your inner-ears gives you some clues to what is level, they are
not very exacting and can be fooled if what your eyes see convinces
you otherwise. Because you can't really tell what level is, the
hill appears to be going up hill, when it is really going down,
so your car looks like it is rolling up, while it is actually
Have All the Mustangs Gone? -Why do all the horses in
the old photographs I saw at the museums and on the history web
sites look nothing at all like the horses on TV shows or movies
about Cowboys Indians and Mountain Man Explorers? Are they all
new breed horses just playing the real old western horses? Is
the breed that they really used back then extinct now? If so -
how sad is that? My granddad says the horses back then were half
as big and twice as tough as any of the ones we have now. The
closest we have today is mustangs but now even they are now just
modern breed runaways, throwaways and calls. He said that if we
still had those horses we would have the genes that could save
the big modern horses from diseases someday. There are groups
saving the chickens and cows and even the pigs we had back then.
Why didn't they save those horses too?! - Ann Elf
of horse breeding is complex to say the least and I can't say
that I'm an expert on the subject. However, with some research
and some information from some authorities I hope I can answer
in North America today is technically a "wild" horse. All wild
horses died off at the end of the last Ice Age, possibly due to
climate change or hunting by native peoples. When the Spanish
conquistadors arrived in the 1500's they brought horses with them
that escaped or were released into the wild (which makes them
"feral" animals, not wild). This is the root of the mustang population
in North America today. The mustangs of the west quickly grew
to be tough animals as they had to survive on limited vegetation
and water in a hot climate. This seems to have favored a smaller
horse, perhaps because their smaller bodies needed less water
and food to survive.
Europeans arrived in the west they found that some of the breeds
of horses they brought with them were not suited to the harsh
climate. They either switched to catching and using the smaller
mustangs, or crossbred the horses they brought with them to the
mustangs to create new line that had some of the features of each.
This means that when you see the smaller horses in the old pictures,
you may be looking at tamed mustangs, or a cross between the two
lines that resulted in a smaller horse.
with less limited resources, people who own horses are able use
breeds that have traits which suit the purpose for which the horse
is to be used and are not so concerned about how it would survive
in the wild. This may be part of the trend to larger horses. Some
of the increases in horse size may also be due to the increase
in rider size: people are taller and heavier than they were a
Granddad may be right about modern horses being more susceptible
to certain illnesses. Whenever a population is heavily inbred,
genetic weaknesses can occur.
are currently protected under U.S. law. There are a number of
separate herds each with unique genetic traits. Many of the herds
show a mixed background that includes the original Spanish breeding
and later imports from other locations. However, there are a few
small herds, such as the Kiger and Cerat, in very
isolated locations which have been shown in DNA testing to be
almost directly descended from the horses that came over with
the Conquistadors. Steps have been taken to preserve these bloodlines
as apart of our unique American Heritage.
Target in Space -I understand that the Universe is constantly
expanding, which means that we, on Earth, including our solar
system, are in a new area of space at any time, constantly moving
away. Why is that we never see or encounter anything in the new
spaces we pass through? What is the speed of this expansion? Thank
you, Victor B.
of the universe is thought to have started with the "Big Bang"
some 11.2 billion to 20 billion years ago. Since all matter and
energy in the universe were at one time together in one location,
the expansion, or some use the term "inflation," of the universe
has the effect of spreading things out so it actually reduces
the density of material in the universe overall making things
farther apart the longer time goes on. Imagine putting three dots
on a balloon with a marker, then blowing air into the balloon.
The inflation of the balloon causes the dots move apart.
of expansion looks different based on how far away an object is
from you. A galaxy that is a megaparsec (3.2 million light years)
away from us moves at a speed of approximately 72 kilometers per
second (Kps). A galaxy two megaparsecs away moves at a speed of
144 Kps and so on (If this doesn't make sense, put three dots
on a balloon in a row and label them A, B and C, then blow it
up. The distance from A to C will increase about twice as fast
as that from A to B).
a smaller scale, gravity in the universe does cause material to
clump together to form things like stars, solar systems and galaxies.
Because of the effects of gravity they stay relatively the same
distance from each other in respect to the expansion of the universe.
Even so, they are also moving. Our sun, along with billions of
other stars in our Milky Way galaxy, rotate around a central point
(probably a massive black hole). The speed of rotation varies,
with the stars closer to the center going slower and those farther
out going faster. The Sun is about 2/3s of the way out from the
center and moves at a speed of 250 Kps.
the sun is moving along with most of the stars in this area of
the galaxy in the same general direction, our distance in respect
to these stars doesn't change much. However scientists have recently
found evidence of "rebel" stars that seem to be moving either
out from the galactic center or in toward it. Our next encounter
with such a star will occur in about 1.4 million years from now
when Gliese 710 will pass within a light year of us.
it all up, we are always moving, but the distances in space are
so vast things only go by us rarely and when they do they are
still very far away.
Water Elephant -I saw this being talked about on the web
and wondered if you knew anything about this "legend" and cryptid.
Have you ever heard of it? I've read volumes of stuff on Cryptozoology,
but I've never heard of this one. It is supposedly a "Thai Water
Elephant" - Anonymous
to admit that this was so obscure I couldn't find anything about
it in any of my regular cryptozoological resources. However, snooping
around the web I seem to have found out that this creature falls
into the same category as the "jackolope:" a quite normal creature
in life that has been altered by taxidermy to be something quite
unusual in death. In the case of the jackolope, a deceased rabbit
is altered by giving it the antlers of a deer.
case of the "Thai Water Elephant" it sounds like the perpetrators
have started with a shrew. A shrew is a small mouse-like mammal
with a long pointed snout, making it already vaguely elephant
shaped. The taxidermist does his work removing and adding bones
and flesh in different places (for example, apparently the front
legs bones below the knees are removed and shaped into the tusks).
In the end the hoaxer has something that looks like a tiny elephant.
These can then be sold in the tourist trade as novelties. Although
several have shown up on Ebay with prices running in the thousands,
apparently they can be acquired from street vendors in Burma for
a reasonable price.
of the water elephant goes back at least to the 1800's. It is
said that they spend their lives in the water and that their tusks
carry venom that can kill a man (this part of the story might
have some basis in fact as the shrew is one of the few mammal
that are poisonous). Only experienced hunters are able to capture
them, which is why they are so rare and expensive (at least that
is how the story is told by the curiosity shop owner that wishes
to sell you one). It is not clear whether the story of a water
elephant has any place in traditional folklore, or if it was simply
invented after the first hoaxer discovered he could turn a dead,
worthless shrew into a rare, valuable water elephant and need
a story to go along with it.
Space Exploration Effect Earth's Orbit? - How much of earth's
mass would need to be lost to space by means of man's explorations
in order for the orbit of earth to be affected? - Dan S.
me of story from Douglas Adam's Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
(the original BBC production, not the recent movie). There was
a planet so beautiful that it attracted billions of visitors each
year. Soon the government there began to worry about the cumulative
effect of erosion as each of these visitors took bits of the planet
back home with them on their clothes, etc., so they instituted
a law that the net difference between what a visitor ate and secreted
while on the planet would be surgically removed from the visitor's
body before he left (And, of course from then on it became imperative
if you where a tourist there to get a receipt whenever you visited
a rest room).
we be facing this kind of planetary erosion because we are sending
so much stuff out to explore space? Fortunately, of all the terrible
things we may be doing to mother earth these days, giving her
anorexia by launching space probes and the like is not something
we need to be concerned about.
is big. Really big. On the order of 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
tons. Now that doesn't begin to measure up in size to the Sun
or even the planet Jupiter, but from a human point of view it
is still pretty gargantuan. What's more our ability to send things
into space is terribly puny. Most space probes weigh a few hundred
pounds - remember we are only counting the amount of the rocket
that makes it into space, not the lower stages that fall back
to earth. Even if we launched a probe a day, and each probe weighed
a fairly massive one ton, that's only 365 tons a year. What's
more, most of that material goes into earth orbit. This means
it will, sooner or later, likely fall back to the planet Skylab
style. The probes that we send into deep space and never come
back, like Viking or Voyager, are actually pretty rare.
amount we send into space compared to the size of the planet is,
and will be for some time, negligible. But wait, there's more.
earth proceeds along its orbital path it operates like a giant
vacuum cleaner sucking up dust, meteorites and even the occasional
comet or asteroid. This all adds to the earth's mass. Though estimates
vary, it seems at least 100 tons of debris is added to Earth's
bulk everyday. At this point we are in no way able to even send
enough stuff into space to keep up with the incoming material,
let alone make planet any lighter.
more note. The planet also loses mass by way of hydrogen escaping
from the atmosphere and the decay of radioactive materials. It
is hard to say just how large that figure is, however.
Gold - How is gold formed and why does gold turn up on
turbine blades? Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you. Regards - Diana
the big bang the universe consisted of lot of hydrogen and helium.
No gold. No lead. In fact, no metals of any kind. It was only
when the first generation of stars were born that metals began
to form deep within their fusion furnaces. Under the intense pressure
and heat caused by the gravity of a star the light hydrogen atoms
are fused together to form heavier helium. If the star is of medium
size (such as our sun) or larger, the fusion can also create heavier
elements including heavy metals like gold and lead. The lighter
atoms in a fusion reaction have slightly more mass then the resulting
heavier atoms and the mass that is lost is turned into energy
according to Einstein's famous formula E=mc2. This energy is what
makes a star give off heat and light and is the same process at
the heart of a Hydrogen Bomb.
that almost everything you see around you - your watch, the computer
you're are reading this on, the gold ring you're are wearing,
and even yourself - were formed in some distant past in the depth
of a star. As the late Dr. Carl Sagan was found of saying, we
are all "star stuff."
this material was scattered about the galaxy and became part of
new stars and solar systems. Rocky planets like our own Earth
are formed mostly of these heavier materials. Gold is one of the
more uncommon metals that was generated in the stars. Although
it is scattered widely throughout the planet and can be found
almost anywhere, it is almost never concentrated enough to make
it worth recovering. For example, it is estimated that a cubic
kilometer of sea water contains 6 kilograms of pure gold, but
nobody has figured out an economic way of getting at it.
by natural processes gold is concentrated into "seams" or "veins"
and this is what miners are looking for. Because gold is highly
soluble compared to other minerals it is almost always the last
to crystallize out as water disappears and the first to dissolve
when water returns. This has a concentrating effect. The vein
a miner finds is usually the remains of an underground flow of
water that carried a highly concentrated solution of gold.
water disappeared the material crystallized into nearly pure gold.
As to the appearance of gold on turbine blades: I have been unable
to find any reference to this, however, since gold is so highly
soluble in water, it could be that turbine blades operating a
river, or ocean or with steam, could somehow cause the some of
the gold in solution to be deposited on the blades. A similar
issue happens with copper deposits and certain types of power
plants if there is copper present in the water being used. What
the mechanism for this effect is I don't know, but perhaps one
of our knowledgeable readers can help us out.
Power - I would like to know what the word Tesla means.
I think it has something to do with electricity. - Anonymous
have a very weird game known as Red Alert. It mentions something
called Tesla technology. I only know it has something to do with
electricity. I've asked several people and they don't seem to
know. - Frank
Tesla was an inventor who lived about a hundred years ago. He
was perhaps the foremost electrical genius of his time. Everybody
remembers Edison better, but the truth is that Tesla was probably
the smarter man. While he has been forgotten, his inventions are
all around us. The AM radio you listen to when driving to work?
Tesla. The alternating current (AC) electrical system that you
plug things into at your house? Not possible without a host of
inventions from Tesla. The fluorescent lighting in your office?
Tesla helped develop them. The toy radio controlled boat you play
with on Saturdays? Tesla built the first one. He even laid out
a design for radar decades before the first one was built.
best remembered inventions was the "Tesla Coil." He actually designed
a number of different versions of these devices which are used
take electricity and increase the frequency and voltage. Tesla
had several ideas about how the coil could be used that included
radio signals and wireless power transmission. When a Tesla coil
is running it can produce impressive electrical show with sparks,
and corona discharges. A giant coil built at Tesla's Colorado
laboratory was capable of creating sparks 135 feet in length.
aged his inventions seem to become less and less practical. One
of Tesla's last ideas was a charged particle beam. Such as "death
ray," if built, would have been capable of downing airplanes or
destroying objects at a distance. Though no death ray was ever
built during Tesla's lifetime, both the U.S. and the USSR spent
quit a bit of money trying to get it to work during the cold war.
For more information check our biography of Nikola
Cannonballs - A person in a cannon-ball position (arms
and legs tucked in a circle) will sink to the bottom of a swimming
pool, but will float effortlessly back to the top when she extends
her arms and legs in a vertical position. Are you aware of any
objects (the heavier, the better) I can use in an experiment to
demonstrate that an object in one position will sink in water,
but by merely changing its position (not adding any air), will
float back to the top? - Anonymous
I could help you, but the problem is that the position of an object
doesn't change its buoyancy. Buoyancy is controlled by the density
(that is the mass and volume it takes up) of the object. If the
object has a higher density than water, it sinks. If it has a
lower density, it floats. These states are called positive and
body is mostly H2O so it has a density very close to that of water.
The amount of air in your lungs usually is enough to tip the balance
to above or below. If you cannonball into a pool with your lungs
full of air, the initial momentum of the fall will carry to the
bottom, but as long as you don't exhale you will rise back up
whether you spread your limbs out or not. Usually people like
to come back up to the surface face first, however, so they can
breath, so they manipulate their arms and legs to bring them up
in that position. If you remained in the cannonball orientation
you would float back up, but you'd find yourself with your back
out of the water and your face below because in that position
your lungs, which are filled with air, would be closest to the
surface. This position would be very similar to the "dead man's
float" or "survival float."
try to argue that in the case of an opened topped container, like
a boat, position does matter. Obviously a boat if turned on its
side will take on water until it sinks. As the water pours into
the boat, however, it is displacing, or removing, the air making
the boat denser. When enough water is displaced the total boat
would have a density greater than water and would sink. This would
be the same as pushing the air out of your lungs which would give
your body negative buoyancy so you would sink.
Notion - Why does a hot liquid poured on cold ground produce
steam? - Anonymous
let's note that if the ground is cold, then most likely the air
directly above is cold also. This is important to our explanation.
When warm water hits the ground it starts to spread out and some
of the warmth is transferred to the air immediately above the
water. Warm air always holds more moisture than cold air, so this
promotes the evaporation of the water. As the warm water vapor
rises, however, it soon gets to a layer of air that has not been
warmed. As cold air does not hold as much moisture as warm air,
some of the water vapor is condensed out as a steam or fog. This
is the same effect you get when warm rain hits the cold ground
and ground fog forms. It is also similar to the "steam" fog the
forms over lakes when cold, dry air sweeps over warm water. The
rising water vapor hits and layer of air colder than the layer
it was in and condenses out as fog.
Speed Hijinks - I have several questions concerning the
speed of light and the speed of sound that my dad and I were discussing:
1: If you're in a car at night traveling the speed of light and
you turn the headlights on will the headlights shine out in front
of the car or will they just glow? 2: Let's say me and another
guy are in an airplane traveling the speed of sound...one man
in front of plane the other in back....the man in the back says
hello. Will the man in the front hear him? Or say that both men
stick their heads out the airplane (let's say it doesn't snap
their heads off)....will the man in the front hear the man in
the back if he says hello? Thanks - Shannon
set of questions! Let's talk about them in reverse order.
the men with their heads leaning out the window of the plane going
faster than the speed of sound: Sound waves are vibrations that
move through a medium. The medium can be almost anything, but
it has to exist (sound does not travel through a vacuum like you
would find in outer space). Different mediums have different speeds
that sound will travel through them. For air at sea level this
speed is roughly 12 miles a minute. That's why if you see a flash
of lightning (The speed of light is so high we can say that the
flash of the light reached you almost instantaneously) and then
count three seconds - a twelfth of a minute - till the thunder
arrives, you know that the strike occurred about a mile away.
made a sound while traveling through a medium faster than the
speed of sound for that medium, it will only be heard behind you.
A real life example is an airplane traveling faster than the speed
of sound. You cannot hear it approach because it is traveling
faster than the sound waves it is making. Because it is moving
faster than sound, the waves tend to "pile up" on the plane and
come off as a powerful shock wave streaming behind the plane.
This shock wave is what we call a "sonic boom."
reason a man sticking his head outside the back of a plane would
not be heard by a man with his head out the front of the plane.
They are moving too fast for the sound waves to overtake the front
of the plane.
two men inside the plane conditions are completely different.
In this case, the plane is filled with a medium - air - that is
traveling the same velocity as the plane. Since the air is not
moving relative to the plane or the men, it's exactly the same
as if the plane was parked on the ground. The sound moves from
one man to the other (it doesn't matter front to back or back
to front) at the speed of sound.
one we will tackle is the headlights at the speed of light. Technically
we can't get a car, spaceship or any object with mass going at
the speed of light. It simply requires more energy than there
is available in the universe. However, we can talk about a headlight
as it approaches the speed of light and such a situation
should shed light your question. Light is unlike sound it that
it needs no medium to travel though. That's why we can see stars
through the vacuum of space (Before Einstein
came out with his Special Theory scientists did speculated that
there was a medium needed for light which they called "ether").
Light is special in that it travels through vacuum at a particular
speed (about 186,000 miles per second) that that speed does not
change no matter how fast the source of the light it traveling.
Since there is no medium, the speed of the medium is irrelevant.
