Science Frontiers
The Unusual & Unexplained

Strange Science * Bizarre Biophysics * Anomalous astronomy
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About Science Frontiers

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.


Subscriptions to the Science Frontiers newsletter are no longer available.

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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Please note that the publisher has now closed, and can not be contacted.


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... divers cannot see beyond a few feet. Measured in millimeters, the marine snowflakes are much larger than the average interplanetary dust particles (but of course interplanetary dust itself is also a constituent of marine snow). The bigger marine snowflakes -- over 0.5 mm -- are a major food source for deep-sea denizens waiting below for this manna from the watery heaven. The reason for mentioning marine snow in Science Frontiers is that biologists like Alldredge are really pio-neering new territory, where new anomalies must surely dwell. "' We've essentially discovered a whole new class of particles in the ocean that no one knew was there," she exults. .. .. . "' They're islands, really, where the metabolic activities of algae, bacteria, and protozoans produce unique chemical environments,' says Alldredge." To illustrate, the carbon content of bacteria on marine snow is 10,000 times higher than that of bacteria found away from the snow. Why? (Cox, Vic; "It's No Snow Job," Sea Frontiers , 40:42, March/April 1994.) From Science Frontiers #93, MAY-JUN 1994 . 1994-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Microbes Threaten Radiocarbon Dating In the 1980s, skeptics had a lot of fun debunking the Shroud of Turin, the supposed burial cloth wrapped around Christ. Their glee was unbounded when radiocarbon dating "proved" that the shroud could not be older than 700 years. The skeptics may have been too quick to celebrate, because the samples that were sent to the radiocarbon lab may not have been wholly cloth. The reality of our biosphere is that virtually everything is permeated with microbes and their products. S.J . Mattingly and L.A . Garza-Valdes, of the University of Texas at San Antonio, have been studying "biogenic varnishes" for years. These plastic-like coatings are produced by bacteria and fungi. Sure enough, microscopic examination of a few linen fibers from the Shroud of Turin show that they, too, are coated with such varnishes. These biogenic varnishes may introduce carbon that has been recently fixed from the atmosphere and thus make the sample's age appear younger than it really is. (Travis, John; "Microbes Muddle Shroud of Turin's Age," Science News, 147:346, 1995.) Comment. More than the Shroud is at stake here. Bacteria contaminate just about everything, including wood and bone from archeological sites. Bacteria may, therefore, "rejuvenate" samples sent in for radiocarbon dating. The importance of this phenomenon is still unclear. Cross reference. Radiocarbon-dated samples may also appear erroneously "aged" by ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 95: Sep-Oct 1994 Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues Last Issue Next Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Contents Archaeology Blondes in ancient china Evidence of tobacco in ancient egypt Dwarf mammoths in ancient egypt? Astronomy "AN UNPRECEDENTED AND BIZARRE OBJECT" Comets, asteroids, or neither? This was the big one, but where did it come from? Snowballs in hell? Biology It's according to hoyle and wickramasinghe Music of the hemispheres The urge to replicate: part i The urge to replicate: part ii Geology Might diamonds be dead bacteria? Deep quake deepens mystery Geophysics Sylvanshine: a newly recognized optical phenomenon Gamma-ray flashes in the upper atmosphere A DEEP-SEA HYDROTHERMAL VENT INSTEAD OF A WARM LITTLE POND? Psychology The solar wind and hallucinations Physics Cold fusion update: 1994 Miscellaneous A SKEPTIC'S NDE -- NOT SO MYSTICAL ...
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... of the University of Heidelberg have looked at the proteins in the blood serum of megabats and primates and found enough in common to suggest a close taxonomic relationship between the two groups. (Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 51:359)" An explanation might be that the similarities between the microbats and megabats represent adaptations to similar environmental niches rather than a common ancestry. (Timson, John; "Did Bats Evolve Twice in History?" New Scientist, p. 16, June 4, 1994.) Comment. Does the black box labelled EVOLUTION contain a special subprogram for converting hands into membaneous wings whenever it seems profitable to do so? Or are we somehow missing a different sort of evolutionary process, perhaps something akin to the "directed evolution" suggested by some experiments with bacteria? (SF#64) The possible separate evolutions of micro- and megabats is covered in more detail in BMA41 and BME1 in Biological Anomalies: Mammals I and II, respectively. To order, visit here . From Science Frontiers #95, SEP-OCT 1994 . 1994-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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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 The Incorruptibility Of The Ganges The Ganges is 2525 kilometers long. Along its course, 27 major towns dump 902 million liters of sewage into it each day. Added to this are all those human bodies consigned to this holy river, called the Ganga by the Indians. Despite this heavy burden of pollutants, the Ganges has for millennia been regarded as incorruptible. How can this be? Several foreigners have recorded the effects of this river's "magical" cleansing properties: Ganges water does not putrefy, even after long periods of storage. River water begins to putrefy when lack of oxygen promotes the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which produce the tell-tale smell of stale water. British physician, C.E . Nelson, observed that Ganga water taken from the Hooghly -- one of its dirtiest mouths -- by ships returning to England remained fresh throughout the voyage. In 1896, the British physician E. Hanbury Hankin reported in the French journal Annales de l'Institut Pasteur that cholera microbes died within three hours in Ganga water, but continued to thrive in distilled water even after 48 hours. A French scientist, Monsieur Herelle, was amazed to find "that only a few feet below the bodies of persons floating in the Ganga who had died of dysentery and cholera, where one would expect millions of germs, there were no germs at all. More recently, D.S . Bhargava, an Indian ...
