newly found T-rex skull is about 4 four feet in length.
Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Big Rex Found - Scientists have unearthed a new Tyrannosaurus
rex skull that appears to be completely intact. The
skull, found in the famous Hell Creek Formation in Montana,
is about 4 feet in length and 66.3 million years old. The
skull was recovered with about fifth of the rest of the
bones of the dinosaur and the creature has been designated
the "Tufts-Love Rex" in honor of the volunteer paleontologists
who first found it. "Having seen the 'Tufts-Love Rex' during
its excavation, I can attest to the fact that it is definitely
one of the most significant specimens yet found, and because
of its size, is sure to yield important information about
the growth and possible eating habits of these magnificent
animals," added Jack Horner, a Burke Museum researcher who
founded the Hell Creek project. The skull will find its
way in to the Burke Museum in Seattle where in October researchers
will start separating the it from the surrounding rock a
process that could take more than a year.
More Hospitable in the Past - A new study by NASA suggests
that our sister planet, Venus, might have been much more
earth-like 3 billion years ago. Today the planet has a thick,
toxic atmosphere and surface temperatures of over 800 degrees,
but scientists from the Goddard Institute for Spaces Studies
took a computer model meant to predict climate change on
Earth and ran it backwards from Venus's current environment
to find out about its past. The results suggest that in
its early history Venus may have had a shallow sea and temperature
slightly cooler than Earth. Unfortunately because Venus
is the second planet from the sun it gets more sunlight
which would have evaporated the water. The hydrogen part
escaped and the carbon dioxide became concentrated. Since
CO2 is a greenhouse its presence is probably responsible
for the high temperatures on the planet today.
Flocks Fly Faster - According to new study by scientists
from Sweden, the bigger a flock of birds is, the faster
they will fly. Anders Hedenström and Susanne Åkesson collected
data on birds flying under different conditions and found
that a lot of things - length of trip, bird's body shape,
wind speed and direction - all changed how fast the birds
flew. They were startled to find that another factor, the
size of the flock, also was a very important variable. "I
was surprised that it is such an important factor. It has
usually been neglected in studies of bird flight," said
Hedenström. It's not clear why this is true, but one theory
is that turbulence behind the leading birds in a formation
make the flight easier for the birds following to fly and
maintain higher speeds. The pair of scientists are planning
additional studies to answer this question
Found Amid Rockets - Divers exploring off the coast
of Cape Canaveral in Florida expected to find debris from
some of the many rocket launches made from the Kennedy Space
Center over the years. What they didn't expect to come across
was the remains of a 16th-century Spanish ship. Some of
the objects found by Global Marine Exploration include bronze
cannons engraved with the coat of arms of the King of France.
Researchers suspect the cannons were installed by the French
at Fort Caroline near what is now Jacksonville, Florida,
but stolen by the Spanish in a raid on the fort in 1565.
They were probably being transported to Havana, Cuba, when
the ships carrying them were caught in a storm and sunk.
The company has informed the state of Florida about the
artifacts and is waiting for permission to recover them.
"These artifacts are at the jeopardy of looters, and of
the weather," said Robert Pritchett, chief executive of
Global Marine . "These cannons are worth over a million
dollars apiece - so if looters could find out the location,
then a piece of history is gone forever, because it's going
to be sold on the black market."
Testing Autonomous Car Service - Last month Uber started
testing a self-driving car service in Pittsburg. While the
cars will still have a driver inside to take over in case
of an emergency, the company will be testing specially modified
Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles to see if they can do
the job without human intervention. The test is the result
of a $300 million deal between the two companies. Uber expects
to have 100 autonomous cars on the road by the end of the
year. People will request the cars as usual and maybe assigned
an autonomous one. If so, during the test period, they get
to ride for free.
Quote of the Month - "The
most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.
It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle
of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
New at the Museum:
Gotthard Rail Tunnels - On June 1st, 2016, the longest
rail tunnel in the world, the 35 ½ mile Gotthard Base Tunnel
was, opened. It was a technical achievement that took 17
years to finish and unites northern and southern Europe
by allowing passage via high speed trains through some of
the most forbidding mountains in the world. What shouldn't
be forgotten in this success, however, is that another rail
tunnel, also the longest in the world at the time, was dug
though these same mountains almost a century and a half
earlier. It was an achievement that changed the face of
commerce and travel across 19th century Europe and a Wonder
of the Age of Steam. Full
Picture of the Month - What
is this this?
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.
me 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
the 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
Every 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.
the 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.
only 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?
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Breaking Hailstone - On September 3rd, 1970, a 1-lb
11-oz (0.77 kg) hailstone with 5.7 inch (14.7 cm) diameter
fell to the ground during a storm in Coffeyville, Kansas.
It was the biggest authenticated hailstone to fall in the
United States in the 20th Century up to that point. The
previous record holder fell in Potter, Nebraska, and weighed
about 1-lb 8-oz (0.68 kg), and was around 7-in diameter
Mercury Visible at the End of the Month - The end of
September might be a good time to see if you can find the
planet Mercury in the early morning sky. Look for it on
the 28th or 29th near the crescent moon. Mercury is the
planet nearest the Sun and if can be difficult to find because
of our star's glaring brightness.
Big Snake Lurks Near Maine Town - People in Westbook,
Maine, were a little nervous last month when a ten foot
long snake skin was found near the Presumpscot River. The
incident follows the report of a woman seeing a ten-foot
snake back in June near a playground. There have been several
other sighting since then of the creature that has been
nicknamed "Wessie." Police have warned residents to be aware
of wildlife in the area. So far the type of snake involved
has not been identified.
and Meep are on a well deserved vacation. In their place
we feature highlights from their past adventures.
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