If a stationary observer were to watch a car speeding by at near
90 percent of the speed of light, they would see the light traveling
away from the front of the head lights at just 10 percent faster.
part is what the driver of the car would see. From his point of
view the light would appear to be speeding away from him at the
full speed of light (186,000 mps). How is this possible? Time
slows down as you pick up speed. Time would have slowed enough
for the driver that when he measures the light speeding away from
him it seems to go ten times farther than for the stationary observer,
because the clock the driver is using to measure time is going
only one tenth as fast.
Animation - Is it possible to deep-freeze your body (brain,
heart, etc. ) and restore your body in a later time? For example
a person freezes and wakes up 1,000 years later - Rowell
of cryogenically preserving by a person and thawing them out later
- sort of like a frozen dinner - has long been a staple of science
fiction, but so far scientists have not figured out how to make
it work. The reason is ice. Most of the human body is water and
water expands when it freezes. This is the reason the pipes in
your house will crack open if they are filled with water and your
heater fails in freezing temperatures. The expansion of the water
in a human body systems wrecks the delicate structure of cell
tissue throughout the body. Scientists have tried to counteract
this by mixing substances like glycerol in with body fluids to
act as sort of a biological antifreeze, but the results have not
yet been fully successful. If such a system could be developed
it could, in theory, be used to freeze a human indefinitely.
perhaps more promising approach, to the problem is not to literally
"freeze" a person, but to put them into hibernation. Many animals,
including bears, hibernate by lowering their body temperature
and metabolism. Just recently scientists have demonstrated the
ability to put mice into a state of "suspended animation" by having
them breath air laced with hydrogen sulfide. While high concentrations
of this gas would be fatal, just the right amount seems to put
the mice to sleep and their metabolic rates dropped by 90%. They
were revived by simply returning the air they were breathing to
normal. As metabolism is not stopped with this method, but just
slowed, it could not be used to preserve humans indefinitely.
would be many uses for such a state of suspended animation. Currently
trips to other planets in our solar system, or beyond, could take
many months or years and the trip would be made much simpler -
less food, drink and psychological stress - if the astronauts
slept most of the way. The technique could also be used to preserve
organs for transplantation or have critical patients hibernate
through operations or recovery.
Force and the Earth - How much would a one pound object
weigh if the earth stopped spinning? In other words if not for
the centripetal force created by the spinning of the earth, how
much would the gravitational force of the earth increase on its
surface. Thanks. I've been wanting to ask about that for some
time now.- Lizanne B.
an insightful and interesting question! I have to say that because
I often wondered about that myself, but was too lazy to do the
math. Since your question is forcing me to make the calculations,
let's get on with it and see what we have.
force isn't actually a force at all, but an effect of acceleration.
Things in motion like to keep going in a straight line unless
something forces them not to do that. In the case of the merry-go-round
it's the wooden horse you are clinging to which keeps you from
pulled to the outer edge of the ride. In the case of Earth, it's
gravity that keeps you on the ground. Logic says that effect of
the Earth's gravity should be lessened by the centripetal acceleration
that pulls objects away from it. At first this would seem to be
a pretty significant factor. After all, the earth spins at about
1000 miles per hour at the equator! Perhaps we would all be squished
flat by our planet's gravity if it stopped and the centripetal
analysis, however, shows us that such a drastic scenario could
not be true. Near the North and South Poles there is almost no
spin and explorers have not reported feeling a significant change
in their perceived weight. Let's go to the mathematics.
to calculate the effect of the centripetal acceleration on the
equator of a sphere is 4 times pi squared times the radius of
the sphere divided by the period of rotation squared. When you
plug in 6400km for the radius of the Earth and 24 hours (or 86400
seconds) for the rotational period you find the centripetal acceleration
throws you away from the Earth at about 0.03 meters per seconds
squared. Gravity on Earth is about 10 meters per second squared
so if you stopped the planet you would weigh about three tenths
of one percent more that when it was moving. So if you weigh 100
pounds, you would weigh about 100.3 on a non-rotating Earth. A
one pound object would weigh in at 1.003 pounds. A very tiny difference.
does have an impact on the planet itself, however. The Earth is
not perfectly round, but it is slightly fatter along the equator.
This is caused by the centripetal acceleration pulling at the
middle of the planet.
in Ancient Art? - I have noticed that in ancient art,
many of the gods resemble astronauts. How could the ancients know
how an astronaut looked like when people have only gone to space
carvings or pictures that seem to show modern technological devices,
like spacesuits, helmets and rocket ships would seem to be powerful
evidence of visits by ancient astronauts or highly technological
societies that have since gone missing. However, accepting such
speculation as proof requires a jump in logic that is faulty at
best. Just because something resembles something else doesn't
mean that it is that thing. For example, on the Nazca plains in
South America there are a series of lines on the ground that resemble
the layout of a modern airport. Does that mean that this is what
the makers of the ancient lines were constructing? An examination
of the ground in that location shows that is much too soft to
have supported any kind of aircraft landing, therefore, despite
the resemblance, it was not an airport, though the lines may have
some equally fascinating function.
same way does a figurine or drawing that resembles a helmeted
spaceman mean that this is what the artist intended? Or was he
carving a man wearing a mask related to some ancient ritual. Or
does the drawing simply have no meaning other that what came from
the artist's imagination? We are free to speculate about what
ancient astronauts and the like, but we should be aware that their
may well be other explanations for what we are seeing.
Mystery - How long does it take our galaxy to make one
rotation - John
estimate the sun makes its way around the our galaxy once every
250 million years. However, because galaxies are so large (our
Milky Way galaxy is estimated to be around 72,000 light years
across) and held together only by gravity, the hub spins faster
and the outer edges slower. The sun is about two-thirds out from
the center of our galaxy.
is a mystery surrounding the rotation of galaxies. In order to
stay in one piece any set of objects (like the stars, planets
and gas in a galaxy) that rotates needs to balance the gravity
created by its total mass against the speed of the rotation. If
the rotation is too fast the gravity will not hold the galaxy
together and it will fly apart. If it is too slow the galaxy will
collapse on itself. When scientists started measuring the speeds
that galaxies rotate they got a surprise. They were rotating way
too fast. Often ten times faster than scientists would have expected
based on the amount of mass of matter they could see inside the
galaxy. The only explanation that seems to make sense is that
there is some kind of "dark matter" in galaxies that
cannot be seen. While many scientists have formulated theories
about what the dark matter could be, nobody has been able to say
for sure, which leaves us in the embarrassing situation of not
know what the heck most of our universe is really made of!
Sea Serpents- I have long found the subject of Sea Serpents
fascinating, and have collected many books on the subject. My
most recent purchase (The Great New England Sea Serpent) by J.P.
O'Neill. After reading this book, and others I'm convinced that
there may be something to these sighting. However, assuming these
creatures do exist do you have a theory as to why none appear
in the fossil recorded? - John
what you mean by appearing in the fossil record. Certainly the
Jurassic seas were filled with all kinds of marine reptiles that
if they were alive today would fit the description of a sea serpent
(check out http://www.unmuseum.org/searepti.htm).
However, these creatures seemed have disappeared about the same
time the dinosaurs met their end roughly 65 million years ago.
More recently the zeuglodon, a primitive form of whale, might
easily be mistaken for a sea serpent if it had been alive today,
though it is a mammal, not a reptile. (http://www.unmuseum.org/zeuglodo.htm)
In the 19th century an unscrupulous promoter actually cobbled
together several zeuglodon skeletons and exhibited them as an
extinct sea serpent. Zeuglodons are found in the fossil record
as recently 37 million years ago.
find more recent fossil evidence for sea serpent-type creatures?
It will be hard. The best place to find ancient sea creature fossils
are in ancient sea beds. The geology of the planet changes so
slowly that most of the more recent sea beds, where we would expect
to find evidence for any sea serpent-like creature that has developed
over the last few million years, are still at the bottom of the
oceans and inaccessible to us.
evidence is no proof of existence, of course, so what we have
now are simply tantalizing stories like we find in O'Neill's book.
Suggestive and intriguing, but until somebody comes up with a
well-preserved body, no proof.
By Any Other Name... - Out of the nine planets in our solar
system, eight have names based on Greek and Roman mythology. But
what about Earth? What was Earth named in different ancient cultures?
Earth goes back to the Anglo-Saxon word “Erda” or “Erdaz” which
means ground or soil. As the word was passed to Old English it
became “Eorthe” or “Erthe.” In German it became “Erde.”
ancient languages have different words. In Latin it was the word
“Terra” (which is still a word used to mean ground and Earth in
English today). In Norwegian it is “Jorda,” Icelandic: “Jord”
and Greek: “Era.” You could probably make the case that to be
consistent we should be calling the Earth “Gaia” which is the
name of the Greek goddess who symbolized Mother Earth. Other mother
Earth goddesses that might have been appropriate names include
the Iroquois name “Etenoha” and the Lakota name “Maka.”
even today Earth is only our planet name in English. Although
English is the international language for professional astronomy
other languages use a variety of distinct terms for Earth and
the other planets in everyday speech. For a list check out http://www.nineplanets.org/days.html
Mind Reading - In pure science and logic how do we explain
a connection between two people through their minds? - Nicky
communication of information between two minds, sometimes referred
to as telepathy (The term was first used in 1882 by psychologist,
F.W. Myers), has never been proven in a rigorous scientific experiment.
Saying that it has never been proved, however, does not mean that
it doesn't exist. If telepathy was a strong and reliable communication
channel between minds, proving it exists should be easy. Suppose,
however, it only works intermittently and under certain unknown
classic mind reading experiment a sender attempts to transmit
information using only his brain to a "receiver." The information
might be in the form of shapes on a series of cards or colors
or letters or numbers. If the receiver can repeatedly and consistently
predict the information with greater success than one would expect
by chance, then it might be considered evidence of telepathy.
Complicating the issue, however, are subjects that try to "cheat"
on the experiment by collaborating with sender or somehow obtaining
the information by non-telepathic means. In theory it would seem
easy to design an experiment that would eliminate cheating, but
researchers have been fooled time and time again by clever fakers.
often claim they can read minds, or predict the future, but their
successes are much less impressive when put to a rigorous test.
One of the leading entertainment "mind readers" of the last fifty
years, The Amazing Kreskin, cheerfully admits that he has no supernatural
powers. "I'm basically a thought reader, with no special psychic
powers," he told Gallery Magazine in an interview. Kreskin tries
to use his own natural ability to tune into people. He listens
carefully to their voices and looks into their eyes and facial
expressions for clues to what they are thinking.
could prove telepathy exists, it would explain some of the stranger
incidents people have experienced. A phone rings and you know
exactly who it is calling. A child is in an accident, and the
mother knows immediately something bad has happened though she
is miles away. Without a rigorous scientific test, however, it
is difficult for a scientist not to chalk these antidotal stories
up to coincidence.
there is no proof that telepathy exists, it has not prevented
some people from speculating how it might work. Nobel laureate,
Cambridge physicist Brian Josephson, has suggested that if telepathy
really works it may be because psychics and telepaths are able
to direct random energy at sub-atomic levels for their own purposes.
He's written that developments in information and quantum theories
"may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood
within conventional science, such as telepathy."
Ghost Ship - A few years ago
off the coast of Japan, a wrecked ship was found. No country seemed
to own that battered ship. Is this ship supposedly returned to
us by the Bermuda Triangle? If so, what happened to the crew and
contents? - Debidatta
a name for the ship it's hard to pin down which incident you might
be talking about. I suspect you might be referring to the Mitsu,
which was found abandoned off the coast of Taiwan in 2003. The
Mitsu was found drifting by the Taiwanese Coast Guard with no
crew on board. There were several days of confusion until the
ship was identified as a Japanese fishing vessel which had been
abandoned by its crew two months before when it developed mechanical
ships are not as uncommon as you might suppose. Along the Asian
Coast piracy is a continuing problem with ships being hijacked,
then repainted and given a new identity. If the ship later develops
problems, the pirates may just decide to abandoned it rather than
risk raising the suspicions of the authorities by taking it into
a port. If the ship is later found adrift with a fake registry
it can appear that the ship came out of nowhere.
are going to subscribe to the supernatural theory, a ship found
near Japan would most likely be not be associated with the Bermuda
Triangle, which is in the Atlantic, but the "Devil's Sea"
which is a kind of Bermuda triangle of the Pacific Ocean.
Hard Disc for the Brain -
I was thinking about this and I'm not sure if it is possible in
the near future. My question is, is it possible to download your
memory and transfer it to a hard drive and if possible, vice versa.
I was wondering, if they know where the brain stores its memories
then they could copy these impulses and translate it to a hard
drive. This will benefit people who suffered from long term memory
loss due to accidents. So is this possible? -Rowell
Scientists don't know as nearly as much
they would like about the human brain. What they do know, however,
is that not organized in the same way as your home computer. Despite
their seeming complexity, most computers are just fancy, programmable
adding machines. Brains are far more complex, and at this point,
Most computers are organized with their
memory components separate from their computation elements. The
machine's memory can be thought of as simply millions of little
mailboxes. Each mailbox is capable of storing a number- or "byte"
- between 0 and 255 (Computers store larger numbers by stringing
several mailboxes together. It stores letters by giving each letter
a number code). When a computer wants to do an operation like
addition, part of it called the accumulator fetches the number
out of the mailbox, and adds it with another number, then puts
it back in a mailbox.
In the human brain memory and processing
are not separated in the same way. Memory and processing seem
to be mixed together. Both seem to depend on the strength of connections
between nerves cells called synapses. Engineers have built computers
based on this "neural net" model, but they are not, as yet, in
wide-spread use. Because memory and processing are not separated,
researchers have a hard time even agreeing on how much memory
(in terms of computer bytes) the human brain holds. One group
reported in 2003 in an article in the journal Brain and Mind,
that the capacity was around 10 to the power of 8,432 based on
the number of neurons times the number of connections. This is
more capacity than every computer ever made added together. Another
scientist, Thomas Landauer of Bell Communications Research, has
estimated the size based on the functional capacity of the brain
- that is based on how much information people actually remember
from minute-to-minute or day-to-day. When this technique is used
the number comes up to just a few hundred megabytes - the size
of a small hard disc.
In either case, we don't have any idea
yet about how you would unload or load stored information into
a human brain making any storage solution irrelevant. There are
some technical ways to assist people with memory problems, however.
Companies are working on button sized devices a person could wear
and record everything they hear and see during there entire lifetime.
Engineers are looking at ways to make this mass of information
retrievable in a form that people can actually use. These solutions
are technically feasible in the near future, but the privacy considerations
of having our whole life recorded are still a concern for many
Proportions - Dear Curator, I'm a Chinese. I read from
the novel "Da Vinci Code" which mentioned the divine proportion
1.618. It equals to the distance from shoulder to finger tip divided
by the distance from elbow to finger tip. I measured it from my
arm but the result was only 1.57. Is it only the proportion for
westerners or my measurement was incorrect?. - Hermes
Proportion," sometimes referred to as the "golden ratio"
or "golden mean," is Phi, which is derived as a part
of what's known as the Fibonacci Series of numbers. The Fibonacci
series comes from the expression (1+n½) / 2. Phi is the 5th in
the series and is unique in that Phi - 1 = 1 / Phi. Phi has the
approximate value of 1.618, but like the number Pi, is irrational
and goes on forever. One of the more interesting properties that
comes from using Phi as a ratio is that if you have line A and
you section it into pieces B and C, if A = Phi x B, then B = Phi
time of the ancient Greeks people have noticed that Phi and the
Fibonacci Series keep showing up in the natural world. For example,
the average of the mean orbital distances of each successive planet
in our solar system, in relation to the planet before it approximates
Phi. Also the Cassini divisions ( empty spaces) in the rings of
Saturn appear at two Phi points. The frequencies of musical notes
in the western scale are based on the Fibonacci series. The spiral
shape of the Nautilus shell is also based on Phi and the polygon
derived from it known as the "golden rectangle."
also shows up in man made creations. It was used in Egyptian pyramids.
If you look at the credit card in your wallet the ratio of the
width to height is approximately that of Phi.
painters such as Leonardo da Vinci realized that this ratio was
aesthetically pleasing and a valuable tool for an artist. For
example, the length of the arm to that of the forearm and hand
is approximately the golden ratio. It also appears in the proportions
of the human face. Artists used this property to make sure that
the people in their pictures had the right sized arms, hands,
ratios are approximately Phi, however. In the real world
everyone is unique and nobody will have those exact measurements
(My arm to forearm/hand ratio is 1.8. Interestingly enough if
you average my ratio with the letter writer's ratio the results
is 1.685, very close to Phi).
Spots - I saw a show about strange science and on this
show they briefly mentioned a cabin where bottles roll up hill
and water runs up. I am looking for more information on this cabin,
I believe they said it was in Oregon but I am not certain.- Anonymous
your thinking about is called the Oregon Vortex and it
is among a number of sites around the U.S. that claim to feature
supernatural phenomena including water running uphill, balls rolling
uphill, shifts in the size of objects, etc. (Another similar place
is The Mystery Spot just outside Santa Cruz, California).
Each claims some "force" is at work making things behave
strangely. In all cases these are actually optical illusions.
This activity occurs in a location that for some reason the usual
cues that we use to tell what is horizontal are missing or wrong.
