May 31, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

Metaverse Tequila, Bananas Scaring Mice, Lab-Grown Wood and More Mysterious News Briefly

When most people hear the words “lab-grown” they think of lab-grown meat, but researchers at MIT have figured out a way to generate a wood-like plant material in a lab, which could help save some of the 10 million hectares of forest — an area about the size of Iceland — cut down every year, by growing wooden products like tables and chairs without felling trees, processing them into lumber and sawing and nailing them into shapes. “What could possibly go wrong?” says anyone who hasn’t seen the apple-throwing trees in “The Wizard of Oz.”

The startup company Tortoise has created the first remote-controlled store on wheels – think robotic vending machine – which can facilitate "transactions that would likely not have happened if we hadn’t been there" by going directly to places where "you have long lines, a lot of food traffic or a captive audience, or ideally some combination of the three." Watch for two of these machines fighting at lunchtime for the same downtown corner on an episode of ‘Robot Wars’.

An international team of astronomers used a database of observations from the best telescopes in the world detected signals from the active supermassive black holes of dying galaxies in the early Universe and speculate that supermassive black holes can disrupt the gas in some galaxies and create an environment unsuitable for star formation. Forget Death Stars – all the Empire needs is one Death Supermassive Black Hole.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has developed buoys and underwater gliders to record the sounds of endangered North Atlantic right whales – there are only 340 left -- in near real time and broadcast their locations to ships in the busiest corridors of the ocean to help prevent deadly collisions. We may need these for city streets if people don’t stop walking and texting.

Good news, video game-loving kids – a new study published in the journal Nature followed more than 9,800 US kids for two years and found that those who played video games saw a more positive impact on their intelligence than if they spent that time socializing. The tough part will be getting your kids’ attention to tell them the news.

A recent study found that the brains of people who hear imaginary arguments in their heads between themselves and another ‘voice’ undergo similar processes as when the argument is verbalized out loud – the brain regions change depending on whether your inner voice is speaking or listening to the other voice. Should you stop an argument with the other voice before your head explodes? Asking for a friend whose voices like to talk politics.

Scientists from McGill University in Montreal trying to figure out why male lab mice seem to be terrified of bananas determined that the smell of the fruit is caused by the compound n-pentyl acetate, which also gives the smell to the urine of pregnant or lactating female mice – the females emit the smell to keep the males from ‘infanticidal aggression’ where the jealous or threatened males kill the baby mice. If only the smell of bananas worked to keep males in the office from stealing your lunch in the office refrigerator.

Fossils dating back 20,000 years found in a cave in a cliff wall in the Grand Canyon were thought to be from ancient cougars but new research has identified them as the extinct American cheetah (Miracinonyx trumani) which resembled today's snow leopards (Panthera uncia) which live on cliff sides and rocky regions and eat mountain goats and bighorn sheep. All of a sudden, having to deal with raccoons eating your trash doesn’t seem so bad.

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have discovered two galaxies -- the large spiral galaxy NGC 3227 and the elliptical galaxy NGC 3226 – intertwined in a gravitational dance around the corpse of a cannibalized third galaxy. Have these astronomers been stuck in the observatory too long streaming horror movies?

Jose Cuervo, the world’s #1 tequila brand, announced that it will open the first distillery in the metaverse – the “metadistillery” will be located in the 3D virtual world Decentraland this summer to produce virtual tequila. Sounds like an opportunity for another company to develop the first metaverse aspirin and all-night greasy food diner.    

Paul Seaburn

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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