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Cubic Food, Robotic Movers, Space Chopsticks and More Mysterious News Briefly — August 31, 2021

According to CEO Elon Musk, SpaceX will try to catch the primary rocket stage used to give the Starship spacecraft a boost into orbit with giant robotic chopsticks called “Mechazilla” attached to the launch tower. That would be impressive if it works … as long as it doesn’t mean we have to now call him the Space Karate Kid.

Engineers at the University of Cincinnati have developed robots that can work independently and cooperatively to move unwieldy objects like a couch through new, unfamiliar scenarios. If they can also take you to the airport, the era of friends is over.

Fungus expert (mycologist) Paul Stamets believes we’ll find fungi on other planets because fungal networks on Earth preceded animals, facilitated the advance of plants onto land, and are an inevitable consequence of the existence of matter emerging into life. If true, the tough part will be convincing tired space travelers landing after a long flight to not eat the magic aliens.

A new study suggests that the levels of UV radiation inside of what appear to be caves on Mars would be around 2 per cent of the levels on the surface, which would be low enough to protect astronauts and high enough to sustain organisms that require light to produce energy via photosynthesis – meaning that may be where we find Martian life forms. The next Rover will need a headlamp.

Tardigrades — everyone’s favorite indestructible creature – just got more lovable with a new study and video (watch it here) showing how the world’s smallest creatures with legs walk around with a regular gait across various surfaces. Or are they running to avoid getting shot out of guns again?

Snake Road, also known as Forest Service Road No. 345, in Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest is closed for two months due to snakes – it’s time for their annual fall migration from their summer habitat in the LaRue Swamp across the road to their winter habitat in the limestone bluffs. It’s easier than training a snake to hold a crossing guard sign.

The self-healing “blob” from space – actually, a blob of single cell slime molds named “Physarum polycephalum” which are part of a student experiment – will be returning to Earth soon so the students can see if and how it self-heals in space. It’s inspiring to see kids using slime for something educational rather than just sticking it in the microwave and running away.

Just when you start to feel you’ve turned the corner on disasters comes new research from astrophysicists at the Astronomical Observatory of Padua in Italy which estimates that about 20 to 35 percent of Sun-like stars have committed acts of “planetary ingestion” —  they’ve devoured their own planets, leaving only their chemical signatures that can be spotted from Earth. Let’s hope our Sun gets indigestion from Venus and drops the idea.

A Florida startup company is developing square food – compressed cubes of real meat, vegetables, grains, natural spices, nutrients  and no preservatives – that requires no cooking and no refrigeration but delivers a variety of stackable meal cubes that it hopes will convince eaters that convenience is better than the joy of cooking and eating. Well, George Jetson always looked happy eating his.

SpaceX’s latest cargo delivery to the ISS brought real ice cream for NASA astronaut Megan McArthur’s 50th birthday, along with lemons, cherry tomatoes and avocados. Needless to say, her request for a piñata was turned down.

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Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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