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Jupiter's stripe and Noah's Ark

Published May 15. 2010 09:00AM

Historical lost and found headlines recent science stories as in one case a stripe on the surface of Jupiter is MIA while a group of archaeologists claim to have discovered and been inside an artifact they are claiming is Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat in Turkey.

In the first case, amateur and professional astronomers noticed last June that one of the planet Jupiter's stripes below the equator started to fade and by May of this year, the southern equatorial belt has completely disappeared. While this might seem astonishing to casual observers, scientists say this happened in the past and are possibly linked to storms in the atmosphere of the giant planet. They noted the belt when it does disappear almost always reappears within 15 years but there is no way to predict when it will become visible again.

In the latter case, a group of Chinese evangelical explorers on Mount Ararat have claimed to have not only unearthed Noah's Ark but to have been inside of the supposed relic. While they are not verifying it is the mythic vessel completely, they are saying they are "99.9 percent sure." They claim the construction has no nails and shows ancient methods of using tenons to hold the vessel together as well as several small compartments that may have held the various animals, Noah is said to have saved from the flood.

The site is said to be 13,000 feet above sea level more than 2,000 feet above the highest known settlements in that region and the group claims that carbon dating places the artifact and its remnants at more than 4,800 years old.

The problem though is the Kurdish guides in that area of the world are known for exploiting ark explorers and have made a great deal of money leading good intentioned adventurers around promising them the find of a lifetime. Many scientists, both those who believe the ark legend and those who believe it to be a myth, think the explorers have been deceived by an elaborate hoax. So is it Noah's ark or not? Time will tell, but most knowledgeable experts are not holding their breath about this find.

Speaking of hoaxes or illusions, there is a site for you if you are interested in optical illusions. I found earlier this week while surfing the 'net the 2010 Illusion of the Year contest. This six year old contest has some of the coolest visual anomalies I have ever seen. One of the highlights which you have to see to believe is a square with four elevated ramps that appear to be raised in the center and go downhill to the middles of the four sides of the square, yet when a wooden ball is placed at the bottom of the ramps they roll up hill to what the illusion maker claims is a "magnet" at the upper end of the ramps. I don't want to spoil the illusion but you can check out this finalist's video as well as others from this year's contest as well as past years at

A headline from says the European infrared space telescope Herschel has spotted a hole in space but before we break into a panic, the body of the story describes the "hole" as being in a dense cloud of debris near the formation of young stars in the center of the universe. The opening in the cloud is believed to have been caused by powerful gas jets created from the stars' formations in the area near the nebula. And you thought I meant a real hole…

It's the height of fishing season and many spend their days either buying or foraging for nice juicy night crawlers for bait to go angling, but some scientists in Idaho have found a legendary 3 foot earthworm that spits. The fabled Palouse earthworm is rumored to smell like lilies, grow up to 3 feet in length, burrow up to 15 feet underground and spits at attackers. Unfortunately like the Frigidaire bigfoot hoax a few years ago, the actual worm failed to live up to its hype. While the Palouse earthworm does smell like lilies, the specimens captured only measured nine or ten inches and were pretty docile creatures. They are endangered though because they are found in only a small region of Washington and Idaho and are threatened with extinction.

Speaking of hype, one news event in the past week that did live up to its hype was the Saturday Night Live appearance of Betty White. The rare appearance on SNL of the legendary comedian definitely lived up to its billing as White stole the show practically appearing in the entire 90 minute program making several costume changes and definitely proving she is still on top of her game. In my tribute to her last week, I asked some trivia questions, at least one of which was answered in her monologue if you listened closely last week. Without further adieu, here are the answers for the mini-quiz.

1. White's first win came from her 1952 live sitcom "Life with Elizabeth." 2. She played Catherine Piper on "The Practice" and "Boston Legal" however give yourself a bonus point if you noted that I cited the wrong decade, it was actually in the 2000's. 3. The John Laroquette show and Laroquette was goaded into playing Dorothy Zbornak by a diva-like White on the show. 4. Betty was selling Snickers and appeared in the commercial with character actor Abe Vigoda.

Til next time…

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