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... proceeds "blindly"; that is, mutations are random and unrelated to the biological needs for survival. This assumption is enshrined in R. Dawkins' book The Blind Watchmaker . Catchy though this title is, it looks more and more like the Watchmaker sees something. For over a decade, experiments have hinted that those mutations that are helpful to an organism's survival occur more often than those that are not "adaptively useful." This controversial phenomenon is termed "adaptive mutation." (SF#64 and SF#96*) A recent issue of Science presents two more papers that seem to confer the gift of sight on the old Watchmaker. Biochemist J.A . Shapiro, in a commentary accompanying the two Science papers, highlights a significant feature of adaptive mutation in bacteria: The genetic changes involved are multicellular. In other words, DNA rearrangements in one cell are actually transferred to other cells. But most profound of all for the whole science of biology is his sentence: "The discovery that cells use biochemical systems to change their DNA in response to physiological inputs moves mutation beyond the realm of 'blind' stochastic events and provides a mechanistic basis for understanding how biological requirements can feed back onto genome structure." (Shapiro, James A.; "Adaptive Mutation: Who's Really in the Garden?" Science, 268:373, 1995.) Comment. Random mutation has been a linchpin of Neo-Darwinism because it is "scientific"; that is, non-supernatural. We see in adaptive mutation that other scientific mechanisms ...
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... Of course, nematodes are not as pretty as birds and fish, but they are nevertheless bona fide species of life. Examination of the Rockall mud and that from other seabed sites has convinced the nematode counters that there may be as many as 100 million nematode species on our planet. When other classes of life are added, the figure rises to at least 130 million. (Pearce, Fred; "Rockall Mud Richer than Rainforest," New Scientist, p. 8, September 16, 1995.) Comments. Lifeless molecules can apparently unite to form an almost infinite array of life forms! The next reservoir of unexplored biodiversity may be the crevicular realm -- all those fluid-filled crevices and channels that extend miles down into the earth's crust. They are full of bacteria and other unrecognized microscopic life forms. As for extraterrestrial habitats, who can even guess? From Science Frontiers #102 Nov-Dec 1995 . 1995-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 91: Jan-Feb 1994 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects The earth's biosphere, 'tis no thin veneer A recurring theme in SF is the three-dimensionality of terrestrial life. Customarily, life is considered confined to a thin spherical shell of air, water, and earth. But the bits of drillers have demonstrated that life prevails as far down as we can pierce the planet's integument. Now, K.G . Stetter et al: ". .. report the discovery of high concentrations of hyperthermophiles [viz., bacteria] in the production fluids from four oil reservoirs about 3,000 metres below the bed of the North Sea and below the permafrost surface of the North Slope of Alaska. Enrichment cultures of sulphidogens grew at 85 C and 102 C, which are similar to in reservoir temperatures." Stetter et al favor the theory that these hyperthermophiles were injected into the reservoirs through: (1 ) drilling and secondary-recovery operations; and/ or (2 ) natural penetration via faults and seeps. They pointedly distance themselves from the idea, championed by T. Gold, that subterranean bacteria are actually permanent ancient residents of a deep subterranean biosphere. (Stetter, K.O ., et al; "Hyperthermophilic Archaea Are Thriving in Deep North Sea and Alaskan Oil Reservoirs," Nature, 365:743, 1993.) On the other hand, in their comments on the above paper, J. Parkes and J. Maxwell do ...
