Mysterious News Briefly — January 11, 2021
Researchers studying a fossilized megalodon (Otodus megalodon), the monsters of the prehistoric oceans that reached 66 feet (20 m) in length, determined they were born fully formed and measuring 6.6 feet long (2 m) long – a size they attained in the womb by cannibalizing the eggs and embryos of their siblings. Is this the plot for a new horror movie called “Shark Natal”?
In the first known case of this feature in bacteria, scientists found photosynthetic bacteria (Bacillus subtilis), which use light to make chemical energy, have 24-hour circadian clocks, which in humans control all body processes, metabolism and cognition. Does this mean older bacteria hear their biological clocks ticking and decide to finally split?
Food processing company Archer Daniels Midland and InnovaFeed, a French firm that makes insect protein for animal feed, are building the world’s largest insect protein factory farm in central Illinois to grow and harvest the larvae of billions of black soldier flies that will then eat decomposing organic matter and convert it into animal feed. How long before they cut out the middle-mammal and feed it to us directly?
British start-up called Inpulse has developed artificially intelligent ‘smart’ cycling shorts equipped with sensors and wires that emit electrical currents into rider’s muscles to improve their performance. What they really need is AI sensors to tell the non-biking wearer how silly they look in cycling shorts.
Archaeologists in Bihar in eastern India discovered the remains of an 11th- or 12th-century Mahayana Buddhist monastery on the top of a hill, the first hilltop monastery in the area, that was also the first Buddhist monastery known to be run by a woman and may have been coed. (Pun alert) That would mean both men and women residents called it ‘om’. (You were warned.)
If you still weren’t impressed with jellyfish, researchers at the University of South Florida found a reason why jellyfish are known as the “world’s most efficient swimmers” – they create two vortex rings under their bodies that spin in opposite directions to provide a ‘ground effect’ force lifting them off the seafloor like planes taking off on a runway. Sounds like it’s time to change the name of the Portuguese man o’ war to the “Man o’ Whoa!”
Glassmaking, long an impressive process, just got some new recognition as physicists at University of Konstanz in Germany have classified its mysterious transformation from liquid to solid as a new state of matter called “liquid glass” because its molecules behave in an unusual non-crystalline state. Now will you start recycling yours?
For the first time, researchers in Japan passed a magnetic field over live, unaltered cells and observed them being moved by the magnetism – a process known as biological magnetoreception. No, this doesn’t mean you can blame the pull your refrigerator seems to have on you on the magnets covering it.
Despite what you might think of them, goats (the animals, not the greatest-of-all-time (GOAT) athletes) have been shown to prefer working for food rewards rather than just being fed. GOATs probably enjoy working for rewards too, but not those creatures referred to as ‘old goats’.
Here’s something for Elon Musk to ponder – new research finds that Mars mysteriously wobbles in a way that’s different from Earth, which is the only other planet in the solar system with this mysterious trait. While Musk’s orbiting Tesla plays Bowie’s “Starman,” his Martian landers may have to switch to Elvis’ “All Shook Up.”