Both of the places I mentioned are wooded and you cannot really
see the horizon very well. Also some shift in the ground has caused
the trees to not grow straight up, but at an angle. Even with
your inner ear giving you signals about what straight up and down
the visual signals can overwhelm them. Therefore we think water
is running uphill, when actually it is running down.
the illusion at these places are natural, but some of it has been
augmented by the owners. In any case, it is an interesting effect
and don't hesitate to check one of these places if you get the
chance. Just don't believe there hype about some strange supernatural
force. For more information check out their websites and an article
written by magician and debunker The Great Randi.
Government Storage - I was watching Indiana Jones and the
Quest for the Holy Grail, and in the end of the movie it shows
the grail being tucked away into a giant, anonymous warehouse.
I'm not interested in the grail but I am curious if you know where
the government might tuck something interesting away. Who would
be responsible for that sort of duty? - Anonymous
picture you are probably thinking of is Indiana Jones and the
Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's the Ark which is put in the
warehouse in that movie, not the Grail (The Holy Grail is the
object of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the third
movie in the series. At the end of the picture the Grail falls
down a crack in the ground during an earthquake and disappears).
In the first movie the Ark is boxed up and hidden in a huge warehouse
stacked with thousand of other crates. By the way, the warehouse
pictured never existed, but is actually a very realistic matte
painting. The figure of the man, the cart and the crate containing
the Ark were filmed separately and then put into the image.
secret government stuff is dependent on which agency of the government
acquired the secret. Despite people's idea that the government
is one big monolithic agency it is actually made up of many smaller
agencies who often don't share information very well. In Raiders
it appears that the "government officials" shown are
probably part of a military intelligence unit under the control
of the Army. If that was the case, they could store the secret
object at any number of warehouses at any number of military bases
depending on which unit might have been studying the object. If
the military considered the ark a weapon it might have taken it
to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, in Maryland, to test its capabilities.
During W.W.II any secret weapon captured from the enemy would
have been there where it could be compared with United States
military hardware. After testing was done the object would probably
find it's way to the Aberdeen Ordnance Museum, though it could
not be put in the public display until it was declassified.
the branches of government have museums associated with them where
they can store and display historic items they own once they are
done with them. For example, the National Security Agency, which
deals with breaking and making codes and cyphers, has a museum
near its headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, where you can view
former secret devices like a German Enigma coding machine from
W.W.II. The museum is a great place to visit and is free.
Ordnance Museum is also free and well worth a stop if you are
traveling through that part of Maryland. It contains guns, bombs,
shells, artillery and rockets. There is even a tank that resembles
the one featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
which brings us full circle.
Longest Day? - I was told that the story in the Bible,
Exodus I believe, about Moses' two sons holding his arms up to
continue the daylight because God told Moses that as long as his
arms remained raised he would continue the day, could be proven.-
about the extended day comes from the 10th Chapter of Joshua.
For nearly 60 years some variation of the story that scientists
have found a "missing day" while doing astronomical
calculations has been circulated. Unfortunately this story, along
with a variation that appeared in the 60's (referencing NASA)
is an urban legend. The first known use of this myth was a chapter
in a 1936 book Harmony of Science and Scripture written
by Harry Rimmer. Rimmer referred to two eminent scientist of the
day, Sir Edwin Ball and Prof. C.A. Totten who supposedly had written
that evidence for a extra day had been discovered, but nobody
can find anything in their writings about this subject.
got a boost in the 1970's when a man named Howard Hill published
an updated version in his book How to Live Like a King's Kid.
The Hill version makes references to NASA using computers to calculate
the future position of planets, but having to insert an extra
24 hours to account for a missing day. Hill retold the story numerous
times to various audiences and it was later published in several
newspapers. As with the earlier Rimmer story, there is no evidence
that the account is actually true. None of the facts can be verified.
The story got new life again just a few years ago when people
started e-mailing it around the internet.
itself doesn't really make sense. Any computer program figuring
the position of the sun and planets in the past or future would
make use of current orbital positions to work forward or backward
and find the locations. There is no way for the computer to know
that some time would be "missing."
on the history of this urban legend check out:
Chupacabra - A few days ago, I saw a show about the Chupacabra,
and now I'm really interested. Are there any websites on it? Pictures?
What is it? Thanks if you can help - Katy
(which means "goat sucker") is supposedly a creature that lives
in parts of Mexico, South America and on some Caribbean Islands.
It got its name in Puerto Rico in 1975 when some dead goats were
discovered with puncture marks in their necks and their bodies
drained of blood. While the authorities credited the animals death's
to wild dogs or a panther, others beleive it was the work of this
in the 1990's there have been various reports of the creature
killing animals across much of Latin American and even a few alleged
cases in the southern United States. A small group of people claim
to have seen the creature, though their descriptions vary widely.
Most reports agree the the creature is bi-petal (walks on two
feet) and ranges from three to five feet tall and has big fangs.
A rough hair covers the body. Some people also report wings, while
others say it hops like a kangaroo. Supposedly a few people have
gotten pictures of Chupacabras, but almost all of them have been
shown to be frauds.
is sort of the Big Foot of Latin America: Many reports, but no
Snouters - I was recently told the story of the snouters.
How did this story get started and why haven't I heard of these
thing before? - Eve
also known as Rhinogrades, were the invention of Gerolf Steiner
a professor of zoology at the University of Heidelberg. Steiner
was looking for a way to teach his students about evolution, so
he decided to invent a completely fictional order of mammals.
All of his creations used their noses in some way to survive.
For example, some of the creatures used their noses to walk, others
to jump from danger, others to catch food.
was apparently inspired by the 19th century writer Christian Morgenstern
who wrote a short poem about an animal, the nasobame, that
walked upon its nose.
Steiner put his creations into a book, The Snouters: Form and
Life of the Rhinogrades, which was published in German. The
work, credited to the fictional scientist Harald Stumpke, included
detailed information about the animals including sketches and
illustrations. In addition to being a teaching tool, the book
was a parody of similar academic texts used at the time.
to the book the Snouters had been discovered by a Swedish naturalist
who was ship wrecked on the Hi-yi-yi Islands in the Pacific Ocean
in 1941. To explain why the Snouter are no longer around today,
Steiner came up with the story that only island on which they
lived was accidentally destroyed as the result of an atomic bomb
test. Dr. Stumpke supposedly perished in the same mishap.
has been so popular with biologists and students, that it as been
reprinted a number of times in different languages and still used
in some college and high-school biology courses. The book is currently
available in paperback from Amazon.com for $12.95.
- I saw a program this week about "sea monsters". They
mentioned the Berlin-Ichthyosaur Park in Nevada, not too far from
Reno, and recounted a wild story about it that is the subject
of my letter:
program said that old local Native American legends told of "BIG
fish" living in a nearby lake, possibly Walker Lake, about 4,000
years ago. Then came the wild part: somebody has theorized that
a meteorite blew the fish out of the lake and their bodies were
strewn for miles around, including the preserve at Berlin, Nevada.
As I watched this, I was saying "What the?" to myself, because
even if these ichthyosaurs had been alive 4,000 years ago (which
would be big news), their remains would not have fossilized since
then. What was this program talking about? - Courtney
to track this story down without success, perhaps because nobody
will admit to coming up with such a silly tale. There are certainly
Indian legends about a super sized creature living in Walker Lake
(in fact most large lakes have some kind of story about a monster
living in them) and these rumors persist even today. The supposed
animal has even been given a name ("Cecil").
clearly the Berlin-Ichthyosaur
State Park exists and has been an amazing location for paleontologists
to study the extinct marine reptiles we call ichthyosaurs. The
ichthyosaurs, which resemble today's dolphins, that have been
found in the park grew as long as 35 feet and are the largest
found in the world. Scientists, however, have established that
the ichthyosaurs were fossilized here, not 4,000 years ago, but
225 million years ago when this part of Nevada, along with much
of the west, was covered by a shallow sea.
that an ichthyosaur might have been blown from Walker Lake to
the location of the park is clearly preposterous. The distance
is over a hundred miles. A meteorite large enough to propel a
whale-sized animal that distance would also create an explosion
with dynamics similar to that of an H-bomb. Anything organic,
including ichthyosaurs, in the immediate area would have been
vaporized. Also there is no evidence of such a meteor hitting
the Walker Lake area in the last 4,000 years.
Castle Mystery - Has there been any progress on the theory
that the builder of the Coral Castle in Florida was able to move
large stones without heavy equipment? - Thanks, Mike
Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant, who moved to Florida in 1918
spent most of his life carving a fantastic castle-like building
out of huge blocks of coral. There is a mystery about how he was
able to shape and move these blocks which weighed as much as 30
tons by himself without the help of heavy machinery (Leedskalnin
didn't even own a car). Leedskalnin, who said the castle was a
tribute to a lost love, did all the work at night and was very
secretive about his methods. Over a period of over 20 years he
cut and positioned over 1,000 tons of coral.
credit his feat to supernatural power, or the understanding of
an alternative energy source (Leedskalnin wrote several booklets
on his theories of electricity and magnetism). When asked about
the construction, however, he replied that he simply understood
the laws of weight and leverage. "I have discovered the secrets
of the pyramids. I have found out how the Egyptians and the ancient
builders in Peru, Yucatan, and Asia, with only primitive tools,
raised and set in place blocks of stone weighing many tons."
think he just used simple machines (levers, wedges, screws, tackle)
and applied them expertly to get the job done. In any case, we
may never know for sure as Leedskalnin seems to have taken his
secret to the grave when he died in 1951 at the age of 64. The
site is now a tourist attraction. For more information go to http://www.coralcastle.com
Kecksburg Incident - I watched a show recently about the
Kecksburg Incident. Can I have more info on it? - Tiara
call the Kecksburg the "Roswell of Pennsylvania." On
December 9th, 1965, some residents in the area saw a flaming object
zoom across the sky and supposedly crash nearby. A few even claim
that they saw the object, a cone-like thing 10 feet long and shaped
like an acorn, sitting on the ground. Some of those same people
claim a pair of men in trench coats (MIB?) confiscated the thing.
object an alien artifact? Was it a piece of Russian space junk?
Did it ever exist at all?
wisdom suggests that the flaming object was a meteorite that came
down nowhere near Kecksburg. Using photographs showing the object's
smoke trail two scientists, Von Del Chamberlain and David J. Krause
of the Abrams Planetarium, calculated that the thing, which was
visible across several states, disappeared from the sky 15 miles
southeast of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
this, as with the Roswell Incident, there are many people who
believe something strange happened at Kecksburg that day, and
just as many people who believe nothing happened. To decide for
yourself try these websites:
and the Dinosaurs - What if instead of an ice age the climate
were to become tropical as it was during the reign of the dinosaurs.
Could it be possible for them to somehow return? ...If the conditions
- the environment - was recreated could nature again somehow produce
those awesome beasts? - John
there seems to be a direct link between climate and the characteristics
of the animal life. Probably the best example comes from the ice
ages. The climate then seems to have promoted mammals of extraordinary
size: Mammoths larger than the biggest elephants alive today,
a rhino 16 foot high and weighing 20 tons and a ten foot tall
gorilla are just a few examples. Having said that, even if conditions
went back to how it was during the heyday of the dinosaurs, we
might not see the return of dinosaur-like creatures. The dinosaurs
flourished in a period before mammals were widespread. It might
be that competition from these warm-blooded animals might keep
large reptiles from developing again in some future tropical age.
matter to consider - it's hard to predict if dinosaurs-like creatures
might return under certain conditions because scientists are still
arguing about what made the dinosaurs disappear in the first place!
on Mars - One night I saw a show saying that they found
a face mounded on Mars. Is that true, and if so how much information
do they have on it? - Rachel.
the Viking Mars Orbiter captured an image of a Martian surface
feature that resembled a human face. NASA released a picture of
it figuring it would get people's attention focused on the space
program. Soon some people were suggesting it was some kind of
"alien artifact" perhaps similar to the giant drawings
found on the Naza plain in Peru. Subsequent photographs have been
taken of the area in the 90's by the Mars Global Surveyor probe.
These pictures taken under different lighting conditions, angles
and resolutions seem to show that the object is a natural hill
or ridge, and it's resemblance to a face is only a coincidence.
Migration - I have got a question. I was studying about
migratory birds and was wondering how can they find the right
direction? Do they use the sixth sense? Thank you Sincerely -
list the ability to sense Earth's magnetic fields with your brain
as a sixth sense, I guess you could say that they do. Homing pigeons
use this technique. It's a bit like have a built in compass. To
prove this is how they navigate scientists put little hats on
the pigeons heads with attached magnets designed to confuse the
natural magnetic field and the birds flew off in the wrong direction.
species use different methods. Some birds navigate by using the
sunset and stars. Buntings put in a room with an artificial sky
projected on the ceiling will head one way with a fall star projection
and the opposite with a spring star projection. Geese use landmarks
to do their migration and must learn the route the first time
they fly it with their parents. Because of their dependence on
seeing the ground geese can get easily confused in fog and land
in unexpected places.
likely that some species use a combination of the above methods.
There may also be methods used by birds to navigate that science
has not yet discovered.
at Dawn? - Why does the temperature always drop a few more
degrees after the sun comes up? - Christine
know if anybody has done actual research on this, but the experts
I consulted thought the following was the case (assuming conditions
were not changing due to storms or cold fronts moving in or out):
by it's radiation, provides most of the warmth on the Earth. The
air and ground get warmer and warmer as they gain energy from
the sun while it is up. After the sun sets, the temperature of
the air and ground drop rapidly as they give up the energy they
accumulated during the day. This continues throughout the night
with the air cooling rapidly and the ground more slowly. At dawn
the sun is back up, but for the first couple hours it is so low
on the horizon, and it's sunlight so indirect, that it has little
effect on the ground, and the air near the ground, which continue
to lose energy and get cooler. Eventually the energy the ground
is getting from the sun becomes more than the energy it is giving
up and the temperature starts to rise.
effects, such as the evaporation of dew or frost, also contribute
to the ground and the air near it remaining cold during the first
few hours after dawn.
Moon - My little girl keeps asking me why she can still
see the moon during the day. My ignorance of the subject prevents
me from telling her. Can you help? Thank you, Sue A.
just one of those questions that begs for a diagram, so after
you read the text, click here.
As you are probably aware the moon orbits the Earth roughly once
a month. The Earth, in turn rotates once every twenty-four hours.
The side that faces the sun is in daylight, the side away from
the sun is in night.
the moon moves around the Earth it can be overhead in the sky
anytime of the day or night depending on where it is in its orbit.
Because the moon is lit by reflected sunlight it will, in general,
be more "full" and brighter in the night sky and less
"full" and dimmer (and therefore less noticeable) in
the day sky. When the moon is very close to the position of the
sun in the sky it may not be visible at all.
the moon with the night because without the sun around it is the
brightest thing in the sky. When it is up in the day it tends
to get washed out and we don't often notice it.
Etc. - What is the purpose of a gizzard? And how
could a spider live without lungs? I heard that daddy longlegs
have neither. Thanks!
is a muscular pouch in the digestive system that allows birds
and certain invertebrates to grind food down without using teeth.
Usually the animal swallows small stones or grit to do the grinding.
We know some dinosaurs had gizzards because we've found their
gizzard stones within their fossilized remains.
have lungs, but they aren't like ours. Some spiders have a trachea
(a kind of tube) that does the job of breathing, others have "book-lungs."
A few species of spiders have both.
"daddy-long-legs," well, there are several animals with
that name, but since we are talking about spiders I'll assume
we are talking about daddy long-leg spiders (of which there are
several species). Like all spiders they don't need a gizzard because
they don't eat solid food. They kill their prey, liquefy them,
then suck them dry. As spiders they would also have either the
book-lung, trachea or both.
also a creature known as a "harvestman" that has the
common name "daddy longlegs." These look like spiders,
but are not. I have to admit I'm not sure how their digestive
system works, so if there are any readers out there who are experts
on these animals, drop us a line.
Wall or the Car? - In her book "Brain Building"
Marilyn Vos Savant says that when two cars collide head on, with
each car traveling at 50 MPH, the effect on each car is the same
as if it had hit a stone wall at 50 MPH. I can't believe this.
It seems to me the effect should be that of a 100 MPH collision
a longtime favorite of physics teachers and it has two answers.
In the "ideal" situation that Ms. Savant is talking
about each of the cars has a certain amount of kinetic energy
as they move (let's call this value E). If they cars are identical
in every way (speed, mass, shape) and they do a perfect head-on
collision the total energy involved will be 2 times E or 2E. Since
there are two cars the energy will be divided in half and each
one will be subjected to one E of kinetic energy which will deform
the vehicles turning them into something that looks like a two-ton
are dealing with one car hitting a wall then we will have one
E of kinetic energy before the accident (The wall has no energy,
it's not moving). If the wall is absolutely rigid and does
not absorb any of the energy of the impact then again there will
be one E of energy to deform one car.
why safety crash tests simulating head-on collisions are done
by launching a car into a rigid barrier. It is a good simulation
of a head-on collision, but only requires one vehicle.
seems unintuitive try it at home (not with cars, use tennis balls).
Roll them at each other and when they hit note how far do they
bounce back. Now roll one at the same speed toward a immovable
object (like a brick). Did it bounce back the same distance? It
should have it you gave it the same initial speed.
solution involves what happens in a non-ideal situation. Very
rarely in the real world would a car hit a totally immovable barrier.
If the barrier absorbed some of the energy less would left over
to damage the car. Also if two cars hit it is unlikely that they
would be identical in speed and shape or be aligned perfectly
head on. They would tend to bounce off each other and penetrate
each other as well as spin off at an angle and these actions would
absorb energy. For these reasons in it would be hard to say which
accident would result in more damage to the car in a real life
Shadows - What is an acoustic shadow and how does
it work? - Lisa
shadow occurs when sound that would normally be heard is blocked.
