strange Siberian crater was not made by a meterorite.
Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Seek Explanation for Siberia Crater - Scientists exploring
a mysterious crater that has appeared in Yarmal, a remote
region of Siberia, have ruled out the possibility that it
was the result of a meteor strike. When pictures of the
crater first appeared on the internet many people dismissed
it as a hoax because it looked so strange. However scientists
at the site have confirmed it is real. The crater is about
100 feet wide and three hundred deep with a lake forming
at the bottom. Researchers still don't know what caused
the crater, but think that it may be related to global warming.
This region in Siberia has been very warm recently and this
may have caused an underground pocket of ice to melt and
the ground above collapsed to make the crater. Also, gas
trapped in the ice might have violently escaped blowing
off the ground surface like the popping of a Champagne bottle
cork. Russian scientist Andrey Plekhanov said that the phenomenon
seems natural, but very odd. He told The Siberian Times,
"I've never seen anything like this, even though I have
been to Yamal many times."
Bird Isn't on Sesame Street - It's taken 31 years, but
scientists have finally established that bones found while
working on a new terminal at Charleston International Airport
in South Carolina are from the largest bird that ever flew.
Pelagornis sandersi had a 20- to 24-foot wingspan
and lived about 25 million to 28 million years ago. That's
twice the size of today's largest flying bird, the royal
albatross. It's long, slender wings and paper-thin hollow
bones probably allowed the bird to glide for long distances
without flapping its wings. The remains of the creatures
are now at the Charleston Museum and its named honors retired
Charleston Museum curator Albert Sanders.
Like Off-Shore Wind Farms - A study in the journal Current
Biology suggests that seals may be using off-shore wind
farms as new hunting grounds. Researchers glued GPS trackers
onto fur on the back of several seals in England and Denmark
and monitored them as they headed out into the North Sea.
The scientists were able to see that the seals moved "in
a very striking grid pattern," according to lead study author
Deborah Russell, a marine ecologist at the University of
St. Andrews in Scotland. "We could actually pinpoint where
the wind turbines were by looking at the paths the seals
traveled," she added. The researchers think that the wind
farms may be acting as artificial reefs sheltering potential
prey, making them appealing hunting grounds for the seals.
The researchers aren't sure yet if this is a plus or minus
for the ocean ecology.
Completes Around the World Flight - Amelia Rose Earhart,
a 31-year-old pilot, completed the around the world flight
that the woman she was named for did not. Seventy-seven
years ago the original Earhart disappeared over the Pacific
Ocean on her attempt to fly around the world in her Lockheed
Electra. The younger Ms. Earhart isn't related to the famous
missing, record-breaking pilot, but decided to try the same
flight herself and break a record doing it: youngest woman
to circumnavigate the world in a single-engine aircraft.
She succeeded in a flight that took over two weeks and crossed
14 countries. Unlike the original Earhart, the younger Earhart
had little chance of getting lost as her Pilatus PC12 ,
a single-engine turboprop, was equipped with two GPS satellite
to be Happier? Talk to a Stranger - People regularly
ignore each other on a commuter train, but a recent study
suggests that if they did bother to speak to each other,
their commute would be more pleasant. In "Mistakenly Seeking
Solitude," published recently in The Journal of Experimental
Psychology: General, researchers found that participants
in the experiments not only underestimated others' interest
in connecting, but also reported positive experiences by
both being spoken to and to speaking with a stranger. The
researchers conducted nine experiments, in both field and
laboratory settings, to examine an apparent social paradox:
why people who benefit greatly from social connections nevertheless
prefer isolation among strangers. Participants were commuter
train and public bus riders who were asked to talk to a
stranger, to sit in solitude, or to do whatever they normally
would do, then fill out a survey to measure the actual consequences
of distant social engagement versus isolation. "Participants
in the connection condition reported having the most positive
experience out of all three of our experimental conditions.
Most important, participants in the connection condition
reported having a significantly more positive experience
than participants in the solitude condition," according
to the report.
Quote of the Month - "Science
is a great game. It is inspiring and refreshing. The playing
field is the universe itself." - Isidor
New at the Museum:
from the Curator's Office: Flying a Jet Pack -
of flying through the air like the Rocketeer was just a
fantasy -- until just a few weeks ago. Full
Picture of the Month - What
is this this?
to Destroy World's Oceans? - I heard someone say
that there is a large radiation leak from a reactor in Japan
that is contaminating the northern Pacific area and also
the west coast of North America. It is a leak into the atmosphere
that eventually effect the entire earth. Are there any facts
to support this or is it complete fiction? - Bernie
are probably talking about the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster
that occurred as a result of an earthquake on March 11,
2011. The earthquake shutdown the reactors and may have
caused damage to some of the containment buildings. The
real problems, however, started 50 minutes later when as
a result of the earthquake a massive tsunami hit the Japanese
coastline killing thousands. The waves also topped the seawall
at Fukushima and swamped the power plant.
reactors like those at Fukushima produce heat for many hours
or even days after they have been shut down. So it is necessary
to use auxiliary power to keep water circulating though
the reactors to keep them cool even after they have been
turned off. A reactor that gets too hot can have its fuel
rods melt with serious consequences. The Fukushima plant
had emergency diesel generators to supply power to keep
the reactors cool, but these failed when they were flooded
by the tsunami. There were batteries to back up the generators,
but those only lasted 12 hours.
some of the reactors overheated hydrogen gas formed inside
the containment structure and this lead to several small
explosions throughout the buildings and some leakage of
radioactive gas into the air.
