Twitter Weird Science Facts, Volume 14

Time again for a compilation of Twitter #weirdscifacts! Click below the link to find out what the heck these Japanese honeybees are doing.

Image by Takahashi, via Wikipedia.

Image by Takahashi, via Wikipedia.

246. (September 3). If you lose the lens of your eye (aphakia), you can see into the ultraviolet!  I learned this from Arcand and Watzke’s Light!  In short: the lens of the eye blocks the ultraviolet, but the retina is nevertheless sensitive to ultraviolet. Remove the lens, and see in ultraviolet.

247. (September 4). Back in 2011, a star was observed that shoots water “bullets.”  The amount shooting out is one hundred million times the flow coming out of the Amazon river every second.

248. (September 5). The time that a paper was published using ducks to explain optical coherence theory.  This is work that was published by my PhD advisor in 2010 with colleagues, and it is a great way to explain a very subtle physical phenomenon.

249. (September 6). This ball of fire ants acts like putty when you squeeze it.  The post suggests that the fire ants act like ketchup, which implies that the ball acts like a non-Newtonian fluid.

250. (September 7). We just sent a spacecraft to go bring back material from an asteroid.  How amazing is this?  The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft won’t even land on the asteroid, but will scoop up some dirt off the surface in a close pass.  It won’t come back until 2023.

251. (September 8). A foot-long cockroach-like creature with 50 legs ruled the sea floor 500 million years ago.  The life that current exists on Earth is strange enough, but when you look back through the fossil record you find things that are almost unimaginable.

252. (September 9). The “tea leaf paradox”: stirring tea invariably leads to tea in middle bottom of cup!  One that everyone can understand and even test for themselves! One would expect, due to centrifugal force, that the tea leaves would end up at the edges of the cup. But thermal processes dictate otherwise.

253. (September 10). Ancient Damascus swords were shown to contain very state-of-the-art carbon nanotubes!  Carbon nanotubes are a topic of active research for their resilience: it has even been suggested that they could be used to fashion a cable for a space elevator!  It is amazing that they were inadvertently created by ancient sword makers.

254. (September 11). Honeybees in Japan deal with large Japanese hornets by forming “hot bee balls“!  Defensive tactics that have evolved in nature are incredibly diverse and clever.

255. (September 12). Trees know when deer are eating them — and how to fight back.  There is a classic science fiction story by Roald Dahl, “The Sound Machine,” in which a man invents a machine that allows him to hear plants — and hear their suffering. Science is eerily showing us that plants are more active participants in their own existence than we ever imagined.

256. (September 13). Hypothesis: it is possible to form a black hole from an intense density of light: kugelblitz!  I stumbled across this tidbit while researching another upcoming blog post! In Einstein’s relativity, energy and momentum are “sources” of gravity, not mass alone, and it is therefore hypothetically possible for a black hole to form from an incredible concentration of light with no mass involved.

257. (September 14). In 2004, a nebula was named after a Prince of Spain as a wedding gift.  Many astronomical objects have been named for famous people, but it relatively unusual for one to be given as a wedding gift.

258. (September 15). Is it possible to swim in the sand? The sandfish lizard can!  “Sandworms. You hate ’em right? I hate ’em myself!”


259. (September 16). How metal are rats? Their teeth are harder than iron.  Quote taken from Jason Bittel’s tweet that drew my attention to this!

260. (September 17).  A migration strategy for some snails: get eaten by birds?  Ordinarily, evolution is, arguably, all about not getting eaten. But rules were made to be broken in nature.

261. (September 18). Psychiatrist Carl Wickland (1861-1945) used *electroshocks* to try & cure people of ghosts.  This is rather tragic and horrifying, as is often the case when science and pseudoscience collide.

262. (September 19). Chan’s megastick, an insect 22 inches long and with winged eggs!  The megastick was only identified by science in 2008. So many strange and wonderful species out there yet to be discovered!

263. (September 20). On the planet Mercury, a single day lasts 2 years!  Mercury rotates 3 times on its axis for every 2 turns around the Sun.  From the planet-bound perspective, this amounts to a single day/night cycle lasting two years.

264. (September 21). When he couldn’t find a good chemistry textbook, Mendeleev wrote one & made the periodic table in process.  I lost my original link that suggested that Mendeleev wrote his own book after he couldn’t find a decent book elsewhere, but it is true that he might not have discovered the periodic table if not for working on his own book.

265. (September 22). Mosaics tell 100,000-year-old fish tale.  One wouldn’t think that archaeology could be used to study biology, but one can learn a lot from historical artwork.

266. (September 23). Escaped pet birds are teaching wild birds to speak English!  When you think about it, this makes perfect sense, but it is nevertheless unexpected.

267. (September 24). Macellum of Pozzuoli – from bradyseism, this ancient ruin has submerged & raised several times.  A striking and surprising example of how geological processes can change the surface of the Earth in subtle ways.  Not everything is as dramatic as an earthquake!

The Macellum in 2004, via Wikipedia. On the columns you can see the damage caused by the molluscs.

The Macellum in 2004, via Wikipedia. On the columns you can see the damage caused by the molluscs.

268. (September 25). Sinister alliances: Groupers and moray eels can hunt as a team!  This is not the first time we’ve seen animal alliances in these facts, and it won’t be the last!

269. (September 26). 65 MYO Chicxulub dinosaur-killing (?) asteroid impact generated megatsunamis as high as 5 km.  It is hard to even comprehend the devastation caused when so much energy is released in an impact.

270. (September 27). Not all cockroaches are ugly! Behold Ellipsidion australe!  Okay, you might still think it’s ugly because it’s a cockroach, but you must admit that the color patterning is beautiful.

That’s it for now — tune in soon for more twitter weirdscifacts!

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