Weird science facts, Feb 09 — Feb 15

Here are the Twitter #weirdscifacts for the past week, delayed a day due to the publication of The Giant’s Shoulders yesterday!

333. Feb 09: The sucker-footed bat! (Actually stick to things via sweat, not suction.) Animal appendages come in an amazing variety of forms; here we have a bat that literally sticks to surfaces!

334. Feb 10: Komodo dragons will eat animal intestines, but only after swinging them around to fling out feces. (This fact was a big, big hit on Twitter!)

335. Feb 11: The Dana Octopus Squid uses flashes of light from photophores to blind & disorient its prey.

336. Feb 12: The odd behavior of superfluids, which will climb up the sides of their containers! Superfluids are cryogenic liquids that exhibit quantum-mechanical behavior on a macroscopic scale — this is, in essence, quantum physics that we can see with the naked eye!

337. Feb 13: Cryoseisms, aka “frostquakes”. (h/t @patrickneville via @Allochthonous @rockbandit)

338. Feb 14: Properly focused, 2 square meters of sunlight can melt steel & rock! This is a remarkable video — 2 square meters of sunlight is, as the video says, enough to illuminate a trio of sunbathers.  There is enough energy there, however, to produce extreme temperatures.

339. Feb 15: Record distance for free-space optical communication? 183 miles by heliograph — in 1894. A good portion of my research involves communication by laser beam over long distances through the atmosphere, which is marred by atmospheric turbulence.  It is very odd to realize that the U.S. Signal Corps managed to communicate over huge distances with simple heliographs — essentially mirrors used to reflect the Sun’s rays.  Of course, the Signal Corps was not trying to send megabytes of information in a matter of seconds.

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