Mysterious News Briefly — October 27, 2021
Researchers at San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography have built the Scripps Ocean Atmosphere Research Simulator (SOARS) -- an indoor ocean 120 feet wide holding 32,000-gallons of seawater with temperature control, huge ducts blowing 60-mph winds and a giant paddle making waves to simulate any ocean on Earth. It’s so realistic, workers complained of sharknado nightmares.
The Voyager spacecrafts are still operational almost 50 years after being launched, but NASA plans to top that with a mission in 2036 that could last for more than a century and outlive the scientists and engineers who built it. Those faint footsteps you hear are tardigrades lining up to volunteer for the mission.
To protect the 100 or so hippos descended from Pablo Escobar’s original four that now roam freely and destructively in Colombia, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has recognized the hippos as legal persons – the first time any animals have been declared legal persons in U.S. history. We’ll believe it when we see hippos paying taxes.
A study conducted by the School of Psychology of the University of Sydney found that the size of the pupils in our eyes changes depending on how many objects we're observing and this "perceived numerosity" is an automatic reflex. Does this explain why so many of us close our eyes tight when we see a math test?
If you’d like to volunteer for a Mars mission but are concerned about how you’ll get back, a new study found that a microbe called cyanobacteria combined with a strain of E. coli bacteria could be used in a photobioreactor on the Martian surface to create a bio-rocket propellant called 2,3-butanediol with enough power to escape Mars’ low gravity. Can you imagine Scotty telling Captain Kirk he needs more E. coli?
Buffalo Wild Wings has unveiled a new robot called Flippy Wings or “Wingy” that uses AI vision to identify pieces of chicken wings, drop them into a deep fryer and remove them when done – thus sparing human restaurant workers from the risk of burning themselves. This sounds like a great idea until Wingy’s AI decides it doesn’t want to work through the Super Bowl.
As part of its “Taiwan Ironman program,” Taiwan’s military is equipping its soldiers with a battery-powered exoskeleton suit that will enable them to run faster and easily lift and carry heavy objects. Put Forrest Gump in one of these and you’ve got the plot for a sequel.
Proving space travel isn’t glamorous, SpaceX announced a redesign of the latrine on the Crew Dragon capsule after the Inspiration4 crew had to deal with a urine-carrying tube that broke, leaking it into a fan that sprayed pee all over the place in weightless space. Can you imagine Sulu trying to explain to Captain Kirk why his pants are wet?
NASA’s new AI4Mars project is looking for volunteers to study tens of thousands of images from the Perseverance rover on Mars to help train the AI of future rovers to identify features on the Martian surface and make decisions on how to deal with them. Who knew that all of those years of walking on the beach would look good on your resume for a job at NASA?
A French study of micrometeorites hitting Earth calculated that the amount of extraterrestrial space dust and tiny rocks they pound into the planet totals about 5,200 tons every year. No wonder we have headaches.