Stones in Strange Places:
It seems the the recent unprovoked aggression by the sun, which last week launched a series of radioactive attacks against the earth, are having unexpected consequences in middle-America.
A turkey hunter recent told Indiana's Brown County Democrat that he had found two giganormous boulders
in the branches of trees deep in the Yellowood State Forest.
There's an old saying. "Gravity. It's not just a good idea. It's the Law." Seems that the sunspots are provoking extreme illegality in Indiana.
The Great Black Widow Migration:
Black Widow spiders, perhaps the most famous eight-legged killers after hairy Tarantulas, are turning up in the most surprising places
The venom of the Black Widow is a is a neurotoxin which affects the nerves. A bite causes physiological effects such as accelerated heartbeat, increased blood pressure, temporary paralysis and can be lethal when the muscles used to breath become paralyzed.
We need to correct an error in the story, however. A character named Jerry Fauske, an entymologist at North Dakota State University, implies that it is surprising to find the spiders in North Dakota because "[u]sually, you have to be away from civilization to find them."
This is a non-sequitur because North Dakota is far away from civilization. [Ed. We apologize for that remark. We're about science here, not snark and snobbery. This sort of thing belongs over at our sister website Manhattan Transfer
War on Jupiter:
At Science Wars we had our doubts about the war against Iraq. The public discourse centered on weapons of mass destruction without even so much as mentioning the danger of gigantic, mutant space scorpions
. After months of occupation, we still don't know where those scorpions are hiding.
We'd heard that the continuing troubles in Iraq had prompted the White House to adopt an unofficial policy of "No more wars until after election day." So why is NASA planning to attack Jupiter on Monday
Better yet, why attack Jupiter at all? If we are going to start interplanetary battles, shouldn't we start with Mars. It is, after all, the planet of war. And it has recently become very aggressive, approaching way to close to earth for comfort.
WHEN MARS ATTACKS:
When the red planet last week hurtled closer to Earth than at any time in the last 60,000 years, scientists reacted as if it was simply an interesting opportunity to take some nice pictures. Not everyone is so blase. Reuters is reporting
that Asian soothsayers are raising the alarm.
“This is not good. When they come close suggests some sort of clash, like a brother and sister who get too near to each other,” Sy Vannak told Reuters.
The best source of what precisely
expect from our close encounter with the planet named for the Roman god of war is a now suppressed cartoon called Thundar the Barbarian. As the lead-in to each episode explained, following a natural disaster involving an interplanetary near-miss, the world is plunged into chaos. What emerges is an age of swords, sorcery, remnant technology and very big, bearish sidekicks with names like Ukla.
This is not good. This is so
MORE SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS SURVIVE THE COLUMBIA: Knipfel has the scoop
. (No permalinks yet. You can find the terrifying wire story here
CONNECT THE DOTS: Let's recap what we know. Australian Golden Orb spiders were sent out into space aboard the Columbia. The alleged purpose of the experiment was to study webs in zero gravity but later reports hint that NASA was more interested in studying the ability of insects to colonize other planets.
Alarms from concerned citizens and journalists warned of the potentially dire consequences of exposing spiders to outer space. Accounts conflict about what happened next. The astronauts said that the Space Spiders were doing just fine but following the discovery of worms that had survived the crash, NASA began claiming that the Space Spiders had died during the mission. Later accounts admitted that no-one knows what happened.
The Columbia was destroyed as it attempted to land on earth. Months later, a Russian space craft also experienced extreme difficulties when returning to earth. Right now, due to the destruction of the Columbia and the damage done to the Russian space craft, there is no space craft on earth capable of docking with the International Space Station.
The NASA investigators are refusing to share their information with Congress, and the Russians are refusing to share information with NASA.
Congressional investigators currently get stiff-armed by the secretive NASA investigative board should start asking serious questions. Why were we developing insect planetary colonists? Has the US developed a defense system capable of preventing space crafts from landing on earth? What is being done to find out what happened to the Space Spiders?
SPACE SPIDERS, II IS PROCEEDING EXACTLY ACCORDING TO SCRIPT: One of the creepiest aspects of the space shuttle Columbia Space Spiders mission that came to a disaster earlier this year was how closely it followed the standard features of science fiction horror flicks. As Jim Knipfel has pointed out, someone actually made a movie called Spiders about what happens when eight-legged mutant menaces get loose aboard the shuttle.
If Episode I ended with the destruction of the Columbia and its crew, perhaps with a hint that some of the critters had somehow survived, Episode II is beginning with a struggle between earnest Congressmen and a shadowy, secretive investigative board that is concealing information related to the disaster from the public and elected officials
. It's almost impossible not to envision a smoky, well-appointed, oaken room populated with grey-haired gentlemen, and then quickly cut to a bewildered FBI agent answering his mobile phone: "Fox Mulder here."
"Although the board has conducted nine public hearings into the Feb. 1 accident that killed the seven crew members, the most sensitive testimony about NASA decision making and management practices has been taken behind closed doors, the Washington Post reports.
The justification for this secrecy, however, gives us a hint about what is really going on.
"The only thing I know is that this process of conducting these investigations in a manner that's similar to the Department of Defense accident investigation has been upheld many times by the courts, and that's our position on this," Board Chairman (and smoking-man stand in) Harold Gehman told a Washington Post reporter.
So this is a war investigation. Unless Al Quaeda or the Fedayeen are suspected, however, this isn't about the War on Terrorism. It's another kind of war. A war that even Congress will not be allowed to know about. What are they hiding?
In any case, welcome to Space Spiders, Episode II: The War Begins.
THAT WILL BE $1,715.50 PLEASE: A Connecticut woman has returned a book found in her attic to the local library from which it was borrowed. The catch is that the book is 94 years overdue
. At five cents a day in late fees, that's more than seventeen hundred dollars.
Maybe she should hire George Szamuely's lawyers
MAGICAL CROC: Whoever is in charge of figuring out why alligators have started showing up in New York City
, might want to consider the possibility that they've been sent by witches
, as this story out of Mozambique states:
"The magical crocodiles are sent by witches to attack their victims," district administrator Damiao Trinta told the Maputo-based Zambeze newspaper.
Don't laugh. Sure the Mozzy district administrator might not have much evidence to back up his accusations against the witches. But his claim is no more speculative than what New York City officials have been saying
"City park officials said then that the Central Park reptile probably was a pet somebody dumped in the Harlem Meer after it got too big."
MOSCOW TO HOUSTON--BUG OFF: As we've been reporting, the cluster of troubled spacecraft landings this year is raising eyebrows around the globe. The trouble started with the space shuttle Columbia, which brought insects into space as part of a study of colonizing other planets with small, multicelled creatures. That may not have been a good idea.
The Russians are apparently skeptical enough about NASA to have refused
the US space agency access to the investigation into the uncontrolled landing last weekend of a Russian Soyuz craft carrying two US astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut. If the troubled landings are connected with NASA's colonizing program, the Russians may be trying to keep NASA from gathering more data about, well, the defensive measures being undertaken by the inhabitants of the prospective colonies
Don't say we didn't warn you.