A roundup of mysterious, paranormal and strange news stories from the past week.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln testing pond water have discovered the first microbes which actively eat viruses – making them the first known virovores and a possible solution to many of our diseases caused by viruses. Will this make frogs the world’s first amphibian pharmacists?
An excavator preparing for the construction of a house in Oslo, Norway, was surprised to uncover a massive medieval grave filled with objects and artifacts from the Viking Age – including cremated human remains, a soapstone vessel, a male brooch, a sickle, two knives, a harness and a shield boss, the metal center of a wooden shield, making this the richest cache of Viking grave artifacts ever found in Oslo. Which comes next – a museum exhibit or a new and updated Vikings TV series?
From the “Ancient Egyptian Urban Legends” file comes the news that the commonly accepted method ancient Egyptian embalmers used to remove the brain from a corpse before mummification – by pulling it out through the nose – was completely not true … they instead scrambled the brains using hooks for about 20 minutes to liquefy them and then poured them out. We probably should have warned you not to read this before lunch … sorry.
A forklift driver in Cornwall shared a doorbell camera video of what he believed was ghost walking up the stairs to his home and was frightened enough to sleep with a light on – a medium who saw the clip says the ghost’s name is Helen and she was nurse at big hospital 30 seconds from the man’s building. Now he needs to sleep with the light on and wear Kevlar pajamas so the ghost doesn’t give him a shot.
A Boeing 747 captain with 9,500 hours of flight time who is also an award-winning aerial photographer collects photos of some of his bizarre encounters with UFOs while flying and says his strangest sighting was over Greece while flying near the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier when he witnessed a bright light appear at an extremely high altitude and moving at an approximate speed of up to Mach 30 (23,000 mph) – he believes more admissions by pilots will eventually create a snowball-effect that might result in some form of disclosure. Right now, we’d rather have full disclosure on weather delays.
Just in time for New Year’s Eve parties comes a study from the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing which analyzed what happens to our brains when we vomit - bacterial toxins like Staphylococcal Enterotoxin A (SEA) in the intestine activate the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin which kicks off a chemical process that sends a message along the vagus nerves – the main connectors between the gut and the brain – to specific cells known as Tac1+DVC neurons in the brainstem which cause retching and vomiting … those neurons can then be targeted and deactivated with drugs. Your gut says it would prefer you switch to milk or bottled water – which is why no one trusts their gut on New Year’s Eve.
A Swiss study found that some hospitals in Switzerland still rely on a medieval prayer known as ‘The Secret’ to protect patients from excessive bleeding after surgeries and many patients and some doctors swear it acts like a “blood charm” to mobilize “superior forces to help cure the patient” - results using the Bleeding Academic Research Consortium (BARC) scale found no physical benefits from the prayer, although it could “limit the anxiety of superstitious believers, allow some neuropsychological conditioning, and act as a placebo.” Before you check, ‘The Secret’ is not covered by insurance.
Lethally sharp projectile points found along the banks of a river in southwestern Idaho dating back 16,000 years ago could represent the oldest evidence of the first tool technology brought to the Americas - an ancient group of hunter-gatherers known as the Nez Perce people possibly used them as spear tips 3,000 years before the Clovis people – one mystery is why the perfectly good spear points were found in what appeared to be a garbage pit. Were they ancient rat exterminators?
A baby boy born in India with thick, dark hair covering more than half of his body was eventually diagnosed as having a rare coition known as giant congenital melanocytic nevus, a “skin condition characterized by an abnormally dark, noncancerous skin patch” – unfortunately, while not deadly, the affliction can increase the risk of skin cancer, and cause skin-producing cells to form in brain and spinal tissue, which can result in headaches, vomiting, seizures and even brain tumors. Not to mention bullying and doctors who still believe in werewolves.
The recent massive polar weather which blanketed the U.S. caused an abnormal number of reports of “UFO abduction rays” and beams from flying saucers as people unfamiliar with the concept witnessed the atmospheric phenomenon known as pillars of light which are caused by ground light reflecting off of millions of ice crystals suspended in the air when temperatures go below zero. The worst part was the traffic jams caused by people driving towards them hope to be abducted.
The Pool of Siloam, a nearly 3,000-year-old water reservoir that archaeologists say was constructed during the reign of the Israelite King Hezekiah in the 8th century BCE is undergoing a full excavation in the coming months – the pool was filled via a water tunnel from the Gihon Spring and mentioned in the Book of Kings II. The tough part will be reconstructing the lifeguard stands and figuring out what kind of whistles they used.
From the “Duh” file comes an experiment by psychologists from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, which found that women smelling T-shirts could tell by their odor which were worn by married men and which were worn by single men – they also most preferred the smell of T-shirts worn by older men. What about women who prefer guys who don’t wear T-shirts at all?
If you’re not bored, perhaps you should be – a new study found that technology has reduced our boredom but resulted in a lack of innovation because those zoned-out boring times are when we do our best thinking and creating new inventions. If you look bored at work, good luck convincing your boss that you’re just inventing new products.
Residents of South Tampa, Florida, have been plagued for weeks by a mysterious loud noise described as a deep vibrating bass sound that can go on for hours and is loud enough to rattle windows in many neighborhoods – the mystery was finally solved this week when marine biologists pointed out that this is the mating season for black drum fish and a larger than usual school of them is breeding in the waters near South Tampa. We saw The Black Drums open for Hootie and the Blowfish.
If you’re not tired of Christmas music yet, a team of researchers at DTU Physics used a new nano-sculpting machine called the Nanofrazor to create the world’s smallest vinyl Christmas record measuring just 40 micrometers in diameter and containing about 40 seconds of the song “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” Sounds like the perfect invention for the person who holds the record for the fastest singing of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
Using CT (computed tomography) scans of the saint's skull, an international team of researchers created a lifelike facial approximation of St. Anthony of Padua, the 13th century Portuguese priest who is the patron saint of lost and stolen articles – the image shows him as a man with a balding head, a round face and a brown Franciscan robe. His eyes appear to be looking for something – go figure.
In the classic 1939 movie version of “The Wizard of Oz,” the Wicked Witch of the West shows Dorothy a gargoyle-adorned hourglass and screeches: ”You see that? That’s how much longer you’ve got to be alive! And it isn’t long, my pretty! it isn’t long! I can’t wait forever to get those shoes!" –- that prop hourglass sold this week at auction for $495,000. It comes with full instructions for those who have no idea what an hourglass is for.
Researchers from the University of Tübingen unearthed the cutmarked bones of cave bears at the Middle Pleistocene site of Schöningen in Lower Saxony, Germany, which resemble cuts made for careful skinning rather than butchering for meat – making this 320,000 years old evidence of using bear skins for clothing to help survive the cold northern European winters. The clothing didn’t survive – the prehistoric people didn’t know that bearskins are dry clean only.
A study on whether electrical stimulation to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex region of the brain can prevent a person’s fear response to cues associated with unpleasant stimuli found that the electrical stimulation of this brain region worked and it also abolished the involuntary components of the fear response. As a side effect, the scientists weren’t afraid to look at the results.
A company called Helaina is working on creating glycoproteins “identical to those found in breast milk” by using cultured breast tissue to make a lab-grown breast milk substitute called Biomilq – a process they will also use to make lab-grown dairy milk for drinking and ice cream. Their marketing slogan should be “We put the ‘fudge’ in hot fudge sundaes.”