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... of light from the human skin, we estimated the total photon rates to be of the order of 170-600 photons/s /cm2 , depending on anatomical location. The light was strongest at the red end of the spectrum, but fell below detectable levels in the ultraviolet. Significant variations were observed between individuals in both photon rate and spectral profile. The photon rate also varied significantly with time for a single individual." It is important to recognize that, although the flux of photons emitted by individual cells is very low, it greatly exceeded the flux of blackbody radiation at 37 C (about 10-9 photon/s /cm2). Photon count for one subject. Experiments demonstrate that human bioluminescence originates mainly in body tissue, particularly skin cells, and not from skin bacteria or the blood. The authors of the present paper believe that the radiation comes from the "oxidation production of radicals." (Edwards, R., et al; "Measurements of Human Bioluminescence," International Journal of Acupuncture & Electro-Theraputics Research, 15:85, 1990. Cr. M. Bischof.) Comment. Recall that mitogenetic radiation from cells, long derided by the scientific establishment, has now been detected. See SF#73. Look again at the rather obscure reference! If we only had time to search all of the scientific literature. The book mentioned above: Biological Anomalies: Humans I, is described here . From Science Frontiers #91, JAN-FEB 1994 . 1994-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 68: Mar-Apr 1990 Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues Last Issue Next Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Contents Archaeology Michigan's prehistoric garden beds Now it's greece! Astronomy Wanted: a bona fide black hole Quiet sun: violent earth Biology Ants like amps Two-faced indians trick tigers Recent survival of the elephant in the americas Game of life favors right-handers New life for martian life Magnetic bacteria in the soil and who knows where else? Periodical invasions of aliens Geology Impact delivery of early oceans Geophysics The english hums: radar or buried pipelines? Double image of cresent moon Crop circle craze continues Psychology Higher sight Dreams that do what they're told Physics Science waits for - almost begs for - refutation General Conformity strikes again ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 58: Jul-Aug 1988 Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues Last Issue Next Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Contents Archaeology Maize in ancient india Lanzarote: un noveau bimini? Astronomy Is the earth seeding the rest of the solar system? One of the most astonishing discoveries of modern science! A COSMIC CAUSE FOR THE OZONE HOLE? Chaotic dynamics in the solar system Biology Do right-handers live longer? John heymer still doesn't believe the stock shc explanations! Bacteria Preternaturally rapid development of photosynthesis? Geology Gentry's tiny mystery-- unsupported by geology Earlier pages in earth's history revealed Geophysics From forteanism to science Mystery at novaya zemlya Ball lightning or mirage of venus? Psychology Mystery of the idiot savant General Has the speed of light decayed? Anomalistics at the aaas meeting ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 46: Jul-Aug 1986 Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues Last Issue Next Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Contents Archaeology Tree-toting Extraordinaire Early Chinese Contacts with Australia? Astronomy Cosmic Currents Salt Structures on Venus? Halley's Comet Infected by Bacteria? Solar Neutrino Update Biology Spontaneous Human Combustion The Music of the Genes Are Fruit Bats Primates? Tigers in Western Australia? Geology Archaeopteryx and Forgery: Another Viewpoint More Paluxy Impressions Blackened, Broken Stones of the Middle East Which Came First? Geophysics The Moon and Avalanches Curious Luminous Display Over the Pacific Ocean Psychology When to Believe and When Not To Geomagnetic Stimulation of Poltergeist Activity ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 15: Spring 1981 Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues Last Issue Next Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Contents Archaeology Basques in the Susquehanna Valley 2,500 Years Ago? Invention of Agriculture May Have Been A Step Backward Hidden Stonehenge Atlantis Found -- again Astronomy Distant Galaxies Look Like Those Close-by "tired Light" Theory Revived Those Darn Quarks Biology If Bacteria Don't Think, Neither Do We The Evolutionary Struggle Within Geology Is All Natural Gas Biological in Origin? Iceland and the Iridium Layer Geophysics The Novaya Zemlya Effect Massive Ice Lump Falls on England Psychology Is Your Brain Really Necessary? ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 124: Jul-Aug 1999 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Preadaptive Evolution "Preadaptive evolution" is a remarkable concept. Basically, it asserts that in some -- possibly many -- mutations, a useful response to an evolutionary challenge is "naturally" accompanied by useful responses to challenges that have not yet been posed to the life form in question. This prescience verges on the miraculous to the uninitiated, but mainstream biologists seem content to write the phenomenon off as merely good fortune -- like hitting two jackpots in a row on the same slot machine. A good example of preadaptation occurs when bacteria are cultured in the presence of an antibiotic. Within a few weeks, they have evolved a resistance to that particular antibiotic. This well-known phenomenon is easily explained by evolution. However, often the newly evolved (or "adapted") bacteria are also resistant to several other antibiotics that work by different mechanisms. All of the multiple gene changes needed for the several different defense mechanisms are controlled by a single site on the same chromosome. (Levy, Stuart B.; The Antibiotic Paradox , New York, 1992, p. 99. Cr. A. Mebane.) Comments. How can bacteria prepare defenses against antibiotics they have not been exposed to? Luck, prescience, or some unrecognized mechanism? In his Ever Since Darwin , S.J . Gould acknowledges that "preadaptation implies prescience although in actuality it means just the opposite! His explanation of "preadaptation ...
