Oh man, who can’t feel the joy of the dog – or the discomfort of the cat?! Lindsay Roy-Bernatchez witnessed her cat Katniss getting dunked by a German sheppard. Apart from a moment of pure laughter she got over 200.000 views on this video.
A new video released by National Geographic shows a male polar bear pursuing a female and her young cub across the Arctic landscape, before killing the infant for food. While this footage is unique, the reality is that this type of event is nothing new or unusual, and polar bear cannibalism has been reported on numerous previous occasions by scientists studying the animals.
Despite being a top predator, polar bears are constantly at the mercy of the sea ice, which provides them with a platform for hunting seals. Seasonal fluctuations in sea ice levels therefore have a major impact on the ease with which the bears are able to access their prey. As such, the winter months tend to be the most fruitful in terms of hunting, although as the ice begins to thin during spring and summer, so too does the withering physique of the increasingly hungry bears.
With food resources running low beneath the midnight sun, male polar bears often turn to eating any cubs they come across, which represent their easiest source of nutrition. Because of this, mothers often have to be on the lookout for prowling males as they raise their young during the spring and summer.
The dramatic footage was captured by scientists aboard the National Geographic Explorer in Baffin Island, Canada, last summer. Appearing in the video, Ian Stirling of the University of Alberta explains that polar bear cannibalism could be on the rise as a result of climate change, which has been attributed with driving a reduction in sea ice levels, leaving polar bears with fewer hunting opportunities.
While this may well be the case, it is not accurate to state that climate change is the cause of this behavior as some news outlets have claimed as cannibalism has long been established as a natural element of polar bear conduct, and has also been observed in many other species.
I decided to let him roam around my car and stretch his legs. The moment I opened his cat carrier, Henry walked up onto my shoulder and gave me the most heartwarming kitty kiss I had ever received since becoming a foster carer.
Sure, the world might have been under the constant threat of a nuclear apocalypse, but the Cold War was a great time for space.
Driven by the rivalry between the capitalist West and the communist Eastern Bloc, the scientific exploration of space was funded like never before. We sent satellites to orbit Earth, tortoises went around the Moon, and 12 humans set foot on the Moon. We even played golf up there.
Within these strange and paranoid times, there were also a lot of totally insane plans that never came to fruition, primarily because they were so totally insane (and that’s not even talking about the Space Race’s animal missions).
A-Bombing The Moon
One of the most startling plans involved nuking the Moon. Around June 1959, the US military hatched a plan to drop a small W25 nuclear warhead on the Moon for the purposes of weapons testing and gaining insight into the lunar environment. However, there was another motive: flexing muscles. The Americans wanted to drop the bomb directly on the Moon’s terminator, the division between the illuminated and shadowed parts, hoping it would be visible from Earth and, more to the point, Moscow.
Fortunately, this was one of the many plans that never happened. At the time, however, it had a team of scientists working on it, one of whom was a young Carl Sagan.
The Soviet’s Death Star
Spacecraft shooting each other with laser guns sounds like an old James Bond film, but the USSR and the US came remarkably close to making this a reality.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviets set about designing Polyus-Skif, an unmanned orbital weapons platform that was equipped with a carbon-dioxide laser designed to destroy enemy US satellites. By 1986, it was bumped up to a high-priority satellite and launched into orbit a year later.
Thankfully, there was a pretty big screw up and the satellite failed to reach orbit. With the Cold War cooling down and the Soviet economy in stagnation, the USSR had little interest in rebooting the plan.
Putting A Copper Ring Around Earth
Project Needles, officially known as Project West Ford, was another batsh*t plan that came slightly closer to completion. The Air Force and Department of Defense decided to put 480,000,000 tiny copper wires into orbit to form a ring around Earth (just like Saturn’s rings), with the aim of helping their long-range communications.
Between 1961 and 1963, they launched a series of attempts to bump these needles into orbit. However, the plan eventually lost momentum when budgets and attention moved on to more grounded issues. Even so, there are still a few dozen clumps of these needles in orbit to this day.
Space Station Freedom
Not all of the Cold War’s ambitions were total ego-fueled failures. Through the latter half of the 1980s, the US was busy working on a bold plan to build a giant, permanently crewed, super-futuristic space station called Space Station Freedom. Ronald Reagan even announced plans for Space Station Freedom in the 1984 State of the Union address.
Space Station Freedom is what you imagine a space station to be like: spaceports, multiple labs, living quarters, an observatory, sick bays, satellite repair facilities, you name it.
