Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Canary Island Tsunami Not Such a Threat - New computer
simulations of the volcanic Canary Island of La Palma suggest
that a landslide there would not generate the horrific mega
tsunamis that an earlier study predicted. A 2001 paper suggested
that the volcano might dump 120 cubic miles of rock into
the sea that would generate 80 foot high waves along the
U.S. eastern seaboard as well as devastating parts of Europe
and Africa's west coast. The new study published in the
Journal of Geophysical Research suggests that such a large
landslide is unlikely. Researchers estimated that a Cumbra
Vieja explosion won't cause massive collapse for at least
10,000 years when the volcano will have grown a half-mile
taller with steeper slopes. The waves from smaller slides,
involving 19 cubic miles of material, would not top 10 to
15 feet long the U.S shore. While the smaller slides don't
seem to threaten the U.S., they could still do major damage
to other locations, like the Canary Islands and parts of
the west coast of Africa.
Dead Army Found in Bog - Experts continue an
excavation in a Danish lake where they have uncovered the
remains of 200 warriors apparently condemned to death because
they lost a battle to an opposing army. The bodies, which
have been slowly coming the surface of this peat bog near
the town of Alken for the last century, have been extremely
well preserved due to the low oxygen content in the lake.
It is thought they died roughly 2,000 years ago about the
time when Roman soldiers and Germanic tribes were in conflict.
Archeologists believe that after losing the battle the warriors
were captured and ritually sacrificed by their enemy, though
they have few clues about who these people were. "We do
not know whether they were local or foreign yet. That is
one of the major questions we wish to try to answer with
the investigations" said Mads Holst, an archaeology professor
at Aarhus University in Denmark, who is helping direct the
Is a Bit of a Psychopath a Good Thing in a President?
- A recent study of presidential personality traits suggests
that having a bit of a psychopath in you isn't necessary
a bad thing. While most of the personality traits of a psychopath
lead them to be failures (and end up in prison) one trait
they have has been shared by our most successful presidents:
fearless dominance. This trait makes people socially and
physically bold, as well as emotionally resilient. Researchers
took a database of historical presidential personalities
and found the leaders like Teddy Roosevelt, who had a high
level of fearless dominance did well at the job, while others
with low fearless dominance, like Millard Fillmore, didn't
fare as well. While a psychopath would not make a good president,
certain personality traits they do have might give a leader
an edge in certain situations. "Even though the psychopathic
personality as a whole shebang is not a good thing to have,
this study raises the interesting possibility that at least
some traits of this condition -- especially those linked
to lack of social and physical apprehensiveness, immunity
to stress, and resilience -- might be adaptive in real-world
settings." said Scott Lilienfeld, a psychologist and lead
author of the study.
Giant German Aircraft from WWII Found - Researchers
have found the remains of a Messerschmitt 323 "Giant," transport
aircraft used in World War II, submerged off the coast of
Sardinia. The plane was the largest land-based transport
flown by any of the countries involved in WWII. With six
engines and a 181-foot wingspan it could carry 12 tons of
material or troops - the equivalent of 120 fully equipped
soldiers. The plane was slow and easy to shoot down so none
of the 200 that were made survived the war. This makes the
one found under 200 feet of water historically significant.
This particular one was shot down on July 26, 1943 by a
Beaufighter fighter. "The plane managed to moor before plunging
into waters off the Maddalena islands. Some soldiers escaped
on a raft, but most of the troops sank with the aircraft,"
wrote Cristina Freghieri, a diver and amateur historian
who discovered the wreck. Freghieri identified the wreck
and with her small team of Italian researchers photographed
and explored it. "It was a pure emotional charge to suddenly
see the airplane in the veiled blue of the sea. … in all
its beauty. My heart skipped a beat," she said.
It Snows on Mars! - Scientists have known for a
while that fields of dry ice - frozen carbon dioxide - accumulate
on Mars during the winter season. But whether it accumulated
like frost or fell from the sky, like snow, was a mystery.
