Mysterious News Briefly — December 28, 2020
The mystery of why Beethoven’s tempo marks on many of his symphonies cause conductors to play them too fast has finally been solved – a new study found that Ludwig was misreading the newly-invented metronome he was using. That sound you hear is Beethoven rolling over to tell Tchaikovsky the news.
A study by Samsung proved what older generations have long suspected – the shorter attention span of younger people is causing popular songs to be shorter in length, and it predicts songs will be no longer than two minutes by 2030. Despite that, music awards shows will still run long past their scheduled end time.
In a case of nature meets the mob, a Brazilian study found that certain local species of caterpillars pay a “protection fee” of sugar to ants to insure safe passage across plants that the ants feed on and would normally aggressively defend from the caterpillars. Get ready for an animated version of this study called “The Bugfather.”
The mystery of how a pregnant woman’s immune system protects her and her unborn baby from miscarriages and gestational diabetes was solved when researchers from Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences determined that the thymus, a small forgotten gland behind the sternum, changes massively during pregnancy to produce special cells to boost immunity. Add this to the list of things that are more important during pregnancy and childbirth than the father.
Researchers at Durham University have discovered Vector Trace cells in human brains that are sensitive to the distance and direction of objects, making them a type of brain GPS responsible for helping us find lost or misplaced objects. These could someday help treat certain kinds of dementia, but that’s too far in the future to help you find your keys today.
New images of A68a – once the world’s largest iceberg – now show it’s broken into at least four smaller bergs which may be light enough for currents to carry them away from South Georgia Island and spare the millions of penguins living there from disaster. That’s also good news for other wildlife on the island that would have been trampled by the world’s largest mass of fleeing waddling penguins.
The New England Journal of Medicine reports the strange case of a man whose pulse was playing music picked up by a Doppler ultrasound device placed on his feet – a phenomena that may have been caused by the patient’s prosthetic hip. Sounds like something you could live with provided the channel could be changed without having to do something embarrassing.
Richard Garriott, a video game entrepreneur who paid for a trip to the International Space Station in 2008, has finally admitted he smuggled a vial of ashes belonging to the late James Doohan – a.k.a. Montgomery “Scotty” Scott of Star Trek fame – and hid them somewhere on the ISS. With his ego, William “Kirk” Shatner will probably want a piece of the space station brought back and hidden on him.
The Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) project announced that its superconducting fusion device, better known as the Korean artificial sun, set the new world record by maintaining its plasma for 20 seconds at an ion temperature over 100 million degrees Celsius. This is good news for those hoping to one day build a tanning bed that can give perineum sun bathers an option during winter months.
Scientists from the University of Bonn in Germany used eROSITA, an X-ray telescope run by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, to discover a single filament of gas that stretches 50 million light-years. Being the first ever detected, this is a good time to name your band “Giant Filaments of Gas.”