2015 has been many things, from joyful to melancholy, from tragic to uplifting. In the realm of science, however, things haveoften been wacky. In honor of the stranger side of science, here are our choices for the Top 10 Weirdest Stories Of 2015.
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Drones are everywhere nowadays. From taking elaborate selfies of all snowboarders to wandering above lava lakes, they are slowlybecomingan accepted feature of existence. It could come as a surprise, then, the U.S. militarys scientific and technological wing wants them to disappear altogether. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) hasannounced they are building drones that totally evaporate in sunlight.
They will be made of a specialized material that’s ready to sublimate, turning straight out of a solid into a gas, and leaving no hint of their existence. This could either happen when triggered to do so by the operator, or when the Sun comes up.Unsurprisingly, these little flying machines are referred to as vampire drones in the media.
Picture credit: Mari Tefre/Svalbard Globale frhvelv/Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle keeps caches of indigenous crop seeds from almost every country on earth just in case an ecological catastrophe occurs and we need to restart a nations or several nations agriculture. Occasionally referred to as the Doomsday Vault, it even has seeds inside out of exceptionally secretive, isolated nationslike North Korea.
However, due to the continuing civil war in Syria, the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA)which manages the Allied seed bankhas demanded the withdrawal of its own contribution into the vault. The 116,000 crop seeds must be obtained from Svalbard and moved back to the ruined Syrian city of Aleppoin order to replenish the war-torn countrys very own noodle gene bank.
Picture credit: Copyright Univ.. Iowa/Wassermann Lab
Sixteen pigeons at the University of California, Davis,are trained to distinguish between microscope slides of benign and cancerous breast tissue. They have been rewarded with food for properly determining which was which, and in a remarkable show of accelerated pattern detection, these common birds learned the way to diagnose breast cancer within just a few weeks. They not only had an accuracy rate of 85 percent after being trained for just 13 days, but when several pigeons were asked to test the same slide, their precision climbed to 99 percent.
Despite this, its unlikely youll walk into a hospital and see pigeons flying with little white laboratory coats on.
Picture credit: Pelegrin & Leo, 2015
Lizards are famous for their remarkable capacity to regenerate damaged tissue. In particular, their tails are designed to drop off and grow back in days, an ability that’s designed to confuse a predator hoping for a lizard-flavored snack. When threatened, a lizard can sever its tail between two particular vertebrae. A fracture arises along one of those weak structural points; bleeding is soon clotted and shut off, and also the cellular regeneration of the tail tissue starts rapidly from the remaining stub.
1 special darkened black tegu lizard Salvator merianae was found using a world record-setting six tails earlier this year. Researchers feel that the regeneration process went slightly haywire when the tail failed to completely drop off, accidentally causing it to sprout multiple new tails. Although it seems pretty impressive, the numerous developments to its backside have likely rendered it unable to successfully associate with a lady.
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Astronomers recently detected unpredictable andhighly variable changes in light levels around a classic star by the name of KIC 8462852. Although changes in light amount generally indicate an orbiting planet or another star moving in front of it, the irregularity of those dips convinced some people it may be an artificial object thats causing the fluctuations. Yes Something created by aliens , an enormous construct blocking the light of a celebrity.
Sad to say, the fact turned out to be much less thrilling and revelatory: Recent data suggests that it may be a swarm of comets which are breaking up into smaller and smaller bits, trapping chaotically around the celebrity. Therere no telltale signs of heat being given off by mechanical alien constructions, so for today, we stay tantalizingly alone in the world.
Picture credit: Harald Schottner/Shutterstock
Flatworms, such as lizards, have amazing regenerative abilities. 1 particular species, Girardia dorotocephala, was shown to be able to take this capacity one bizarre step farther: It is able to increase the heads and brain structures of completely different species. This capacity was triggered byusing a form of alcohol to electrically control the flatworms’ nerve cell connections, or synapses. After a short while, they managed to grow their original heads , all without changing their own genetic structure.
Picture credit: Lukas Schrer
Flatworms create the list twice this year, and for good reason: 1 species was found to replicate by inseminating its own thoughts. Although this may sound somewhat counterproductive, this species is an hermaphrodite, meaning it’s both male and female sex organs. Although this creates inbred offspring, the researchers assert that its better than not being able to replicate at all. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Picture credit: Albert Salemgareyev
In two separate events, thousands of endangered saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan are dying en masse. The die-offs appear to have started around the time that the pregnant antelopes were giving birth. Since the calves died shortly after the mothers, researchers suspect it was something passed on through the mothers milk. However,to date, no-one knows whats causing these massacres.
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If youre confused at just the name, fret not: you aren’t alone. After a child was born followingassisted conception, testing demonstrated that his blood type didn’t match that of his parents. At first it was thought that sperm samples were mixed up, but physicians discovered that part of the dads genome belonged to his unborn twin, which never made it beyond several cells in the uterus. This technically supposed the furry friend of the father is the biological father to the baby boy. This guy is, therefore, a bonafide human chimera: a fusion between two unique people.
Picture credit: Peter Olson/Natural History Museum
In a somewhat depressing but utterly distinctive narrative, a HIV-positive Colombian guy died in November after a common tapeworm inside his digestive system became cancerous. This is regarded as the first time that microbes have developed as a consequence of parasite-derived cancerous cells spreading to the host organism. The discovery, which has confounded medical investigators worldwide, was made just 72 hours prior to the 41-year-old guy expired.
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