However, politicians began to doubt the project and worried it was too expensive by the early 1990s. Equally, the Cold War had come to an end, meaning the days of “one-upmanship” were over. Nevertheless, the project ultimately laid the groundwork for the International Space Station – a structure that costs a mere $100 billion.
Jim Olson, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, was reviewing with his colleagues the case of a 17-year-old girl several years ago who had just undergone brain surgery to remove a tumor. An MRI scan revealed a thumb-size piece of tumor left behind. In the operating room, the tumor tissue had looked just like healthy brain tissue. During the review meeting, the hospitals’ chief of neurosurgery turned to Olson and said: “Jim, you have to come up with a way to light these cells up.”
So Olson and a neurosurgical resident started searching for a way to highlight cancer cells in the operating room. Eventually, they came across a report of a scorpion toxin that binds to brain tumors but not healthy cells. By linking a synthetic version of this protein to a molecule that glows in near-infrared light, the researchers think they may have found what they call “tumor paint.”
In their very first test, the pair injected the compound into the tail vein of a mouse whose body harbored a transplanted human tumor. “Within 15 to 20 minutes, the tumor started to glow, bright and distinct from the rest of the mouse,” says Olson.
A Seattle company called Blaze Bioscience has licensed the technology from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Olson says human trials will begin late in 2013.
The scorpion toxin is special not only because it binds to tumor cells, but because it can cross the blood-brain barrier—a cellular and molecular fortification that lines blood vessels in the brain and prevents most compounds from entering.
“Usually, peptides don’t get into the brain unless they bind to something specific that carries it in there,” says Harald Sontheimer, a neurobiologist at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, who first identified the neurological potential of the scorpion protein.
Although derived from venom, the toxin seems to be safe. A biotech company started by Sontheimer showed in early clinical trials that a version of the scorpion toxin tagged with radioactive iodine was safe in patients. However, the company closed before late-stage testing of the iodine-tagged compound, which is now owned by Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai.
The tumor paint developed by Olson may also light up cancer outside of the brain. Animal studies suggest it could also demarcate prostate, colon, breast, and other tumors. The potential the compound has to save healthy brain tissue and improve patients’ lives is told in a short film called Bringing Light, which is in the running for the Sundance Film Festival.
Scientists for the first time have created a mathematical model for how memes spread across social media. The international team constructed the model based on how epidemics spread; its not a coincidence that things are said to go “viral.”
The main finding is that something goes viral thanks to the initial combined effect of many people. Most individuals wont share it straight away, so they form a barrier thatneeds to be overcome. Once the barrier has been breached, if friends start sharing a story for example, then it explodes, spreading exponentially.
We often witness social phenomena that become accepted by many people overnight, especially now in the age of social media, Dr. Francisco Perez-Reche, co-author of the paper, said in a statement.
This is especially relevant to social contexts in which individuals initially hesitate to join a collective movement, for examplea strike, because they fear becoming part of a minority that could be punished.But it also applies to new ideas or products.
The quick spread of ideas might seem like a recent phenomenon, but the Internet has simply made the transmission more evident. The word meme itself was coined by biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976, long before the first cat was shared over the web.
The researchers showed that the most important factors are the intrinsic value of the idea and the adoption by trustworthy virtual neighbors. This could explain why marketing campaigns engineered to go viral tend to backfire spectacularly.
In very basic terms our model shows that peoples opposition to accepting a new idea acts as a barrier to large contagion, until the transmission of the phenomenon becomes strong enough to overcome that reluctance at this point, explosive contagion happens, he added.
The research, which is published inNature Scientific Reports, connects what happens at a very local level to the general spread. This model could be used to better address social issues and even for better advertising strategies.
Our conclusions rely on numerical simulations and analytical calculations for a variety of contagion models, and we anticipate that the new understanding provided by our study will have important implications in real social scenarios, he explained.
For instance, it could lead to better strategies to minimize the risk of sudden and often unexpected epidemics of undesired social behavior.Similarly, it will suggest methods to engineer explosive diffusion of innovative products and ideas.”
If you have a hankering to avenge the death of the dinosaurs by smashing apart a comet with your bare (spacesuited) hands, it might be easier than you think. An analysis of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko suggests it is held together by forces a million times weaker than styrofoam. The work could shape how we tackle frozen threats to our planet.
