Science Frontiers
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Science Frontiers is the bimonthly newsletter providing digests of reports that describe scientific anomalies; that is, those observations and facts that challenge prevailing scientific paradigms. Over 2000 Science Frontiers digests have been published since 1976.

These 2,000+ digests represent only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The Sourcebook Project, which publishes Science Frontiers, also publishes the Catalog of Anomalies, which delves far more deeply into anomalistics and now extends to sixteen volumes, and covers dozens of disciplines.

Over 14,000 volumes of science journals, including all issues of Nature and Science have been examined for reports on anomalies. In this context, the newsletter Science Frontiers is the appetizer and the Catalog of Anomalies is the main course.


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Compilations of back issues can be found in Science Frontiers: The Book, and original and more detailed reports in the The Sourcebook Project series of books.

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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 94: Jul-Aug 1994 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Cancer: a precambrian legacy?Throughout much of Precambrian time until the onset of the Cambrian period some 540 million years ago, single-cell organisms dominated the planet. The goal of each individual cell was to prosper and proliferate. Competition with other cells, including those of the same species, was intense. Altruism did not exist. The most successful species were those that were tough and aggressive. Nevertheless, as the Cambrian began, some single cells suppressed their mutual antagonisms and formed partnerships. Thus were born the first metazoans -- the multicellular species. The road was now open to the evolution of what we term "higher" life forms. But before really complex organisms could evolve, the selfish, aggressive characteristics inherited from the ancestral single-cell species had to be tamed. Unfortunately, some of the controls that evolved -- and which we have inherited -- do not always work. Conversely, they sometimes work too well. J.M . Saul has described how the appearance of cancer in complex multicellular organisms may be the consequence of the failure of biochemical controls evolved to curb cell aggression: "Such failure may be seen as reversion to ancestral cellular behavior, or as failure of a cell with a monocellular heritage to perform metazoan tasks for which it was not originally designed. In such instances, the resultant types of wild and indiscriminate proliferation and variation would resemble pathologies classified as 'cancer.'" ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 119: Sep-Oct 1998 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Really ancient oil -- and abundant life Geologists usually don't bother looking for oil in very ancient (Precambrian) rocks for two reasons: Conventional wisdom insists that oil is derived almost exclusively from organic matter, and additional conventional wisdom assures us that life was exceedingly scarce on earth billions of years ago. Any oil that was created billions of years ago would have surely been destroyed by intense pressures and high temperatures over the eons. Yet, Precambrian oil in commercial quantities has been found in formations up to 2 billion years old (in Siberia, Australia, Michigan, for example). While some of this oil might have migrated in-to the Precambrian rocks from younger source rocks, some of it does seem indigenous and, therefore, ancient. (SF#48) Now, three Australian scientists (R . Buick, B. Rasmussen, B. Krapez) have discovered tiny nodules of bitumen (lumps of hydrocarbons) in sedimentary rocks up to 3.5 billion years old in Africa and Australia. These bitumen nodules were formed when natural hydrocarbons were irradiated by radioactive isotopes that coexisted in the ancient rocks. Futhermore, these African and Australian rock formations were never severely deformed or subjected to high temperatures. The possibility exists, therefore, that some of the earth's oldest rocks may contain substantial oil reserves. So far, no one has seriously looked for oil in Precambrian rocks because of the two preconceptions ...
