Mysterious News Briefly — December 11, 2020
The cause of the mysterious booms plaguing residents of Mullica Township, New Jersey, may have been found … a nearby vineyard owner confessed to building a do-it-yourself “hail cannon” — from scrap metal, old street signs and powered by a mix of acetylene and oxygen in a propane tank — which he uses to break up cloud formations and scare away birds that eat his grapes. It’s perfectly legal, but he may cut back on using it if he hears his neighbors are building a vigneron cannon.
Six dogs selected by the National Veterinary School of Alfort, France, have been trained to detect people infected with coronavirus by sniffing their underarms and are now working at airports around the world. Does TSA now stand for Terriers Smelling Armpits?
Astronomers have discovered a gravitational superhighway or “celestial autobahn” system that speeds asteroids and comets from near Jupiter to Neptune in under 10 years, making it a useful future speedy pathway for sending spacecraft around the solar system. That’s still a long way from warp speed but for now, Celestial Autobahn is a great name for a band, a high-potency herbal tea or a sci-fi rom-com.
Paleontologists analyzing skulls and skeletons unearthed in North America, Brazil, Argentina and Madagascar found a group of small, flightless dinosaur-like animals known as lagerpetids that appear to be a missing-link middle species in the evolution from land reptiles to pterosaurs, the first flying vertebrates. The key identifiers were probably sore legs from flapping, a stiff neck from looking up and a look of frustration on the faces of the lagerpetids.
According to a new update on how spiders behave in space, the rarely-discussed original spiders-on-the-space-station experiment in 2008 went awry when one of the two test subjects escaped from their chamber while the fruit flies brought to feed them overbred and eventually piled up high enough to block the observation window. Who knew spiders in space act like humans in lockdown ordering food deliveries faster than they can eat them?
Good news for Tasmanian devils – researchers tracking the facial tumor disease that was threatening to wipe out the species have determined that the spread of the disease has slowed to the point where each infected devil is infecting only one additional animal or less, making their extinction from it unlikely. That’s good news because its impossible to get a mask on those little devils.
Humans are no longer the only vertebrate species to domesticate animals – scientists in Australia exploring coral reefs in Belize discovered that longfin damselfish appear to have domesticated mysid shrimp in order to use their feces to fertilize their algae farms. Next thing you know, they’ll be holding rodeos, riding mechanical algae and singing songs about lonesome nights on the coral reefs.
The France’s Defense Minister announced that the French armed forces are starting research to develop “enhanced soldiers” in order to keep up with other countries that are not as scrupulous as France. Being French, the soldiers are probably hoping for an enhancement allowing them to smoke without being detected by the enemy.
Pharmaceutical distributor AvKare is voluntarily recalling erectile dysfunction drugs and anti-depression medications that were “inadvertently packaged together” due to a “product mix-up.” Not surprisingly, no one called their doctor to complained about not being depressed for four hours.
A new study determined that the mass of human-made products — including infrastructure and products made with concrete, asphalt, bricks, metals, glass and plastic — exceeds that of all of the Earth’s plants, microorganisms, people and animals. And that doesn’t include what Amazon will be sending to your house between now and Christmas.