A roundup of mysterious, paranormal and strange news stories from the past week.
Feeling clammy is generally not a good thing … unless you’re a clam. A new study found that the Asiatic hard clam (Meretrix petechialis) uses its mucous cells to make its own erythromycin – a complex antibiotic that fights off the bacterial infections clams get from living in muddy waters. Be careful -- it won’t help you at a clambake if someone leaves the potato salad out on the table all day.
The River Yealm in south Devon, England, mysteriously turned a pale white color recently and locals were not relieved to find out the cause was a contaminant being discharged upstream into in the River Piall by a source whose identity was kept secret due to “due to possible enforcement action” – the cloudy water fishery specialists from assessing the impact of the pollution on fish and fish habitat. This is not what your doctor meant when he said to eat more whitefish.
Story-telling goes back to the dawn of humankind but a new discovery shows that narrative storytelling through wall carvings may have begun in Turkey 11,000 years ago – a New Stone Age (Neolithic) rock-cut relief found there shows two men with one holding his genitalia, the other holding a snake and both staring at two menacing leopards and a bull … a scene whose meaning modern archeologists have not yet deciphered. Did New Stone Age people have to pay extra for carvings like this?
An early medieval female burial site dating back to 650 CE was found recently in Northamptonshire, England, and it contained an elaborate 30-piece necklace of intricately-wrought gold, garnets and semi-precious stones and an elaborately decorated cross, which identify the woman as an early Christian leader of significant personal wealth, possibly an abbess and a princess, who was potentially one of the first women in Britain ever to reach a high position in the church. That would be confirmed if they find a “Cease and desist” letter from the pope.
A research team from Royal Holloway, University of London, studying curse words of different languages around the world found that profanity has a common sound across different cultures due to the common lack of the sound of the letters l, r, w, and y which makes them sound less offensive to listeners – this also makes substitute curse words or “minced oaths” like ‘darn’ for ‘damn’ sound less offensive. “Hey Ma! I’m in a f-ing survey!”
Four graduate students from China’s Wuhan University won first prize in a cybersecurity innovation contest with their “InvisDefense coat” which makes the wearer invisible to security cameras in the most surveilled country in the world – the students promised they were not trying to break any laws but to help the government find loopholes in existing machine vision technology. Did the college students say that before or after the judges caught them hiding beer under their InvisDefense coats?
Enigma Labs, a global platform for unidentified aerospace-undersea phenomena (UAP) sightings, is asking members of the aviation community, including general aviation pilots, flight instructors, students, military aviators, and others, to submit their UFO sightings via its website – anonymously if they wish – to help build a publicly-available information database for aviators and researchers investigating UAPs and supporting aviation safety. They should at least ask for an ID photo to keep it from being hacked by ETs.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen recorded vocalizations from six animal species (horses, pigs, goats, cattle, Przewalski’s horses (wild horses) and wild boars), played them for human volunteers and asked whether the sound was made in a positive context, such anticipating food, or a negative context, such as being isolated - the results showed that participants correctly rated the emotional intensity of the animal subject and the type of emotion better than 50% of the time, and even higher with domesticated animals. Do animal sound the same as humans when they say, “Where’s our f-ing food?” (See above.)
OpenAI's new chatbot ChatGPT was pretending to be Santa Claus recently and wrote a letter to a child explaining that Santa is not a real person but a fake character "that your parents have told you stories about out of love." Here’s a test to weed out ChatGPT Santas – ask Santa if he wants you to leave him milk and cookies or a check made out to Elon Musk.
British pop singer Robbie Williams says investigating UFOs has been his hobby for over 20 years and he once actually considered giving up his singing career to look for them full time, but he was afraid of the “embarrassing and degrading ” reaction from the press if he had “been like a tinfoil hat kind of person.” Bad news, Robbie -- for some people, pulling a tinfoil hat down over their ears is the only way they can listen to your singing.
In case you don’t have enough to worry about, geologists discovered that the amounts of molten magma beneath the Yellowstone Caldera in Yellowstone National Park are much greater than expected, but we probably have a few thousand years before it erupts and we should get a decade of warnings before it happens. Needless to say, some people are already stocking up on fireproof toilet paper.
From the “Duh!” file comes a new survey which found that your preference for hot and spicy foods directly reflects your personality – people who prefer heat describe themselves as extroverted, creative, confident, and adventurous, while those who prefer mild or no heat are empathetic, shy, calm and curious. If this is true, why isn’t the party capital of the world Tabasco, Mexico?
A mysterious small creature that washed up dead on a UK beach was being called a "Baby Loch Ness Monster" because of its flat, rounded head, four legs, long tail and dark grey color; others thought it was a 'liopleurodon', a carnivorous marine reptile that went extinct in the Late Jurassic Period; however, biologists suspect it is a ray whose fins were removed by a predator. “Finless Ray” is the perfect nickname for an unlucky scuba diver.
Jonathan the Seychelles giant tortoise celebrated his 190th birthday on St. Helena Island this week to maintain his status as the world’s oldest living land animal – his veterinarian says Jonathon is blind and can’t smell but his hearing is great and he enjoys sunbathing. No wonder he’s 190 – that shell is the world’s strongest sunscreen.
The search for signs of extraterrestrial life just grew exponentially as the Breakthrough Listen project obtained access to the MeerKAT radio telescope system of 64 dishes in the remote Karoo region of South Africa and expanded the number of targets it can search by a factor of 1,000 – one of the first will be the Alpha Centauri system, the three closest stars to the Sun. This is an example of the MeerKATs looking for some near cats.
In yet another case of time traveler phone photos, people looking at a black-and-white photo from Brooklyn’s Union Square in 1936 claim it shows a man holding a mobile phone to his ear and talking to someone despite the fact that cell phones and cellular communications were not around until the 1980s – some observers think the man was just scratching his head. He can see three bars … but they’re the liquor kind.
A young Chinese woman who lost an eye in a serious car accident in 2013 at the age of 18 has devoted her life to making unusual prosthetic eyes which she demonstrates on social media - her bionic eyes light up different colors and flash on and off. She’s the perfect girl for guys who are constantly losing their dates at the movie theater.
While the world of social media is currently enthralled with AI apps for turning selfies what look like painted portraits, Disney has developed an AI tool called the Face Re-aging Network (FRAN) which is much faster than the current techniques of painting film frame-by-frame or using digital graphics manipulation – FRAN could help VFX artists save months of work and millions of dollars. This could be fun – let’s feed FRAN a photo of Keith Richards and watch it implode.
NASA announced that the crew on the International Space Station (ISS) has begun a new experiment called Veg-05 in which they will attempt to grow juicy dwarf tomatoes in space for their salads. It’s perfectly safe – you can’t throw tomatoes when weightless.
Researchers at Cornell University developed a self-healing robot that can detect damage to itself using optical sensors and a composite material, then heal itself by fusing its rubbery skin back together using a number of chemical reactions without any external intervention from humans. Get ready for the first robot professional wrestler.