Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Free Floating Planets more Prevalent than First Thought
- According to a study published the journal Astrophysics
and Space Science last month there may be as many as
hundred thousand, billion free floating planets in our galaxy.
These planets would not be associated with a solar system,
but be drifting through space on their own. If so, this
might be a major part of the "dark matter" that scientists
know exists because the effect of its gravity upon visible
matter, but cannot so far detect. The international team
of scientists, led by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe,
of the University of Buckingham, also think that these planets
have a close encounter with our solar system as frequently
as every 26 million years. They speculate if such a planet
passed by our solar system, it could accumulate up to 1000
tons of interplanetary dust onto its surface. "If the dust
included microbial material that originated on Earth ...
this process offers a way by which evolved genes from Earth
life could become dispersed through the galaxy," according
to the study authors.
Extinct Super Turtle Found in Columbian Mine -
The fossil of a 60-million-year-old turtle which was the
size of a small car, has been discovered in a coal mine
in Colombia. Carbonemys cofrinii which means "coal turtle"
was described in the latest Journal of Systematic Paleontology.
"We had recovered smaller turtle specimens from the site,"
said Edwin Cadena, the North Carolina State doctoral student
who discovered the animal, "But after spending about four
days working on uncovering the shell, I realized that this
particular turtle was the biggest anyone had found in this
area for this time period -- and it gave us the first evidence
of giant-ism in freshwater turtles." Scientists think that
changes in the ecosystem, including a plentiful food supply,
fewer predators, and a large habitat area are the reason
these animals started growing so big. Titanoboa cerrejonensis,
the largest snake fossil ever
found also lived in this part of South America during this
Was the Ripper a Woman? - A new book suggests
the serial killer Jack the Ripper might have been a female.
In Jack The Ripper: The Hand Of A Woman author John
Morris, a retired attorney living in Ireland, makes the
argument that the unsolved murders of five prostitutes in
London in 1888 had a feminine touch. "The case for a woman
murderer is overwhelming," says Morris, "but unfortunately
it does not sit well in some quarters where such a theory
flies in the face of long-held beliefs." He points out that
none of the five murdered prostitutes was sexually assaulted,
and that the personal items of victim Annie Chapman, were
laid out at her feet "in a feminine manner." Detective also
found three small buttons from a woman's boot near the body
of another victim, and remnants of women's clothing (that
did not belong to the victim, Mary Kelly) in the fireplace
ashes near Kelly. Morris believes Lizzie Williams, the wife
of the physician Sir John Williams, who ran an abortion
clinic in London, was the murder. Morris thinks Lizzie killed
the prostitutes out of anger over being infertile. He also
has evidence that Mary Kelly was having an affair with Lizzie's
New "Bionic Eye" Chip in Testing - The dream of
a fully bionic eye is just a little bit closer. Scientists
from Stanford University and the University of Strathclyde
in the United Kingdom have created a prosthetic silicon
chip that is implanted behind the retina to stimulate neurons
and restore vision. Unlike similar chips, this one is photovoltaic
and powered by light and does not require a bulky battery.
The chip is designed to work with video glasses that record
images and then project what's been captured onto the eye
using infrared beams. The chip then converts this to electrical
stimulation of the neurons. The concept has been shown to
work on rats. It is expected to be helpful to solve problems
with age-related macular degeneration that damages the retina
and makes object look blurry.
How Many Dangerous Rocks are Out There? - A new
estimate from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
(WISE) suggests that there are around 4,700 potentially
hazardous asteroids (PHAs) that might survive a trip through
Earth's atmosphere and do significant damage (like destroying
a city) on the surface of our planet. A PHA has a diameter
larger than 330 feet (about 100 meters). The location of
about 20 to 30% of PHA's have been identified. Data from
WISE suggests that PHAs have much lower inclination orbits
than the wider population of Near Earth Asteroids, which
makes them more likely to collide with Earth. However, knowing
that they tend to orbit in this manner will also make them
easier to locate. Analysis of their composition suggest
that they are also much more likely to be made of granite-like
rock or metals that would survive atmospheric entry should
they hit Earth. This, however, also makes them more valuable
as potential sources of precious metals.
