A roundup of mysterious, paranormal and strange news stories from the past week.
A new study found that a form of insanity in the 1800s referred to as “prairie madness,” which caused formerly stable people becoming depressed, anxious, irritable, and even violent, was a real condition caused not by the isolation and bleak conditions settlers encountered in the barren Midwestern U.S. but by the silence of the prairie, which resulted in making sounds like the wind, dripping water, animals or even clothing rustling much louder and more aggravating to the point of mental illness. You have to pity the poor prairie teacher in the one-room schoolhouse who was forced to write on chalkboards with squeaky chalk.
A big pink diamond of 170 carats was discovered at the Lulo alluvial diamond mine in Angola and is claimed to be the fifth largest diamond found at the mine and the largest such pink gemstone found in 300 years. The diamond will be sold by international diamond marketing company and probably be made into a pinkie ring.
A woman set up a trail camera deep in the woods behind Mount Si in the Snoqualmie Valley to get some wildlife photos and ended up with images of something that could be Bigfoot, although she admits “either there is a sasquatch in the area or I’m being expertly pranked.” If she’s been pranked by anyone, it was the person who sold her the trail camera and said it would take clear pictures.
According to a study published in the journal Acta Astronautica, the best sign of extraterrestrial technology or technosignatures that SETI researchers should be watching for is city lights on exoplanets, especially at night. How sad – this means extraterrestrials are also working long hours and wasting the rest of their day watching TV or scrolling their phones.
The Chinese space program has added a new science laboratory module to its space station, while the Russian space corporation Roscosmos formally announced that it is abandoning the International Space Station in 2024. NASA could save the ISS but it has to commit to rebranding it as the world’s first Spacebnb.
A team of scientists on board the E/V Nautilus, a vessel used by the Ocean Exploration Trust for deep-sea research, released a video of a bizarre giant tentacle-trailing sea creature spotted north of Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii that resembles a 7-foot-long free-swimming flower that is either a Solumbellula monocephalus or Solumbellula sea pen, which are only seen in the Atlantic or Indian oceans, or a new species. Sea pens can’t write, which is probably a good thing since they don’t want humans finding out their address anyway.
Australian marine scientists discovered that massive whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) eat plants, making them officially the largest omnivores on Earth at 18 meters (60 feet) in length and weighing up to 43 tons. Here’s a scary thought for those swimmming behind a whale shark – they eat fiber.
The identity of the mysterious 'Somerton Man' – a Australian unsolved case dating back to 1948 with the discovery of a man's body on Somerton Park Beach in the city of Adelaide, with a suitcase full of clothes with their labels removed, and a scrap of paper with the Farsi words Tamám Shud, meaning "it's finished" – has been solved by Derek Abbott from the University of Adelaide who used DNA to identify Somerton Man as Carl "Charles" Webb, an electrical engineer and instrument maker born in Melbourne in 1905. Too bad I had “Waldo” in the Somerton Man pool.
James Lovelock died on his 103rd birthday – the famous climate scientist created the Gaia hypothesis which proposed that posits that life on Earth is a self-regulating community of organisms interacting with each other and their surroundings, and said in 2020 that the biosphere was in the last 1% of its life. Did he get out just in time?
A decapitated head of an ancient Egyptian mummy found recently in the attic of a home in Kent being cleaned out after the owner died had a CT scan performed on it and the scan showed it once belonged to a woman who lived 2,000 years ago, ate a rough diet of grains, had her brain removed after death, and the mummified head was probably brought back from Egypt as a souvenir in the 19th century and passed down as an heirloom. The mummy’s curse on the family was that now they have to decide who gets it.
A 'creepy' but collectible original Annette Himstedt doll donated to an animal charity in Cornwall to be auctioned off to raise funds spent a long time with no bidders until a brave person bought it and took it home where it no longer scares the animal sanctuary volunteers, customers and animals. Nothing says ‘creepy doll’ like watching pit bulls cry.
New research shows that ant colonies can act like neural networks as groups of ants were observed considering both external inputs and internal principles when making decisions about what to do as a collective. Think about these Borg ants the next time they watch you reaching for the bug spray.
A 560-million-year-old fossil found in Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire has been identified as the earliest known animal predator and is likely a forerunner of cnidaria , the group of species that today includes jellyfish -- researchers named it Auroralumina attenboroughii in honor of Sir David Attenborough and describe it looking like the Olympic torch with its tentacles being the flames. The Olympic torch can be a predator too – especially if you pass the wrong end.
Yet another TikTok time traveler, this one claiming to be from the year 2096 and promising to be “rea”, warns that 10 people will develop super powers ranging from increased endurance to telekinesis after being hit by a 'rare energy' from the sun on November 14, 2022– but not all will use them for good. Let’s hope one can do something good like silencing all TikTok time travelers.
Lithuanian artist Julijonas Urbonas has created a work of art depicting a ‘hypothetical death machine’ called a roller coaster of death which will give its passengers a thrilling ride before ending their life due to a lack of oxygen – the classic idea of going out on a high note with euphoria and pleasure. Nothing says ultimate disappointment like buying a ticket for the roller coaster of death and then finding out you don’t meet the minimum height requirement.
Showing the challenges of modern politics, New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin was grilled by a Flat Earther claiming that NASA uses CGI animation to make the planet look round and demanded to know what the candidate would do about this. Who would have thought politicians would long for the days when all they had to do was shake hands, kiss babies and eat hot dogs at state fairs?
Researchers at the Robotics Institute (RI) in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science have developed a new learning method for robots called WHIRL, short for In-the-Wild Human Imitating Robot Learning, which allows them to learn directly from human-interaction videos and generalize that information to new tasks – a feat they demonstrated by showing a robot learn to do household chores. You can tell it’s a young AI because the robot first demanded an allowance.
A paleontologist having lunch in the courtyard of a restaurant in city of Leshan in south-central China's Sichuan province noticed the floor contained more than ten preserved dinosaur footprints made by two sauropod brontosaurs approximately 100 million years ago. The real question is … how was the Szechuan beef?
San Francisco Bay Area startup Earthgrid says it is developing a plasma boring robot that can dig underground tunnels 100 times faster and up to 98% cheaper than existing boring machine and plans to use it to start re-wiring America's energy, internet and utilities grids. “Hold my beer and watch this,” said every giant sandworm.
Scientists at Hongtuo Joint Laboratory in Wuhan, China, have invented a pen which uses uses ultra-short laser pulses to strip the electrons from air particles and turn them into light-emitting plasma with sufficient precision to form visible words in mid-air – a first in holographic technology. This is just the high-tech device we need to signal to the waiter that we’re ready for the check.