Wednesday, July 18

Peter’s Odd and Curious Corner 9

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Perhaps we’re older than we think.

The recent discovery in Israel of a fossilized jawbone has been accepted as undoubtedly Homo Sapiens, but its age at about 180,000 years old has astonished the experts, because this is some 80,000 years earlier than previous evidence suggested for our journey out of Africa.  This date is also being suggested by recent research into the mitochondrial evidence of the cells of DNA from people all over the world.

What a dilemma!

Three years ago, two Indian women from the State of Assam, one Hindu, one Muslim, gave birth in the same hospital to boys at exactly the same time. Each was given to the wrong mother.  Despite doubts at the time hospital authorities refused to accept the mistake.  Now a privately made DNA test confirms the mothers’ doubts. Only one problem. The three-year-old boys have bonded with their ‘parents’, their environment and religion and do not want to leave them. The decision by both families to accept this must have been very difficult. Was it the right one?

Two minutes to midnight – a good title for a novel?

Not so. They are the hands of the ”Domesday Clock” which tells us how near we are to the apocalypse that will bring about the end of the world. They have not been so close to Midnight since the first H bomb tests in the 60’s’

Water under the bridge?

A huge waterspout, a phenomenon rarely seen in Britain was observed recently off the Dorset coast.

You think it’s been cold in the UK this winter?

Parts of New Hampshire (USA) have experienced temperatures as low as minus 34 degrees. Photographs show boiling water poured from a kettle immediately turned to snow.

Keep on looking!

A large ‘diamond’ ring, assumed to be costume jewellery, was bought at a car boot sale in Isleworth for £10 thirty years ago and worn almost every day since. It has been identified as a 19th century 26 carat cushion shaped white diamond. Much to the astonishment of the owner Sotheby’s valued it at £350,000. It subsequently exceeded this amount at auction.

All strung up!

Engineers at a small British Internet provider have successfully made a broadband connection over 6to7 feet using wet string soaked in salt. They admitted it had no commercial application.

Quite amazing!

Born at Leicester’s Glenfield hospital last December, a baby with her heart on the outside of her body because she had no sternum to hold it in. Experts say that this is an extremely rare but not unknown occurrence.  The first operation of this kind in the UK was successfully carried out.

Rasputin would have liked this one!

Don’t hold your breath, but Haemophilia which has devastated several Royal Families over the years may soon be a thing of the past. It may soon be possible, using the latest gene therapy, to eliminate the specific gene responsible from all known current carriers.

Einstein proved right, again.

On August 17th last year, Astronomers detected the flash of a huge burst of gamma rays which they eventually traced to the merger of two neutron stars, (stars formed by the collapse of extremely dense and massive stars), their source 130 million light years away across our galaxy.   But it was a red-letter day for the followers of Albert Einstein who had predicted years ago that these rare events should produce gravitational waves or ripples in the fabric of spacetime. These ripples were detected for the first time. It was also possible to analyse the spectrum of the gamma rays, indicating the presence of iron, gold and other heavy metals, indicating that our own Periodic Table may be common throughout the Universe.

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