Mar 11, 2023 I Paul Seaburn

Ghost Train, Rain of Worms, Reverse-Engineered UFOs, Smiling Sphinx and More Mysterious News Briefly

A roundup of mysterious, paranormal and strange news stories from the past week.

Scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have invented the world’s smallest ball game – the gloves are optical traps which use a highly focused laser beam to catch and toss individual chilled rubidium atoms over a distance of 4.2 micrometers at a speed up to 65 centimeters per second just like tiny baseball pitchers and catchers. Did they following tradition and celebrate by passing around tiny beers and hotdogs?

From the “What could possibly go wrong?” file comes a study publishes in the journal Viruses about scientists who thawed out a virus found in Arctic permafrost that is 48,500 years old – they promised this would not become a ‘zombie virus’ that infects humans and animals because they isolated different strains of it that would only infect cultured amoeba cells. This sounds like the plot of a movie about zombie amoeba cells arising to save their modern brethren from zombie viruses.

Calling Nikola Tesla – researchers isolated an enzyme of a soil bacterium called Mycobacterium smegmatis which consumes hydrogen from air and found it can produce an electric current directly when exposed to even minute amounts of hydrogen, thus making it possible the enzyme may one day power small sustainable devices by turning air into electricity. We’ll know this is around the corner when the elite start investing in air futures.

The latest Fortean phenomenon comes from Beijing where residents were told that a rain of worms was harmless and the only thing they could do is to hose the slimy creatures off of their cars and roofs and protect their hair and clothing by using umbrellas – the worm rain was actually water-logged seed pods which look like caterpillars and were blown off of trees by a strong wind which carried them to Beijing from another location. Are they sure these aren’t spy worms from another country?

NASA engineers announced that the 15-year-old Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft – a key tool for monitoring solar winds - which has been failing to respond to mission control commands is working again after they powered it off and restarted it. That rumbling sound you hear is help desk tech support personnel worldwide slow-clapping.

If you need something else to keep you awake at night, a new study found that the millions of Norway rats living in New York City can catch the virus that causes Covid-19, but the chances of the virus spreading from rats to humans is extremely rare – the study also found that 16.5 percent of the rats studied had antibodies against the virus, which indicates they’ve already been infected with SARS-CoV-2. That rat carrying a slice of pizza isn’t so cute anymore, is it?

NASA issued an advanced warning that a city-destroying asteroid about the size of the Leaning Tower of Pisa could hit Earth on Valentine's Day at 4:44 pm ET in the year 2046, but it can’t predict where 2023 DW will hit – but Los Angeles, Hawaii and Washington DC are possibilities and the impact would be comparable to the Tunguska 12-megaton event in Siberia 114 years ago that flattened 80 million trees. Sounds like a good reason to start stockpiling candy.

Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano continues to intrigue UFO watchers as cameras set up to capture impending volcanic eruptions have recently spotted alleged UFOs both entering and leaving the crater’s opening. Is Popocatepetl an alien base or is it the place where extraterrestrial travelers make their connecting flights?

U.S. Congressional Representative Tim Burchett from Tennessee claims that “"we have recovered a craft at some point, and possible beings" and that the recovered UFO technology is "being reverse-engineered right now” but we "don't understand" how it functions. That’s fair, since aliens don’t understand how we function either.

For those who have done shots of Mezcal with the worm in it and wondered about the identity of the worm, it turns out no one really knew what it was until recently when researchers extracted DNA from 21 Mezcal worms bottled at different times and by different distillers and found that the all belonged to a single species of moth – they were the larvae of the Comadia redtenbacheri, whose larvae are known as the agave redworm. This is the kind of research project that makes four years of biology in college and three years in graduate school worthwhile.

In an interview on “The Late Show with Steven Colbert,” “E.T.” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” director Steven Spielberg said he’s never seen a UFO but wishes he had, and also wondered, “What if it’s us, 500,000 years in the future, that is coming back to document the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st century because they’re anthropologists?”. If aliens are really future human anthropologists, they can get all they need to know by watching Spielberg’s movies.

Archaeologists digging in the remains of a shrine inside a two-level tomb in the temple of Dendera in Qena Province south of Cairo, found a limestone sphinx-like statue “with a smiley face and two dimples” that they believe is a representation of the ancient Roman Claudius, who ruled from 41 to 54 CE, extended Roman rule into North Africa, and invaded Britain – Claudius also illegally married his niece Agrippina, changed Roman law to make it legal, and died when she fed him poison mushrooms. Was she upset because he was never serious?

Six new thermal images taken by a US Air Force Reaper spy drone last year over North Eastern Iraq near Baghdad show what appears to be a skinny cylindrical-shaped object without visible wings or fins – a government source said the object was flagged in an Air Force repository as an 'Unidentified Aerial Phenomena' because of its speed and strange characteristics - documentary filmmaker Jeremy Corbell and investigative journalist George Knapp received the leaked photos and could not determine if they were human-made or extraterrestrial. Do videos from Reapers have a cowbell soundtrack?

Police officers Joe Stafford and Whitney Holmes-Small say they were getting ready to go out on patrol from the Swadlincote Police Station in Staffordshire, England, when both heard the loud rumble of a ghost train which they could not see but heard it get closer, heard nearby leaves rustling and heard the sound of a train's horn ... even though there are no rail lines for miles around – it turns out there was once a railway behind the police station but passenger trains stopped running through Swadlincote in 1947. Like most cops, they’d prefer to hear the sound of the drive-thru window at a ghost donut shop.

US archaeologist Dr. Fredrik Hiebert borrowed bone samples in 2019 from the Kiribati Cultural Museum in Tarawa that were believed to skull fragments from lost aviator Amelia Earhart that would have solidified the theory that Earhart crashed on the uninhabited Kiribati island of Nikumaroro, but he recently returned them with the diagnosis that they were not Earhart’s but from a young Polynesian woman who lived in Kiribati 1000 years ago. Is process of elimination really the best way to solve this mystery?

The Unconventional Computing Laboratory at the University of the West of England in Bristol is working to build computers out of oyster mushrooms with their mycelium acting as conductors and electronic components to receive and send electric signals as well as retain memory – the inventor’s goal is to “make a brain from mushrooms.” Isn’t that a description of Joe Rogan?

The first Loch Ness Monster sighting of 2023 was finally made by none other than Eoin O'Faodhagain, who has made a number of sightings by watching online webcams – this one was operated by Visit Inverness Loch Ness and he claims he saw in the waters near Fort Augustus on the loch's southern shore a long, dark shape followed by a “white, round” wake. Does Nessie ever wish it could get a do-over on some of these to get a better photo?

The ‘Cocaine Bear’ may have a movie, but half of Pablo Escobar's famous cocaine hippos – so named because he brought four of them to Colombia with drug money and they escaped into the wild and now number about 140  - have plane tickets to sanctuaries and zoos in India and Mexico where they will be resettled in zoos and sanctuaries before Colombia is overrun with wild hippos. They would have made a movie but the budget was tight and the hippos refused to do their own stunts.

An analysis of thousands of Reddit posts about attractive nations was turned into a ranking of the 50 most attractive nationalities in the world and the winner was India, with the U.S. second and Sweden third – at number 50 was Switzerland. Fortunately , the Swiss Miss doesn’t need looks because she has the best hot chocolate.

Romania’s prime minister Nicolae Ciuca announced that an AI assistant called "Ion" is his government's "new honorary advisor" – Ion’s job will be to crawl social media to collect citizens' opinions and grievances, and then amalgamate and interpret these back to the government as policy ideas. “Can Ion be our president?” asked the citizens of many other countries.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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