Mysterious News Briefly — December 30, 2020
Those clever engineers at Boston Dynamics introduced the music world to their robot overlords with a video of two of the company’s humanoid robots dancing with one of its famous robot dogs to the song “Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)?”. Will the ‘bot apocalypse be led by a robot Dick Clark?
A spa in Cairo is offering 30-minute snake massages – non-venomous pythons crawling all over your naked body – that the owner clams will reduce muscle and joint pain while improving blood circulation and releasing endorphins. The ‘happy ending’ is the feeling of the last snake being removed.
The mysterious deaths in the fall of thousands of migratory birds flying across the southwestern United States has finally been traced to long-term starvation caused by wildfires that forced the birds to leave the north early, only to find less plants, seeds and insects for fuel because of the early freeze. Don’t feel guilty if you’re imagining 2020 as a statue and we’re all birds pooping on it.
Astronomers long baffled by a lack of lithium in the universe when it should be as plentiful as hydrogen and helium (the so-called “cosmological lithium problem”) now think it’s hiding in ancient white dwarf stars that swallowed up planets and asteroids loaded with the light element. A bigger problem is finding out that, with all of the other problems the world has, scientists are concerned about a “cosmological lithium problem.”
Bad news for future Mars colonists – researchers at the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences found that brine (salty water) exists on the planet’s surface, but only for hours at a time and never for a full day. A Martian dilemma – plenty of salt for margarita glasses but no water to make the tequila.
Guys, before you press “buy now” on that stylish suit, consider a new study which found that male fairy-wrens – whose feathers are among the most beautiful in the bird world – spend a lot of time preening their plumage to attract females who surprisingly do not see this as a sign of quality breeding material. Before you press the other “buy now” button, they probably don’t like male fairy-wrens whose features look like grey sweatpants either.
Now that Christmas present delivery is over, Discover magazine reports that the Earth actually has four North Poles -- the geographic or “true” North Pole, the North Magnetic Pole that attracts compass needles, the Geomagnetic North Pole that is the northernmost point of Earth’s geomagnetic field, and the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility that is the furthest point away from all northern land masses. While the first one is the home of Santa, the last one sounds like the perfect place to escape 2020.
The Italian government has budgeted $22.5 million to rebuild the floor of the Colosseum in Rome, complete with the trap doors and hidden lifts that allowed gladiators and wild animals to be stored and moved around in secret rooms and corridors underneath the floor. The floor should be completed by 2023, long before the arguments over naming rights, placement of logos and ownership of the sky boxes.
Yet another fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus has been discovered, this time in South Africa. As with the others, it responds well to vaccines but poorly to conspiracy theories.
A global team of researchers searching for new ways to fight pathogenic antibiotic-resistant bacteria are looking at N-Aryl-C-nitroazoles -- compounds used as pesticides and fungicides that are also toxic to humans but could be modified at the molecular level to make them harmless to us but deadly to bacteria. Will doctors really go for soap in bottles labeled “Raid!”?