A roundup of mysterious, paranormal and strange news stories from the past week.
From the “Proof you can get funding to study anything” file comes a study on zebrafish by Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering which found that fish look down when they swim in order to watch the solid riverbed below to help them stabilize themselves while swimming against the current with all kinds of other fish, plants and debris floating in their vision. If their fins were long enough to hold cellphones while swimming, they’d be extinct.
A team of neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin investigating how the gut microbiome can influence how mice and humans react to ingesting cocaine found a way to control how high mice can get on a given amount of cocaine by injecting them with a genetically modified amino acid which cannot break down glycine, the brain chemical that controls reaction to cocaine – this could result in a new way to treat addictions in humans. It’s about time Eric Clapton sells the rights to the song while he can still get something for it.
Animal biologists and chemists at the Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) at Nagoya University in central Japan have identified the pheromone involved in the mechanism that triggers puffer fish to spawn on beaches using moonlight – joining wildebeest, cows, humans and other creatures whose reproduction is affected by the lunar cycle. Worst pickup line in the world – “The pufferfish are spawning tonight.”
A team of Chinese researchers claim to have used converted actual lunar regolith soil samples into a source of rocket fuel and oxygen that will help future space explorers create propellant for return flights back to Earth – the lunar soil acted as a catalyst, enabling the electrocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide into methane and oxygen. Good luck recruiting future astronauts when they find out they will spend the bulk of their time on the moon shoveling dirt.
A study by forensic scientists at Flinders University in Australia found that a cat's fur can retain enough DNA shed by a human who has been in their vicinity to serve as evidence linking the person to the location – evidence that could someday be used in police investigations and criminal trials. Dog lovers see this as further proof cats hate you and can’t be trusted.
The Villa Carpena museum in Italy's northeastern Emilia Romagna region has artifacts from the life of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, including his military uniform, his beloved motorbike, an iron cradle and the ghosts of him and his family – paranormal investigators, locals, visitors and the owners have all reported encounters with the ghost of Mussolini, the sound of a plane that his son crashed in, and the voice of Mussolini’s wife. Unfortunately, the ghost can’t help getting the trains to run on time.
Another one of those photos claimed to be proof of time travel popped up – this one shows what appears to be a modern “surfer dude” in a 100 year old photo showing fellow beachgoers in period attire seemingly staring at their strange sand and surf lover. If you traveled back 100 years, would the first place you went be the beach or a bookie’s office where you could place bets on the 1922 World Series?
Gary Campbell, the manager of the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register for more than 25 years, shared the photograph he believes to be the most credible of the 1,143 sightings (as of this time) he has logged – it is actually a series of 10 photos taken in 1997 by Richard White which show something coming out of the water and going back in again. Sure, it’s good, but it’s kind of like bragging your best portrait of you was one taken by the Goodyear blimp as it flew over your backyard picnic.
Griffith University researchers demonstrated that nose picking can push the Chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria directly from olfactory nerve in the nose and into the brain, causing an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Time to invest in Kleenex stock?
On the annual Halloween list of celebrity musicians who have seen ghosts are Alice Cooper, who could probably scare a few ghosts; Elton John, who claims a ghost sat on his chest; and Cher, who says Sonny ghost turns her light on and “I love ghosts, I prefer ghosts to some people.” And ghosts probably prefer Cher to that guy who sang “Ghostbusters.”
According to the National UFO Reporting Center, South Carolina residents have reported 47 sightings of unidentified flying objects across the state this year, with Irmo, Myrtle Beach and the Cross community tied for most UFO sightings in the state with three each. How many of those in Myrtle Beach are golf balls?
In 1996, divers on an expedition to the wreckage of the Titanic picked up a mysterious sonar transmission 'blip' which they thought was another shipwreck near the Titanic's remains – a new expedition this summer determined the source was actually a rich underwater ecosystem teeming with sponges, corals, squat lobsters and fish more than 9,500 feet (2,900 meters) deep off the coast of Newfoundland. Celine Dion says she’s ready to add a verse to “My Heart Will Go On.”
A boy was born recently in England using sperm frozen in 1996, collected when his father was diagnosed, aged 21, with Hodgkin lymphoma, in case his treatment caused infertility – now there is talk of changing the law to allow sperm to be frozen for up to 50 years but experts say there is no scientific reason why sperm hundreds of years old cannot be used. Is this just a clever cover-up for someone who forgot to label the package they found at the bottom of the freezer?
A young five-months-old bar-tailed godwit appears to have set a non-stop distance record for migratory birds by flying at least 8,435 miles (13,560 km) from Alaska to the Australian state of Tasmania in 11 days – researchers aren’t sure if it was part of a flock or if it was lost. This bird is the new hero of dads around the world trying to make good time while driving the family on vacation.
Jorgewich-Cohen, a PhD student at University of Zurich, used sound and video equipment to record 53 species in captivity around the world, including 50 turtles, a tuatara, a lungfish and a caecilian, and discovered that, although they were previously thought to be silent, they can actually communicate messages about wanting to mate or hatch from an egg. Of course, the number one thing turtles communicate is that they need help flipping over.
Australians using Google Earth satellite images have spotted unusual dots, lines and other markings in the Australian outback in rural Queensland about 66km from Longreach in the state’s center – suspected causes range from mining site blast layouts to slurry pits from exploration drill rigs to the flying saucers of ETs who think the security at Area 51 is too stringent. Get ready for stir-crazy believers frustrated with their treatment at Area 51 to storm Longreach.
As if child sacrifice isn’t horrific enough, a new analysis of a single hair from the mummified head of a child associated with the ancient Nazca society in Peru who was sacrificed thousands of years ago when her head was cut off as part of an ancient ritual reveals that the child consumed the psychoactive San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) prior to her execution as part of the ceremony. Did someone erase the Nazca lines explaining this practice?
Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden studying Rydberg atoms – particles inflated with lasers instead of air and containing electrons in extremely high energy states far from the nucleus – have developed a new way of measuring time on a tiny scale without now and then events by using a quantum watch which can measure timestamps as small as 1.7 trillionths of a second. This is a tremendous discovery but still lost on time-challenged humans who can’t remember spring-forward-fall-back.
A 1,000-year-old amulet of Thor's Hammer was found during excavations near the southwestern town of Ysby is the first uncovered in Halland County – the lead amulet is from the late Viking Age and was worn by those adhering to the old Norse gods, rather than to the "new" religion of Christianity. These Vikings would probably ‘marvel’ at the popularity of Thor’s hammer today.
Cambridge University experts used photos of rhinos from the past 140 years, including all five species of rhino: white, black, Indian, Javan and Sumatran, to conclude that rhino horns have shrunk over the past century because of hunting by humans and only smaller-horned survivors remain. How appropriate, since those humans shooting rhinos for their horns’ alleged aphrodisiac properties still have shrunken horns too.