This can happen because the sound is absorbed by some material,
or refracted when it meets a warm or rapidly moving layer of air.
The refraction can not only bounce the sound away from a location
but it can also direct it to another location where it would not
normally carry. In these ways an acoustic shadow is to sound what
a mirage is to light.
shadows played significant roles in several Civil War battles.
Because there was no radio communication between a commander and
his forward units in the 19th century, commanders often depended
on what they heard of the battle to tell them what was going on
up at the front. If an acoustic shadow existed it could alter
what the commander heard and ultimately what decisions he made.
It is said that sounds from the Battle of Gettysburg could not
be heard just ten miles away, but were heard clearly in Pittsburgh
150 miles away.
is at least one book on the subject of acoustic shadows and their
effect on the War Between the States. Check your local library
for Civil War Acoustic Shadows by Charles D. Ross.
Atlantis - To my understanding Plato was the only one whoever
actually saw Atlantis and wrote about it. Why hasn't anyone else
from his time had any knowledge of it? What was he really trying
to prove by writing the book? - Tina
first book is a discussion of ideas about government and personal
conduct which he expressed through characters in a narrative.
One of Plato's characters talks about hearing about Atlantis from
a Egyptian priest. It is unknown if Plato himself got the story
from a priest or if he simply made up the whole thing as a literary
mechanism for discussing government. It is certain that if Plato
did think Atlantis really existed it wasn't because he'd seen
it himself. Plato places the destruction of the city and the associated
continent at about 9,000 years before his own time.
Experiment - What rumor circulated about the USS
Eldridge? - Anonymous
the US Navy ship Eldridge was involved in an incident that
would later become known as the "Philadelphia Experiment."
According to the story the ship was docked at the Philadelphia
Navy Yard during 1943 and an attempt was made to employ a technology
to make the ship invisible. In the story the experiment turns
out to be a disaster when members of the crew wind up embedded
in bulkheads or going insane.
there is no evidence that the Eldridge was involved in
any kind of experiment in 1943, though a different ship, USS
Timmerman, was involved in an experiment to degauss ships
and get rid of their magnetic field. A ship without a magnetic
field might be less prone to attract mines and torpedoes. This
experiment produced some electrical discharges, but did not render
the ship invisible.
there is no real evidence that the story is true it didn't stop
Hollywood from producing two science-fiction films about the subject.
The "The Philadelphia Experiment" was released in 1984
and it's sequel, "The Philadelphia Experiment II" in
Dendrochronology- Will you tell me which time "periods" carbon dating applies
to and which dendrochronology applies to? I'm thinking dendro-
only works ice age forward and carbon dating present-ice age,
but I don't know. Thanks if you can!! - Elise
is the science of using tree rings to date past events. As we
all learned in 6th grade science, you can examine the cross-section,
or core, of a tree and see how old the tree is by counting the
"growth rings" it lays down each year. Since the characteristics
of each year (wet vs. dry) can be seen though the width of the
each ring, the tree can show us a unique pattern of the climate
over time and it is possible to match that pattern of the living
tree against that of a tree that was cut down. For example, we
can tell when a house was built by comparing the growth rings
of wood used in construction against that of a living tree.
pattern can be extended back past the age of any living tree by
finding trees that are dead, but still standing. By looking for
an overlapping climate pattern between the dead and living trees
the death year of the dead tree can be established. By using this
technique on the long-lived bristlecone pine in the White Mountains
of California a pattern can be established as far back as 9,000
years. Note this only is valid for a particular region as other
regions will have different climatic patterns.
dating is another method of establishing dates. Carbon-14 is a
slightly radioactive isotope of carbon absorbed by living things
from the air. When that living thing dies it no longer absorbs
the carbon-14 and the carbon-14 slowly begins to decay. By knowing
how long it takes the carbon-14 to decay and comparing it with
the Carbon-12, which is also absorbed by the creature, but is
stable and does not decay, a estimation of how long the thing
has been dead can be made. Because the amount of carbon-14 in
the atmosphere has varied over time it is less accurate then dendrochronology.
Dendrochronology has been used to "calibrate" the Carbon-14
process, though, making it fairly accurate back to 9,000 years.
The further you go back, however, the less accurate your estimate
will be. Carbon-14 hits its limit at about 50,000 to 60,000 years
in the past. Beyond that other methods are necessary.
great "Ice Age" started around a million years ago.
There have been been a series of warming and cooling periods within
that with a cold-dry peak around 700,000 years ago. Around 30,000
years ago a major cold period began, ending 10,000 years ago.
Many scientists think that we are simply in a respite between
major ice advances, and have not really left the Ice Age at all.
- I just saw the movie Mothman Prophecies and it
enticed me to do a little research on what exactly the Mothman
is. I was very enlightened on how the Mothman was explained on
the movie by the paranormal expert, but I was wondering where
some other sightings on the Mothman are and what they were. Thanks.
and 1967 almost one-hundred people allegedly sighted a strange
batlike creature in the vicinity Point Pleasent, West Virginia.
The suppsed creature was dubbed "The Mothman" after
a villain on the Batman television series. Before or after that
flap very few reports of the Mothman occured.
reported a Mothman-like figure and a UFO near Kent, England in
November of 1963. In 1989 reports of "vampire birds"
sounding something like the the Mothman were reported in Puerto
Rico. In November of 1995 serveral people said they encounted
a "giant bat" near the El Yunque Rain Forest also in
Face of King Tut - Its said that there are methods of putting
together a sculpture or "mask" of what an Egyptian looked like.
Is this true? If so, has this method been used to recreate a possible
image of what the young King Tutankhamen might have looked like?
If it has been used is there a website or place that I can see
a picture of this? -Lori
Richards, facial-reconstruction expert from the Department of
Medical Physics and Bioengineering University College London,
has recreated Tut's face by using CAT scans of X-rays of the mummy
to create a 3D representation of the King's skull in a computer.
From there digital skin and other features can be laid on top
of the skull. The method is very similar to that used by forensic
experts for reconstructing a face from a skull found in connection
with a crime. The digital image was later made into a sculpture
for the UK Science Museum. For a more complete explanation of
the process and some pictures, check out these links:
Orbits -How does one calculate that Mars is closer
to Earth than it has been for 60,000 years? - Paul
step to knowing the position of the planets is to observe them
in the sky and work out their orbits. Much of the grunt work for
this was done in 16th century by Tycho Brahe though many nights
of staring at the sky. Tycho thought that planet orbits must be
circular but he couldn't get his theory to jive with his observations.
Johannes Kepler took Tycho's data and realized that the planets
orbits must be slightly elliptical. With this Kepler was able
to come up with his Laws of Planetary Motion.
basically state how the planets move though space based on attraction
by gravity to the sun and each other. Put the laws into a computer
and you can then use them to predict the relationship of the planets
to each other at any future or past time, though accuracy starts
to break down as you move further away from the present period.
Still, in the history of the solar system 60,000 years is a fairly
short period, so the estimated positions of the planets should
be pretty accurate.
of Velikovsky's theories might argue
that the planets have been moving around the solar system out
of their orbits in recent history, but most scientists don't think
there's any evidence to support his hypothesis.
Lungs and Spaceships - The human body is very tough and
could easily survive the vacuum of space, so why couldn't you
use a breathing apparatus [like a Scuba]? If you're saying that
molecules would become unfixed and simply explode, as in your
quoting NASA saying your lungs would explode, then why don't space
ships that are filled with air simply explode? I realize metal
is in some ways stronger than the human body, but likewise in
other ways, like resiliency and dexterity, the human body is tougher
than metal. - James
that much of the human body is tough, but the lungs are relatively
fragile. Certainly not near the strength of a spaceship hull.
Scuba divers have been dealing with these issues for years.
of our planet at sea level pushes against us with the force of
about 14.7 pounds per square inch (PSI). Ideally a spaceship would
be pressurized the same, but NASA has used lower cabin pressures
(around 5psi) during spaceflights (To do this you have to increase
the percent of oxygen in the air so the astronauts can breath
normally. This is increases the risk of fire, though. The three
astronauts that died on the launch pad in 1965 were victims of
a flash fire which was partly the result of using a cabin environment
with a near 100% oxygen level).
look at an ideal spaceship that would contain 14.7psi. Can metal
stand that kind of pressure? A typical scuba tank can withstand
more than 3000 psi! Remember a spaceship cabin is just a big tank
of air. Even the thin-walled propane tank on your gas grill can
safely contain a pressure of 325psi - more than 21 times the pressure
needed on our ideal spaceship.
about the human lung? Again we will go back to scuba divers. As
you go down into the water the pressure becomes greater at a much
faster rate than it does as you move down through air. The only
way divers can breath underwater is by using air pressurized the
same level as the water around them. For this reason divers must
be very carefully to breath normally as they ascend. If they hold
their breath they could rupture a lung because the air in the
lung expands as they go upward. It has been shown that a lung
can rupture if the diver is holding his breath and ascends as
little as 4 feet. That's an increase of only 1.7psi. Much less
than even the 5 to 14.7psi of a spaceship cabin and certainly
much less than a metal hull of a spaceship can stand.
Fighters and Freedom Ridge -I was wondering if
you could help me find more information on Foo Fighters. I believe
that between Christmas of 1994 and before August of 1995, I saw
Foo fighters. I do happen to live very close to Fort Hood Texas
and I know that their military flight path goes right over my
property, whether this has anything to with what I saw that day,
I don't know. I am 18 years old now and I saw the Foo Fighters
when I was 9 years old.
question that I have , why is it that Freedom Ridge in Nevada
(10 miles from the area 51 facility) was closed in 1995? - Krista
are what WW II aircraft crews called the unexplained glowing balls
that seemed to follow their planes. At first they thought they
might be some sort of enemy weapon, but they never attacked and
after the war the Allies found out that the Germans had been seeing
them too. There has never been a good explanation for what these
objects were. For an full discussion of the foo fighters of WWII,
what you saw occurred in 1995 it might be hard to classify it
as "foo fighters" in the technical sense, but you could
probably list it as a UFO (unidentified flying object). Whether
it is explainable or not by natural or man-made phenomena depends
on exactly what you saw.
Freedom Ridge, the government closed it because it gave the public
too close a look at the facility at Groom Lake were secret military
weapons are tested. Some people claim this is because the government
is hiding crashed flying saucers there, but more likely it is
because it could be used by foreign agents to gain information
on sensistive aircraft or weapons systems under construction.
Peak - I'm planning on taking a trip to Nevada to see Area
51 from Tikaboo Peak. I've searched the Internet, and have found
only old information on how to get there, whether it's still open
to the public, and local tips to make the most of this experience.
Do you have any current information on this? Thanks for your help
Peak is one of the few places where the secret base at Area 51
can still be viewed. The peak is about 25 miles from the facility.
As far as I am aware it is still accessible, though Freedom Ridge,
another popular location for viewing the base (only 10 miles away)
has been closed since 1995. I have not made the pilgrimage myself,
but I understand you can do it in a few hours. You need to take
the kind of precautions, however, necessary when entering any
wilderness area (maps, extra water, first aid kit, etc.). Expect
a difficult hike. For a couple accounts of trips to Tikaboo Peak
check these pages:
plan to go, consider buying the Area 51 Viewer's Guide
by Glenn Campbell. It's available at: http://www.aliensonearth.com/catalog/detail/0617/0617T727883.html.
I believe it also contains Mr. Campbell's email address and you
can check with him on current conditions in the area. Also local
guides can be hired in nearby Rachel, Nevada.
Rex -I read about a creature sighted in Africa
a while back that greatly resembled a T-rex and was dubbed "Kasai
rex". Do you have any information/web sites on this creature and/or
other African cryptids? Thank you! -J. Villa.
of Kasai Rex supposedly starts in 1932. A Swedish plantation owner,
John Johnson, and his servant were traveling though deepest, darkest
Africa (the Kasai Valley to exact) when they ran nearly into a
rhinoceros. As they were trying to sneak past it, a huge 40-foot
long lizard-like creature bounded out of the jungle and leapt
upon the rhino. The servant fled while Johnson promptly fainted.
awoke the creature was still feeding on the now dead rhino. "It
was reddish in coloration, with brackish-colored stripes..."
Johnson reported. "It had a long snout and numerous teeth."
concluded it was a Tyrannosaurus, but other people have
suggested the description more fits a Tarbosaurus.
are highly skeptical of the Kasai Rex story and there is no evidence
that a John Johnson even existed. A photograph exists of this
supposed incident, though most people agree that it is most certainly
a hoax. For a view of the photo check: http://www.angelfire.com/falcon/megaraptor/Otherstrangeness.htm
and scroll toward the bottom of the page.
the story of Kasai Rex is generally agreed to be a false, stories
of other African dinosaurs seem to be on slightly firmer ground.
For the story of mok'ele-mbembe click
Triangle -I have heard a lot of stories and legends saying
that the many planes and boats have disappeared or have had strange
sightings when passing through the Bermuda Triangle. Is there
really something mysterious or is it just a place on earth were
electric equipment does not work (e.g an electric/magnetic field)?
years various scientists and laymen have speculated about the
possibility of this region of the ocean, laying just to the east
of the Florida coast, having some special properties that causes
problems with compasses and radio transmissions. Nobody had proved
that it has. In fact, the evidence seems to suggest that there
is very little mysterious about the region at all. A survey of
Coast Guard records show that no more ships and planes are lost
in the "Bermuda Triangle" that any other location given
the amount of traffic through the area. Though the loss of a flight
of five Avenger planes in 1947 is the most spectacular story associated
with the location (see www.unmuseum.org/triangle.htm),
it is most likely that the flight's leader just got confused by
certain landmarks and that led to the planes tragic disappearances.
at Tunguska-A program on the Discovery Channel
was aired recently that touched on the Tunguska incident. The
theory bypasses the popular ufo and paranormal explanations by
using a rare method known as science. Anyway, these scientists
have suggested the object over Tunguska was a comet. When it entered
the earth's atmosphere it began burning up, eventually exploding.
The explosion occurred in midair, explaining the lack of a crater.
The illuminesence that occurred over Europe in the following days
are the result of infinite, tiny particles remnants from the comet
which reflected light from the radiation of the explosion. I see
the UnMuseum has an article on this topic but wondered if the
Curator might like to comment on this theory. - Anonymous.
theory is very similar to the another theory described on our
page and attributed to Christopher Chyba, of NASA, Paul Thomas,
of the University of Wisconsin, and Kevin Zahnle, of NASA. These
three scientists suggest a stony meteorite was to blame and its
explosion before hitting the ground is the reason there is tremendous
damage to the area with no apparent impact crater. As much as
both of these theories seem to fit the facts now, its important
to remember that science is not a one-step-and-you-immediately-get-the-answer
operation. Many theories, including asteroids, comets, mini-black
holes, antimatter and even alien spaceships were forwarded by
serious scientists before an explanation that seemed fit the facts,
in this almost century-long puzzle, was found.
Devil -I can find little info on the Jersey Devil that
supports the theory that it is evil and not just mean. Can you
give me some information that supports this? - Anonymous
Devil, a legendary creature that supposedly has haunted Southern
New Jersey for hundreds of years, clearly has its roots in folklore
that give it a demonic connection. One of the most popular stories
about the creation of the creature involves the Shrouds household
of Leeds Point, New Jersey. One version has Mrs. Shrouds wishing
her next child to be born a devil (perhaps because it was her
13th child). She then gives birth to a deformed creature with
wings. Another involves a young girl in the household having the
child of a British soldier during the Revolutionary War. The townspeople
curse the girl and her offspring, which is then born as a devil.
There are alternate versions of the tale giving the birthplace
as Burlington or Estellville, but in every case it is clear that
the creature is somehow linked with the devil and the forces of
evil. Humans don't, through any natural set of circumstances,
give birth to creatures that can fly and live two-hundred years.
also clear that the story of the Jersey Devil, despite numerous
sighting though the years, belongs in the world of the occult
and myth and not in the world of science.
Looks -I was just curious...there are some sculptures
of Pharaoh Akhenaten's daughters with long, strange skulls and
I was just wondering if that was some sort of symbolic portrayal
or is there some sort of medical condition that causes that odd
appearance? - Anonymous.
suggest that Akhenaten and some of his children suffered from
Marfan's Syndrome. This is a hereditary disease first described
by a French doctor named Antione B. Marfan. Marfan noticed that
some of his patients had especially long fingers and skeletal
abnormalities sometimes including elongated skulls.
others have argued that these images are just an expressionistic
art style that was popular at the time. Even people who were not
related to the Pharaoh at all are often shown with a least a few
of these strange characteristics. But is this a case of wanting
to copy an art style, or wanting to copy the Pharaoh himself?
mummy of Akhenaten can be located (it has never been found) a
simple DNA test would tell us if he suffered from the rare disease
and solve the mystery. It may also be possible to test this theory
by checking the mummies of close relatives, but as far as I am
aware this has not be done.
Mexican Fish - While in Mexico on a fishing trip, we had
stopped off in a little village with shops and restaurants. After
dinner we went for a walk through the shops. While inside one
of the shops I came across a little sea creature, that I had seen
once before. It was about 13-14 inches tall and it looked like
the Devil. The little creature had a small head with little horns,
oversized eyes, little sharp teeth, two arms both with fingers
on each hand, 2 legs with toes on each, it looked as it would
have walked in the upright position also had a tail that looked
like it had a pitch fork on the tip of it . I believe the locals
had called it something like "Diablo" and it lives in
the sea . It would be interesting to see another picture of this
little creature, and also put a name to the picture. Thank you.
