Mysterious News Briefly — February 26, 2021
You may not be able to tell two flies apart, but their mother and paleontologists at Simon Fraser University (SFU) can – they just discovered that fossils classified for 150 years as damselflies are actually a major new insect group closely related to them and dragonflies called Cephalozygoptera. No wonder prehistoric frogs thought they tasted funny.
An experiment gave a deep-learning AI model called GPT-3 a variety of subjects -- including U.S. History, Creative Writing, and Law – and the term papers GPT-3 wrote were given to college professors who gave them an average of "C", with one two B-‘s (law and history) and only one “F”. GPT-3 promised to get better grades once it learning how to hack.
For the first time ever, researchers using a transmission X-ray camera were able to record space-time crystals -- a solid material made up of a repeating crystal lattice of atoms that rearrange themselves symmetrically over time and periodically form their original structure. Somewhere in the afterlife, Einstein and Hawking high-fived and shouted, “We knew that!”
Google co-founder Sergey Brin is looking for “an experienced Hydrogen Program Manager” to work on his massive airship that will be powered by a 1.5 megawatt hydrogen propulsion system which will be several orders of magnitude larger than any other flying hydrogen fuel cell. Suitable candidates probably have to sign a non-disclosure and promise never to say, “Oh, the humanity!”
Russian robotic engineers have created a giant battery-powered robot ornithopter with a 10-foot-long fuselage that uses flapping dragonfly-ish wings to get airborne and propel itself. This is either the next big Christmas present or the plot for Stephen Spielberg’s next movie.
Cartoons depicting beams coming out of eyes may not be far from the truth – new research shows that our brains actually conjure illusory beams of motion emanating from the faces of others. However, if you see those cartoon images of eyes attached to springs popping out of people’s heads – see a doctor.
Scientists using a new technique called Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) have dated the mysterious cauldron-like burial megaliths in Laos known as the Plain of Jars back to the late second millennium BCE, which would make them the oldest evidence of mortuary practices ever found. Unfortunately, the Plain of Jars region is also filled with unexploded bombs dropped by the US Air Force in the 1960s and most of the funeral jars rest in pieces.
Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster driven by Starman has just completed its second orbit around the Sun and will complete its third on September 5, 2022, which could coincide with SpaceX's planned trip to Mars. Starman would like to come and meet them, but he thinks he’d blow their minds.
The world’s oldest known wild bird – an albatross named Wisdom who returns annually to Hawaii’s Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge – just turned 70, outliving several mates and several researchers who have tracked her since she was first banded in 1956. Wisdom is still laying and hatching eggs, which is probably wise since albatrosses have no retirement plan.
Just when we start feeling good about ourselves, a new study using computer simulations found that woolly mammoths would have lived another 4,000 years in some parts of Eurasia if it weren't for human hunters. This is why we can’t have nice things … or big, smelly, wooly things either.