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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... the geoglyphs, which were incised beginning about 200 B.C . Peel away these, and we are left with the geometrical figures and straight lines. These seem to have been inscribed starting about 600 A.D . -- a time of severe drought, which may be a clue to their purpose. Next, strip off the geoglyphs (trapezoids and such), and a seeming mishmash of straight lines survives. But most are not random when analyzed. Most converge spoke-like upon 62 or more "ray centers." Thus, the Nazca Plain seems to be a 3-page book: biomorphs, geoglyphs, and spoked ray-centers. They all overlap. It's all a gigantic Rorschach test; and different observers see different things! A Nazca biomorph (monkey with spiral tail) overlain by an abstract, unexplained geoglyph. See Book Supplement for still another Nazca figure. Of course, there are doodles on this 400-square-mile canvas that don't fit on any of the three pages. We'll have to ignore them for now. The archeoastronomers first tried to read something meaningful into the Nazca lines, but they were disappointed. Computer analyses revealed no significant connections with the rising and settings of heavenly bodies. Next, some tried to relate the biomorphs to the celestial sphere. Did a terrestrial bird figure point toward a bird-like grouping of stars? A few earth-sky bird connections are interesting in this regard, but generally the idea that the Nazca lines are a terrestrial zodiac has not panned out well. ...
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... only in "exact arithmetic," which is a cultural invention and unrelated to the "number sense." Exact arithmetic, in fact, is an activity of our left brain where language is processed. Our general number sense, though, is sited elsewhere; the parietal lobe, to be specific. Dehaene's experiments with babies demonstrate that, even before they can speak or do exact arithmetic, they can do "approximate arithmetic"; that is, they can distinguish between these two sequences of tones: beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep-beep. This number sense is apparently hardwired in a specific part of the human brain and the brains of a few other animals that have been tested (monkeys and rats). (Baiter, Michael; "What Makes the Mind Dance and Count?" Science, 292:1635, 2001.) Comment. Superficially, distinguishing between strings of beeps would appear to be a trivial phenomenon. Not so! The general number sense defined by Dehaene would seem to have significant survival value, say, as in assessing threats or hunting opportunities. We can, therefore, conceive a neo-Darwinian evolutionary scenario here. But when it comes to the number sense at Einstein's level, we fail to detect any survival value in the ability to develop the abstruse equations of relativity until, say, the advent of tenured positions in universities. From Science Frontiers #138, NOV-DEC 2001 . 2001 William R. Corliss Other Sites of ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 81: May-Jun 1992 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Plants Of The Apes Many biologists are convinced that apes, bears, cats, and dogs eat plants -- many of them obviously distasteful -- in order to medicate themselves for diseases and parasites. What also seems likely, according to K. Strier, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is that some monkeys regulate their fertility by the judicious consumption of certain plants. Going even farther, K. Glander, Duke University, suggests that howler monkeys control the sex of their offspring through their diets. Glander divides howler monkey females into three groups. In the first are the high-ranking females that predominantly produce male offspring. This 'male-offspring' strategy favors these females because the males they produce tend to become dominant adults that will pass on more of the females' genes than would female offspring, who are limited in the number of infants they can engender in comparison to the males. Similar optimization strategies, according to Glander, induce middleranking females to produce mainly female progeny, and low-ranking females to birth almost all males. These howler monkeys seem to control the sex of their offspring pharmologically by selecting certain plants to eat. These plants, in turn, control the electrical conditions in the females' reproductive tracts to either attract or repel sperm carrying the male Y-chromosomes, which are thought to carry different electrical charges than the X-carrying sperm! (Lewin, Roger; "What ...