- James W.
that the creature you are referring to has as much in common with
the Jackolope (SOE Feb, 03)
as it does with a fish. The name of the creature is Garadiavolo
which apparently translates to "Devil Fish." In 1974,
Alfredo Garcia Garamendi, a teacher in Puerto Rico, claimed he'd
captured two of these animals after titanic battles with them.
One was supposedly stolen by secret agents, but the other Garamendi
kept in an a tank of water where it could be viewed by the public.
Later the second fish supposedly disappeared in an explosion.
Garamendi's claims, the animal is a hoax. The creature is apparently
is constructed by cutting open the interior of a bat fish or guitar
fish, then cutting the fins to make arm and legs. The creature
is then sold on the tourist market along the Mexican coast and
throughout the Caribbean Islands.
and more information on this subject click here.
You may want to use a translation site, however, as the page is
of The Mummy - I was wondering how close to Egyptian
folklore does the movie 'The Mummy' follow? Are there any writings
of a similar thing happening? I'm not taking this to be a true
story, but curiosity is bugging me... Any idea? - Paula
version of the Mummy story took a lot from the original 1932 version
of the film starring Boris Karloff. In that classic flick Imhotep,
played by Karloff, attempts to revive his dead girlfriend after
she is killed (in this version she is the Pharaoh's daughter,
not his mistress) by using the forbidden Book of Thoth.
He is caught and sentenced to be mummified alive. Thousands of
years later when a museum expedition finds Imhotep's mummy he
is accidentally brought back to life by the reading of the Book
of Thoth. He then proceeds to romance the heroine of the film
who is a reincarnation of his dead girlfriend.
of the 1932 film used lots of bits and pieces of Egyptian history
and stories in the script. The name "Imhotep" was the
name of a famous Egyptian architect and physician. Imhotep is
also credited with designing the first step pyramid.
did have some stories about mummies rising from the dead. One
involves the magician Khamwas who steals the forbidden Book
of Throth which is guarded by the mummy of Naneferkaptah.
Khamwas and Naneferkapth square off over a game of senet (an ancient
Egyptian board game) to see who will get the scroll. The mummy
wins, but Khamwas uses a magic trick to escape with the book anyway.
portion of The Mummy script is probably borrowed from the story
The Ring of Thoth written by Arthur Conan Doyle (the inventor
of Sherlock Holmes).
Anatomy Exhibit - I have been looking for information on
a museum and exhibit I saw on TV. It had to do with a man that
used human and animal bodies and pieces for his artwork. The piece
I remember most was one of a horse with a woman riding on it's
back. On the program they said that rumor had it, that the artist
used his dead girlfriend in this work and in so doing immortalized
her. Anyway, someone asked me about the oddest thing I had seen
and that took the cake. Do you have any idea what I am referring
to? The artist? The works? Would you be able to point me to a
website or two? Thank you. - Weirded-Out-In-Upstate N.Y.
referring to the controversial work of Dr. Gunther von Hagens.
Von Hagens considers himself not an artist, but an anatomist with
a sense of aesthetics. He uses "plastination" (a method
he developed) to preserve bodies in such a way the they do not
decay and tiny details are undamaged. The doctor has preserved
both animal and human bodies using this method. The results looks
like a three-dimensional, life-sized illustration from an anatomy
book with the skin removed and muscles, bones, nerves and organs
exposed. The figures are sometimes posed as if they were still
alive. One plays chess, one plays basketball, another rides a
some people find this exposure of the human anatomy fascinating,
others have been repelled by his work complaining that it has
robbed his subjects (who donated their bodies to science) of their
dignity. At least one city banned his exhibition.
find no confirmation of the story about a dead girlfriend on a
horse, though some of von Hagens works do include horses and women.
You can go looking for more information about his work by going
to his site http://www.koerperwelten.com,
which discusses his exhibits, and to http://www.plastination.com
which discusses the plastination method.
of the Mummy - Why did the ancient Egyptians stop
making mummies? - Anonymous
used mummification as a way to preserve bodies. The integrity
of the body after death was very important in ancient Egyptian
religion. As other religions (notably Christianity) that didn't
require such intricate preservation of the body displaced those
traditional Egyptian beliefs, the need for mummification ceased.
Still, mummification was so ingrained into the society, it persisted
well into the Christian era, and was practiced by Christian morticians
whose families had been involved in mummification for generations.
The last known Egyptian mummies date from the 4th century AD.
Link - Is there such thing as a missing link? If there
is, what is it? - Anonymous.
of a "missing link" first appeared right after Darwin
published his Origin of the Species which laid out the
theory of evolution. The idea was that there was a chain of evolution
with the apes at one end, modern man at the other, and intermediate
forms in between. Science was looking for fossils of a creature
that was "half-man and half-ape" that was never found.
It was the "missing-link" in that chain.
many scientists do not like using the term "missing-link"
as it suggests that evolution is a progressive straight line from
simple life to more complex forms. They picture evolution as a
tree with simpler forms of life at the bottom and more evolved
forms at the tips of the branches. In this version both apes and
man are at the tip of branches with a common ancestor at the root.
Many branches on this tree, like Neanderthal man, have died out.
While in this picture there are intermediate forms between man
and the common ancestor, there are no direct connections between
man and modern apes, and therefore no "missing link."
have suggested that "Bigfoot" is the "missing link."
However, if Bigfoot actually exists he would probably be another
tip of a branch on the tree, just like apes or man
etc. - I have recently found your website and must
say that it is very entertaining, I do have a question though,
In all the stories of Bigfoot /Yeti and Sea/Lake monsters, I don't
see any mention of creatures from Australia. Is this due to the
fact that Australia has no myths/legends?- Heather
down under has a number of creatures on the edge of legend, but
reported by people and unproven to science. Here are just a few:
of Bigfoot in Australia is a Yowie. Yowie supporters list
up to 10,000 sightings of this ape-like creature since about 1790.
As in the case of Bigfoot, evidence proving Yowie's existence
remains elusive and most scientists are skeptical that the creature
Australian cryptozoological riddle is Megalania
prisca a lizard some twenty feet in length and weighing
1000 pounds. Megalania supposedly went extinct some 20,000
years ago, but occasional reports from the outback raise the possibly
a few still might be prowling around.
there is the case of the Tasmanian Tiger.
The Tiger, actually it was more like a wolf, was hunted into extinction
over 60 years ago. Still, there are occasional sightings suggesting
that a few might still lurk in the wild, but as with the creatures
above, there is no proof.
- Every year my family goes to Las Vegas and every year
I see postcards featuring an animal called a jackalope. In one
souvenir shop I even saw a stuffed jackalope...I have no clue
whether it was real or not. Does such a thing exist? Thanks -
is one of those legends that almost people living in an certain
area know is a hoax, but are reluctant to admit it. In many cases
we don't know the source of such legends, but in the instance
we do. Douglas Herrick, who just died last month at age 82, came
up with the long running joke in 1932 when he and his brother
returned from hunting one day. They tossed a dead jackrabbit they'd
shot on to the floor and it accidentally slid up against a pair
of deer horns. The combination looked so strange Douglas decided
to mount the rabbit like that (with the horns) and the jackalope
Douglas Herrick made a number of jackalopes for sale, his brother
Ralph and Ralph's son Jim made many thousands of them. By 1965
the mythical creature had become so popular that the state of
Wyoming trademarked the name. In 1985 Gov. Ed Herschler pronounced
that Wyoming was the animal's official home. In addition to postcards
you can also purchase a jackalope hunting license and jackalope
Hoax- I saw a Fox special on TV that was on the
topic of whether the moon landing had been a hoax. I have to say
that before seeing the show I'd probably given no thought to the
possibility of it being fake. However, I found some of the arguments
to prove a hoax were well researched and explained, and had (as
far as I know) legitimate scientific basis. I wondered if you
had any info that might support or go against the moon-landing-hoax
theories? - Anonymous
have no doubt that NASA traveled to the moon. There were just
too many people involved (thousands) to make a workable conspiracy.
There are also too many arguments and counter-arguments in this
story to include here, but I will try and cover a few of the big
the pictures that astronauts took even though the sky is black
there are no stars - Just because the sky is black on the
moon doesn't mean that the astronauts were there during the night.
They were there in the lunar morning and the Sun was up lighting
everything up brightly. With the cameras adjusted to handle the
bright surface of the moon faint objects, like the stars, would
just not be picked up. It would be the same as if you adjusted
a camera here on Earth to take pictures during a bright day, then
tried to take pictures with the same settings in the the middle
of the night. There would not be enough light to record anything
on the film.
flag on the stand seems to wave even though there is no wind
- A piece of cloth will wave in a vacuum when you move it back
and forth (as the astronauts did when setting up the pole). After
the pole is set up, though, the flag stops moving. It is crinkled
a bit because the pole it is hanging from is just a bit shorter
than the flag, and that might make it look like it's waving in
a still shot, but a look at the moving video images reveal that
the flag does not move after the pole has been set.
van Allen Radiation Belts would have killed the astronauts
- There is indeed a radiation belt around the Earth and prolonged
exposure would have been deadly. Because the astronauts passed
through them so quickly (about an hour) their exposure was at
a minimum. The hull of the spacecraft also gave them some protection.
the best arguments for the the astronauts actually being there
is the dust. Look at the dust thrown up by the wheels off the
lunar rover during some of the video shots in later missions.
It does not linger in the air, but falls immediately. This is
only possible in a vacuum.
Biggest Web - What was the worlds biggest single spider
web and how big was the spider?
find any records for the largest single example of a spider web,
but I can tell you that the golden silk spider, Nephila,
which lives in along the Gulf Coast of Alabama and northern Florida
commonly builds webs as wide as the doors on a garage. The female
of the species, which is larger than the male, can be three inches
across if its legs are stretched out.
of the golden silk spider, the golden orb spider, which lives
in tropical areas from Africa to Northern Australia and the South
Pacific islands, has been known to build webs that are eighteen
feet high and over six feet wide. This spider's silk is pound
for pound is stronger than steel. South Sea Islanders have been
known to trick the spiders into building them fishing nets by
creating a circle of bamboo and leaving it in the forest. By morning
a spider will often have build a web across it and then it can
be used for catching fish. The females of the Golden Orb can have
a leg span of eight inches with a body length of two and a half
think that the world's largest spiders would build the biggest
webs, but they don't. The largest spiders are the tarantulas of
the South American rain forests. Some of these can have a leg
span of 10 inches, a body length of 4 inches and weight of over
in Tombs - I would like to know more about the
microorganisms that were found in the ancient Egyptian pyramids.
Were all the microorganisms found Pathogenic and how did they
survive the harsh conditions inside the pyramids.
as I'm aware the question of microorganisms in ancient Egyptian
pyramids has not been widely explored. However, several scientists
have looked into the possibility of a biological agent being preserved
in the rock tombs like that of King Tut or on objects that have
come out of a tomb. One of the first people to look at this was
Dr. Ezzeddin Taha, of Cairo University. Dr. Taha studied the health
records of museum workers and archaeologists and determined that
many had been infected with the fungus Aspergillus niger
which can cause fever, fatigue, inflammation and rashes. He speculated
that they had picked up the fungus by entering tombs or handling
objects that had come out of tombs.
Dr. Nicoloa Di Paolo found the toxic fungus Aspergillus ochraceus
at some Egyptian archaeological sites. It can damage the kidneys
and liver, but it is unknown if it is fatal.
the German microbiologist Gotthard Kramer found Aspergillus
flavus on some mummies. Infection with this agent can lead
to organ failure and death and is particularly dangerous to someone
with a weakened immune system.
these cases the organism would survive in the tomb as a spore.
Spores have a hardened outside shell that allow the organisms
to survive for long periods under very harsh conditions (high
or low temperature and without water). Scientists even speculate
that spores may allow life to be transferred through outer space
riding on meteorites.
Mummy of the West - Do you have any information on the
pygmy mummy found in a cave in Shirley Basin, Wyoming. I'm not
sure of the date but have seen it mentioned in different places.
probably referring to the "Pedro Mountain Mummy." According
to the story, gold prospectors found a 14-inch high figure in
a cave in the Pedro Mountains (about 60 miles southwest of Casper,
Wyoming) in 1932. The figure appeared to be that of a middle-aged
man sitting cross-legged. The object was bought by Ivan T. Goodman,
a Casper businessman and later examined by by Dr. Harry Shapiro
of the American Museum of Natural History. Though other scientists
suspected a hoax, Shapiro X-rayed the figure and declared it was
a mummy. Later the mummy disappeared and now its whereabouts are
unknown. While some have speculated that the figure was a member
of a tribe of pygmy Native Americans, Dr. George Gill, professor
of anthropology at the University of Wyoming, apparently examined
the X-ray pictures taken by Shapiro and said that he thought the
body was that of an infant or a fetus that had been afflicted
with anencephaly, a congenital abnormality.
you the truth I'm a little skeptical of the mummy interpretation.
It seems much too convenient that the figure has disappeared completely
and is no-longer available for further scientific examination.
Perhaps somebody will find it in their attic and researchers can
take a closer look at it with modern scientific equipment.
Anyone? - I can't find solid information on Lobotomy.
I would be grateful if you could help me out (Don't worry. I won't
be trying it on anyone!) -Vaswar
is an operation on the brain where the nerve fibers which connect
the frontal and prefrontal cortex to the thalamus are severed.
The operation was developed after some scientists observed that
animals that had parts of their temporal lobes removed became
calmer and easier to handle. Dr. Antônio Egas Moniz, a professor
at the University of Lisbon Medical School, was the first to try
a form of the operation on mentally disturbed human patients in
the 1930's. Because the damage to the brain is permanent, he recommended
it only in hopeless cases.
of the operation that became widely used in the late 1940s and
early 50's was invented by American physician and clinical neurologist,
Walter Freeman. Freeman would drive an ice pick though the patients
skull and swing it back and forth to sever the necessary nerves.
The operation was so simple that it only took a few minutes and
could be done outside of a hospital. Despite Moniz's warning that
it should only be used on a few desperate cases, the procedure
was so favored that between 1939 and 1951, more than 18,000 lobotomies
were performed in the United States.
problem this was that studies showed that the procedure really
didn't work very well. With the development of new anti-psychotic
and anti-depressive drugs in the 50's, the lobotomy fell out of
favor and is now rarely used.
Rabbits? - Can rabbits get rabies? If not, why not? -
a viral infection of the nervous system which is usually transmitted
to humans by the bite of an infected animal, can be found in all
mammals, including rabbits. If untreated it is always fatal. While
rodents, including rabbits, can get the disease, it is unusual
that it is seen in either wild or domestic populations, who seem
to have a natural resistance. There is no record of a bite from
a rabbit having transmitted the disease to a human in U.S. history.
that are most likely to be infected are skunks, foxes, raccoons,
and bats. It is wise, however, to say away from any wild animal,
especially if it seems to be acting strangely. For more information
on this subject check this fact sheet on rabies at: http://www.uhl.uiowa.edu/Publications/Facts/rabies.html
Sinking - I remember reading an article that gave
an eyewitness account of the sinking of the Titanic. He said,
and there was an illustration, that the ship actually broke into
a "V" shape while still visible above the water. In other words
it broke in the middle, and bent into a "V" shape before sinking.
However, when the actual wreck was discovered on the sea bed,
an accompanying article on the event said that the ship broke
apart into two pieces underwater. Can an eyewitness be wrong?
thinking on the break up of the Titanic has it splitting up on
the surface just as many eyewitnesses said. As the forward portion
of the ship, which had been torn open by the iceberg, filled with
water it pulled the down on the stern which was buoyant because
it was still filled with air. At some point the hull, under this
tremendous stress, gave way and the vessel was torn apart. There
is some argument on whether the ship broke in two from the bottom
up or the top down. If it broke in two from the top part down
the stern should have flopped back into the water with a tremendous
splash. While shown this way in movies because it is so dramatic,
reports of the "flop" are missing from eyewitness accounts.
It seems more likely that the breakup started at the keel and
moved up. In this theory the stern settles more gently into the
sea after the forward section brakes away. The break up may have
been so gentle that passengers standing on the stern at the time
may have not realized what had happened. A bottom up break also
better explains the tremendous damage seen on the stern section
when it was found on the bottom.
Long Humans? - I
started reading your argument debunking Von Daniken's theories
about alien visitation of the earth; but when I reached the part
referring to humans mating with extra-terrestrials, and your argument
being that humans have only been around for approximately 100,000
years, I lost interest. I realized that if you can be that misinformed,
( human remains have been found dating from 3.1 million years
to approximately 5 million years - give or take a million - ever
hear of "LUCY"? ) about this detail, I found it difficult to lend
credence to any of your other arguments. - Roy B.
your dates for Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) and other
finds are mostly correct you have misread the article. It refers
to work indicating that scientists estimate that "all human
beings alive today can trace their ancestry back to a very small
group of pre-humans living in Africa some 100 thousand years ago,"
and does not say that the pre-human history does not stretch back
further than that point. Since this is a discussion of Von Daniken
theories (which only cover alien-human contacts since the start
of recorded history - say the last 10,000 years or so) the idea
that no human crossbreeding with non-humans occurred in the last
100,000 years is very relevant.
to be fair it should be noted that not all scientists are convinced
that there has been no cross breeding despite the genetic research
results (though these scientists are more concerned with the idea
of crossbreeding with other hominids, not aliens) so it seems
that there still is a possibility for Von Daniken's idea to be
Tut Curse - According to legend, anyone who entered the
tomb of king Tutankhamen would die. How come nothing happened
to Howard Carter, who was one of the first to enter the tomb,
when Lord Carnarvon who was with him died a couple of days later?
