Mysterious News Briefly — January 22, 2021
Steve Jurczyk is NASA’s new acting administer and he revealed in an interview he’ll be running the massive government operation “from the basement of my home.” What would Captain Kirk say if he got a call from the United Federation of Planets and the president was in his man cave wearing pajamas?
Astronomers at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian announced the discovery of WASP-62b, the first Jupiter-like planet without clouds or haze. It is now on the bucket list of everyone living in Seattle.
To celebrate Burns Night, an annual celebration honoring the life and works of poet Robert Burns, a Scottish butcher and the space education and research firm Stratonauts launched a one-pound haggis into space (20 miles up) on a weather balloon before returning it safely to Earth to be put on display at the company’s headquarters as the “first haggis in space”.
Those huge Burmese pythons that have taken over Florida’s Everglades may be good for something – they contain squalene, a key ingredient in COVID-19 vaccines that is currently in short supply from other sources. They have to be killed and processed, so don’t lie in the backyard covered in python chow hoping to get bitten.
Prehistoric humans had a taste for the bone marrow of animals, according to archeologists in Israel who determined that odd-shaped rocks found at the prehistoric site of Revadim were actually tools for chopping through bones. Long before Crosby, Stills & Nash, prehistoric trios were singing “Thrill me to the marrow.”
While snake venom is generally considered to be an offensive weapon for disabling prey, new research has found that spitting cobras – which spit venom up to 2.5 meters (8.2) feet into the eyes of what they’re confronting – actually do it so they can slighter away safely, and three different groups of spitting pythons developed the ability on their own in an amazing case of convergent evolution. Could this also be why three different bands are named The Spitting Pythons?
In order to explore delicate and endangered coral reefs without damaging them, British scientists have developed robots in the shape of common jellyfish and self-propelled by resonance – when a piston in its head hits the right frequency, natural resonance sends out a large jet of water. If scuba divers could tune their flatulence to this frequency, they could get rid of flippers.
After it delivered a load of cargo to the ISS, a Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft with a camera and sensors inside was set on fire as part of NASA’s Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment-V (Saffire-V) program. Would NASA release the videos if they showed UFOs surrounding the flaming spacecraft roasting marshmallows?
For its next-generation Iron Man suit, the U.S. Army is testing the Aim Control Enhancer (ACE) which will enhance a soldier’s aim by stabilizing a weapon’s barrel against unnecessary or unintended movement. That’s harder than it sounds, since it must keep the weapon stable during both “Ready” and “Aim” before the soldier can fire it.
Just 200 years after the smooth handfish (Sympterichthys unipennis) – a strange fish with bulging eyes, a mohawk-like fin on its head and the ability to walk on the seafloor – was swimming in vast numbers off the coast of Tasmania, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has declared it extinct — the first modern marine fish on record to completely vanish. If they do an animated film on it, the model for the smooth handfish will have to be Steve Buscemi.