Have you heard the HUM? ...

For decades, hundreds of people worldwide have been plagued by an elusive buzzing noise known as "the Hum". Some have blamed gas pipes or power lines, others think their ears are faulty. A few even think sinister forces could be at work.

"It's a kind of torture, sometimes you just want to scream," exclaims retired head teacher Katie Jacques.

Sitting in the living room of her home in the suburbs of Leeds, the 69-year-old grandmother describes the dull drone she says is making her life a misery. :- READ MORE


 Thousands of dead fish have been washing up on WA [Western Australia] beaches.

EXPERTS say that record temperatures and low oxygen levels are to blame for dead fish being washed up on riverbanks and beaches across WA.Dead fish, eels and crayfish have been found on shores - with the coastline of Green Head, some 290km north of Perth, covered in now-rotting carcasses: - READ MORE

 Millions of Fish Die in Redondo Beach CA

 :REDONDO BEACH (KTLA) -- Authorities are working to clean up millions of dead fish that washed up in King Harbor near Redondo Beach on Monday. Thousands of fish were cleaned up with skimmers and bulldozers on Monday, but much more work remains to be done.-READ MORE


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Tim Radford, science editor
Thursday April 15, 2004

The universe - all that ever was, is or will be - could literally be a horn of plenty, according to German cosmologists. The cosmos could be stretched out like a long trumpet, infinitely long and narrow at one end, finite but flaring out like a horn at the end that humans can see now.

This is the shape of creation, known as a Picard topology, that makes most sense to Professor Frank Steiner, a theoretical physicist at the University of Ulm in Germany.

According to New Scientist today, a funnel-shaped universe best explains the pattern of cosmic background radiation observed when the universe was only about 380,000 years old.

This picture of early radiation, made by Nasa's Wilkinson microwave anistropy probe last year, has already helped answer some key questions about the history of time, space and everything. It helped pin the moment of creation to around 13.7 bn years ago. It helped confirm the proportions of the universe as 4% matter, 23% dark or undetectable matter and 73% something mysterious called quintessence, vacuum energy or dark energy. And it has raised once again the vexing question of the shape of the universe.

Even before cosmologists knew about the Big Bang, they had started worrying about the shape of spacetime. Did it stretch on forever, or was there a boundary? Einstein played with the idea of a negatively curved or saddle-shaped universe. Others wondered if it might be toroidal or doughnut shaped, so that it would seem to go on forever.

Last year, a New York team speculated that the universe might really be quite small, but shaped like an endlessly repeating set of dodecahedrons or soccer balls, so that a journey of 60bn light years in one direction would bring a traveller back to Earth, like a circumnavigation of the globe. Light travels in a straight line through space, but if space was crumpled or folded back on itself, galaxies might be quite close.

Prof Steiner's universal horn is another possible answer to the great spacetime riddle. A spacecraft could go on forever - but if it reached the flared end of the horn, it would start travelling back in on the opposite side. This shape is not the onlyrecent suggestion: a few months ago, a Pennsylvania team proposed a universe that looked like a squashed sphere.

"I made the comment that it is as though God carefully made the universe and then dropped it," says Paul Davies, a cosmologist now based at Macquarie University in Australia. "Until now, most serious cosmological models have assumed simple geometries and topologies: spatially flat and infinite, saddle-shaped and infinite or spherical and finite.

"But that hasn't stopped theorists exploring the properties of all sorts of weirdo shapes. Anyway, the universe can have a shape and still be infinite."

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