Tag archives for Mysterious Science

How Wild Appalachian Boars Are Affecting The Ginseng Trade

Here’s the good thing about ginseng – it’s worth a ton of money and it’s in the ground, fresh for the taking in 19 states. You know what I’m going to say next, right? Yeah, harvesting wild ginseng is really difficult. Forget about the whole scaling a mountain through the rain looking for a few…

Drugs, Inc. Explores Molly Madness

It’s not easy to generalize about why people choose certain drugs, particularly over an extended period of time. The popularity of different drugs tends to rise and fall, based partially on availability and economics and partially on taste. I’ve written about PCP’s resurgence in parts of the mid-Atlantic and how pharmaceutical painkiller abuse primed suburban…

The Science of Chasing UFOs: “Alien Cowboys”

Considering the amount of ground covered in each one-hour Chasing UFOs episode, it isn’t always possible to present the science of each investigation in a comprehensive way.  So, for those who wish to learn more about the science behind Chasing UFOs, read on!   Considering Cattle “Mutilations” and Classification Errors Admittedly, my background isn’t in…

MySci Round-Up, November 2: Cleopatramania!

  Everybody’s suddenly very excited about the Cleopatra, the ancient queen of Egypt in the First Century BC, and with good reason. Stacy Schiff’s new biography, Cleopatra: A Life, which is getting rave reviews, contends that both history and Hollywood have portrayed her inaccurately. The ancient queen turns out to have been a lot less like Elizabeth…

MySci Round-Up, October 7: "I’ll see you on the dark side of the Moon"

On this date in 1959, the Soviet Union’s Luna 3 probe passed by the Moon and then took 29 photographs of the illuminated far hemisphere from a distance of about 40,000 miles away. The pictures were then transmitted via radio transmission to Earth. The images provided the first-ever opportunity for humans to look at the Moon’s far…

MySci Roundup Oct. 5: Forget The Oars, I’d Rather Peddle

On this day in 1869, Fisher A. Spofford and Matthew G. Raffington of Columbus, OH, who apparently tinkered a bit when they weren’t teaching at the Ohio School for the Deaf, obtained U.S. Patent 95,531 for a “New and Improved Water-Velocipede.” While it might sound like the name of an insect, it’s actually just a fancy term for a pedal boat,…

MySci Roundup, October 4: Happy Birthday, Christian Longomontanus!

On this day in 1562, the now obscure but significant astronomer Christian Sorensen Lomborg, better known by his Latinized name Longomontanus, was born in the village of Lomborg in Jutland, Denmark. He was the son of a menial laborer who died when he was eight. But Longomontanus transcended his humble background, working at gritty jobs…

MySci Roundup Oct. 1-3: Miss Mitchell’s Comet

On this date in 1847, Maria Mitchell, a 31-year-old Nantucket, MA librarian who was fascinated with astronomy, climbed to her family’s rooftop and scanned the sky with a two-inch reflecting telescope. According to a profile of her on the American Physical Society website, she noticed a small blurry streak, and guessed immediately that it might be a…

MySci Roundup, September 30: The First Manned Rocket-Powered Flight

On this day in 1919, 30-year-old Fritz von Opel, scion of a famous German auto making family, climbed into a custom-built glider specially equipped with 16 50-pound thrust rockets and took off from a field near Frankfurt. According to his 1971 New York Times obit, Opel’s 90 second, 1.5 mile ride, which achieved an altitude of 49…

MySci Round-Up, September 29: What People Listened To, Before There Were mp3s

On this day in 1914, Thomas Edison was granted a patent for the “phonograph-record”— which actually was not the first phonograph record, as you might mistakenly assume. (Don’t feel badly—we initially made the same error.) Given the degree of Edison worship in American history books, you might also incorrectly think that Edison was the first person to…