Mysterious News Briefly — December 14, 2021
NASA will launch four Earth science missions in 2022 to provide scientists with more information about fundamental climate systems, including extreme storms, surface water and oceans, and atmospheric dust. Star Trek said it was space, but NASA seems to think ‘our place’ is the final frontier.
In a test of a missile targeting algorithm, the U.S. Air Force found that an AI it thought was performing with a 90% success rate was actually accurate only about 25% of the time. If the world was a carnival shooting gallery, the Air Force would have no giant stuffed animals.
Scientists using a remotely operated vehicle thousands of feet beneath the surface of Monterey Bay off the coast of California captured footage of a bizarre barreleye fish (Macropinna microstoma) which has a bulbous, translucent head and green orb-like eyes that see through its forehead. Needless to say, barreleye fish never grow bangs.
In an interesting study hypothetically pitting dingoes against wolves to see which would win in a fight, the ultimate victor would be a larger wolf in a one-on-one battle, and a pack of wolves would win over a pack of dingoes, which tend to have less members and prefer flight over fight. Which one would eat the baby? (Asking for a “Seinfeld” fan.)
A hiker in the Lake District of northwest England thought he saw a giant ghost standing in front of him in the clouds, but it turned out to be a rare phenomenon known as a brocken spectre – an optical illusion where a large shadowy reflection of an observer is cast onto cloud or mist. What was the clue – did the shadow look like it was about to wet its pants?
CT scans of the fossilized cranium of an ancient Queensland fish (Cladarosymblema narrienense) show that the fish first left the water to crawl on land about 370 million years ago because it had a large pituitary gland which regulated other important endocrine glands needed for surviving out of the water. The first thought of that giant fish brain was probably “All right — there’s worms up here too!”
A British man visiting the Singapore Botanic Gardens says he thought he was going to die when he was attacked by a ‘romp’ of otters that left him with 20 bite wounds on his legs, buttocks and finger. The worst pain had to come from trying to explain it to the ER doctor.
A Cornell Lab of Ornithology survey found that bird-singing contests currently take place in at least 22 countries using at least 36 species of birds which can bring in considerable prize money but is a threat to rare singing birds like the White-rumped Shama, Brown-headed Barbet, and the Orange-headed Thrush. Forget bird-singing contests – start an all-brunette human singing quartet called the Brown-Headed Barbets.
Speaking to a Review Conference, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for members to establish a plan that imposes “restrictions on the use of certain types of autonomous weapons” such as autonomous drones and killer robots. This needs to happen before they develop their own competing group known as The United Automations.
Rocket Lab, a private California space company, is developing a low-cost small spacecraft to detect life on Venus that is expected to be launched in 2023. The key to its success could be preventing its CEO from going all Elon Musk-ish.