Is there any rational explanation for this? Can hexes be choosy?
is probably no rational explanation for curses and hexes at all.
Though much has been made of the curse of the King Tut tomb, it's
more hype than history. There is no evidence even that a curse
was carved on the door of this particular tomb, though the Egyptians
often used curses in an attempt to keep grave robbers out. As
you pointed out while some people associated with the tomb died
early (like Lord Carnarvon - he was 57 at the time of his death
however, hardly a spring chicken in those days) others, like Howard
Carter who actually opened the tomb, lived to a reasonable old
E. Winlock, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in
New York City, made his own calculations about the effectiveness
of the curse. According to to Winlock's figures of the 22 people
present when the tomb was opened in 1922, only 6 had died by 1934.
Of the 22 people present at the opening of the sarcophagus in
1924, only 2 died in the following ten years. Also ten people
were there when the mummy was unwrapped in 1925, and all survived
until at least 1934.
the people involved with Tut seemed to die at no earlier than
would have been otherwise expected. However, at least one scientist
has offered a explanation for some of the deaths that did occur.
German microbiologist, Gotthard Kramer analyzed 40 mummies and
identified several potentially dangerous mold spores on each.
"When spores enter the body through the nose, mouth or eye mucous
membranes, " he noted, "they can lead to organ failure or even
death, particularly in individuals with weakened immune systems."
Pyramid Construction - They say that the Great Pyramid
consists of 2.3 million stones and took 20 years to build. This
means that it took only 4.2 minutes to lay each stone. That's
Impossible! - Anonymous
wondering about your theory on the Egyptian Pyramids, did they
get extra-terrestial help? - Alana
a project as building the Great Pyramid was, it certainly was
within the capability of Egyptian engineers (without the help
of aliens) in the space of a few decades. While there were millions
of blocks to be cut and put in place it is important to remember
that the Egyptians had a huge amount of laborers to work on the
project especially during the months when the Nile river flooded
and no farming could be done. While the average time to place
a block was only about 4 minutes (2 if you have them working only
during daylight hours) it was likely that there were many teams
placing the blocks on different parts of the structure at the
same time. Fifteen teams would give each one a half-hour to place
and fit their block. There was also plenty of room for them to
work without bumping into each other on the lower levels of the
pyramid where most of the blocks were placed. Also remember that
there were probably many other teams who were responsible for
cutting the blocks, getting them to the site and getting them
up the ramp to the teams placing the blocks.
in 1999 by a group of engineers (June
1999 Civil Engineering Magazine) estimated that the structure
could have been built with primative tools in as little as a decade
with an average workforce of 13,200 and peak of 40,000 workers.
In either case, one decade or two, it is a tribute to the organization
of the ancient Egyptian people.
In a Vacuum - Arthur C. Clarke proposed an idea in one
of his short stories, and later in "2001, a Space Odyssey". The
character in the story opens the hatch on the airlock and floats
across in the vacuum of space to another hatch in another spacecraft,
closes the hatch and survives unharmed as soon as air is restored
to his environment. Could you please explain whether or not this
is possible? Lots of people would like to know. Thanks. - Henry
did Clarke use the vacuum trick in those stories, but he also
portrayed the rescue of a whole crew from spaceship to spaceship
without benefit of spacesuits in his novel Earthlight.
However, in presentations by other writers, like the 1990 film
Total Recall, we see people's eyes popping and heads exploding
when exposed to pressures only as low as the atmosphere of Mars.
Which is correct?
to the people who ought to know: NASA. According to their studies
a de-pressurization of the human body will not do any permanent
damage if the person does not try to hold their breath. If
the person tries to hold their breath then they could rupture
a lung which would be fatal.
the body is rather tough and can resist some internal pressure
and will not explode, nor will the blood immediately boil. Somebody
exposed to a vacuum for any length of time might swell to twice
his normal volume, however.
lung is ruptured a person might survive as long as 90 seconds
in a full vacuum, be re-pressurized and experience no major damage.
However, studies show that as soon as the subject exhausts the
oxygen in their blood they will lose consciousness. This takes
about 10 to 15 seconds. After that somebody else would have to
help them get re-pressurized.
in, in the film 2001 and the book Earthlight, has
his characters hyperventilate (enriching their bloodstream with
extra oxygen) before entering the vacuum. This might significantly
extend the time before they lose consciousness.
a NASA employee testing a leaking spacesuit in a lab did get exposed
a vacuum. He fainted after about 15 seconds, but recovered with
no problems even after a half minute of exposure.
Bulge -A few years back I read about the "Palmdale
Bulge" and it was speculated that it was the beginning of
a volcano or mysterious rising of the land. I have tried to find
out more but have not been able too.
Bob Castle of the U.S. Geological Service began studying geologic
level records from the 1950's and 60's. When he compared them
with more recent records he made a startling, almost frightening,
discovery. In an eclipse shaped area 4500 square miles in size
in Southern California the ground had risen as much as 16 inches
in just a couple decades (It was named the Palmdale Bulge because
the town of Palmdale was at the point of greatest rise. Other
people, notably the residents of Palmdale, preferred the term
"Southern California Uplift"). There was wild speculation
on what this meant (an emerging volcano?), but most of the concern
surrounded the possibility that the bulge meant a massive earthquake
was coming. Other bulges had been associated with earthquakes
in the past and the fact that the notorious San Andreas fault
ran along the edge of the Bulge worried geologists. Could the
Bulge portend a huge, destructive ground shaker like the one that
hit California in 1857?
surveys and reassessments of the data followed. Several groups
found systematic errors in the way the original work had been
done that seemed to explain the Bulge. Over the years most geologists
have become skeptical about the existence of the Bulge at all,
though a few continue to think that at least a portion of the
rise did actually take place. While there have been some significant
earthquakes in Southern California since the 70's, none has yet
had the power of the 1857 quake that was so greatly feared.
Red - Is "Rose Red "a true story? I just watched
the TV-movie by Stephen King. It reminded me of the Winchester
mansion. Thank you.
of years ago Steven Spielberg asked Stephen King to write a scary,
haunted house story he could film. As you guessed, King decided
to start with the real story of the Winchester Mansion and elaborate
on it. The production company went to great lengths to give the
film a "true story" feeling by also publishing a companion
book on the subject - "The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life
at Rose Red" by Joyce Reardon (It was actually written by
King. Reardon is a character in the film) - and by creating a
fake website for "Beaumont University" the college were
the investigators checking out the house supposedly came from.
House is a real place located in San Jose, California. It was
owned by the rich widow of the man that invented the famed Winchester
rifle, Sarah L. Winchester. She feared the spirits of those that
had been killed by her husband's guns during the Civil War would
haunt her. A psychic told her to appease the spirits she should
continually build and add to her mansion and that's just what
she did for 38 years from 1884 to 1922. The result is a big, rambling
structure with lots of strange features including doors that open
out into thin air and stairs the go no place but straight up into
stopped when Sarah died in 1922, but the mansion still exists
and visitors can take a tour of the premises to see some of the
160 strange rooms and odd features that she had built. Supposedly
the mansion is haunted.
Eating Plants -Are there really man eating plants?
are legends of man eating plants, but so far none is yet known
to science. The largest carnivorous plant is the Nepenthes.
It has long (thirty feet), thick vines with traps that are used
to capture and digest small animals. Though small birds and rodents
have been seen as occasional victims, more often the plant's prey
is tiny frogs or smaller animals.
the strangest looking carnivorous plant is the Venus Flytrap.
This plant has leaf lobes that look like months with teeth. Flies
are attracted to the leaf by chemicals that the plant secretes.
When a fly enters the trap the "mouth" closes quickly
and the insect is held inside until it is digested.
is a potential new page for the website, so if any readers have
information on reports of man-eating-plants or references to folklore
on the subject, send the curator a email about it. Thanks.
in Space - I've heard of wormholes almost from the first
time I picked up a science fiction book, but somewhere along the
line I missed hearing the explanation of what they are. As near
as I can guess they have something to do with either FTL travel,
or connections between alternate universes.
is a short cut created between two parts of the universe. If you
can imagine our universe as a two dimensional surface and folded
back on itself - like a piece of paper - the "wormhole"
would be a hole poked through the back-to-back sheets connecting
what would otherwise be two distant points. Science fiction writers
love them because traveling through a wormhole gives you a way
to get across the universe without breaking the laws of physics
that limit spaceships to velocities of less than the speed-of-light.
of the wormhole came from Einstein's general theory of relativity.
While wormholes can exist in theory, no scientist has yet to observe
one. In general they are thought to be so tiny and fleeting that
not even a photon of light can slip through before they open and
close, let alone a spaceship. Recently, however, a Russian scientist,
Sergei Krasnikov of the Pulkovo Observatory in St Petersburg,
has calculated that it may be possible for large, stable wormholes
to exist under certain conditions.
if you could travel through them, might not only be useful as
short cuts through space, but might also allow for travel through
time or to other universes. It is important to point out, however,
that making a wormhole, even a tiny one, seems well beyond our
current technical abilities.
Death Worm -I was reading about something called the Mongolian
Death Worm, a creature that supposedly lives in the Gobi desert
and shoots corrosive poison or electricity at its victims. What
do you know about it? - Scott
has it that a worm-like creature dubbed Allghoi khorkhoi,
also known as the Mongolian Death Worm, lives in the desolate
sands of Asia's Gobi desert. According to stories the creature
is about two to four feet in length and looks a bit like a cow's
intestine (In fact the name Allghoi khorkhoi means "intestine
worm"). It is apparently greatly feared among the people
of Mongolia and it can supposedly shoot a stream of extremely
corrosive poison at its victim from a great distance. Supposedly
the animal can kill a man, a horse, even a camel without a much
westerners have attempted to find the "Death Worm,"
but so far it has evaded capture and examination by scientists.
If the creature does exists it is most likely not a worm. Because
of the desert's great heat and dry climate true worms have a difficult
time surviving there. Czech author Ivan Mackerle, who went looking
for the worm, suspects it may actually be some kind of lizard
like a slink or a worm lizard, but neither of these creatures
can shoot poison. The animal that seems most likely to fit the
description of the death worm is a snake called the death adder.
This snake is a member of the cobra family and sprays its venom.
Death adders live only Australia and New Guinea, however, so if
the "death worm" is really a snake, it is probably a
completely unknown species.
suggested that the creature makes its attack on its victim by
shocking them with an electrical charge (like the electric eel).
Such a offensive scheme seems unlikely to work very well in the
from Mars? - I heard about a radio signal received in 1924
from Mars and that a picture was sent by radio waves. This has
information has supposedly been released recently. - Anonymous
Mars made its closest pass to the Earth since the invention of
radio. At the time not much was known about harsh environmental
conditions on the planet and astronomers like Percival Lowell
were speculating that markings on the surface suggested there
was intelligent life. For this reason it was decided to make a
concerted effort to pick up radio signals coming from Mars during
the week of August 23rd when the planet came nearest. One of many,
David Peck Todd, Professor of Astronomy at Amherst College, decided
to listen with his receiver at a wavelength between 5 and 6 kilometers
and record any signals he heard. After filtering out practical
jokers Todd picked up a series of dots and dashes that were unexplained,
but didn't appear to be of extraterrestrial origin.
signals were recorded using a photographic method and some newspapers
in New York in 1924 claimed the following:
DOTS AND DASHES WAS MARS SIGNALING? WHAT THE PHOTOGRAPHIC FILM
REVEALED. The development of the photographic film of the
radio signals for the 29 hour period while Mars was close to Earth,
deepens the mystery of the dots and dashes heard by widely separated
powerful stations. The film disclosed in black and white a regular
arrangement of dots and dashes along one side. On the other, at
about evenly spaced intervals, are curiously jumbled groups, each
taking the form of a crudely drawn face.
the results look like a face or not is pretty much up to the viewer,
but one thing is clear: Though they were not aware of it at the
time, the frequencies that Todd was listening to (between 5 and
6 kilometers) are reflected back into space from the Earth's upper
atmosphere and could not have made it to the ground for Todd to
Bigfoot Corpse - If bigfoot exists why have remains of
a dead bigfoot not been found?
question and the reason many people don't believe in the animal.
However, Grover Krantz, a renowned anthropologist and Bigfoot
supporter, pointed out that the bodies of bears which die of natural
causes are never found either. Bears who are sick often crawl
off to die on there own and are rarely discovered. The ones seen
in museums are those that have been shot or trapped. Krantz believed
that since Bigfoot was rare and shy it was unlikely a body would
be found unless the animal was shot by a hunter. Krantz himself
died this past February.
Beyond Earth -Is it really possible to have life on other
planets? We are studying them in school and the way it sounds
most of them seem impossible to live on. Either they are too hot
or to cold, too gaseous or too much acid. Is there some way of
avoiding these obstacles, or is it just impossible to live on?
seems possible that life in the form of microbes might exist on
other bodies in our solar system. Some microbes are very hardy
and can live under hash conditions (freezing cold, boiling water,
little water, thin air, acid) where humans would quickly die.
The two bodies that seem the most likely place in our solar system
to support such life are Mars and Europa (a moon of Jupiter).
right that currently it is not possible for humans to live on
any planet except Earth unless they protect themselves with spacesuits
and/or pressurized, shielded and temperature controlled buildings.
However, this may not prevent people from colonizing places such
as the Moon and Mars if they are willing to live under those conditions.
Some forward looking scientists have suggested it may be possible
to raise the temperature of Mars and boost its air pressure so
humans could live there without protection, but so far this is
beyond our technology.
maybe planets outside our solar system that could support human
life and scientists are now working out plans to look for them.
Colonizing such a planet, if one is found however, is also beyond
our current technology, though it might be feasible in the distant
work for a science museum and recently got a phone call from a
woman who is insisting that she saw something called the Biddeford
Sea Monster which is Maine's equivalent to the Loch Ness Monster.
Do you know anything about this legend? Until she called me I
had never heard of it.
may have been referring to the sea serpent that reportedly haunted
the coves and bays along New England during the 18th, 19th and
much of the early 20th century. Though a listing of sea serpent
reports from that era shows none specifically for Biddeford, nearby
Kennebunk, Wells Beach, Kittery, Casco Bay and Portland all have
multiple sightings associated with them. All in all over 200 reports
were made during this period and even today nobody is quite sure
of what people were seeing.
place to start with learning about the phenomenon is our own page,
The Monstrous Sea Serpent of Gloucester,
and J.P. O'Neill's excellent volume The
Great New England Sea Serpent. If you caller indeed sighted
the creature it will be welcome news for serpent supporters who
have been concerned that over-fishing along the coast my have
deprived the animal of its food supply and driving it away from
is something that I have been thinking about for a very long time.
Suppose I could travel back in time, back to when my parents were
young. Let us say that i shoot my father, this would prevent him
meeting my mother, therefore make it impossible for me to exist
ever! But if I never exist, then I can have never traveled back
in time to shoot my father, therefore he would be alive, and I
would exist, but if he is alive, and I exist, then I will end
up going back in time and killing him, therefore I will not exist........
and it goes on forever there is no logical end to this cycle.
Could tell me if anyone has already touched on this subject.
have outlined is a common argument against the possibility of
backwards time travel, however it may not be as much of a restriction
as it appears. Assuming you could build a time machine, and that's
a HUGE assumption, at least one interpretation of Quantum Theory
suggests that the universe splits into multiple parallel universes
every time an event happens that could happen in multiple different
ways. That suggests that if you did go back in time and killed
your father, you would find yourself in a universe he was dead,
but the universe you left from, the one where he had not been
killed, would still exist.
just one theory that might get around the problem you posed and
there are others too. Of course, it also extremely possible that
building a time machine is either too difficult or flatly impossible
and the scenario you suggest will simply never come to pass.
do you think about parallel universes?
a staple of science fiction, the idea of parallel universes actually
has its foundations in the theory of quantum mechanics. Quantum
theory describes how particles behave at the subatomic level.
We know the theory works because if it wasn't valid everyday objects
like cell phones and computers wouldn't operate. One of the more
bizarre interpretations of quantum theory, however, is that for
every possible set of events that could take place in our universe,
there is a universe in which those events have happened. For a
simple example look down at your socks. If you decided to wear
white socks this morning according to this interpretation there
is likely to be a parallel universe somewhere were you decided
to wear black socks.
David Deutsch, of Oxford, is a champion of this interpretation
of the theory. While not all scientists agree with Deutsch, he
is a respected physicist and his interpretation of quantum theory
maybe as valid as any other. Can we travel to these other universes?