New evidence from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, however,
shows that blizzards do occur on the Martian surface leaving
an extra-terrestrial winter wonderland behind. The probe
was able to watch clouds over the polar ice cap at oblique
angles using MRO's Mars Climate Sounder instrument. The
clouds were composed of carbon dioxide and showed particles
extending all the way down to the surface. "These are the
first definitive detections of carbon-dioxide snow clouds,"
said Paul Hayne of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
"We firmly establish the clouds are composed of carbon dioxide
-- flakes of Martian air -- and they are thick enough to
result in snowfall accumulation at the surface."
Science Quote of the Month - "The
important thing in science is not so much to obtain new
facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them."
~William Lawrence Bragg
New at the Museum:
of the Zombies
- Vampires have been popular figures in horror since
Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897. The root of werewolf
folklore can be traced all the way back to the ancient Greeks.
Zombies, in their current form, however, have only shuffled
their stiff-legged corpses onto the silver screen in the
last few decades. Where did the zombie myth come from and
why are they now so popular? >Full
Mysterious Picture of the Month - What
is this this?
Hole Through the Earth - If it were possible
to shoot an unstoppable, elevator-sized cannonball vertically
into the ground (let's say at the North Pole), it would
speed all way out from South Pole. Good. So what if a man
decides to make a quick trip to South Pole(from the North
Pole) by way of jumping into the hole created, would he
defy gravity by surfacing from South Pole's ice (probably
continuing into space)? - Cheta Anuonye
Well let's start
by saying that this scenario, having a tunnel go from the
North Pole to the South Pole is a great thought experiment,
but wouldn't really work in reality. Since the core of Earth
is molten and semi- molten rock the tunnel that you made
below a certain depth would quickly close up as the rock
flowed back into position.
But let's say
that this isn't a problem and you can actually build a shaft
for a distance of 7926 miles from pole to pole, then you
jump down into it. What would happen?
Well, of course
you would start by falling. But let's back up and figure
out why that occurs. The answer is that gravity pulls you
downwards. But where does the gravity come from?
Gravity is a
force in nature that pulls all matter together. It is the
weakest of the basic forces in nature, but also the most
tenacious. (If you doubt this, just think about what happens
when you use a small magnet to pick up a paperclip. The
magnet is tiny when compared to the Earth, yet the magnetic
force it has overpowers the entire gravity force of the
earth to pull the paperclip away from it. However, the magnetic
force does not have the range of gravity and the magnet
can only pick up the paperclip if they are very close together).
While you are
reading this gravity is pulling your body toward the computer
(or cell phone, or tablet depending on what you are using)
while your body pulls the computer toward it. However with
small objects like this the force of gravity is so low that
you can't feel it. It takes a really big object (like planet
earth) to create a significant gravity force. The amount
of the force is directly the result the mass of the object,
so since the moon is only 1/6 the mass of Earth, the gravity
of the moon is only 1/6 what it is here on Earth (If you
weigh 120 pounds here on Earth you would weight only 20
pounds on the moon).
So the mass of
the Earth creates gravity. Let's say that you jump into
your tunnel at the North Pole. You are pulled down toward
the center of the Earth. As you got closer and closer to
the center, however, more and more of the Earth's mass would
be above you and less and less below you. The mass above
you would start to pull you up, while the mass below continues
to pull you down. When you found yourself at the exact center
of the planet, with all the mass of it around you equally
in all directions, the gravity would cancel out and you
would be weightless.
However, by the
time you reached the center of the Earth you would have
so much speed you would go shooting right though the zero
gravity section. As you continued on more and more of the
Earth's mass would be behind you, slowing your speed down.
Eventually you would stop before you reached the surface
and reverse direction.
In fact you
would be doomed to spend the rest of your life oscillating
back and forth in the tunnel, losing a little speed to air
friction as you made each trip until you eventually got
stuck at the center of the planet in the zero gravity area.
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Another Odd Rain Story from History - According
to the Charlotte Chronicle of October 21, 1886, on a patch
of ground between two trees in Charlotte, NC, every day
for three weeks, between mid and late afternoon, whether
the sky was cloudy or clear, it would rain. The phenomenon
was seen by an observer from the U.S. Signal Corps, who
also reported it to the Monthly Weather Review. Then as
suddenly as the strange weather anomaly had started, it
disappeared never to be observed again.