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... mechanism (human selection or natural selection) can produce geofacts or new species. This sort of explanatory mechanism can, in principle, explain just about anything! (Meltzer, David; "Stones of Contention," New Scientist, p. 31, June 24, 1995.) R. Dennell and L. Hurcombe, two archeologists faced with the geofact problem at their Pakistan dig, tried to solve it experimentally. They deliberately dropped quartzite rocks from heights onto hard surfaces. They concluded: "While conceding that had we conducted the experiment with a thousand, ten thousand, or a hundred thousand stones, a few might have fractures, we would nevertheless maintain that the chances of any showing multiple, multi-directional flaking and all with bulbs of percussion are as remote as the proverbial monkey typing Shakespeare." (Dennell, Robin, and Hurcombe, Linda; "Comment on Pedra Furada." Antiquity, 69:604, 1995.) From Science Frontiers #105, MAY-JUN 1996 . 1996-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... the documentary was one-sided and selective. Further, it was maintained that Duesberg's arguments have been completely refuted. Briefly, Duesberg believes that AIDS is not an infectious disease because: Too few T-lymphocytes in the peripheral blood are infected to cause the disease; HIV carriers without symptoms exist; and HIV in pure form doesn't seem to induce Aids in humans or animals. Rather, says Duesberg, AIDS is a collection of symptoms arising from such factors as the repeated use of intravenous drugs and malnutrition. Mainstream researchers think that Duesberg is wrong on (1 ); that (2 ) is irrevelant, since asymptomatic carriers of typhoid and cholera exist; and that (3 ) may be incorrect, since SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) does induce simian AIDS in monkeys. (Weiss, Robin A., and Jaffe, Harold W.; "Duesberg, HIV and AIDS," Nature, 345:659, 1990.) Also: Brown, Phyllida; "' Selective' TV Documentary Attacked by AIDS Researchers," New Scientist, p. 23, June 16, 1990.) Comment. However self-assured the mainstreamers are, they must have flinched at a paper given by L. Montagnier, of the Pasteur Institute, at the recent AIDS conference in San Francisco: "Montagnier says research conducted in his lab suggests HIV initially exists peacefully within the CD4 T-lymphocytes, white blood cells that assist in immune defenses. But co-infection with a mycoplasma, he contends, may transform the slowly replicating HIV into a killer ...
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... hosts. Therefore, pigs seem to be 'mixing vessels' where two separate reservoirs meet and where reassortment between avian and human influenza A viruses occurs, giving rise to the antigenic shift by creating new human pandemic influenza strains with new surface antigens." The article stimulating this discussion worries about new aquaculture practices, especially in Asia (the so-called Blue Revolution), in which duck and pig manure is dumped into fish ponds as fertilizer. The dense concentration of humans, ducks, and pits threatens to be a factory for constructing new strains of flu. (Scholtissek, Christoph, and Naylor, Ernest; "Fish Farming and Influenza Pandemics," Nature, 331:215, 1988.) Comment. Noting that the AIDS virus may have originated and still be mutating in African monkeys, and coupling this with the above discussion of flu, we can speculate a la Evolution from Space that terrestrial life itself is its own evolutionary engine! Going still another step further, we can wonder if life-as-a -whole (the Gaia concept) is not trying to check the burgeoning human population by biological warfare -- a check and balance arrangement. Isn't it amazing how much speculation a couple simple facts can engender? From Science Frontiers #56, MAR-APR 1988 . 1988-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 40: Jul-Aug 1985 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Glitch in the evolution of funnelweb spider venom?The Australian funnelweb spider has a venom that appears to be effective only against humans, monkeys, baby rats, and fruit flies. None of these animals is normally on the spider's menu; those prey that are seem unaffected by the venom. Did the evolution of the poison miss its intended targets or did the spider's usual prey evolve resistance? It is interesting that mature rats are immune to the venom, although neonatal rats are not. (Anonymous; "Did You Know?" Ex Ni hilo, 7:16, no. 3, 1985.) Facts taken from The Australian Doctor, January 20, 1984.) From Science Frontiers #40, JUL-AUG 1985 . 1985-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... confused and meaningless maze of lines, and it was no more intended to be viewed from the air than an Iowa wheat field. The lines and line centers give evidence of a great deal of order, and the well-entrenched concept of radiality offers affinities between the ceque system of Cuzco and the lines on the pampa. All the clues point to a ritual scheme involving water, irrigation and planting; but as we might expect of these ancient cultures, elements of astronomy and calendar were also evident." (Aveni, Anthony F.; "The Nazca Lines: Patterns in the Desert," Archaeology, 39:33, August 1986.) Reference. For more on the Nazca lines and other "geoglyphs," see our handbook Ancient Man, which is described here . Monkey effigy and geometric patterns in the Nazca line complex, Peru. From Science Frontiers #47, SEP-OCT 1986 . 1986-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 36: Nov-Dec 1984 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Brains Not Hardwired The prevalent conception of the brain compares it to a hardwired computer in which all the wires and components are all permanently soldered together. An equivalent situation would prevail in the brain if all sensory pathways and cells had fixed duties and memories to handle. If the portion of the brain dedicated to speech were damaged, as in a stroke, it could never repair itself. This dogma is now being challenged. A pertinent line of brain research is now underway at the Coleman Laboratory of the University of California in San Francisco, where Michael Merzenich and his associates are studying the brains of monkeys. "Merzenich's findings challenge a prevailing notion that most sensory pathways in the nervous system are 'fixed' or 'hardwired' by the maturation of anatomic connections, either just before or soon after birth. They also address the puzzling question of what forces may be at work when stroke victims partly recover. Do 'redundant copies' of skills exist outside the damaged regions, or is physical damage within the brain repaired over time? Or can old skills be newly established in different, undamaged brain regions." Apparently the brain should really be compared with a reprogrammable computer. Perhaps the brain even stores duplicates of critical "programs"; i.e ., skills. Merzenich's findings go even farther. He finds that the parts of the brain associated with certain skills or data processing move and change shape ...
