Mysterious News Briefly — December 22, 2021
Proving even rocket scientists do dumb things, a group of rocket engineers in California needed four attempts to launch a seven-foot Christmas tree attached to a solid fuel rocket into lower space – reaching an altitude of 300 feet high as it dropped fake presents on the Mojave Desert. Once management found out, they probably went to see Santa and ask him to bring them new jobs.
A woman who bought a small porcelain ornament at a charity shop because it said “Goblin” and “Merlin” on the outside now believes she’s cursed because she opened it and found someone’s ashes inside. So if you receive a lovely porcelain ornament with “Goblin” on the side from a friend for Christmas … re-gift it.
A new documentary tells the tragic tale of Shauna Rae, who is 22 and legally old enough to drink but no one will serve her because chemotherapy for a rare form of childhood brain cancer has left her trapped in the body of an eight-year-old. If she can find a 22-year-old guy trapped in the body of an eight-year-old boy, she’s got the makings of a hit movie.
The company Airseas has developed a parafoil kite measuring 5,380 square feet (500 square meters) that will be attached to the Ville de Bordeaux cargo ship and towed around for six months to test the energy-saving concept. How close the kite have to be to the boat to be called a sail?
Successful results in using psychedelics to treat post-traumatic stress disorder is moving an increasing number of researchers across the country to work with U.S. Veterans Administration medical centers to create and deploy protocols for psychedelic therapy, including MDMA, psilocybin and ketamine. Dr. Timothy Leary, who President Richard Nixon once described as "the most dangerous man in America," would be proud.
New linguistic evidence published in The Housman Society Journal claims to support the long-debated theory that the ancient Greek geographer, astronomer and explorer Pytheas of Massalia, discovered Iceland around 300 BCE, about 1000 years before the Vikings. This could change everything … at least on cable TV shows about the Vikings.
As you propose a toast to the makers of the vino you’re drinking, don’t forget to thank Western Asians –new research confirms that every popular domesticated wine grape shares an ancestor, and that ancestor was developed and grown in Western Asia about 4,000 years ago. If your wine came from a box, also toast South Australian winemaker Thomas Angove who patented the first ever bag-in-box in 1965.
The three wise men would be wise to bring other gifts this year – studies show northern Ethiopia’s Boswellia papyrifera, the main commercial source of frankincense, and Comiphora wightii, native to parts of Pakistan and India and a prime source of myrrh, are critically endangered. Gold, gift cards and a nice sweater are still available.
Researchers from the University of St Andrews and the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior report that New Caledonian crows, which are known tool users, keep their favorite foraging hooked tools in holes for safekeeping. If crows are really as smart as we think, they don’t lend them out either.
A newly discovered extinct reptile species called the Shashajaia, a primitive member of the group that eventually evolved into mammals, became a top predator by modifying their teeth in response to environmental instability around 300 million years ago – thus laying the foundations for the incisor, canine and molar teeth that all mammals, including humans, have today. Give thanks the next time you bite into some fried alligator.