Zoologists from the University of Innsbruck compared sea squirts, the closest living relatives of vertebrates that don't have a true head, to lampreys, which are similar to the first vertebrates, and found genes in a sea squirt tadpole's tail which are related to the genes that encode for clumps of neurons in a lamprey's head – a discovery which may show how the heads of all creatures evolved. In other words, we evolved with our heads up our butts.
Artificial intelligence has entered a controversial arena with a recent paper describing new deep learning models based on artificial intelligence which can identify a person's race solely from their X-rays – one theory is that the AI is identifying signs of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color, that are currently unknown to science. Are you worried yet?
NASA mission managers have finally confirmed that the InSight Mars lander will cease science operations sometime in the next few months as the dust accumulating on its solar panels causes its power supply to drain completely with no hope of being recharged – it’s sad but InSight still operated for four years rather than the planned two and recently detected the most powerful marsquake ever. Cue Bob Dylan.
Designers at Bandai Namco’s MegaHouse have made the Rubik’s Cube even harder to solve with a new version where all 54 colored squares on it are iridescent, meaning that they change color when looked at from different angles, making it nearly impossible to align all the colors with the six unique center squares which don’t change shades. Get ready for cops to interrogate suspects by playing Good Rubik, Bad Rubik.
A 15-foot-long psychic saltwater crocodile named Speckles, a resident of Crocodylus Park in Darwin, used photos of candidates for office to predict that Labor leader Anthony Albanese will be the country’s prime minister, and Country Liberal Party's Tina MacFarlane will win the Northern Territory’s seat. Wouldn’t a better predictor be which photo gave Speckles indigestion?
Good news for Space Force’s Guardians of the Universe – unlike their Air Force counterparts, they will be allowed to have one neck or behind-the-ear tattoo as long as it doesn’t exceed more than one inch in size. Get ready for plenty of cadets with a neck tattoo showing Calvin (of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons) peeing on a flying saucer.
We mourn the passing of electronic music composer and musician Evangelos Odessey Papathanassiou, better known as Vangelis, who scored the Blade Runner soundtrack, helped score Carl Sagan's Cosmos TV series, wrote Mythodea to celebrate NASA's Mars Odyssey mission in 2001, produced a tribute to the Rosetta comet probe in 2016., and received NASA's Public Service Medal in 2003. Somewhere in the afterlife, Vangelis and Bowie are putting together a band.
A new analysis of ancient human and dog feces found at the site of a prehistoric village near Stonehenge uncovered evidence of the eggs of parasitic worms, indicating both ate the internal organs of cattle, making this earliest evidence for intestinal parasites in the UK where the host species that produced the feces has also been identified. These are likely the people who built Stonehenge, so maybe it’s a giant monument to the god of stomach pain relief.
Researchers at the University of Maryland conducting experiments on the electrical properties of stacked sheets of graphene, which is made of a single layer of carbon atoms, determined that electrons interacted between graphene layers in the same way particles could interact across space time – leading them to speculate that this is could be proof that alternative universes are possible, as is travel between them. Does this mean graphene gets a credit in the next Matrix movie?
A surgeon in Turkey claims he’s been successfully performing voice deepening surgeries for 15 years on 100 to 150 patients a year who want their voices to be higher or lower than they currently are – the surgery involves making an incision into the lower part of the neck to create a tone-changing “cartilage island” in the throat and it’s performed with local anesthesia so patients can try out their new voice before the incision is closed. Daisy Vader can finally achieve her dream of sounding like cousin Darth.