Mysterious News Briefly — July 16, 2021
Researchers from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University found that the slime mold Physarum polycephalum, a blob-like lifeform which has no brain whatsoever, can perform surprisingly complex calculations, such as solving mazes or exhibiting basic forms of memory. Insert your least favorite celebrity or politician’s name here _____ … we’ll provide the “Duh!”
A Nobel Prize Laureate and other genomics researchers have discovered Borg-like genetic elements that assimilate genes from other organisms, but they’re not sure what exactly they are. Paging Seven-of-Nine.
Scientists from University of California, San Diego, developed a thin, wearable strip that generates electricity from your moist hands as you sleep – you have more sweat glands in your fingers than anywhere else – and wearing it for ten hours would generate about 400 millijoules, which is enough power to keep a watch running for 24 hours. Could one person with severe anxiety replace a coal plant? (Asking for a sweaty-palmed friend looking for a purpose in life.)
The cryptocurrencies craze has created a hot new real-estate market for former industrial spaces – factories, airplane hangars, paper and steel mills -- to convert into crypto-mining facilities. Ironically, everything but actual mines.
NASA has decided to attempt to fix a problem that has stopped the Hubble telescope from being used for astronomy since June by switching its instruments over to a backup control unit. If this doesn’t work, can it be converted into a space bitcoin mine? (See previous story.)
A new website hosted by a New Mexico Tech physicist and a Texas State University engineer is collecting eyewitness accounts of ball lightning to improve the basic understanding of the phenomenon in order to help weather radar systems predict ball lightning. If you see a glowing bowling ball-sized orb in the air, and there was no explosion at the neighborhood alley, give them a call.
Researchers planted electrodes on the surface of the brain of a paralyzed man unable to speak, collected his brain waves and turned what he intended to say into sentences on a computer screen. So far he’s limited to single words like ‘water’ and ‘good’, but he hopes to someday be able to tell someone where he has an itch.
Football-sized giant goldfish that were once pets have been found in Keller Lake in Minnesota and local authorities are warning they are uprooting plants and contributing to poor water quality. Unscrupulous fish flushers won’t do anything until a giant goldfish shows up at their door demanding all of their little containers of fish food.
Conservators at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London have uncovered what may be Michelangelo’s fingerprint on a wax sculpture, titled ‘A Slave’ (circa 1516–19), attributed to the Renaissance artist. If it’s not Michelangelo’s fingerprint, the cleaning service needs to find a new line of work.
An amateur chef in Guatemala has become famous for turning the country’s active Pacaya volcano into a giant pizzeria that serves fresh volcanic pizza baked on smoldering volcanic rock right next to flowing rivers of molten lava. Mount Saint Domino's?