Time for another round-up of weird science facts from twitter! Click below to find out this guy was dressed for, and how it didn’t turn out so well for him.
111. (April 21). The “electric kiss”, Venus electrificata, a 1700s electricity demo concocted by G.M. Bose. There were a lot of very peculiar demonstrations of electricity back in the 1700s, when discoveries first captured the imagination of the public. There’s another one further down this list…
112. (April 22). Large Hadron Collider can be ‘world’s biggest rain meter.’ I often note that the LHC is the largest and most complicated device that has ever been constructed; it is probably not surprising that it has unexpected sensitivities, simply due to its size.
113. (April 23). Bertholdia trigona, the tiger moth that can jam a bat’s echolocation with ultrasound! How cool is this? So many revolutionary inventions of humans — like radar, and radar jamming — were achieved ages earlier by evolution.
114. (April 24). 65 billion solar neutrinos pass through every square cm of the Earth every second. Most neutrinos pass through the entire Earth without interacting with anything! Neutrinos only interact through gravity and the weak nuclear force, which makes them extremely hard to detect.
115. (April 25). Properly focused, 2 square meters of sunlight can melt steel & rock! This video is amazing: as it says, there is no material on Earth that can withstand 2 square meters of sunlight, which is about as much as falls on 2-3 sunbathers.
116. (April 26). Lesson about self-experimentation: Reichelt’s 1912 fatal Eiffel Tower parachute test. Reichelt is the poor man in the photograph at the beginning of the post. It could be said that his hubris killed him: he should have done many, many more dummy tests before a live one.
117. (April 27). The man who accidentally stuck his head in a particle accelerator — and survived. The human body is fickle: little things can often kill us, while we can sometimes survive the most disastrous accidents.
118. (April 28). The strawberry squid — looks weird, one eye bigger than the other, & “cloaking” tech. Like the moth above, here we have another example of an animal that developed a strategy that we only recently began to achieve technologically. (Though it should be said that the squid’s cloak is nowhere near as sophisticated as the ones we’re trying to make now.)
119. (April 29). Largest recorded beaver dam: 2790 ft long, in Northern Alberta, Canada. The dam was discovered by satellite photography in 2007, and it took until 2014 for the first human to visit it in person. There are still some amazingly remote places in the world.
120. (April 30). Behold, the bizarre physics of the “Gobbling Drop.” As we learn more and more about fluids, we find that they can have behaviors that we could scarcely imagine.
121. (May 1). Modern glacier theory was introduced to scientists by hunter Jean-Pierre Perraudin in 1821. I find this story fascinating because the hunter was, in a sense, more of a scientist than the scientists, as he based his theory on long-time observations.
122. (May 2). In 1778 Paris, fashionable ladies never went out in bad weather without their lightning hats. Here’s another peculiar electrical invention of the 1700s. We’ll see more in the future!
123. (May 3). The Mirascope illusion. This, of course, is my recent blog post on the subject.
124. (May 4). The echidna has a 4-pronged penis; it uses 2 prongs each mating, & swaps sets between matings. Enough said! Biology can be so, so weird.
125. (May 5). “Blue Peacock“, 1950s nuclear landmine project that planned to use live chickens to keep warm. The Cold War led to lots of very weird technological proposals. This is, perhaps, one of the most sane of the bunch.
126. (May 6). Codariocalyx motorius, the world’s fastest plant — its leaf motion can be seen w/ naked eye! Like animals, plants can have a surprisingly diverse range of capabilities and behaviors. This plant is also known as the telegraph plant because of this motion.
127. (May 7). Roughly four of every five fatalities due to lightning in the U.S. from 2006-2013 were men.
128. (May 8). A Stunning Illustration of a 95 Million Year Old Octopus Drawn With Its Own Preserved Ink. I know quite a few artists these days who merge art and science; this is a great example of how well they can work together.
129. (May 9). The 47 sins of Isaac Newton, as recorded by himself. Newton, despite being the man who almost single-handedly founded physics, was also incredibly weird.
130. (May 10). Snails ship out on scrambled eggs. Another example of a remarkable evolutionary solution.
131. (May 11). Barnacles that infect king crabs and turn them into zombies. We keep laughing that a zombie apocalypse seems like complete fantasy, but zombie behavior keeps climbing higher up the food chain, from ants to wasps to crabs…
132. (May 12). Scientific paper retraction by reason of insanity? I wonder if there are other cases like this in the medical literature: of people with psychological delusions publishing their observations as fact?
133. (May 13). About 2/3 of galaxies actually have a “bar” across them! A special thanks to @penguingalaxy for suggesting this one! We tend to picture galaxies as having a nice spiral shape, but only 1/3 of them have this. From @penguingalaxy’s 2007 blog post, this is more what they look like. Understanding of this bar structure is still evidently not complete.
Tune in in a couple of weeks for more #weirdscifacts!