A roundup of mysterious, paranormal and strange news stories from the past week.
Independent researcher Ben Bacon and senior academics from Durham University and University College London (UCL) studying abstract dots on cave drawings from 20,000 years ago determined the marks are not an ancient written language but an early form of a calendar used by Ice Age hunter-gatherers to record, by lunar month, when the animals were reproducing. Did they remember to write five dots instead of four when the new year arrived?
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), an Earth-orbiting spacecraft co-operated by NASA and the European Space Agency, recorded a massive explosion on the far side of the sun which emitted an X-class flare — one of the most powerful solar flares the sun is capable of producing – and while the flare missed Earth, the sunspot will soon be pointed directly at us and is still capable of more massive flares. There is still time to exchange that ugly sweater you got for Christmas for an aluminum umbrella.
Fans of Star Trek may think this is a stretch, but researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne claim they’ve developed a solar-powered Star Trek-style ‘replicator’ which harvests water from thin air to make the ingredients for hydrogen fuel in a process similar to photosynthesis on a leaf where light particles or photons pass through a thin-film of sunlight-absorbing semi-conductor materials and only let hydrogen gas through. Wake us up when it makes Scotch for the chief engineer.
A man in Oregon claims his New Year’s Eve was upended by the appearance of a 30-foot-wide, circle-shaped indentation in the snow outside his house at about 4:30 a.m. – because it had a chemical smell, he reported it to MUFON, but social media commenters think it was not a UFO but more like a weird snow drift or the results of a septic tank belching beneath the snow. If we can’t have crop circles like England, will Americans settle for snow circles?
Most people know that ‘jumping beans” jump because there are moth larvae inside them trying to get out, but researchers at Seattle University studied them anyway and found that given enough time, their seemingly random jumping will always take them to a shady spot. Keep this quiet and you’ve got a great opportunity to win some bar bets on a sunny day.
You might not think that rats and fish have anything in common, but scientists have discovered for the first time that invasive rats on tropical islands affect the territorial behavior of fish on surrounding coral reefs by eating the seabirds which nest on the islands and whose droppings wash into the water – resulting in a drop in coral reefs which provide nitrogen to feed the seaweed that fish eat. Hold a dried coral reef to your ear and you can hear the sound of the ocean saying, “Rats!”
The James Webb Space Telescope has topped itself again with images of two galaxies merging (known collectively as II ZW 96 ) roughly 500 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Delphinus – this image is different than others because it shows the colors of the gasses and stars combine together that will give astronomers more information about how galaxy evolution occurs. Let’s hope this image doesn’t end up in one of those terrible collision insurance commercials.
Walter Cunningham, the civilian astronaut who was the last surviving member of NASA's Apollo 7 mission, died at the age of 90 – Cunningham was the lunar module pilot on the 11-day Apollo 7 mission in 1968, which was the first successful crewed flight of the Apollo program after the fatal accident of Apollo 1. All three astronauts came down with head colds – uncomfortable but great ET deterrents.
Stone-skipping pros are in for a shock – a study by the University of Bristol and University College London found that those light flat stones they prefer are actually poor performers next to bigger and heavier rounded stones which jump out of the water higher and push more water out of the way to prevent them from sinking. They’re also better for throwing at bullies picking on you for skipping stones at your age.
If you didn’t win the lottery, you may still be able to get rich quick by hunting for thousands of wooly mammoth tusks worth up to tens of millions dumped in East River by American Museum of Natural History in 1940s - the location was revealed by a mammoth hunter on the Joe Rogan podcast who said that a single tusk could be worth $20,000. If there’s anything that might convince the Statue of Liberty to get down and start wading, this could be it.
You may have heard of men turning into wolves at midnight, but a man in Japan turns into a realistic-looking collie every time he puts on his $15,000 human-sized collie costume and eats out of dog bowls, rolls over for belly rubs, walks on a lead and does other doglike things – even though he fears his friends think he’s “weird.” They won’t think that if he keeps their yards free of squirrels.
Researchers in China have invented a bionic pig penis which is an artificial sheath that helps young male pigs with an injured or ailing sexual organ become and remain erect during sex – the invention has a shown promise as an alternative for some human males suffering from erectile dysfunction. We saw Bionic Pig Penis open for Whitesnake.
Archaeologists at the Historical Museum of Northern Jutland in Denmark have discovered an ancient Viking hall - the biggest one found in more than a decade – which measures 131 feet long by 30 feet wide with a roof held up by 10 giant oak posts, and it appears to date back to Denmark’s King Harald “Bluetooth” Blåtand, who is today more famous for his namesake short-range wireless technology. Proof would be finding Bluetooth’s blueprints.
Archaeologists uncovered the 1500-year-old remains of a man in iron chains from the Khirbat el-Masani archaeological site in northern Jerusalem and recently identified them as belonging to a Byzantine monk who may have chained himself to a rock or in a cell to practice suffering, fasting and other more extreme forms of ascetism common in eastern Christianity at that time. If this were a Mel Brooks movie, the monk would have carved on the rock, “I’m joking!”
A self-described "ghost whisperer" claims he was alone in Hull’s "most haunted house" at 39 De Grey Street when he felt a presence while laying in a coffin and heard a man say “Get out” in an aggressive voice. It could be worse – he could have heard a voice yelling “Get off of me!”
Professor St John, the head of the Clem Jones Centre for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, warns that “Picking your nose or plucking the hairs from your nose is probably not a good idea, particularly if you don't want to get Alzheimer's disease” - damage to the lining of the nose can increase how many bacteria can go up into your brain and deposit beta amyloid peptide, the plaque causing Alzheimer’s disease. If you pick while driving, this may explain why you’re always locking your keys in the car.
The hot new place to eat in Estes Park, Colorado, is Squatchy Donuts – the Bigfoot-themed establishment is run by Sasquatch enthusiast, features Bigfoot-themed donuts and coffee, and has a retail shop with replicas of casts of Bigfoot prints and other artifacts and souvenirs. Bigfoot is the only customer who can ignore the “No shirt, no shoes, no service” sign.
Those brainy folks at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) propose that taxing robots is a solution to the effect automation is having on income inequality and job availability in the U.S. – a stiff tax could be used to raise wages as well. Good luck trying to audit the Terminator.
A new study claims 50,000 years old stone tools found in Pedra Furada in northeastern Brazil were actually made by capuchin monkeys who lived in that time because they resemble tools made by modern capuchin monkeys. We’ll get worried when archeologists tell us Stonehenge was actually a Bananahenge.
An international team of scientists has figured out why gray wolves across North America and Eurasia aren't always gray but can come in various colors, especially black – the cause is the often fatal canine distemper virus which causes a mutation in the CPD103 gene which, instead of making them gray, gives them a black coat that may help protect them from canine distemper. Who needs get well cards when you can have a “get well” black fur coat instead?