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... strong; so much so that they could indulge their scientific desires. The Thoms' prehistoric scenario departs radically from that of the current archeological establishment, which has searched for flaws in the Thoms' work. Naturally, some defects have emerged. Clive Ruggles, the author of the present article, is one of the skeptics. He feels that the megalithic sites are impressive and intriguing but not the work of mental giants. After all, Ruggles says, 72 points of the compass have some lunar significance. Almost any circle of stones built for simple ritual purposes would have some significant lunar alignments! (Ruggles, Clive; "Prehistoric Astronomy: How Far Did It Go?" New Scientist, 90: 750, 1981.) Comment. The kind of statistical argument reminds one of those monkeys who will eventually type out the works of Shakespeare. Presumably, the same monkeys could construct Stonehenge, given enough time. Reference. Our Handbook Ancient Man contains abundant material on megalithic sites. For details, visit: here . From Science Frontiers #17, Fall 1981 . 1981-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 30: Nov-Dec 1983 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects THE AORTIC ARCH AND EVOLUTION Comparative anatomy is supposed to tell us which creatures are closely related so that we can draw those familiar evolutionary family trees. That anatomical similarities may be misleading is proved by the various configurations of the mammalian aortic arch -- certainly one of the major body structures. Five prin-cipal configurations of mammalian aortic arches are sketched in the accompanying figure. The species possessing these various configurations make kindling of the usual evolutionary family trees. Horses, pigs, deer; Whales, shrews; Marsupials, rats, dogs, apes, monkeys; The platypus, sea cows, some bats, humans; African elephants, walruses. (Davidheiser, Bolton; "The Aortic Arch," Creation Research Society Quarterly, 20:15, 1983.) Comment. On this basis alone, humans are more closely related to sea-cows than the apes. Why aren't such discrepancies highlighted in the mainstream scientific literature? Mammalian aortic arch . The key is as follows: RC: right carotid; LC: left carotid; RS: right subclavian; LS: left subclavian; A: aorta. The kinds of animal which have various arrangements are mentioned in the text. From Science Frontiers #30, NOV-DEC 1983 . 1983-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 112: Jul-Aug 1997 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects http://www.shakespeare.unduplicated We can forgive computers for a few errant hyphens but not for their failure to live up to their literary potential. R. Wilensky has complained: "We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true." (Anonymous; "Feedback," p. 92, New Scientist, May 10, 1997.) From Science Frontiers #112, JUL-AUG 1997 . 1997-2000 William R. Corliss ...
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... , 84:707, 1997.) Why Barbie Is Beautiful. A study of a long series of hominid fossils reveals a progressive loss of some physical attributes and the acquisition of other characteristics. One wonders why evolution has been remodeling the human form in what often seem to be nonadaptive ways. A curious, superficially frivolous test may offer some insights, some of which may be profound. Drawings and photographs showing humans with various physical traits were prepared and shown to 495 subjects, who were asked to select the most attractive characteristics. In disfavor were: short shins, short legs, bowed legs, large and pointed canines, gums showing above the teeth, short thumbs, long palms, curved fingers, jutting jaws, short necks. These are all primitive features still seen in apes and monkeys. Favored were: tallness, long legs, slim waists, long necks, curved red lips, large eyes, square shoulders, straight teeth, straight fingers, smooth and hairless skin, nonsloping foreheads, flat abdomens. These are all features "derived" during evolutionary history. A look at a photograph of a Barbie doll, which accompanied the article, proves that Barbie epitomizes these favored characteristics. Apparently, human males have been selecting their mates for these traits. The fossil record indicates this Barbie trend over millions of years. In effect, humans are selectively breeding themselves with Barbie as a goal for women. Interestingly, dolls with more of the primitive traits have never been able to compete with Barbie in the marketplace. (Magro, Albert M.; "Why Barbie is ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 98: Mar-Apr 1995 Issue Contents Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues This Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Blindsight Also Occurs In Monkeys Blindsight is an eerie phenomenon. Humans with cortical blindness; that is, they have lost their primary visual cortex through brain damage or disease; can still detect objects and yet be unaware of them. Doesn't sound right, does it? The situation is this: A person, apparently totally blind, can somehow discern the location, form, and size of objects, but they will swear that they "see" nothing at all. In fact, they are blind by all tests. They have blindsight. One explanation of blindsight maintains that the visual cortex has not been totally destroyed, and that functional remnants remain. In scientific terms, blindsight represents "suboptimal functioning of the primary visual cortex." But now, A. Cowey and P. Stoerig report that they have totally removed the primary visual cortex from monkeys' brains. (Something one would not try with humans!) Tests with the visual cortex-less monkeys demonstrated that they possessed blindsight. Therefore, blindsight does not seem to be "suboptimal functioning" of a damaged brain -- at least in monkeys. Blindsight thus remains a mysterious biological function. How do blindsighted humans detect objects of which they are not visually aware? Somehow information about the visual world appears in the brain. (Cowey, Alan, and Stoerig, Petra; "Blindsight in Monkeys," Nature, 373: 247, 1995. Also ...
