Weird science facts, August 17 — August 23

The past week’s Twitter #weirdscifacts, right on schedule!

522. Aug 17: Ancient Damascus swords shown to contain very state-of-the-art carbon nanotubes!  I’m planning to blog about this next week — though carbon nanotubes are relatively new to science, they were unknowingly produced in the production of Damascus swords.  (h/t @drrubidium)

523. Aug 18: Neutrons may become cubes under high enough pressure? (via @rctautz)

524. Aug 19: Thatcherization: the failure to notice massively distorted faces oriented upside down.  I’m tempted to do this with my own photos!

525. Aug 20: Mike the headless chicken, who survived 18 months after his head was mostly cut off!  Enough of Mike’s head survived to keep basic motor functions going.

526. Aug 21: c. 850 C.E., Islamic scholar Abbas Ibn Firnas is reputed to have made an attempt at flight w/ glider.  Note the use of the word “reputed”!  Like many statements about pre-renaissance science, the glider attempt is poorly documented, with only a cryptic contemporary reference and a more detailed reference only 800 years later.  Why put any faith in it at all?  After all, Archimedes was credited with a “death ray” that is widely considered apocryphal.   Unlike Archimedes, though, Firnas’ attempt at flight was reported to be a failure, which ended up giving him significant injuries!  This gives it at least the veneer of plausibility.

527. Aug 22: Archeological evidence suggests Egyptian queen Hatshepsut moisturized to death!  Hatshepsut is known to have died of cancer, and recent investigations show that she was using a skin moisturizer that included highly carcinogenic materials.  (h/t @wilsondasilva)

528. Aug 23: The shark attack victim who drove to get himself help — with the shark still attached to his leg.  @cuttlefishpoet commented: First thought: “Australian?”

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