Science & Technology


Mars study shows oceans of water bubbled up from below

Fan-shaped deltas at the edge of huge basins scattered across Mars were probably formed by a titanic influx of water, gushing from the bowels of the Red Planet, according to a study released Wednesday.

The origin and morphology of the deltas, studded with curious step-like terraces, have perplexed scientists since they were first observed three years ago.

Today the surface of Mars is bone dry, but a growing body of evidence suggests as much as a third of its surface was at one time covered with oceans.

Military Says Missile Hit Spy Satellite

Washington - A defense official says a missile launched from a Navy ship in the Pacific hit the U.S. spy satellite it was targeting 130 miles above Earth's surface.

Peer review: the myth of the noble scientist

Peer review is supposed to combat fraud, but it can just as easily hold back radical discoveries, says Terence Kealey

Shooting of US satellite 'delayed'

USS Lake
©US Navy
A missile fired from the USS Lake Erie will attempt to shoot down the crippled satellite

A US attempt to shoot down a damaged spy satellite would probably be delayed because of poor weather, Pentagon officials say.

Weather forecasts in the Pacific, where a US warship is stationed for the mission, indicated that seas would not be calm enough for the ship to fire a missile at the satellite and destroy it, the officials said.


Antikythera: Mysteries of Computer from 65BC Are Solved

A 2,000-year-old mechanical computer salvaged from a Roman shipwreck has astounded scientists who have finally unravelled the secrets of how the sophisticated device works.

Antikythera reconstruction
©Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty
A reconstruction of the Antikythera mechanism.

Moon, satellite to put on a show tonight

OTTAWA -- If the sky is clear tonight, look up and you'll see two special shows from outer space: one out-of-control spy satellite on its way to destruction and, for good measure, a total eclipse of the moon.

Both will be visible with the naked eye, although some of Canada will miss the dying spy satellite.

Weather likely to delay attempt at satellite shoot-down

Washington - The Pentagon says bad weather at sea appears likely to put off, until at least Thursday, an attempt to shoot down the wayward U.S. spy satellite.

Wikileaks: Still Standing

Little affected by last week's "temporary restraining order" slapped on Wikileaks, a website that allows whistleblowers to release obscured corporate and government documents for public scrutiny, users can still access the site's documents though its IP address ( as well as domain names including,, and

MIT explains spread of 1918 flu pandemic

MIT researchers have explained why two mutations in the H1N1 avian flu virus allowed the disease to spread during the 1918 pandemic that killed at least 50 million people. The work could help scientists detect and contain a future bird flu outbreak among humans.

Robert Jastrow, Who Made Space Understandable, Dies at 82

Robert Jastrow, who led a major space science institution and helped to bring space down to earth for millions of Americans, died Friday at his home in Arlington, Va. He was 82.

Robert Jastrow
©George C. Marshall Institute
Robert Jastrow

Comment: How ironic that Jastrow, skeptic of anthropogenic global warming, headed the very institute that now is a major player in promoting it, with James Hansen as its head. What's even more ironic - and left out in the above obituary - not surprisingly - is that Robert Jastrow was a vocal skeptic of Carl Sagan's attack on Immanuel Velikovsky, author of Worlds in Collision, who, using comparative mythology and ancient literary sources argued that Earth has suffered catastrophic close encounters with other planets in ancient times. Now we know that these contacts were most probably cometary encounters and not planetary. However Jastrow wrote of Velikovsky in Science Digest Sep/Oct 1980:
"Dr. Velikovsky's research into ancient writings revealed stories of 'fire and ashes falling from the sky...lava flowing from riven ground...bituminous rain...shaking ground...boiling seas...tidal waves...and heavy clouds of dust covering the face of the Earth.' Similar reports appear in the legends of peoples scattered around the world, from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean and Mexico."
In Sagan's attack on Velikovsky, Robert Anton Wilson writes in "Cosmic Trigger":
In several places, Sagan has published a mathematical proof that several near collisions between a comet and a planet have odds against them of "a trillion quadrillion to one." (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1.) Sounds pretty damned improbable, doesn't it? The problem here lies in the fact that Sagan considers each near-collision as an isolated or haphazard event, thereby ignoring gravity. In fact, any two celestial bodies, once attracted to each other, will tend to continue to approach each other periodically, according to Newtonian laws unmodified by Einstein. This periodicity will continue until some other gravitational force pulls one of the bodies away from the gravitational attraction of the other. Ask any physics or astronomy professor about this, if you think I'm pushing too hard here. As Dr. Robert Jastrow of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies wrote (New York Times 22 Dec 1979)

Professor Sagan's calculations, in effect, ignore the law of gravity. Here, Dr. Velikovsky was the better astronomer.
Of course, Carl Sagan, not to be outdone, replied to Jastrow's letter by calling it 'scientific incompetence'. However, as comet Shoemaker-Levy crashed into Jupiter in July 1994, 29 months before Sagan's death, it was Velikovsky and Jastrow who got the last laugh, if one could laugh at such a cosmic catastrophe clearly threatening our planet.