Dr Nicholas Attree of Aix-Marseille Université, France, and scientists from 27 other institutions studied twenty overhanging cliffs seen by the Rosetta spacecraft as it circled 67P. Knowing the comet’s gravity, they were able to calculate the minimum tensile strengths (resistance to lengthwise stress) required to prevent these cliffs collapsing. The gravity is so weak, just one ten-thousandth of Earth’s, the ice and rock doesn’t need to be bound tightly at all. Forces of around 0.3 Pascals would be sufficient.
If that was all we knew, it wouldn’t tell us much. The calculated values are minimums, and the bonding could be much higher. However, in a paper to be published in Astronomy and Astrophysics (preprint on ArXiv.org), Attree and co-authors note many overhangs have eroded material at their base, indicating material frequently falls off. Unless the fallen ice once had radically different shapes to what remains, or was broken off by some more powerful disruptive force, it can be assumed the tensile strength of most, if not all of the comet’s surface is not far from the calculated minimum.
The study also found 67P is quite homogenous, at least on this measure. Neither of the two great lobes that form its odd shape has significantly larger overhangs than the other, as would be expected if they were made of different material. Similarly, there is no trend for the overhangs to get larger or smaller towards the point where the lobes join.
“Low material strengths are supportive of cometary formation as a primordial rubble pile or by collisional fragmentation of a small (tens of km) body,” the authors note in their study. The rubble pile hypothesis, where comets form from small bits of rock and ice gently nudging into each other, has competed with models where they are formed by higher speed impacts, creating more solid objects.
When (not if) the Earth is again threatened by a comet, we might push aside a tightly bound object, but would need a different approach to a loosely bound rubble pile. Having only examined one comet in this much detail, we can’t be sure that all such objects formed in the same way. It’s possible there are more strongly bound “dirty snowballs” whizzing around the Solar System, and asteroids are a different matter entirely. On a sample of one, it’s time to start planning.
This year in science has been absolutely incredible. There’s been black hole mergers, the death dive of Cassini, and massive scientific advancements in all fields.
However, 2017 was also the year that the FDA warned people not to eat their own body parts, the Flat Earth Society held a conference for their members from around the globe, and a woman became pregnant whilst already pregnant.
Without any further ado, here are the weirdest, funniest stories from a spectacularly bizarre year in science.
10) An Image Of A Man Killed In Pompeii Went Viral, Because It Looked Like He Was Involved In An Act Of Self-Love When He Died
The remains of around 1,150 people have been found from the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. Amongst the dead, there are families huddling together and two men embracing as they died.
Then there was this guy, who went viral for obvious reasons. People speculated that he was preserved in one final act of self-love, because, well, it really does look like that might be the case.
We will probably never know what the man was really doing, but it’s possible the man was killed whilst masturbating. However, it’s also possible his body fell like this naturally.
Theories on how Pompeii victims died suggest many were killed instantly in a blast of hot gas. A study in 2001 looked at 80 skeletons and found signs that the victims close to the eruption were killed before they felt any pain.
“[There were no signs of a] voluntary self-protective reaction or agony contortions, indicating that their vital organs must have stopped within a shorter time than the conscious reaction time,” said Dr Alberto Incoronato of the University of Naples Federico II, as reported by The Telegraph. “The cloud was a mixture of hot gas and ash. It caused little damage in the town itself but killed these people instantly.”
Other victims were killed by falling debris in collapsed buildings or possibly by suffocating in the ash. However, the lack of debris found around the “masturbating man” and the fact that he isn’t covering his face seems to suggest that he was one of those who died instantly, without ever seeing it coming.
On the other hand, it could just be an embarrassing position that his body wound up in.
“Most of the human victims found in Pompeii often show ‘strange’ position of arms and legs, due to the contraction of limbs as a consequence of the heat effect on their bodies after death occurred,” Volcanologist Pier Paolo Petrone told The Daily Dot.
9) Moron Decides To Tease Enormous Alligator While Dressed As A T-Rex
In “why the hell would they do that” news, a man decided to put on a T-rex costume and taunt an alligator… as you do. The 35-year-old in the costume said that he couldn’t see out of the suit, which would probably put most people off from taunting an alligator. Not this guy.
8) There Was A Concerning Spike In People Searching For “Why Do My Eyes Hurt” Just After The Eclipse
The eclipse was one of the more fun science stories of the year. Whether you’re an astrophysicist or a small child, we can all agree that the Moon moving in front of the Sun is pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, despite many warnings not to, it seems there were a lot of people who looked directly at the Sun during the eclipse. It wasn’t just the POTUS.
