Mysterious News Briefly — November 27, 2020
In Denmark, some of the millions of minks killed and buried after becoming infected with mutated strain of COVID-19 appear to be rising from the dead due to gases lifting them out of their shallow graves like zombies. One good thing you can say about 2020 – it’s been great for the people who make Disaster Bingo cards.
Oceanogrpahers used a small amount of bait to lure a massive swarm of 115 cutthroat eels (Ilyophis arx) out of the shadows and into the light of their underwater cameras at a depth of more than 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) below sea level, making it the greatest number of deep sea fish ever recorded at one time in the abyssal zone. Like all good parties, it broke up after the food was gone.
Doctors using artificial intelligence for medical diagnoses now have a new neural network system called Deep Evidential Regression which can judge whether its predictions can be trusted. Do they have a model we can use on politicians?
Cosmologists at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Japan and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany propose that dark energy is made of a new fifth element called ‘quintessence’ which causes telltale ‘twists’ in ancient light picked up by telescopes scanning the cosmic wave background. If the twists made them shout, the Isley Brothers would be proud.
A physicist in Okinawa has developed a way to produce inexpensive yet reliable N95-type respirator filters by heating ordinary plastic and spinning them in an ordinary cotton candy machine to create a mesh filter for the N95 masks. No matter how tasty they look, don’t eat the pink ones.
In an example of using whatever is handy, scientists studying a 2000-year-old mummy found in a northern Egyptian necropolis excavated in 1910 placed it in a synchrotron particle accelerator at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and found the skeleton inside was that of a five-year-old, not an adult woman as depicted on the picture painted on it, and the mummy was wearing an unusual 7-mm-long artifact made from a mineral called calcite. Did the lab give them a discount since no particles were accelerated?
Researchers in Hong Kong have developed a mixture of iron, polyvinyl alcohol, gluten and water to create a spray-on magnetic skin that can turn tiny objects into ‘millirobots’ which can then be used for biomedical procedures like robotic catheters or drug deliveries. This also sounds like a 21st-century party replacement for silly string.
After 1,000 years of dealing with jokes they’ve already heard thousands of times, the residents of F*cking, Austria, have voted to officially change their town’s name to Fugging. And yes, they’ve already heard the one about the city sign painter whose work order of the day was “F*ck off.”
Finally, some good news to counter the bad of 2020 — researchers at the University of Birmingham found that drinking cocoa boosts your memory by increasing the amount of cognitive-improving flavanols in your brain. The first task we hope it improves is the ability to remember to buy cocoa and milk.
Anyone who remembers being forced by science teachers to memorize the periodic table will be depressed to learn those brain cells were wasted – some scientists are proposing replacing the traditional periodic table with a new one based on the Mendeleev Number that is a combination of an element’s atomic radius its electronegativity which measures how strongly an atom attracts electrons to itself. Send your hate mail or bribes to move your favorite element to #1 to the Journal of Physical Chemistry.