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... during the 8-year operation of the Apollo passive seismic network." Hartung links all three events to the comet Encke and the closely related Taurid Complex of naturally occuring space debris. Some chunks in this wide stream of space debris are measured in kilometers and, if they hit the earth, would far outclass the infamous Siberian projectile of 1908. (Hartung, Jack B.; "Giordano Bruno, the 1975 Meteoroid Storm, Encke, and Other Taurid Complex Objects," Icarus, 104:280, 1993. Comment. Since we will not mail this issue of SF until the first week in July, you are safe for another year (? ) if you are reading this! From Science Frontiers #94, JUL-AUG 1994 . 1994-2000 William R. Corliss PRECAMBRIAN NUCLEAR REACTORS! Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 94: Jul-Aug 1994 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Precambrian nuclear reactors!On December 2, 1942, at Stagg Field, in Chicago, the first human-built nuclear reactor went critical. This feat has long been hailed as a triumph of the human intellect. Nature, though, had already beat E. Fermi and his colleagues by 2 billion years. For at Oklo and Bangombe, in the African Republic of Gabon, one finds the "ashes" where some 17 natural nuclear reactors cooked away for hundreds of thousands of years. Operating at temperatures as high as 360 C, they generated about 17,800 megawatt-years of energy. The Gabon reactors were ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 48: Nov-Dec 1986 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Oil, oil: everywhere, every age Geologists have discovered a major deposit of oil in Precambrian rocks in Australia's Northern Territory. Precambrian oil does exist elsewhere -- around the Great Lakes, Russia, etc. -- but the Australian deposits differ in that they are economically attractive. The oilbearing strata are dated at between 1.4 and 1.7 billion years; and the oil itself is at least this old. Significantly, the oil contains extremely small amounts of steranes, which are thought to be derived from advanced organisms, but there were plenty of chemicals typical of primitive bacteria. The mere existence of commercially exploitable deposits of Precambrian oil implies that, far from being devoid of life, the ancient earth was host to immense accumulations of bacteria and other simple organisms. (Anonymous; "Ancient Oil in Australia: A New Bonanza?" New Scientist, p. 26, September 11, 1936.) Comment. As discussed above this Australian oil might have been produced abiogenically. The surface and near-surface Athabasca oil sands in western Canada constitute a well-known deposit of almost unbelievable size. Geologists have long speculated about where such an immense quantity of biological matter could have originated. (Few dare to suggest nonbiological origins!) Now, we learn that below the Cretaceous Athabasca oil sands lies a 70,000 square kilometer "carbonate triangle" estimated to contain about 2 x 1011 cubic meters ...
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... cast upon the accepted mechanisms of evolution: slow, stepwise accumulation of mutations plus natural selection. (Refs. 1 and 2) But G.A . Wray and colleagues seem to have rescued Darwinism. They have analyzed the DNA sequences of seven genes found in living animals. Assuming that these genes mutate at constant rates and working backwards in time, they calculate that animal diversification (i .e ., when chordates diverged from invertebrates) actually began about 1 billion years ago, rather than about 545 million years ago. This expansion of the time frame gives accepted evolutionary processes much more time to innovate and create all those new body plans. The evolutionists are pleased. The paleontologists, however, are in a quandry. They see nothing -- or very little -- in the Precambrian fossil record that substantiates the claim of Wray at al. Thus, molecular biology directly contradicts the findings of paleontology. Not to worry say supporters of the new and much more comfortable scenario: The Precambrian animals were so soft and "squishy" that they did not fossilize well. (Ref. 3) Comment. The molecular biologists are a bit arrogant in their assertions. They seem to assume that because they can quantify molecular divergences; that is, fill their journal contributions with numbers; that their data is more sound than fossiliferous strata. But their crucial assumption of constant DNA divergence in time may be their undoing. References Ref. 1. Anonymous; "Deflating the Biological Big Bang," Science News, 150: 335, 1996. Ref. 2. Perlman, David ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 58: Jul-Aug 1988 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Earlier pages in earth's history revealed Geologists are wont to liken the earth's sedimentary strata to pages in a history book. Well, it seems that seismologists may have discovered a previously unread chapter or two deep beneath the continental United States, in the guise of extensive stratified rocks in the Precambrian basement: "The extent of the layered rocks became evident last summer as the Consortium for Continental Reflection Profiling (COCORP) completed a major deep seismic reflection traverse across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and part of Missouri. The survey was conducted partly because industrial seismic data and studies by the Illinois Geological Survey showed