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... is the discovery that the geological age of today's oil is quite different from that recovered 10 years ago. What's going on under the Gulf of Mexico? It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the oil reservoir at Eugene Island is rapidly refilling itself from "some continuous source miles below the earth's surface." In support of this surmise, analysis of seismic records revealed a deep fault which "was gushing oil like a garden hose." The deep-seated oil source at Eugene Island strongly supports T. Gold's theory about The Deep Hot Biosphere . Gold holds: "that oil is actually a renewable, primordial syrup continually manufactured by the earth under ultrahot conditions and tremendous pressures. As this substance migrates toward the surface, it is attacked by bacteria, making it appear to have an organic origin dating back to the dinosaurs." The apparent deep-seated oil source at Eugene Island and Gold's ideas make petroleum engineers wonder about a similar situation at the seemingly inexhaustible oil fields of the Middle East. "The Middle East has more than doubled its reserves in the past 20 years, despite half a century of intense exploitation and relatively few new discoveries. It would take a pretty big pile of dead dinosaurs and prehistoric plants to account for the estimated 660 billion barrels of oil in the region, notes Norman Hyne, a professor at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. "Offthe-wall theories often turn out to be right," he says." (Cooper, Christopher; "It's No Crude Joke ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 125: Sep-Oct 1999 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Tyrannies Of The Tiny Because we cannot see them with the naked eye, we tend to forget that the earth's atmosphere, its oceans, and the solid crust to unknown-but-great depths are colonized in profusion by minute biological entities -- mainly bacteria and viruses. Only when we get the flu or infected finger do these entities impinge upon our consciousness. Below we will learn that there are many more of them than you think. Do viruses control the oceans? You may avoid the beaches after you learn that one teaspoon of seawater typically contains 10-100 million viruses and onetenth that many bacteria. Obviously, most are harmless to humans. However, the viruses do infect the bacteria and phytoplankton, destroying them, and thereby releasing their nutrients. By doing this, they keep the oceans' biological engines running. Further, the viruses act as genetic engineers as they transfer DNA from one individual to another. The oceans may be viewed as vast test tubes in which biodiversity is maintained by teeming, invasive viruses. (Suttle, Curtis A.; "Do Viruses Control the Oceans?" Natural History, 108:48, February 1999.) We are only 10% human! The average human body contains 100 trillion cells, but only 1 in 10 of these cells is your own. The remaining 90% are bacteria. These alien organisms coat your skin and pave your inner passageways from mouth ...
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117. Nanobes
... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 123: May-Jun 1999 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Nanobes Get used to this term! Of course you know about microbes. Well, nanobes are also life forms but so much smaller than microbes that they deserve the prefix "nano" (for 10-9 ) rather than "micro" (for 10-6 ). The smallest recognized bacteria, Myco plasma , lack cell walls and fall in the size range 150-200 nanometers. Nanobes are much smaller: 20-150 nanometers. But are nanobes really alive? A drill core recently extracted from a stratum of sandstone 3 kilometers deep off the coast of Western Australia was found to be infected with miniscule filamentous structures. P. Uwins and her colleagues at the University of Queensland believe these structures (" nanobes") are alive. They appear to grow and have cell walls. But skeptics assert that some lifeless chemical structures also grow. Others suspect contamination of the sample as it was raised to the surface and handled. Published photos of the nanobes look very much like the structures in the Martian meteorite ALH84001, which are claimed to be fossilized extraterrestrial bacteria. (SF#116) (Dayton, Leigh; "Tiny Wonders," New Scientist, p. 13, March 27, 1999.) Comment. R.L . Folk claims that so-called "nannobacteria" (100-400 nanometers) are ubiquitous on the earth. Few biologists believe that life forms can be this small, and ...
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... of complex molecules, possibly even solids. The infrared glows are so strong that the elements involved must be common in the universe, in all likelihood carbon and hydrogen. Speculators have fingered polymers, ball-shaped fullerenes, and "nanodiamonds"; i.e ., very tiny diamonds! The debate has scientists repairing to their laboratories where they are trying to find some substance with a spectrum that matches that of the mystery shrouds. (Hellemans, Alexander; "Labs Hold the Key to the 21-Micron Mystery," Science, 284:1113, 1999.) Comment. Are not biological materials rich in carbon and hydrogen? This reminds us of F. Hoyle's books: Lifecloud and Diseases from Space , wherein outer space is characterized as teeming with prebiotic molecules, bacteria, and even-more-bizarre life forms. From Science Frontiers #124, JUL-AUG 1999 . 1999-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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