Just after the eclipse, there was an uptick in searches for terms such as “eclipse headache” and “eyes hurt”.
In fact, a lot of related terms seem to have had more traffic on the day of the eclipse, including the phrase “looking at the Sun” and the vastly more specific phrase “I looked at the Sun”. You all don’t deserve an eclipse.
Check out this article for more info and this article from Quartz, which takes a closer look at how Google Trends assemble this data.
7) White Supremacists Took Ancestry Tests, Only To Discover They Aren’t As Genetically “White” As They Thought
2017 has been a horrifying year filled with white supremacists being terrible human beings. They’ve done some awful things this year, but let’s not forget another moment of stupidity.
Some white supremacists took a genetic test to prove how white they are to their white supremacist friends, only to find out they’re not as white as they thought they were (spoiler: nobody is).
The white nationalist forum responded in a variety of ways, including racists getting angry at other racists for not quite being white enough genetically.
After one person revealed they were “61 percent European”, another person replied: “I’ve prepared you a drink. It’s 61 percent pure water. The rest is potassium cyanide… Cyanide isn’t water, and YOU are not White.”
The forum saw some people being kicked out because they aren’t “white enough”. Whilst obviously it doesn’t matter where the hell you came from, genetically or otherwise, it’s fun to see some white supremacists losing their minds after finding out their true origins.
They also spent time in the forum trying to debunk the validity of the tests themselves. Read more about their dismay here.
6) The World’s First “Adult Service Droid” Was Created
Whilst most people’s attention has been on the technically impressive Sofia robot, you may have forgotten this is the year that brought us the world’s very first “adult service” droid, and it’s horrifying.
The droid moves back and forth like it’s moshing. It gets even more horrifying when you realize she is wearing a parka coat because she doesn’t have any skin. Yep, the world’s most technically advanced robot prostitute is essentially a mannequin’s head on a stick. Nightmare fuel.
5) The CDC Had To Issue A Warning Telling People Not To Eat A Part Of Their Own Body
In 2017, the fad for eating parts of one’s own body appears to have taken off. Kim and Kourtney Kardashian did it. X-Men: First Class actress January Jones did it. All the celebrities appear to have eaten their own placenta after giving birth.
Despite the fact that there is no evidence that eating your placenta has any health benefits, the idea has gone bizarrely mainstream, with plenty of people on YouTube posting videos on how to prepare placenta, cook placenta, or even turn it into a milkshake.
Well, it took off so much this year that the CDC put out a warning to everyone not to eat your own body.
In the report, the CDC says that health officials believe placenta capsules may have caused an infection in a baby in Portland, Oregon. The mother had her placenta turned into capsules by a company she thought to be safe, but the baby fell ill after she took them. The capsules were tested and found to contain infectious bacteria, though the researchers note they can’t rule out other possibilities.
“Placenta ingestion has recently been promoted to postpartum women for its physical and psychological benefits, although scientific evidence to support this is lacking,” the center warns in its report. They point out that “no standards exist for processing placenta for consumption.”
The CDC note that it’s possible the placenta pills were not heated properly to kill the bacteria.
“The placenta encapsulation process does not per se eradicate infectious pathogens; thus, placenta capsule ingestion should be avoided.”
In “holy mother of God is this really a thing” news, a woman became pregnant whilst already pregnant. This resulted in her giving birth to two children who had different sets of parents.
Jessica Allen underwent IVF after she agreed to become a surrogate mother for a Chinese couple. Following a routine ultrasound, Allen was told she was carrying twins. She gave birth to two boys via cesarean section later that year. A month later, she received a photo of the two boys from the Chinese couple with a message saying: “They are not the same, right? Have you thought about why they are different?”
“I did notice that one was much lighter than the other,” Allen told ABC News. “You know, obviously they were not identical twins.” DNA tests later confirmed this suspicion. It showed that one baby was Allen’s biological child and the other baby was the Chinese couple’s child.
This is a phenomenon known as “superfetation”. It’s extremely rare because pregnant women’s bodies release hormones to stop ovulation. In this case, however, Allen’s body continued to ovulate. Since superfetation is rare in humans, scientists and practitioners know very little about how and why it happens.
Fortunately, both children are now fit and healthy. Allen and her partner Jasper recently received custody of their son and named him Malachi.
2) Flat-Earthers Tried To Prove The Earth Is Flat In A Variety Of Bizarre Ways
The Earth isn’t flat. You know it, people in the Middle Ages knew it, flat-Earthers apparently don’t know it. This year has seen a resurgence in flat-Earthers saying ridiculous things.
