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Sneeze Vortex, Smellicopters, Smart Monkeys and More Mysterious News Briefly — December 9, 2020

Mysterious News Briefly — December 9, 2020

A new book, “The Handbook of Mummy Studies,” re-analyzes the so-called Skiles mummy – a 1400-year-old male found in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of modern-day Texas – and determined that he died of starvation due to severe constipation and was the beneficiary of what could be considered early hospice care from friends and relatives who fed him liquids he could not prepare himself. That’s nice, but where were they when he needed prunes?

University of Delaware researchers studying “blue carbon” stored in coastal ecosystems such as mangrove forests and salt marshes were shocked to find large quantities of methane in the soil, something never seen before in salt marshes. “Let see them blame this one on us,” thought nearby cows.

Researchers at Fukuoka University in Japan are developing face shields that will protect wearers from a fluid phenomenon known as a sneeze vortex ring — a donut-shaped vortex generated by an instantaneous ejection of fluid from a circular orifice like a mouth that can travel around the sides of conventional face shields. If these really work, can we get salad bars back?

Loneliness can trigger “cravings” for social interaction in the brain just as hunger can trigger cravings for food, according to a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Do loneliness and hunger together lead to cravings for the real Ben & Jerry bearing pints of ice cream?

Russia’s consumer safety watchdog is warning recipients of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to abstain from alcohol for 21 days after the first immunization and 21 days more days after the second to avoid putting strain on the body. What about strain on the people who have to deal with suddenly-sober Russians?

NASA announced its plans for the upcoming Artemis moon base missions, which include bringing back a total of 85 kilograms (187 pounds) of lunar samples and establishing a real-time data and video link to a science support team on Earth. Is that so astronauts can hold up rocks and ask, “How about this one? OK, do you like THIS one?”

If you see a moth fluttering aimlessly without an antenna, blame engineers at the University of Washington who mounted an antenna from a live moth on a small drone and created the Smellicopter, a cyborg that can find the source of a smell while avoiding obstacles in its way. Well, at least until someone turns on a porch light.

In a new Georgia State University experiment involving 56 humans pitted against 29 monkeys, the monkeys outperformed the humans in cognitive flexibility – figuring out new strategies to get rewards faster than the humans could. Does this mean monkeys are getting smarter or humans dumber? (Asking for a screenwriter friend.)

Before you get upset at your dog for bringing your flippers instead of slippers, check out the new study which found that canines actually can only learn a limited amount of human words and similar-sounding ones get them confused. “Same with my husband,” thought every married woman.


Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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