biggest problem at Fukushima, however, has turned out to
be radioactive water. As water has been pumped into the
damaged reactors to keep them cool, it also has been leaking
out, probably through cracks caused by the earthquake. Water
has also leaked from some pools where spent radioactive
fuel was being stored. This water has mixed in with the
natural ground water below the plant and has been slowly
it is working its way out into the sea. Steps have been
taken to try and keep the water from getting into the ocean,
such as freezing the water in the ground, but so far it
hasn't stopped the flow. By some estimates 100 tons (about
the size of an Olympic swimming pool) of contaminated water
gets into the ocean each day.
does this mean to the environment? Local fish can no longer
be caught and sold as food. They carry too much cesium-134
and strontium-90. (Iodine-131 is also a concern, but it
has very short half-life and disappears rapidly) The cesium
is also less of a problem as it moves quickly out of living
tissue and may not contaminate seafood for very long. However,
the strontium gets into bones and concentrates making it
a very long term problem. All of this radiation, however,
bodes poorly for Japanese fishing anywhere near Fukushima.
about contamination on the U.S. West Coast? Fortunately
the Pacific Ocean is huge and the more diluted the contaminated
water gets, the less of a problem it becomes. Scientists
think they have detected increased radiation levels in fish
they've collected off the California coast, however, it
is extremely hard to separate these from the normal background
radiation in the fish. In any case the amounts are so small
that they do not seem to be a threat to humans that might
consume them. Nor do scientists fear that humans swimming
in west coast waters might be harmed.
for any leak into the air, any problems with air contamination
would be limited to the local area around the Fukushima
plant, and isn't a world-wide problem. It may be possible
to detect minute increases in radioactive in the air at
a considerable distance from Fukushima, but this tiny increase
would not be dangerous to humans. The Chernobyl incident
released much, much more radiation into the air than Fukushima
did, but was still only a health concern to those in the
region surrounding the original accident.
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Death - On August 6, 1890, the first criminal was executed
by use of an electric chair. William Kemmler was shocked
fatally with 1,300 volts after being convicted of killing
a woman with an axe. Use of the electric chair came out
of a dispute between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse
who were each championing their versions of electrical power.
Edison backed direct current (DC) and Westinghouse backed
Nikola Tesla's alternating current (AC). Edison tried to
associate death with AC in the public's mind by using it
as an execution device. Despite the AC shock successfully
killing Kemmler, AC eventually became the standard version
of electricity used across the world in power grids because
it was easier to send it long distances with minimal loss
Shower - Look for the Perseids meteor shower this month
on the nights of August 11 and 12th. This meteor shower
is known as one of the easiest to see because it produces
fast and bright meteors that leave trails. One concern this
year is a nearly full moon that may make the shooting stars
more difficult to see.
2014 - The city of Joao Pessoa, Brazil, hosted RoboCup
2014 last month. The centerpiece of the event is a competition
between soccer playing robots in several different leagues.
Some of the leagues pit miniature or full-sized humanoid
robots against each other, while other leagues employ wheeled
robots the might remind a watcher of R2-D2. It addition
to the soccer contests there are also competitions for other
types of robots like those that might be used in rescue
operations. Around 3,000 university students from 45 countries
and 400 teams participated this year before a crowd of approximately
60,000 spectators. Some scientists think that by the 2050
a robot team may be able to beat a team of world champion
humans at the soccer.
check local listing for area outside of North America.
Australia's First 4 Billion Years: Strange Creatures - After
a massive extinction, diverse marsupials came to dominate
this isolated continent. On PBS August 6 at 9 pm ET/PT
Why Sharks Attack - Will analyzing the hunting instincts
of this endangered predator reduce deadly attacks? On PBS
August 27 at 9 pm ET/PT
Week - Sunday, August 10. Marks the Discovery Channel's
27th annual foray into undersea mayhem amist some compaints
that the week is less and less science and more and more
bull-sh, ahem bullshark. There will 13 Shark Week shows
coupled with a live talk show each night. On The Discovery
Channel: Starting Sunday, Auguest 10th
Strangest Inventions - A worldwide tour of the strangest
inventions including: a man who created a robot duplicate
of himself and pixie dust that can re-grow a lost limb.
On the Science Channel: August 1st 5 PM; August 4th 1AM
Aliens Aliens and The Lost Ark - The Ark of the Covenant
is one of the most sought after religious relics of all
times and far more than just a box that contained the Ten
Commandments. The biblical stories surrounding the Ark speak
of a device with divine powers that was able to produce
food, take down stonewalls, kill those that come in contact
with it, and provide direct communication to God. Are these
stories mere myth? Or did the Ark of the Covenant possess
extraordinary powers? What happened to this incredible relic?
Could it still be hidden? Are we getting close to a rediscovery--and
reactivation--of the Ark? And if so, will the Ark of the
Covenant reveal a long, lost connection to our extraterrestrial
past? On the History Channel: Mon August 4, 8:00 PM ET/PT.
Really Discovered America? - Did a number of explorers
discover the New World long before Christopher Columbus
staked his claim in 1492? No less than a dozen cultures
have tales of these adventurers woven into their histories,
but they are noticeably absent in American history books.
This documentary explores the possibility that the Chinese,
Japanese, Polynesians, Norse, Welsh, Irish, Ancient Hebrews
and the Solutreans all made it to the Americas earlier than
Columbus. Rebuild the ships, trace the routes, test the
artifacts and analyze blood evidence to finally learn the
answer to one of the greatest mysteries of all time--who
really discovered America? On the History Channel: Thu August
7, 8:00 PM ET/PT.
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