found figures have been discovered on the Nazca Plateau
were this figure of a dog and other giant glyphs are
already known.. (CC-BY-SA: Fungus
Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Nazca Figures Found - In addition to the known famous
lines and glyphs found on the Nazca Plateau in Peru, scientist
have discovered 24 geoglyphs of animals previously unnoticed.
The newly found glyphs were made around 400 B.C. to 200
B.C. almost a millennium earlier than the more well-known
Nazca figures. The figures appear to be meant to depict
lamas. The figures are too old to be seen with the naked
eye and were discovered by scientists from the University
of Yamagata in Japan using 3-D scans. "All these geoglyphs
were drawn on the slopes of the hill, to make them clearly
visible," team leader Masato Sakai said. The figures range
from 16 feet to 66 feet tall. Unlike the more famous figures
which were constructed by removing black oxidized pebbles
from the white ground along lines, these figures are made
by removing the stones from the whole body area. The newly
found figures join 17 already found in that area last year
to bring the total to 41. According to Sakai, no other location
on the Nazca Plateau has so many geoglyphs.
Age in Future - A new study suggest we might enter a
"mini-ice age" over the next 15 years because the sun is
slated to lower its activity. Scientists have known for
a long time that the sun goes though cycles that affect
is output. In a new study Prof. Valentina Zharkova, of the
University of Northumbria, thinks she has found two different
cycles and when these two come in phase with one another
it will lower solar activity by 60 percent. "In the cycle
between 2030 and around 2040 the two waves exactly mirror
each other - peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres
of the sun," she said. "Their interaction will be disruptive,
or they will nearly cancel each other." This low amount
of activity and output may be similar to "Mini-ice age"
in the period between 1645 and 1715, when Europe and North
America experienced very cold winters. "Over the cycle,
the waves fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres
of the Sun. Combining both waves together and comparing
to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that
our predictions showed an accuracy of 97 per cent," comment
Dog Nose Sniffs Out Disease - Dogs are well known for
their ability to smell things humans can't. In particular
some dogs seem to have detected the signs of disease in
their masters before any doctors did. Now a team lead by
researcher James Anstie at the University of Adelaide have
built an "optical dog's nose" The device uses a laser operating
as an optical frequency comb. Each molecule absorbs light
at different optical frequencies and the "nose" uses this
to see what molecules are in a sample of gas. Scientists
are hoping that diseases such as lung and esophageal cancer,
asthma and diabetes can be detected in the breath of a patient
in a quick and painless way. The group hopes to have a market-ready
product within five years.
the Greeks Worry about Zombies? - In a cemetery near
the coastal town of Kamarina in southeastern Sicily researchers
have uncovered two graves where the bodies had been apparently
"pinned down" to prevent them from rising after death. One
of them, found in a tomb labeled 653, was a person of unknown
sex. "What is unusual about Tomb 653 is that the head and
feet of the individual are completely covered by large amphora
[a heavy vase] fragments," said Carrie Sulosky Weaver, an
archaeologist at the University of Pittsburgh. Also a child
in the tomb labelled 693 appears to have had five heavy
stones placed on top of his body. It is unknown why those
bodies were pinned in their graves, but scientists believe
that it shows the people there in that Greek town in 5th
through 3rd centuries B.C must have had some beliefs that
gave them a fear of the dead.
is a Galaxy Killer - A study from the University of
Western Australia suggests that an area of space known as
"The Coma Cluster" is a galaxy killer. Why? Because it's
a area of space with a lot of dark matter. Scientists do
not know what dark matter is, but it doesn't shine with
light (like a star) but does have gravity. For some reason
the Coma Cluster is heavy with dark matter. The gravity
from this dark matter pulls galaxies into the area, but
hot gases in the cluster pushes out the galaxy's gas. Without
this gas the galaxy cannot form new stars and it dies. Galaxies
in the Coma Cluster have 99% less stars then normal galaxies.
Quote of the Month - "An
experiment is a question which science poses to Nature,
and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer."
- Max Planck
New at the Museum:
of the Voynich Manuscript-
In 1912 Wilfred M. Voynich was going through
the archives of the Nobile Collegio located at Villa Mondragone
looking for some old, potentially rare books. In a dusty
chest he found a codex that wasn't just rare, but also a
puzzling enigma that has had researchers scratching their
heads for most of the last century?
- Full Story
Picture of the Month - What
is this this?
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.
If you 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.
In most 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.
If you 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
centuries 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
the 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.
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Louis Blériot - On August 2nd 1936, Louis Blériot died.
Blériot was the first aviator to fly an over-the-ocean flight
in a heavier-than-air craft when he crossed the English
Channel in 1909. He was also an inventor and built the first
practical headlight for an automobile. Blériot designed
many of his own aircraft.
for the Perseids - The Perseids Meteor Shower peaking
on August 12 to 13th. The meteors are debris from the Swift-Tuttle
comet. Though the shower peaks on that Wednesday night,
it will be visible from July 17th through August 24th. The
meteors will appear to come from the constellation Perseus
(hence the name).
The Loch Ness Catfish? - Steve Feltham, 52, a Loch Ness
Monster researcher who has spent nearly a quarter century
looking for the beast says his conclusion is that it's a
giant catfish. "Looking at all the evidence, speaking to
eyewitnesses," he said, "the most likely solution is a Wels
catfish." Wels catfish can grow up to 13 feet long (4m)
and weigh almost 900 pounds (400kg). Many people picture
the monster as a prehistoric plesiosaur, but this is based
on a photograph from the 1930's which is known to be a hoax.
Feltham hopes to improve on is current theory, however.
"I'm not saying the mystery's solved. I'm still looking
for a better explanation than the catfish," he explained.
and Meep are on a well deserved vacation. In their place
we feature highlights from their past adventures.
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