So far nobody has found laws that would restrict such inter-universe
travel, but any device that could do it is probably far beyond
the limits of our current technology. For more information on
this subject and Dr. Deutsch's interpretation see The Best
Kept Secret in Physics in the September 2001 Issue of Discover.
am interested in the great building-like structure at the end
of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade". My dad says those buildings
DO exist, but where? And where can I get info on them?
is right. The exteriors for the final sequence in the movie were
shot at Petra (the city of stone) in Jordan. Petra is located
just to the southwest of Gaza and was once at the convergence
of several important trade routes. Petra was founded around the
fourth century BC by the Nabateans, who were originally a nomadic
tribe. The people became quite wealthy by levying taxes on foreign
traders and charging for guiding caravans though the narrow canyons
of their territory. The city was taken over by Rome in the second
century AD and it flourished under the Roman rule until it was
forced into the Byzantine Empire a century later. As trade routes
shifted the city lost its importance and was abandoned.
the rock-cut buildings seen today are the remains of tombs. The
most impressive of these is the Khasneh (which was featured in
the move). It may have been the tomb of King Aretas III who died
in 62 BC. Though as it is seen today the city seems like it consists
solely of these facades, in its heyday the canyons of the town
would have been filled with freestanding buildings that were the
market, dwelling and worship places of the living. The streets
running along the canyons would have been teaming with the residents
as well as the caravans which provided the city with its revenue.
Little evidence of this remains now and the city seems like a
beautiful, but empty and haunted place -- right out of some adventure
information on Petra try the Encyclopedia of Mysterious Places
by Robert Ingpen and Philip Wilkinson.
you think there will ever be positive photographic proof of bigfoot?
not. Now that we have developed the ability to manipulate photos
and video with computers to create almost any convincing image
we want, no photograph will be generally accepted as proof of
such controversial claims as bigfoot, the abominable snowman,
the Loch Ness Monster, etc.. It is too easy to produce hoax images
which can fool the best photographic experts. Also even if the
image itself is not manipulated, the ability of a modern special
effects house to produce a convincing bigfoot costume will always
create some doubt. The only evidence that will be generally accepted
in the future is an actual specimen, dead or alive, that can be
examined by multiple independent, scientific teams to ensure authenticity.
an article which said that an average person only uses around
10 % of their brain. Are there any organizations devoted to exploring
areas of the brain we do not use and trying to understand whether
we can train ourselves to harness this much wasted asset we all
can't live without? - Anonymous
referred to countless times in various publications the "fact"
that we only use 10 percent of our brain is a myth. Modern PET
scans show that we use all of our brain, but not all parts of
it at the same time (the same way we use our hand muscles a lot
, but our legs muscles very little, while sitting and typing at
a computer). Where the 10 percent myth comes from is hard to say,
but it may date back to debates in the early 1800's between people
who thought brain functions were localized into specific areas
and others who thought the brain acted as a whole. It may also
have been a misinterpretation of the work of Karl Spencer Lashley
in the early 20th century. Lashley noticed that removing a large
portion of a rat's brain surgically didn't effect certain types
of simple learning. However, Lashley only tried a limited set
of tests and it is likely that the part of the rat's brain he
removed might have handled other untested tasks.
famous people reportedly said that we only use ten percent of
our brain (including Albert Einstein and anthropologist Margaret
Mead) but most of these people, while they may have had fine brains
themselves, were not neuroscientists and did not have access to
the results from modern PET scan studies.
the confusion may be attributed to a misunderstanding of the structure
of the brain. While we have some 100 billion neuron cells in our
brains that actually do the thinking, there are 10 to 50 times
as many glial cells in our head that support them by insulating
axons, cleaning up cellular debris, regulating chemicals, etc..
This means that while a large portion of the cells in the brain
do not actually do information processing, all them contribute
as a whole to make the brain work.
are innumerable organizations dedicated to improving our minds
(including the UnMuseum) and people can continue to learn throughout
their lives, but there is no physical evidence to suggest a huge,
secret, untapped potential that can only be accessed by specially
doing a report on the Sasquatch and I am having a hard time finding
what I need. Here are some questions I have: How tall is the Sasquatch?
Where does it live? What percent of fur is covering its body?
How did it survive the eruptions on Mount Saint Helens? What does
the word Sasquatch mean? Who was the first person to see one?
tell you what I can, but remember nobody has ever captured or
even proved that a sasquatch (bigfoot) exists. We have only legends
and few tracks and unconfirmed sightings to go on.
Sasquatch translates roughly to "hairy giant" in an Indian language.
Witnesses have reported seeing animals that are as big or bigger
than a man ranging up to eight or even ten feet in height. These
measurements are probably inaccurate as a witness seeing something
like this is usually get excited and/or scared and tends to overestimate
the size of what they see.
Witnesses have said the animal was "very hairy" and the hair is
often described as "long." Since no animal has ever been captured
(assuming they exist) there are no scientific measurements of
the percent of body covered by hair.
earliest reports of the sasquatch come from Indian legends pervious
to the arrival of the white man. The first sighting of a sasquatch
by a white man apparently came in 1811 near what now is the town
of Jasper, Alberta, Canada. A trader named David Thompson found
some strange footprints, fourteen inches long and eight inches
wide, with four toes, in the snow.
Most sasquatch reports come from the Pacific Northwest and western
Canada, though there have been some reports of a creature like
this as far east and south as Florida. The town of Willow Creek
in northern California, has declared itself the capital of BigFoot
country and in the center of the village stands a wooden, life-size
carving of the creature.
Helens: If there were sasquatch close to the explosion they probably
did not survive. Almost all large animal life was extinguished
in the immediate area. However, only a small portion of their
possible range would have been effected by the eruption.
time travel possible?
is yes and maybe. We all travel forward in time everyday. To move
forward in time faster than the normal rate one needs only to
accelerate themselves to near the speed of light. According to
physicist William A. Hiscock, the time-dialation effect as described
in Einstein's Special Relativity shows that time slows for an
object as it is accelerated. If you had a spaceship that could
take you to the center of the galaxy and back at near the speed
of light the trip would last 60,000 earth years, but time would
slow down for you so you'd be a little more than 40 years older
than when you left!
backwards in time is more tricky, but so far nothing in Quantum
theory has ruled out the possibility. It may be that particles
on the subatomic scale often travel backward in time. However,
in trying to build a practical time machine to transport something
as large as a human being you would soon come up against some
tremendous engineering problems such as how to create, enlarge
and control a wormhole. Many physicists are fascinated by the
idea time travel and they will continue to study on not only whether
it may be possible but also how it might be done.
wondering about the treasure hunt on Oak
Island. I would like to know the current state of that search.
Last I knew, it had been languishing for 3 years or so...
word the two principals in the search, David Tobias of Montreal
and Dan Blankenship of Oak Island, are still suing each other.
Even if the legal situation was straightened out the estimates
of money needed to even properly assess the situation on the island
and decide on a course of proper course of action run into the
millions of dollars. Not many people are willing to invest a lot
of money into a project that has been going on for 200 years and
so far has yielded nothing.
the island remains closed to visitors. This is shame since it
seems likely that the only treasure that will be gotten out of
the site is through developing it as a museum and tourist attraction.
wondering,what was the speed of T-Rex? Can you tell me what is
the scientific analysis of it?
film Jurassic Park the character of Professor Grant asks
the park's owner how fast the dinosaurs can run. "We've clocked
our T-Rex at 42 miles per hour," the owner replies with a
grin. If only we could calculate the speed of a dinosaur by pointing
a radar gun at a living animal! In reality, scientists have to
make rough estimates of these extinct animals speeds by examining
fossils and interpreting sometimes contradictory evidence.
best estimates of dinosaur speeds come from "trackways."
A trackway is a set dinosaur footprints that show the animal's
movement over a number of steps. Scientists use a formula that
calculates the speed of the animal based on the size of the footprints
and the length of the stride. These calculations show that some
theropod dinosaurs ( a group of dinosaurs including the Tyrannosaurus
Rex) could run as fast as 26 miles per hour. Unfortunately, it
is impossible from the footprints to determine exactly which species
of theropod made the tracks. Was it a member of the tyrannosaurus
family? Nobody knows.
way of estimating speeds is to compare the dinosaur's body with
a living animal. The length of the animals leg bones, the size
of the leg muscles and shape of the foot, among other things,
can tell scientists something about a dinosaur's running capabilities
when that information is compared to a living animal with similar
characteristics. Another approach, called biomechanics, attempts
to use engineering principles calculate the speed of the dinosaur
(a bit like trying to figure out the maximum speed of a race car
by knowing the power of the engine, size of the tires and ratio
of the transmission).
methods when applied to the T-Rex suggest a top speed somewhere
in the range of 20 miles per hour, but there are experts who make
a case that it may have been either faster (as fast as 40 mph)
or slower. In 1995 two scientists, James Farlow and John Robinson,
estimated that if a T-Rex stumbled while running faster than twenty-four
miles per hour the fall would be fatal. The lack of broken ribs
on T-Rex skeletons, which would occur as the result of such a
fall, suggest that if the T-Rex was capable of such high speeds,
he was very careful about where he stepped.
have had a question about the Bigfoot that I have not found answered
anywhere. There are reports of hair and other "by-products" of
the Bigfoot. If so, have they done any DNA testing to see if there
is a relationship of the species from different areas of the country
or even world? I would think that if they can prove that the "animal"
is of the ape species then there should be some connection between
you and have a nice day.
of yeti, or bigfoot hair, have turned out to be something more
common (like goat) when its DNA is tested. However, in April of
this year British scientists were given some long, black strands
of hair found caught in the bark of cedar tree in the Kingdom
of Bhutan, a small country on the eastern side of the Himalayas.
According to the local people this tree was frequented by the
"yeti" (sometimes referred to as the "abominable snowman")
which, if he exists, might well be cousin of the American bigfoot
(if that exists). The British scientists were baffled by the hair
because it did not match other known creatures. This does not
"prove" that it came from a yeti, but it certainly does seem that
there is some kind of hairy creature out there that has not yet
been classified by science. So far, a second specimen of hair
that cannot be identified has not shown up, so a comparison between
the two is not possible.
13 years ago in the Hudson Valley where I live, a friend and I
where looking at the night sky and we saw something very high
up above the clouds..no shape..just a light beyond the clouds.
This thing moved so fast all over the sky we had a hard time keeping
up with it. We couldn't see anything just a whitish light beyond
the clouds. Was this some sort of UFO? We think it was..
in the most strict sense it was. UFO stands for Unidentified Flying
Object. So if you saw a flying object, and could not identify
it, it would be, at least to you, a UFO. Probably what you are
more interested in is whether this would be some kind of extraterrestrial
craft. That's impossible to say without more information. You
could have observed a searchlight or laser beam, either projected
from above the cloud onto it, or from below the cloud up to it.
In either case the beam swinging round very quickly might give
the effect you describe. If below the cloud the beam or light
would usually be visible as it traveled up from the surface, but
not always. There are some special atmospheric conditions that
might render it invisible until it hit the clouds.
Valley has been a "hot-spot" for UFO reports. Usually
the UFOs reported in the area have been described as slow moving
triangles outlined with lights, however, not speedy single lights
shooting around the sky. For more information check our page on
the Hudson Valley UFOs.
can't anything go faster than the speed of light?
some things can go faster than the speed of light. The
speed of light changes in different mediums. It's slower in air
and even slower in water. Recently some scientists have managed
to make light stop completely, which suggests that even a snail
can go faster than the speed of light in special circumstances.
most of the time this question is asked people are referring to
the speed of light in a vacuum - about 186,000 miles per second.
Even so, there are still a few things that will go faster that
the speed of light. For example, if you were to point a laser
beam at the moon, then quickly sweep the point of light that shows
up on the surface from one side of the moon to the other, that
point of light could travel faster than the speed of light.
most people when asking this question usually mean something in
terms of a spaceship or at least a message. Things get a little
more complicated there. One of the easiest ways of looking at
the problem is the amount of energy needed to accelerate something
to the speed of light. For any object with rest mass, which is
most of the normal matter you would be making a spaceship out
of, the energy to accelerate it further as it approaches the speed
of light becomes infinite. Since infinite energy is not available
you cannot accelerate your ship to the speed of light.
not mean that faster than light travel is completely impossible.
It just means you can't get something going faster than light
by pushing it with a rocket engine of some sort. If you can imagine
the universe as a flat piece of paper, it maybe possible to get
from two widely separated points by folding the paper back against
itself and poking a hole through it (when you see a science-fiction
movie and they are talking about traveling though 'hyperspace'
this is usually what they are referring to). Exactly how you would
do this, if it is even possible, is the subject of much speculation
are also cases where scientists claim they have done experiments
in which they have been able to send a message faster than the
speed of light. In theory this should be impossible, so there
is much controversy over whether their results are accurate.
question is, does the ark of the covenant, about which there is
a large description in the Bible, really have magical powers?
of the Covenant, the subject of the movie "Raiders of the Lost
Ark", was an ornamental box that God ordered the ancient Israelites
to construct to carry sacred objects like pieces of the ten commandment
tablets. The Ark has been lost to history, so there is no way
of scientifically testing it to see if there is anything "supernatural"
about it. However, according to the Bible is was involved in several
miracles that seem to have no natural explanation. When the Israelites
had to cross the Jordan River the river dried up immediately when
feet of the priests, who were carrying the Ark, touched the water.
When the Ark was captured by the Philistines and placed in their
temple overnight, an idol of the Philistine God, Dagon, was thrown
to the ground and destroyed although no human had been in the
temple. According to law the Ark was to be handled only by priests
and temple workers and when a man was neither touched it, he dropped
these "supernatural" incidents I would suspect a theologian would
say that it was not the box itself that had power, but the presence
of God at the Ark that was behind these extraordinary events.
favorite TV show is "So Weird" on Disney Channel. In one episode,
the main character was being haunted by a boy that died in a boat
wreck in 1915. The boat was called the Eastland and sank while
still tied to a dock in Chicago. Was there really an Eastland?
I would really like to know.
sank in just 20 feet of water off its wharf in Chicago on Saturday
July 24th 1915. It happened so quickly that there was no time
to launch lifeboats or hand out life jackets and over 800 passengers
died. Researchers believe that there were several contributing
causes to the accident which included the ship's design. It was
top heavy and the gangways (entrances) to the ship were less than
two feet above the waterline when the ship was was loaded. This
made it easy for the water to get into the ship if it began to
list (tilt). This is exactly what happened on the fatal day. The
ship began to list and the list was not corrected before water
came pouring into the ship through the low gangways and port holes.
The ship filled with water and rolled over so that it lay on its
side in the mud, half covered by the lake.
your question presumes that the yeti exists at all. Assuming they
do, we can say a few things about how many there might be out
there. A breeding population needs at least 500 individuals to
stay healthy over the long term. Below that number genetic drift
and inbreeding will slowly start to reduce the fitness of the
group. Populations as low as 300 individuals can survive for number
generations successfully, but probably will show some weakening
if they cannot expand their population at some point. Species
have survived when the population has gotten as low as 30 individuals
and such was the case with the California Condor. However the
condor situation required careful intervention by scientists to
avoid inbreeding, something that would not happen in the wild.
these facts if we can probably say that unless there are at least
300 Yeti in the wild, they are probably headed for extinction,
assuming they exist at all.
can understand how we can determine the direction (left or right)
that a sound comes from but how can we tell whether a sound is
able to perceive the direction of a sound source to the left and
right by the difference of arrival time of the sound wave at each
ear. Our ability to locate a sound is most accurate with a high
frequency sound that has a sharp beginning.
the height location of a sound is a little more complicated and
less accurate than getting the left and right location. Height
information is provided to us by the shape of our ears. If a sound
of fairly high frequency arrives from the front, some of it passes
by the entrance to the inner ear and bounces off the back edge
of the ear lobe. When this reflection arrives back at the entrance
of the inner ear is out of phase with the original sound at a
specific frequency (Two waves that are out-of-phase means that
the top of one wave is arriving at the same time the bottom of
the other wave and they cancel each other out). Which frequency
is involved is determined by the distance between the inner ear
and the ear lobe. The canceling action means that the sound at
that one specific frequency is muted. The elongated shape of our
lobes causes the muted frequency to vary depending on the angle,
up or down, the sound approaches from. Our brains detect which
frequency is muted and automatically tell us the height of the
sound. For more information on hearing and sound detection try
this web page:
like to know why tornados are not named like hurricanes, cyclones
and typhoons? What about naming earthquakes? I asked my teacher
and she didn't know...
like earthquakes, are referred to by the location at which they
struck and the date. However, you are probably referring to the
use of human names which is tradition with tropical storms.
of giving tropical storms with human names apparently first appeared
early in the 20th century when a Australian forecaster started
giving cyclones the names of political figures he didn't like.
Later during the world wars weather casters in the military started
naming them for their girlfriends and wives. In 1974 the policy
was updated to include both male and female names. This tradition
has persisted because it is an easy way for the weather service
to communicate the status of one or more storms to the public
as they build up over a period of days or weeks. Names are selected
in alphabetical order starting with 'A' at the beginning of each
unlike tropical storms, do not form days in advance of striking.
In fact the weather service cannot really predict storms that
might form tornados more that two days in advance. Tornados
themselves are short-lived phenomena often over in just ten minutes
(though a single storm system might produce several tornados in
series that might be active over the course of several hours).
Because they are so fleeting and unpredictable tornados are not
given human names like tropical storms. Another problem naming
them would be the shear number of tornados. Up to 147 tornadoes
have been known to touch down in one day in the United States!
With as many as a thousand tornadoes a season it would be difficult
to give them all names.
does an octopus have 2 hearts? Please answer soon!
to Debbie Ingrao, Senior Biologist at the Mote Marine Laboratory
in Sarasota Florida, an octopus as three (count them three)
hearts! Two, known as branchial hearts, push the blood into their
respective gills where the blood picks up oxygen. After that a
systemic heart circulates the blood throughout the animal's body.
For more information about this subject check out Ms. Ingrao's
web page at http://www.mote.org/~lauren/motenews/winter96/octopus.phtml
is the speed of light in water? Thanks.
