Mysterious News Briefly — May 6, 2021
SpaceX finally launched and successfully landed the latest full-scale prototype of its Mars-bound Starship rocket — the first time it didn’t explode in the air or on the ground. Elon Musk finally has something to talk about in his Saturday Night Live monologue.
A new study found that humanity could go on after a massive, apocalyptic wipeout of the world population if only a few hundred survived. Stephen King likes the idea but that’s still too many characters for one book.
Using 200-year-old fecal samples, Dartmouth University researchers found that even the wealthiest and most educated people in New England in the early 1800s had tapeworms and other parasites and suffered from severe digestive diseases. An aging Paul Revere might have been heard in those days riding through town and crying, “The antacids are coming! The antacids are coming!”
For those who enjoy watching cats play with and hide in boxes but don’t have a box handy, cognitive ethologists at the City University of New York found that cats will also sit in visual representations of squares on the floor. “Will this work for kids?” asked parents tired of waiting for schools to reopen.
An influential and oft-repeated theory called Dunbar's number, which suggested that the average person can only maintain about 150 stable social relationships at a time, has been downgraded to as low as just 42 people. “This is a day that will live in infamy,” said Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
At a primary school in Queensland, Australia, a new species of giant wood moth was found, with females as big as rats, weighing 30 grams (1 ounce) with a wingspan of up to 25 cm (10 inches). “We’re gonna need a bigger rolled-up magazine,” said the janitor called to get rid of it.
A new look at historical measurements gathered from a NASA storm-chasing airplane back in 2012 found that lightning bolts and the weaker, invisible electrical charges around them can produce the pollutant-catching oxidants hydroxyl (OH) and hydroperoxyl (HO2), which can remove gases such as methane and carbon monoxide from the atmosphere, thereby reducing air pollution. Can we turn Los Angeles into one giant lightning rod?
Construction workers in Isernia, Italy, excavated a bust dating back to the Roman Empire and archeologists identified it as Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, by its distinctive “swallow-tail” hairstyle made of thick strands of hair divided and parted in a distinctive “V” or pincer shape. Proving once again that, in politics, it’s better to have good hair than good policies.
A dispute between a restaurant owner and local gangsters in Taipei, Taiwan, resulted in the mobsters attacking the restaurant with thousands of cockroaches. The perpetrators haven’t been caught yet but screenwriters re already working on the script for “The Bugfather.”
Thousands of koi fish have mysteriously died in residential ponds in Coconut Grove, Florida, over the past few weeks along with many birds, plants and racoons, and investigators are at a loss to explain the deaths, although they suspect something leaked toxins in the groundwater. This is Florida, so they’re probably hoping it kills a few invasive pythons before they find the cause.