Science Quote of the Month - "Two
things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and
I'm not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein
New at the Museum:
The Great Wall -
In China there is something that for hundreds of years has
let its long, snake-like form lay across the Asian countryside
defending it from outsiders. Many writers have likened this
thing to a dragon. Most people, however, call it the Great
Wall of China. >Full
Howard Carter and the Curse of Tut's Mummy - The
rumor of an ancient curse didn't stop this archaeologist
from open the tomb of King Tut. An update including a new
video on our classic page. >Full
Mysterious Picture of the Month - What
is this thing?
The Majestic 12- I have often read about
the Roswell Incident. Supposedly a strange UFO crashed on
a ranch outside Roswell in 1947… I've also heard that none
of this seemed to come to light until the 60's or 70's due
to some strange documents that turned up, and everyone had
bought the government's explanation up till that point.
that you are referring to are supposed to be related to
secret group of scientists, military leaders, and government
officials that were authorized to investigate UFOs. Supposedly
this group, the "Majestic 12" (or MJ-12 for short), was
established by order of then President Harry S. Truman on
September 24, 1947.
The papers surfaced
in 1984 after having been sent to TV producer and UFO enthusiast
Jaime Shandera in a brown paper envelope encoded on a roll
of 35mm film. One of the items on the film was an eight
page, official- looking document that gave a briefing to
President-elect Dwight Eisenhower about the recovery of
the remains of two crashed spaceships, with alien bodies,
by government agents during the 1940s.
also supposedly included a memo from President Harry Truman
that gave MJ-12 the power to investigate the Roswell situation.
The members of this secret group were allegedly Adm. Roscoe
H. Hillenkoeter, Dr. Vannevar Bush, Secretary James Forrestal,
Gen. Nathan F. Twining, Gen. Hoyt S. Vanderberg, Dr. Detlev
Bronk, Dr. Jerome Hunsaker, Mr. Sidney W. Souers, Mr. Gordon
Gray, Dr. Donald Menzel, Gen. Robert M. Montegue, and Dr.
Lloyd V. Berkner. All of these men had died by the time
the documents came out in '84, so none of them were around
to comment on the authenticity of the material.
suspicious that the documents might not be real and sat
on them. If they were real it would be a tremendous news
scoop and would prove just what the UFO conspiracy people
had been saying for years: That the U.S. government had
been hiding the truth about extra-terrestrials on earth.
If the papers turned out to be fakes, however, he would
be a laughing stock. Without good proof one way or the other,
Shandera decided not to go public. Several years later a
copy of the film was given to British UFO researcher Timothy
Good who was working on a book called Above Top Secret
(1987). Good was a little less cautious and decided
go public with it. This lead to an article about the documents
in the newspaper The Observer in May of 1987. After
that Shandera decided also to admit that he had copies of
the papers, too.
In 1988 UFO skeptic
Philip Klass urged the FBI to look in to the matter. They
decided to investigate under the premise that if the documents
were indeed real, U.S. law had been broken in their release.
The FBI, however, quickly came to the conclusion that the
material was "completely bogus."
split the UFO research community into two groups. Those
arguing against the authenticity of the documents pointed
out various problems with them: wrong formats, wrong type
face, shaky providence , etc. (For example several documents
from the 40's seemed to have been typed on a IBM 72, which
dates from 1961).
Those who believe
that the MJ-12 documents were real also found some justification
for their thinking: For example, a memo entitled "NSC/MJ-12
Special Studies Project" from July 14, 1954 that apparently
refers to the "Majestic 12" group was found in the National
Archives. While this document might have been faked it,
it would have been hard to insert it into the official governmental
Most people involved
in researching UFO seemed to have come to the conclusion
that the documents are indeed false. However, a minority
still argue that they are real. Among those people who think
they are false, however, there are those that think that
they were part of a deliberate "disinformation" campaign
by the government designed to discredit the idea of UFO's
and extra-terrestrials. They support this claim by observing
that the hoaxer apparently had access to a number of obscure,
but clearly real government documents. If M-12 was disinformation
from the government, just what, they ask, was the Uncle
Sam trying to hide?
Have a question?