basement layering in southern Illinois, partly because earlier COCORP surveys also showed such layering in Oklahoma and Texas, and partly because COCORP's broad program calls for comprehensive exploration of the entire continental basement of the United States. "Although the composition and precise age of the Precambrian rocks are yet to be determined, their seismic reflection character suggests a sedimentary assemblage, at least in part. These layers occur within the Proterozoic Granite-Rhyolite province, where drilling typically recovers undeformed granite or rhyolite with ages of 1.3 to 1.5 b.y . Such prominent and orderly layering is surprising, given the widespread occurrence of granitic rocks. If the layered rocks are indeed igneous, the volume of silicic volcanic material is spectacular." (COCORP Research Group; "COCORP Finds Thick Proterozoic (? ) Strata ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 31: Jan-Feb 1984 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Early Life And Magnetism The tiny granules of magnetite found in magnetized sediments come in various crystalline forms. Inorganic magnetite precipitated from molten rock is octahedral, while the particles manufactured by bacteria are cubes, hexagonal prisms, or noncrystalline teardrops. The magnetite found in marine sediments appears to be organically formed -- at least the shapes of the particles are characteristic of bacterial manufacture. Apparently these industrious bacteria have been busy producing magnetite ever since "lowly" life forms appeared in the Precambrian. These facts pose at least four questions: How much of the earth's iron ore has been concentrated biologically and is there a connection with the Gaia Hypothesis? Is it possible that magnetic field reversals, now believed to be of purely geophysical origin, might be biological artifacts (that is, due to population and/ or species changes of magnetic bacteria)? If magnetic field reversals are of geophysical origin, how do the magnetic bacteria find their food sources during the long periods of near-zero field? Lab experiments prove that magnetic bacteria require free oxygen to secrete magnetite, but the Precambrian atmosphere and oceans were supposedly devoid of oxygen until 2.3 billion years ago. How did the magnetic bacteria prosper before then? (Simon, C.; "Tiniest Fossils May Record Magnetic Field," Science News, 124:308, 1983.) From Science Frontiers #31, JAN-FEB 1984 . 1984-2000 William R. ...
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... Of Great Impact Geologists have been searching in vain for a large crater that might account for the biological extinctions at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary some 65 million years ago. C.J .H . Hartnady believes he had found the culprit. It is somewhat larger than expected (300 kilometers in diameter instead of 100200), but it is of the right age. Supporting this notion is the observation that the Seychelles Bank and Madagascar suddenly shifted their locations at about this time. (Murray, M.; "Point of Impact: The Indian Ocean," Science News, 129:356, 1986.) The existence of another terrestrial cat aclysm at an earlier date is suggested by a layer of shattered crustal rock fragments stretching over at least 260 kilometers in South Australia. Folded within Precambrian marine shales, these fragments reach 30 centimeters in diameter and show evidence of vertical fall. Evidence points to an origin near Lake Acraman, about 300 kilometers west. (Gostin, Victor A., et al; "Impact Ejecta Horizon within Late Precambrian Shales, Adelaide Geosyncline, South Australia," Science, 233:198, 1986.) Reference. The subject of very large terrestrial craters is discussed in ETC2 in our catalog: Carolina Bays, Mima Mounds. Description here . The Amirante Basin (black circle) lies about 500 kilometers north-east of Madagascar. From Science Frontiers #47, SEP-OCT 1986 . 1986-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 88: Jul-Aug 1993 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Early Life Surprisingly Diverse The three life forms sketched below are tiny microorganisms, not the worms they appear to be. They are thought to be bacteria, for they closely resemble modern cyanobacteria. What is most important about these fossilized micro-organisms is that they were found in the Apex chert of Western Australia. The Apex chert is designated Early Archean and assigned an age of 3.465 billion years [Four significant figures!]. It is rare to find any fossils at all in rocks this old, but apparently the Apex chert escaped most of the fossil-destroying metamorphism afflicting most Precambrian formations. Even more remarkable is the diversity of these suspected bacteria. J.W . Schopf reports finding no less than eleven different kinds so far--and our planet was only a few hundred million years old at the time the Apex chert was formed. Schopf's discoveries generate at least three questions: How could life have originated and diversified to such an extent in just a few hundred millions years? Why after such rapid diversification did these microorganisms remain essentially unchanged for the next 3.465 billion years? Such stasis, common in biology, is puzzling. If these microorganisms are really cyanobacteria, they would have released oxygen to the atmosphere. Is the standard assumption that the earth's atmosphere lacked oxygen until 2.2 billion years ago correct? (Schopf, J. William; "Microfossils of the Early ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 94: Jul-Aug 1994 Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues Last Issue Next Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Contents Archaeology Earth's oldest paved road Music and theories of everything Astronomy First you don't see it; then you don't don't see it Beware the ides of june -- and the rest of the month, too! The shattering of 951 gaspra Biology LACRIMA MORTIS: THE TEAR OF DEATH Cancer: a precambrian legacy? Horse sense? Those strange antarctic fishes Our genes aren't us! Geology The incorruptibility of the ganges Geophysics Flat-plate hail Mystery radio bursts Plane weirdness made plain An offset solar halo of 28 ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 120: Nov-Dec 1998 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Spod Logs The Black Hills of the Dakotas are composed of Precambrian shists that have been intruded by granite. The Harley Park granite is well known to us all because it has been carved into the monumental visages of four presidents at Mount Rushmore. Nature, too, has expressed herself on a giant scale nearby. "Around the granite, the shists are host to numerous spectacular pegmatites. These were mined and quarried in the early years of this century for both the large sheets of mica and also the spoduomene, which was a valuable source of lithium. The largest crystals were of the spoduomene, which were found up to 20 m [63 feet] long. Looking like great white tree trunks with two cleavages along their length, they were affectionately known as spod logs." (Waltham, Tony; "Spod Logs," Geology Today , 13:207, 1997.) Comment. Any crystal 63 feet long is worthy of mention in this newsletter! From Science Frontiers #120, NOV-DEC 1998 . 1998-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Life's origin within the earth?Biologists usually hark back to warm, sunlit swamps and tidal pools when contemplating the origin of life. Lately, Hoyle has proposed a cosmochemical origin (see OR DID IT DRIFT IN FROM WITHOUT? ). Few look within the earth. Yet, when Mt. St. Helens erupt-ed it essentially sterilized all lakes and ponds in the immediate area as far as known life forms were concerned, and then introduced previously unknown chemosynthetic bacteria. At least, this is one interpretation. Scientists at Oregon State University found the waters around the volcano to be teeming with these bacteria, up to a billion per drop. The bacteria resemble nothing in the local soil but do seem related to bacteria existing around Precambrian volcanos. (Anonymous; "Secrets of Life in a Volcano?" Boston Globe, July 14, 1981.) Comment. Were the new bacteria in the volcanic ejecta or had they just gone unnoticed in the soil? Could the hot rocks, geothermal brines, and restless magmas beneath our feet be the real cradle of terrestrial life, with photosynthesis-dependent surface species being relatively unimportant to the big picture? From Science Frontiers #18, NOV-DEC 1981 . 1981-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 32: Mar-Apr 1984 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects The Oklo Phenomenon And Evolution A decade ago, French scientists discovered the remains of a natural nuclear reactor at Oklo, Gabon, in Africa. Somehow nature had concentrated enough uranium-235 in one place to start a chain reaction, with the attendant production of heat and radiation. Now U-235 is radioactive, and there is now much less around than in past geological eras. This has led some scientists to speculate that many more Okla phenomena may have flamed momentarily in earlier times, especially Precambrian days. The mutagenic radiation from such natural reactors could have been a major driving force in evolution. (Anonymous; "Natural Reactors Helped Evolution," New Scientist, 100:737, 1983.) Reference. For details on the Oklo Phenomenon, see category ESP13 in our Anomalies in Geology. For a description of this Catalog, visit: here . From Science Frontiers #32, MAR-APR 1984 . 1984-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... the same from individual to individual strongly suggests that feces are the primitive condition. The variety of animal bodies, on the other hand, implies that bodies are secondary or derived features of the organisms. The expansion of genetic research in the twentieth century has led to the conclusion among many geneticists that bodies exist solely for the propagation and dispersal of genes. This perspective has been dubbed 'the selfish gene theory'. While the author acknowledges the insight and creativity that went into the selfish gene theory, it must be pointed out that the idea has not been carried far enough by the geneticists. Where did the genes come from in the first place? Who ever heard of a sea bottom made up of DNA ooze? It is obvious from the fossil data that feces were teeming in the Precambrian oceans well before DNA appeared on the face of the earth, and that feces were therefore the original driving force of life. Bodies exist for the propagation and dispersal of feces, and genes are simply the instructions used by feces in the manufacture of those bodies. This concept is best described as the 'selfish feces theory'." (Sager, J. Curt; "The Origin of Feces," Journal of Irreproducible Results," p. 20, 1986.) From Science Frontiers #46, JUL-AUG 1986 . 1986-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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