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Is It Science Or Science Fiction?

Sep 5, 2008
A Dutch science teacher accidentally discovered what may be a new, astrological phenomenon. While Hanny van Artel was helping the Web site Galaxy Zoo identify galaxies, she spotted a greenish, gaseous object with a hole in it. Because it doesn't have stars and thus can't be a galaxy, astronomers think it is light from a no-longer-visible quasar; and the light, as it continues to travel through space, is echoing off a body of gas. For us who are science-challenged this is called a "cosmic space ghost".

For those who are pedicure-challenged there is a new salon treatment - fish pedicures. Over 6,000 customers have had the $45 treatment since the Yvonne Salon in Alexandria, Virginia started offering it. The silvery, one-inch fish, known as Garra rufa, originated in Turkish hot springs, where human flesh was the only available food. Garra rufa don't have teeth. They basically suck off dry skin. In China and Japan these fish are known as "doctor fish" because they are used to treat psoriasis and other skin ailments. Yvonne went to China for a full-body treatment; and after 40 minutes lying in a pool of Garra rufa, she said her skin looked beautiful. Forty thousand dollars and 10,000 fish later Yvonne's salon is "offishally" the first in the U.S. to have these pedicures.

In the Netherlands a new painting by van Gogh was discovered - in the Kroller-Muller Museum. Because van Gogh is known to have painted over about one-third of his paintings, an international team of scientists used new x-ray technology to examine his 1887 work, "Patch of Grass". The x-ray beam determined the chemical makeup of the layers of paint; and because different pigments are composed of different elements, they were able to reconstruct the painting underneath. What they reconstructed was a portrait of a peasant woman - as well as van Gogh's underlying opinion of this painting.

What NASA's Phoenix lander found on Mars was a white matter that looked like ice. Because the clumpy material repeatedly got stuck in the bottom of the robotic arm's scoop, the scientists had to resort to testing nearby dry soil - which tested positive for frozen water. When the water is tested, scientists will know more about the history of Mars and whether it's inhabitable. As for the Phoenix lander, its mission on Mars was extended to the end of September 2008 - in spite of its soiled reputation.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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