Mysterious News Briefly — March 26, 2021
From the “This is the kind of research we need” file comes a new study which found that found decreasing the price of an expensive wine by four-fold did not change the overall wine ratings for its pleasantness among laypeople, but increasing the price of cheap wine caused the same people to say it tasted better. Ironically, this makes wine connoisseurs mad dogs.
According to a new analysis of Gaia satellite data, a possible invisible but massive clump of dark matter is tearing apart the Hyades star cluster -- the closest star cluster to our Solar System. It’s time to worry when Gaia astronomers start being nice to Elon Musk.
In answer to the Fermi Paradox, S. Alan Stern, a planetary scientist at Southwest Research Institute, says we haven’t seen any space aliens because they’re trapped under the thick frozen crusts of subterranean water worlds where they’re safe and thriving but either can’t get out or don’t want to. If they can pick up TV signals from Earth, it’s probably the latter.
People with too much time on their hands have calculated that the classic 1993 shooter video game Doom could be powered by 16,039,018,50 crabs. Unfortunately, they can’t play it because their claws are rubber-banded.
From the ”Duh!” files comes a new study by researchers at Princeton University, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the University of East Anglia (UEA) which found growing evidence that climate change is fueling more powerful hurricanes and typhoons as global temperatures rise and maximum wind speeds increase by 5 percent. Also, hurricane weather reporters need bigger poles to chain themselves to.
The first known natural gene transfer from a plant to an insect was discovered in the whitefly Bemisia tabaci – an agricultural pest which acquired a gene from plants that allows it to neutralize a toxin that some plants produce to defend against it and other insects. Sounds good for whiteflies, but does this mean they have feet shaped like roots?
Wine tasters in France say the Chateau Petrus Pomerol in a dozen bottles of French wine that recently returned to Earth after spending a year on the International Space Station tastes “beautiful,” but acquired a “brick” color due to the lack of gravity. Does brick wine go with pancake stacks?
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are working on thin flying saucers they claim will be able to hover in the mesosphere -- the atmospheric layer above the stratosphere starting at an altitude of 50 km (31 miles) where the air is too thin to support balloons or aircraft but too thick for satellites to fly through. The crews will be really thin robots, so C3PO finally has an advantage over R2D2.
A new map of the lost continent of Zealandia – whose only non-submerged parts are New Zealand and New Caledonia – shows it actually covers 1.9 million square miles (4.9 million square km), making it six times larger than the next-largest Gondwana supercontinental fragment, Madagascar. Madagascar, which is not 94% underwater, should demand a recount.
A hand-painted "self-portrait" by the world-famous humanoid robot, Sophia, was offered as a non-fungible token (NFT) and sold at auction for over $688,000. Even more impressive is that Sophia can actually explain what an NFT is.