Those who have been around this blog for a while will remember that I did a two year nonstop marathon of “weird science facts” (hashtag #weirdscifacts), with at least one fact a day. It got pretty darn hard to keep it up after that long a stretch, and I finally wound down the series.
But, several years later, I’ve decided to give #weirdscifacts another run! I have a lot more followers than I did in 2012, and there has been a lot more weirdness since then. Twitter has changed a lot since then as well, adding unlimited searching and linked tweets which makes it much easier to keep track of what I’ve already done.
So here we are! I started the new run on January 1st, and will try and keep it going at least a year. I’ll provide a mixture of previously-tweeted facts and new ones, and will post a list of those tweeted here every week or so.
Without further ado, here’s the first two weeks!
- (January 1). Meet Chrysopelea ornata, the snake that can fly! (Well, glide, but it is still mind-boggling.) I’ve known about the weird habits of this snake for longer than I’ve been blogging, thanks to the website flyingsnake.org, which has many videos.
- (January 2). That time that folks realized that the curved facade of a Vegas hotel acts as a “death ray.” On Twitter, a number of folks pointed out that this is not unique to Vegas: London also has a building death ray (thanks to Brandon Hacha), and Dallas has its own building issues (thanks to Skulleigh).
- (January 3). 3. Thermonectus marmoratus, the sunburst diving beetle, actually has bifocal vision. It is remarkable how many human inventions turn out later to have been originally “discovered” by evolution first. Many researchers and engineers these days deliberately take inspiration from nature for new technology.
- (January 4). 4. Dolbear’s Law (1897), a method to estimate temperature by cricket chirps. This only works for the snowy tree cricket, however! This fact was once featured on “The Big Bang Theory,” for what it’s worth.
- (January 5). 5. Weird mating rituals of physicists: W. Thomson proposed to wife via ship-to-shore communication. Thomson, more famously known as Lord Kelvin, was a pioneering researcher in thermodynamics, and also was instrumental in laying the first transatlantic telegraph cables.
- (January 6). 6. File under: “How could that possibly work?” Lukyanov’s 1936 water-based analog computer. “Steampunk” science fiction stories, in which computing arose in the 1800s with Charles Babbage’s difference engine, are really popular. How about “Waterpunk” stories?
- (January 7). 7. Dinosaur behaviour has been found fossilised for the first time! One of my twitter friends, Lisa Buckley, was a researcher on this project, which found fossilised traces of dinosaur mating dances!
- (January 8). 8. How big do you think a single-celled organism can get? Well, would you believe 10 cm? A lot of deep sea creatures are much, much larger than their shallow water counterparts, a phenomenon known as deep-sea gigantism. The reasons for this gigantism are not definitively understood.
- (January 9). 9. 1986: the year that physics killed Vegas. Physicists are not known for being big gamblers, and their stay at a Las Vegas hotel was one of the city’s worst weekends ever.
- (January 10). 10. Worst way to get a science funding: have a building collapse on you. (Fraunhofer, in 1801.) See my previous blog post for details on this one!
- (January 11). 11. The spider named after David Bowie. The day of Bowie’s death was one for much reflection, but also one for learning new things. Heteropoda davidbowie was named in honor of the singer in 2008.
- (January 12). 12. Terrifying ancient crocodile discovered in the Sahara was the size of a bus. (Tip o’ the hat to Rachael Feltman for sharing this!)
- (January 13). 13. 1830: When medical cadavers were so scarce that a gun battle was fought over them. See my old blog post for the amazing details of graverobbers battling with the relatives of the deceased for the rights to the corpse.
- (January 14). 14. Along with real numbers and imaginary numbers, mathematics has conceived of “surreal numbers.” These numbers turn out to be useful in understanding the mathematics of game theory.
- (January 15). 15. Meet titanosaur, the largest dinosaur known of, at 122 feet long! These first two weeks have focused a lot on big creatures: big dinosaurs, big crocodiles, big amoebas. There will be more!
And speaking of more, stay tuned for more #weirdscifacts in the next couple of weeks!