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... Science Frontiers ONLINE No. 98: Mar-Apr 1995 Other pages Home Page Science Frontiers Online All Issues Last Issue Next Issue Sourcebook Project Sourcebook Subjects Contents Archaeology Ancient egyptians in the new world? Carbon-14 dating: under a cloud? Translating the grand traverse stone Astronomy The earth has recently been swallowed by a cloud of inter-stellar gas Arp banished, but not redshift anomalies A YAGI WATCHES A SOLAR ECLIPSE Biology Emf fertilizer? Vampire fish -- [x -rated item] Some shaky observations Blindsight also occurs in monkeys Geology A UNIFIED THEORY OF GEOPHYSICS Six immense armadas of icebergs invaded the north atlantic Geophysics An unknown atmospheric light phenomenon Crop-circle litmus test? Earthquake ripples in the ionosphere Psychology Madness and creativity How to test for lucid dreaming Physics Can we explore hyperspace? Unclassified Nobel gossip! ...
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... Escape Tactics BMB17 Feigning Death BMB18 Anomalous Selection of Prey BMB19 The Puzzle of Flavor Aversion BMB20 The Scarcity of Vampirism in Mammals BMB21 The Use of Medicinal Plants by Mammals BMB22 Unrationalized Murder in Mammals BMB23 Aquatic Mammals and Face-to Face Copulation BMB24 Mammals Sexual Cycles Correlated with Lunar Cycle BMB25 Linear Formations of Mammals BMB26 Circular and Ring Formations of Mammals BMB27 Radial Formations or "Kings" BMB28 Nonmigratory Mass Movements of Mammals BMB29 Collective Hunting Techniques BMB30 Unusual Assemblies of Mammals BMB31 The Existence of Eusocial Mammals BMB32 Unusual Aerial Displays BMB33 Mass Strandings of Live Cetaceans BMB34 Live and Mummified Seals Found Far Inland in Antarctica BMB35 Self-Anoiting in Mammals BMB36 Miscellaneous Curiosities of Mammal Behavior Leaf-Wrapping Bats Giraffe Necks Did Not Evolve for Grazing Some Cetaceans Suck in Their Food Chimps Hunt and Eat Other Mammals (Usually Monkeys) Convergence of Sperm-Whale and Elephant Behaviors How Mammals Express Emotions Mole-Rat Dispersive Morph Mouse Intelligence Improved by Gene Insertion BMC CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL PHENOMENA BMC1 Biochemicals That Challenge Evolution BMC2 Possible Lunar Effects on Mammalian Biochemistry BMC3 Some Biochemical Curiosities in Mammals BMC4 The Inability of Some Mammals to Synthesize Ascorbic Acid BMC5 Anomalies Observed in the Cytochromes-Percent-Sequence Difference Matrix BMC6 Miscellaneous Blood and Biochemical Differences among Mammals Urine of Female Dogs Kill Grass But Not Male's Convergence of Shark and Camel Protein Convergence of Elephant and Insect Pheromone BMD DISTRIBUTION OF MAMMALS IN SPACE AND TIME BMD1 Remarkable Congregations and Concentrations of Mammals BMD2 Apparent Dearths and Absences of Mammals BMD3 Cycles in Mammal Populations BMD4 Exotic Mammals BMD5 Geographically Separated Populations of Flightless Mammals BMD6 Sharp Zoogeographical Divisions Despite Minimal Barriers to Movement BMD7 Decrease in ...
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