October Meteor Shower - The Orionid meteor shower
will peak before sun up on Saturday, October 20, and Sunday,
October 21. The best time for viewing for this shower is
between midnight and dawn. They will appear to becoming
from the vicinity of the constellation Orion which will
be in the southern sky.
Mammoth Clone Hopes Spring Eternal - Mammoth
fur and bone marrow found by Russia's North-Eastern Federal
University during a paleontological research trip to the
northeastern province of Yakutia may allow scientists to
clone a mammoth. Researchers have looked at this idea in
the past without making much progress. The trouble is that
while mammoth hair, which has been found before, has DNA
that is great for analyzing characteristics about the species;
current cloning technics require a living cell. The DNA
from this cell could be used to replace the DNA from an
elephant egg, and then the egg could be implanted in a female
elephant for gestation. Scientists are hopeful that this
new find, embedded in the permafrost, may yield that necessary
check local listing for area outside of North America.
NOVA: Forensics on Trial - There is a startling gap between the glamorous television world of
“CSI” and the gritty reality of the forensic crime lab.
With few established scientific standards, no central oversight,
and poor regulation of examiners, forensics in the U.S.
is in a state of crisis. In "Forensics on Trial", NOVA investigates
how modern forensics, including the analysis of fingerprints,
bite marks, ballistics, hair, and tool marks, can send innocent
men and women to prison—and sometimes even to death row.
Shockingly, of more than 250 inmates exonerated by DNA testing
over the last decade, more than 50 percent of the wrongful
convictions stemmed from invalid or improperly handled forensic
science. With the help of vivid recreations of actual trials
and cases, NOVA will investigate today’s shaky state of
crime science as well as cutting-edge solutions that could
help investigators put the real criminals behind bars. On
PBS: October 17th at 9pm; ET/PT.
NOVA: Secrets of the Viking Sword - A modern-day swordsmith reverse engineers the ultimate weapon of the
Middle Ages — a sword both prized and feared. On
PBS: October 10th at 9pm; ET/PT.
NOVA: Iceman Murder Mystery - He’s been dead for more than 5,000 years and poked, prodded, and probed
by scientists for the last 20. Yet Ötzi the Iceman, the
famous mummified corpse pulled from a glacier in the Italian
Alps, continues to keep many secrets. Now, through an autopsy
like none other, scientists will attempt to unravel mysteries
about this ancient mummy, revealing not only the details
of Ötzi’s death but also an entire way of life. How did
people live during Ötzi’s time, the Copper Age? What did
they eat? What diseases did they cope with? Join NOVA as
we defrost the ultimate time capsule—the 5,000-year- old
PBS: October 24th at 9pm; ET/PT.
Winged Planet - Fly on the backs of birds and see our planet like never before. Witness
extreme challenges, hard won rewards and behavior rarely
seen from a bird's eye view. Then learn how the filmmakers
took this incredible journey using state of the art techniques.
Oct 06, 8:00 pm & 11:00 pm
Freeman's Through The Wormhole : Can We Resurrect the Dead?
What if death wasn't the end? Resurrecting bodies isn't enough. To truly
live again, we must also resurrect our minds. Scientists
are developing ways to digitally preserve the contents of
our brains. We may rise again as software, embedded in new
forms. On The
Oct 01, 9:00 pm; Oct
02, 12:00 am; Oct 03, 4:00 am;
the Bottom of the World
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has assembled a team
of experienced scientists and engineers to explore the 'Challenger
Deep' which lies in the Mariana Trench in the Western Pacific.
At 35,000 feet, it is the deepest place on Earth. On The
Oct 05, 9:00 pm; Oct
06, 12:00 am;
Follow the world's greatest scientists as they attempt to understand
a phenomenon that Einstein believed could only exist on
paper. We now know there are millions of black holes in
our galaxy, and they are the scariest things we know least
about. On The
Oct 10, 9:00 pm; Oct
11, 12:00 am;
happened to Amelia Earhart?
What really happened to Amelia Earhart? Was she spying for America when
her plane vanished over the Pacific? Was she captured? Could
she have survived? On The
Oct 2nd 6PM;
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Copyright Lee Krystek 2012. All Rights Reserved.