Weird Science in the News – March

It’s time for the weird! This month, I’m providing background music that brings back the oddities of the ’80s:

The definition of weird is subjective, and I do my best to incorporate different perceptions while keeping the number of articles small. That last part was difficult for this post, because this has been a busy month for science journalists. 

Don’t you love reminders that we’re on a ball floating in space? Well, this month started out with one: “Chile Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth”.

Fortunately, the change to our planet’s days is too small to percieve as we go about our daily business. Which is really good, because some of us already deal with distorted perception from changes in our brains. Am I complaining about my migraines? No, certainly not. Pain, black floaters, and the rare sensation of my consciousness trying to escape out of the back of my neck is nothing on what some people deal with: “When the world looks like a real-life Wonderland”.

Movie monster
The Predator, master of cloaking tech

Scientists have been attempting to make an invisibility cloak for longer than I can remember. A cloak that allows its wearer to move unseen is a tempting concept, one used in fiction for centuries, and won’t be dropped until someone makes it a reality. Each experiment does seem to bring scientists closer to their goal. The latest approach seems to be a German experiment with tiny crystals. A member of the team was quoted as saying large-scale cloaking “could become a reality in 10 years.” Hm, I haven’t heard that before.

Just like no one has ever talked about finding the secret of immortality. Well, wait a minute–I’ve learned of a way! Reincarnate into an immortal jellyfish, avoid predators and toxins, and pray for someone to rescue you when your habitat dies. All right, I’m being snarky. However, the animal called the immortal jellyfish does exist, and it possesses an unusual ability to prolong its life. You can read more from “The world’s only immortal animal” on a Yahoo blog  or from Discover’s older blog post, “The Curious Case of the Immortal Jellyfish“.

Here’s one of my favorite discoveries of the month. A NASA probe captured the first evidence of recognizable multi-cellular life under Antarctic ice, encouraging more daydreams of higher life off-planet. Something that might have been a jellyfish offered up a tentacle for scientific study, but more interesting is the brightly-colored, shrimp-like creature that showed off on video.

More news that didn’t surprise as much as delight me involved microbes. A recent study by the University of Colorado shows that Hand Bacteria Left On Surfaces Could be Forensic Tool and provides good material for science fantasy and crime fiction.

And finally, Johns Hopkins scientists have determined that the drug, minocycline, prevents HIV breakouts. This antibiotic, which may become a part of the drug cocktail used to treat AIDS, has been used since the 1970s as a treatment for acne.

You may now return to your normal programming.

Advertisements

Weird Science in the News – February

Ready for some weird? Here are few links that could inspire science fiction or simply provide food for thought.

Cr.: Nicolle Rager Fuller, Natn'l Science Fndn.
Paying Attention to the Microscopic

UK scientists are developing a way to listen to micro-organisms, which are waiting for their chance to say, “We want to dominate!” Read more about the true part of my statement at PhysOrg.com.

In other strangeness involving micro-organisms, messy researchers in Denmark discover certain Deep-Sea Bacteria Form Avatar-Style Electrochemical Networks.

Predicting Sunny Days

Taking a look at the macro, Colorado scientists are learning how to predict space weather by modeling sunspots. With luck, this will encourage meteorologists to improve their predictions.

Weird Science That’s Fun

Learn how to study physics using candy and a microwave. The results of each study are edible.