In a vacuum
light travels at about 186,000 miles a second (enough to circle
the earth 7 1/2 times in a single second). In a vacuum, nothing
is faster than light. The speed of light, though, is very dependent
on the density of the medium it is traveling through. Air slows
it down a bit. Water, which is more dense than air, slows light
down by 25 percent to a speed of about 140,000 miles per second.
An even denser medium, like glass, slows it down to 124,000 miles
things happen when light slows down. One of them is that in water,
particles, like those that compose radiation are not slowed, can
travel faster than the light. If you have ever seen a picture
of a nuclear reactor filled with water you may have noticed the
strange blue glow that appears around the radioactive parts of
the reactor. This is called Cerenkov Radiation and it is the result
of electrically charged radioactive particles out running the
photons that compose light. The electrical field surrounding these
particles are carried by photons, but the photons cannot keep
up with the motion of the particle itself. The result is a "shock
wave" (not unlike the sonic boom that a plane generates as it
outruns the speed of sound). The shock wave simulates the atoms
in the surrounding water to emit blue light.
heard about a place in the west named the "Vortex" where
a ball can roll uphill. Where can get more information?
had a couple emails asking about the "Oregon Vortex." The Vortex,
and other similar locations about the world, are places supposedly
where physical laws get bent by mysterious unknown forces. Although
there is something weird going on at these places its not really
an unknown force, but one or more optical illusions. The most
typical claim made for these places is that objects roll uphill
or water poured on the ground will run uphill. It doesn't. The
surrounding area gives appearance that the surface the object
is rolling on is level or angled up when it is actually angled
downward. This happens when there is no good view of the horizon
and objects in the area, such a trees, are not growing straight
up as expected, but at an angle. Also nearby buildings are probably
not square to the ground, but askew. Sometimes these optical illusion
have appeared naturally, but often they are man-made. This doesn't
mean that these places aren't fun to visit. Just be a bit skeptical
about claims that mysterious forces are involved.
on the discovery channel that someone discovered some ancient
Egyptian pictures making an inference that extraterrestrial beings
introduced electricity to the Egyptians. The same group found
an artifact that, when re-created and an acidic substance (like
vinegar)added, generated electricity. Do you know anything about
are some ancient reliefs that have been discovered in Egypt which
show something that looks to some people a lot like an oversized
electric light bulb. On the scale pictured on the relief, though,
the "bulbs" seem to be large enough that a man could stand inside
them, which would make them too bulky for lighting tombs for construction
(which is how many proponents of the idea think the bulbs were
used). The battery-like device you are probably referring to was
found in ancient Iraq and the museum has a whole web page on it
Many scientists think that the battery, if that what it was, was
used for electroplating objects, not for lighting, It would certainly
been too small to power the massive bulbs pictured in the Egyptian
you think there is any truth to the legend of the 7 Cities of
Cities of Cibola, also known as the Seven Cities of Gold, were
first reported by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, who after being
shipwrecked in 1528, wandered through what is now Mexico and the
southern U.S.. The viceroy of New Spain, after hearing about the
cities, sent an expedition in 1539 which included the monk Fray
Marcos. Though the expedition ran into trouble, Marcos reported
back to the viceroy that he had seen these rich and fabulous cities
in the distance. In 1540 the viceroy sent Francisco de Coronado
to find the cities, but despite diligent searching he could only
locate 7 small Zuni pueblos. So most people decided the golden
cities were just a legend.
Marcos report large cities instead of villages? Perhaps he was
just an exaggerator, but I think it is just as likely that what
he saw was a mirage. The same optical
illusion that can make a lake appear in the dry desert can magnify
and elongate objects at a distance to make them look different
than they really are. Polar explorers have reported seeing magnificent
cites due to the mirage effect even though they were well above
the polar circle where there were clearly no towns. A mirage may
have altered the appearance of the pueblos, or perhaps some natural
object, to make them look like golden cities.
thinks the cites are legends. Ruben Amador of New Mexico suggests
that the cities were actually seven caves that still might be
found in somewhere in Grant County, New Mexico. His theory is
yet to be proved, though.
don't people send subs down to the bottom of the lake to find
the Loch Ness Monster?
did actually use a submarine to try and find the monster, but
without much luck. The problem is that the Loch Ness is very long,
deep, and murky. Vision is limited to just a few feet. Unless
the monster (if he exists) swims right up to your submarine and
looks into the porthole, you are not likely to see him. Some people
have tried scanning the lake with sonar and have gotten some interesting
readings that might suggest something is down there, but the readings
are not enough to prove or disprove the existence of the monster.
have been hearing from various sources of a female pope in the
ninth century by the name of Joan, (853-855), who died in childbirth
during a papal procession. Have you any information?
one of those stories that can never really be proved or disproved.
The story is roughly as follows: A woman was taken to Athens,
and later to Rome by her boyfriend. For some reason he hid her
identity by dressing her in male clothes. While at Rome she became
so well schooled in the sciences, and spoke so elegantly (under
the name John Anglicus) that she was made a Cardinal and later
Pope. Her real identity became known when during a papal procession
she gave birth. Because she was found to be a women (and the birth
testified to the fact she had not been celebrate) her name was
expunged from the official list of popes and she was executed
through a combination of stoning and dragging. She supposedly
reined as Pope from 853 to 855 AD.
this story interesting is that some of the references to "Pope
Joan" go back to the 13th century. While that is still some 350
years removed from the supposed event it does show that this event
is, if not true, is at least long-standing hoax. While some early
Catholic sources seem to accept this story about a woman pope,
sources since the time of the Reformation have denied it.
Mann has tried to prove that this story is a hoax through the
use of ancient coins. There are coins that picture Pope Benedict
III and Emperor Lothaire together. This indicates that they ruled
at the same time. Since Pope Benedict's predecessor (Pope Leo
I) died on July 17 1855 and Lothaire died on September 28th 855
the only time the could have ruled together is between July 17
and September 28 of 855. There seems no space for Joan's rein
to have taken place unless the date of the death of Pope Leo I
has been faked.
are the differences between asteroids, meteors and comets?
are rocks in space that are too small to be considered planets
and do not circle planets as moons (However, some researchers
speculate Deimos and Phobos, the Martian moons, were at one time
asteroids that have been captured by Martian gravity). There are
several groups of asteroids, but most of the them hang out in
an orbit between Mars and Jupiter in what is called the "Asteroid
Belt." Another group of important asteroids are located closer
to the orbit of Earth and these are known as "Near Earth" asteroids.
Some asteroids are hundreds of miles across, but over the millions
of years since the solar system came into being the asteroids
have been bumping into each other a losing bits and pieces and
many are about the size of boulders. When an asteroid, or a fraction
of an asteroid, enters the Earth's atmosphere it is called a meteor.
If it does not burn up in the sky, but makes it to the ground
it is called a meteorite. Particles shed from comets (which are
composed of rock and frozen water) can also enter the atmosphere
as meteors. When Earth crosses the trail of a comet the particles
that hit the Earth's atmosphere can cause a meteor shower. It
is also possible to get meteors that originally came from other
planets or moons.
the speed of light is 700 million miles an hour, what is the speed
of sound varies depending on the medium in which the sound waves
are moving and the temperature. At sea level at 32 degrees Fahrenheit
sound travels though air at a speed of 1,129 feet per second or
0.213 miles a second (767 miles per hour). Sound travels much
faster through liquids and has a speed in water of 5,000 feet
per second or 3,405 miles an hour. It travels through solids even
faster. Steel, which is a very good conductor of sound, allows
sound waves to move through it at about 16,000 feet per second
which is about 3 miles a second (10,800 miles per hour). That's
why you see people in old motion pictures putting their ear to
the steel track to see if a train is coming. Sound travels farther
and faster in steel than air (I do not recommend trying the track
trick today as the consequences of a speedy train sneaking up
on you could be disastrous) Of course, though the speed of light
that is most often quoted is its speed moving through a vacuum,
sound has no speed in a vacuum at all since there is no medium
to transmit the sound waves.
was watching Magnolia and all of a sudden, frogs were dropping
from the sky. My sister says that this has happened before. I
cannot imagine this happening, Has it and when? Thanks
as it seems falls of organic matter from the sky have been reported
many times over the years. On February 9th, 1859, numerous residents
of Mountain Ash, Glamorganshire, Wales, reported a fall of small
fish occurred on a spot 80 yards long by 12 yards wide. Sheds
were covered by them and one man removed his hat to find the brim
filled with the creatures, none more than five inches long. On
September 23, 1973 thousands of toads fell on the town of Brignoles,
France, during a freak storm. Lizards dropped from the sky onto
the streets of Montreal, Canada in December of 1857. These are
only a sampling of dozens of similar incidents. The explanations
for most of these falls are unsatisfactory, but there is little
doubt that sometimes they do occur. Most theories center around
freak weather conditions, like a water spouts or whirlwinds that
pick these creatures up, and drop thousands or even tens-of thousands
of feet from were they started. Sometimes, though, these falls
are recorded when no storm action is in the area at all. Also
occasionally the creatures that fall live no where near place
where they drop. A scientist witnessed the fall of fish on the
Pacific island of Guam. The fish were of a species known to be
found only in the fresh water streams of Europe. Finally in almost
all cases the creatures are of the same species, size and age.
How could a storm be so selective?
it is quite likely that you witnessed such a fall. The explanation
of why it happened remains a mystery.
not sure if you can answer this. My daughter and I love the Rankin-Bass
Christmas movies and we were curious about what the characters
are made out of. They look like puppets to us. We tried to find
the answer ourselves. We did find out that they are stop-motion
animation but have no clue of where to go from there. If you can
help, we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
early 60's Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass formed a production company
which filmed several stop motion classic children's TV specials
including "Mad Monster Party", "The Year Without a Santa Claus"
and, my personal favorite, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." These
shows used the standard stop motion
technique of shooting one frame of film, moving the characters
a tiny bit, then shooting another frame. This is the same method
used in the 30's for the film "King Kong" and last year for "Chicken
Run." This would give the illusion of self-animation to the characters
when the film was played back at full speed.
the techniques used to construct these characters are lost to
history, but most characters like this are have a metal skeleton
with joints that can bend, but hold their position, composed of
either a ball-in-socket, a hinge or a heavy wire. On top of that
is layered a flexible rubber or plastic compound. This is then
molded to the shaped of the character. The result is not unlike
that 60's "Gumby" toy. In the case of the Rankin-Bass characters
like Rudolf it appears that they then encased them in cloth which
was glued to the body. Some of the other characters, such a Santa
Claus, might have had some of the body parts, where flexibility
was not a concern, carved out of wood. The clothes then would
have been glued to the wood.
were probably several different versions of each of these characters
for the film in different sizes for different scenes. Facial expressions
were often achieved by creating multiple heads for each character,
each with a different expression and showing mouth open or closed,
etc. The heads would have been switched as needed with each frame
which is why the expression seem to sometimes "jump" from one
to another. Unfortunately most of the actual Rankin-Bass figures
used were not built to last. They were sprayed with a compound
to reduce glare which caused them to decay over time.
curious know about what the name is of the scientists who study
these mysterious sea creatures. I ask because I'm interested in
becoming a paleontologist, but I think this is the area that I
would be more interested in. I don't know where you can go to
university and such to become one. So if you could email me that
would be extremely helpful. Thanks.
have designated the science of searching for unknown animals as
"Cryptozoology". It comes from the term "crypto" which means hidden
and "zoology" for the study of animals. However, that is a term
that isn't really favored by scientists. You won't find majors
in "Cryptozoology" at any college. Most scientists instead are
trained in a particular field (For example, marine biology which
is the study of animals and plants that live in the sea). They
study that environment and the creatures that inhabit it and in
the course of that they often find animals unknown to science,
but that usually isn't the goal of their studies.
are interested in mysterious sea creatures I would suggest to
look closely at a career in marine biology. It is a major you
will find at many colleges and universities. Who knows, you might
find a new species no one has ever seen before!
times over the years I've heard references made to a now extinct
north American aboriginal tribe that had blue eyes. The kicker
seemed to be that they existed long before the first European
explorers arrived. Has this been resolved?
are several reported cases where explorers came upon American
Indian tribes that seem to have appearances or traditions that,
to the explorer's eyes, seemed European. The Rev. Charles Beatty
in 1767 claimed he'd heard of a tribe living west of the Mississippi
who spoke Welch. In 1792 Edward Williams reported the same thing.
Other stories indicated that this tribe was light-skinned with
red hair. For the past couple centuries pundits have speculated
on where a tribe like this might have come from. Theories range
from the lost tribes of Israel to the sons of Noah. Probably the
most likely of these scenarios is that there was some mixing of
Viking and Indians during the period when the Vikings were thought
to have settlements in North America. In the 18th century Eben
Norton Horsford, a professor at Harvard, claimed that he had found
the remains of a whole Viking settlement, named "Norumberga,"
in the Boston area and connected it will a tribe who called themselves
by almost the same name. Horsford was so sure of his findings
he even managed to get the city to erect a statue to Leif Erickson
on Commonwealth Avenue. Most archaeologists seem to doubt Horsford's
findings about Norumberga today, even though they accept that
the Norse did have a presence in North America.
have a very important question that I need to know very soon!!!
How do scientists mount fossil bones together?
first started mounting fossil bones in skeleton displays they
ran into some difficult problems. The fossils are basically rock,
which means the are extremely heavy. To hold these rocks in the
right positions required a heavy metal skeleton with thick supports
sometimes supplemented by cables running from the ceiling. Not
only was this way of mounting the bones expensive, but there was
always a chance you might damage a priceless specimen while putting
it in position. For this reason in almost all modern dinosaur
skeleton mounts the bones you see are fiberglass copies painted
to look like the originals. This allows the supports to run right
though the center of the "bones" so they are less noticeable.
Since fiberglass only weighs a fraction of what rock would the
supports can be much lighter. Usually thin metal or heavy plastic
is used. This approach also allows the original bones to be stored
safely somewhere scientists can get to easily at anytime so they
can examine them. Something that would be difficult to do if the
fossil was mounted twenty feet in the air.
you can make many fiberglass copies of the original bones this
also allows museums who do not own the fossils of an animal, say
like T-Rex, to still have one on display.
a fifth grader in a program called project challenge for gifted
children . I am reporting on Stonehenge and I was wondering if
you could give me your opinions on a few questions. What is your
opinion about why it was built? Where do you think the stones
came from and how did they move them?
of rock like Stonehenge were built around England and I believe
that the earliest ones may have been simple cattle enclosures.
Archaeologist Clive Waddington developed this theory. The cattle
were probably brought into the enclosures at certain times of
the year and ceremonies performed. The easiest way to detect the
times of the year would be by marking the rocks or the posts that
made up the ring as they lined up with the rising of the sun.
Later the rings lost their cattle enclosure function and served
as only places of ceremony with a built-in calendar function.
stones were quarried some 18 miles from Stonehenge and probably
either dragged to the site on sledges, or pushed on rollers made
from tree trunks. The moving of the stones would have also required
the building of a road through the thick forests that covered
the area at the time, a job almost as big as moving the stones.
doing a school project on horror stories and legends in Pennsylvania.
They have to be in the state or nearby. I'm having trouble finding
any so, if you know any stories please tell me about them. Thank
are doing a project on Yetis as part of a study skills workshop.
We were wondering if you had any opinions on this subject: Does
the Yeti exist????? Thank you.
Lucille, Tom and Eleanor
that the Yeti is the most likely of the often reported "humanoid/ape"
creatures to actually exist. Big Foot lives in what seems to a
fairly populated region (Northern California, Washington, Oregon,
etc.) yet no remains have ever been found. The Himalayas, where
the Yeti supposedly lives, is remote enough that it might be possible,
even today, to hide a population of these creatures large enough
to continue healthy breeding. However, having said that, I would
not be surprised if many of the reports of the Yeti might someday
be attributed to a rare or unknown type of high altitude bear,
rather than a manlike ape.
watching a special on The Discovery Channel a year ago about an
actual museum that I would desperately like to go to, but I can't
seem to find any info on it! I don't know the name of it, but
I know it has strange, morbid exhibits of human oddities, and
things of that nature. For some reason I thought it was in Philadelphia,
but their tourism board had no listing for it.
thinking of the Mutter Museum which is part of The College
of Physicians of Philadelphia. The Mutter houses over 20,000
objects including 900 anatomical and pathological specimens and
10,000 medical instruments. The exhibits are sometimes grotesque,
but always fascinating. Currently the Mutter is featuring a special
exhibition on conjoined twins. You can visit the Mutter on the
web at http://www.collphyphil.org/muttcoll.htm.
If you can't get there in person you may want to order one of
their extremely popular calendars which feature the work of photographic
artists that have recorded some of the museum's collection of
oddities and their gruesome beauty.
trying to figure out where to buy Quartz Rock, can you help me?
I would definitely appreciate it.
someone to sell you quartz will be a lot easier than picking from
the many variations of quartz there are including Amethyst, Rose
Quartz and Smoky Quartz. If you want to shop on-line you may want
to try a site like www.johnbetts-fineminerals.com
which has a nice gallery of all kinds of rocks that you can view
and buy. Quartz specimens are available there starting at about
$15. If you want to go cheaper and see the goods in person before
you buy you should try a local rock shop. They should be listed
in your yellow pages. Finally, you might want to consider joining
a local geology club. The site www.gemandmineral.com/states.html
keeps a list of geology clubs and rock related organizations throughout
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