Weird science facts, April 27 — May 3

Whenever I think I’m running out of weird science facts, I stumble across a set of bizarre things that refills my queue!  Anyway, here are this week’s Twitter #weirdscifacts!

410. Apr 27: S. Morse (1791-1872), an art professor, built the telegraph partly with art supplies. The telegraph was such an important and practical invention in its time, it is hard to conceive that it was first constructed by a professor of art!  Morse used art and print shop materials to make his first prototype.  (h/t @amhistorymuseum)

411. Apr 28: Armadillos can pass leprosy to humans?  It is important to note, though, that people shouldn’t panic and start slaughtering the poor animals; the risks are relatively low.

412. Apr 29: Kifuka, Africa: world record holder of lightning intensity, at 158 strikes per square km per year! 

413. Apr 30: The Tully Monster — the fossil that nobody knows quite what it is!  (classic @laelaps post!)

414. May 01: Amorphous metals and the “atomic trampoline“! On an atomic level, metals typically have a crystalline structure, with regularly-spaced atoms forming a periodic array.  An amorphous metal does not possess this long-range structure, and has a disordered arrangement of atoms.  Such an unusual state of metal can be produced by, among other methods, rapid cooling of the material from its molten state.  Such amorphous metals can have unusual properties, including the “bounciness” of ball bearings.

415. May 02: Stealing… ahem… “borrowing” another #weirdscifacts from Grand Illusions: solids of constant width!  What kind of three-dimensional solid object has the same width from every direction?  If you guessed “sphere”, you know the familiar answer, but it turns out there are irregularly-shaped objects that also have the same width from all directions!

416. May 03: The pistol shrimp, which hunts with a sonic weapon that creates temperatures comparable to the sun! O_o

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