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Budd Hopkins - On June 15, 1931, Budd Hopkins
was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. He was already a well-known
professional artist when in 1964 he saw a disc-like UFO
during daylight hours. He became interested in UFOs incidents,
especially in cases where people claimed they'd been abducted
by the UFO's crew. He conducted interviews with these "abductees",
including many done under hypnosis where they witnesses
experienced a gap in time and believed that their memories
had been tampered with. His first book on the subject carried
the title "Missing Time." He would go on to write "Intruders"
(also made into a motion picture) and founded the Intruders
Foundation. Though Mr. Hopkins had an interest in alien
abductions, and perhaps became America's best known "ufologist,"
he never claimed to have been abducted himself. He died
in August of 2011 at the age of 80.
Transit of Venus - This month there will be a
rare transit of Venus across the face of the sun. On June
5 and 6 the planet will slowly pass in front of the sun
appearing as a black dot. If you want to observe this you
use need to use protection. Wielders goggles can be used
or create an image of the sun by using a cardboard box with
a pinhole in one side that will act as a lens. The event
will be visible in the Americas on the evening of the 5th
and Europe and Asia on the 6th. The total time for the transit
is 6 hours and 40 minutes. Hope for clear skies because
the next transit of Venus will not occur till 2117.
Mysterious Creature Might be Jellyfish - A video
of a mysterious animal allegedly filmed by underwater drillers
in the deep ocean has been making it rounds on the internet.
The film, supposedly shot on April 25th, shows a creature
similar to a thin sheet moving hear a pipeline. Some experts
have suggested that it might be a form of jellyfish. According
to Dr. Daniel Bucher, of Southern Cross University "In last
the 30 seconds or so you start to see more of the structure,
these pendulous tubes with four or five whitish structures
and some branching between them, which look to me like the
gonads of a jellyfish,' he said. 'I have no idea what species
it would be, but if I had to say it would be a very unusual
shape deep sea jellyfish." If so it may be a species known
as Deepstaria enigmatica which lives in deep water and have
very rarely be observed.
check local listing for area outside of North America.
NOVA: Hunting the Edge of Space: The Mystery of the Milky Way - From
Galileo's to today's, telescopes have opened grand vistas
onto our galaxy and beyond.
On PBS: June 20 at
9 pm; ET/PT.
NOVA: Hunting the Edge of Space: The Ever-Expanding Universe - Huge new telescopes are poised to penetrate the enigmas of dark matter
and dark energy. On PBS
June 27 at 9 pm
City Beneath the Waves: Pavlopetri - Vist the city of Pavlopetri, submerged for 5,000 years off the coast
of southern Greece.
Jun 02, 8:00 pm; Jun 03, 1:00
Bermuda Triangle Exposed - Examine the Bermuda Triangle by layer to reveal what's beneath the 440,000
square miles of ocean in the deadly marine graveyard. Freak
waves, magnetic anomalies, giant whirlpools and more have
been blamed for its mysterious plane and boat disappearances.
Jun 02, 10:00 pm; Jun 03, 12:00
Morgan Freeman's Through The Wormhole: Will We Survive First Contact?
- Mankind longs for proof that we are not alone in the universe, but the
moment of first contact will certainly mean the end of the
world as we know it. Whether that is a bad thing for humanity
or the start of a great future is the subject of much debate.
Jun 01, 9:00 pm Jun 02, 12:00
am; Jun 03, 4:00 am
NASA's Unexplained Files - Strange flying objects have been caught on NASA's cameras and astronauts
have reported seeing UFOs. Some of the odd shapes and lights
can be identified; others remain a mystery. We'll reveal
NASA footage and interview the astronauts and scientists.
Channel: Jun 01, 10:00 pm; Jun 02, 1:00 am Jun 03, 5:00 am
A super volcano lies beneath the beauty of Yellowstone Park. Scientists
are challenged with predicting when the next super-eruption
might take place and describing what will happen if this
cataclysmic event occurs. On The
Jun 08, 9:00 pm; Jun
09, 12:00 am; Jun 10, 4:00 am
In late spring, when the first rays of sunshine melt the ice on the
rivers and lakes of northwestern Canada, wooden skeletons
begin to emerge. The haunting wrecks of the once-proud paddle-steamers
are the last remnants of a truly intoxicating era, when
thousands of men and women plunged into the adventure of
a lifetime in hot pursuit of gold. Now, a team of underwater
archaeologists and historians explore this sunken fleet.
June 18 08:00 PM; June
18 11:00 PM;
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