There was one flatty who took a level onto a plane to prove the Earth was flat, and then there was B.o.B who planned to launch satelites into space to prove the Earth looks like a map. Buzz Aldrin wrote B.o.B. to confirm that the Earth is in fact round, but that didn’t deter flat-Earthers.
The most bizarre attempt to disprove science came from one flat-Earther, who planned to launch himself into space in a homemade rocket. It’s not clear whether he was going for a Nobel Prize or a Darwin Award.
1) If You Enjoy The Song “No Diggity” And “Lose Yourself”, You Are More Likely To Be A Psychopath
As we enter 2018, you may be tempted to sit back, relax, and put on your favorite record – only to learn that psychopaths are more likely to listen to the rap and heavy metal music you’re listening to.
A stereotype in films is that psychopaths always listen to classical music (e.g. Hannibal Lecter). However, according to online research conducted by Channel 4 in the UK on over 3 million participants, those who score highly on psychopath tests are more likely to favor rap and heavy metal, with the least psychopathic favoring classical music and jazz. Online surveys, it should be noted, have serious drawbacks however.
In a similar vein, researchers at New York University studied 200 people who listened to 260 songs to determine if there was a psychopath link, The Guardian reports.
They found that people who scored highly on psychopath tests were more likely to highly rate songs like No Diggity by Blackstreet and Lose Yourself by Eminem. People on the least psychopathic end of the spectrum were more likely to be fans of My Sharona by The Knacks and Titanium by Sia. Two songs you should now claim to love with passion.
Of course, further tests are needed, especially since the results were preliminary, unpublished, and included a small sample size.
No Diggity and Lose Yourself were named by the researchers, but other songs were better predictors of psychopathy. The scientists declined to name these songs for fear of disrupting future experiments. We’re guessing Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran.
To be clear, you shouldn’t diagnose yourself based on your musical taste. If you’d like to read more about how psychopaths are diagnosed by trained medical professionals, see this Hare Psychopathy Checklist.
Why have we never used microphones on Mars? Thats a question you may not have thought about before, but its just been revealed that a new mission will return the first sounds from the surface of the Red Planet, or indeed any planetother than Earth.
In 2020, NASA will send a new rover to Mars, which is currently just called the 2020 Mars rover in lieu of a formal name yet. Its design is identical to its predecessor Curiosity, which is currently operating on the surface of Mars. But where they will differ is in the instruments they carry.
This new rover, which will land in February 2021, will have a greater focus on searching for past life. It will also collect samples and leave them on Mars, which could be collected by a mission in the future.
Most excitingly, though, it will also have a microphone. This is thanks to the work of The Planetary Society, a space advocacy group in the US that has campaigned for a microphone to be sent to Mars for the last two decades.
Microphones will finally enable us to add a second human sense to all the amazing visual imagery we have seen from Mars, adding a visceral reality to a distant world, Bruce Betts, Director of Science and Technology for The Planetary Society, said in a blog post.
NASA’s new Mars rover has the same overall design as Curiosity.NASA/JPL-Caltech
Microphones have actually been sent to Mars before, though, thanks to the work of The Planetary Society; its just that they havent worked. The first was sent on the Mars Polar lander, which launched in 1998 but sadly crashed on the surface in 1999 before it could begin its mission. A later mission, the Phoenix lander in 2008, also included a microphone, but concerns over the landers electronics meant it was never switched on.
On this new rover, there will actually be two microphones. The first will record the sounds during entry, descent, and landing (EDL), the so-called seven minutes of terror experienced by Curiosity as the rover passes through the atmosphere and then lands on the ground with the assistance of a rocket-propelled crane system.
The second, and perhaps more exciting, microphone will be on the rover itself. It will take the form of a small tube on the SuperCam science instrument, itself used to analyze samples on Mars. According to Betts, the microphone should be able to detect everything from blowing winds to the crunch of the wheels rolling across the surface.
With this mission we will have replicated two of the five human senses on Mars. Who knows, maybe the next rover will come packed with a Smell-O-Scope.
To keep kids interested in science and aviation, Pima Air & Space Museum holds a Great Paper Airplane Project each year. This year, they built the world’s largest paper airplane, named the Arturo’s Desert Eagle. The plane measured a gigantic 45 feet long and 26 feet wide, and flew over the desert of Arizona for ten seconds and hit a top speed of 100 mph! Naturally, the plane was equipped with a GoPro camera to capture the action.