The Weirdest Science Stories of 2015

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Humans always take bold moves when it comes to science. We are always trying to reach uncharted territories, test new ideas or invent ultimate machines. Scientists manage to create innovative products and services which change how we do things in our daily lives. We are also becoming interconnected, with over 1 billion people using the internet via social media to communicate with each other.

Yet science still manages to go full weird and make us scratch our heads when it unfolds something quirky. This list presents strange scientific events and achievements in a wide range of fields all over the world last 2015.

20. Bloody Rainwater?

Bloody rain

The people of Northwest Spain were taken by surprise when they saw shades of crimson red everywhere from the water fountains to their other water reservoirs. A wide vast of conspiracy theories were thrown as to why this phenomenon occurred, and some even cited the Biblical plague which destroyed much of Egypt during the ancient times to the intentional dropping of contaminated chemicals to the city. Thankfully, a man named Joaquin Perez collected some rainwater samples and concluded that the phenomenon was caused by an algae called Haematococcus pluvialis. While this phenomenon is not new and these algae are not rare, it is still an enigma as to how these were able to mix themselves in the rainfall on Northwest Spain.

19. Machines Using Humans as Battery

The human battery

It looks like the premise of some famous dystopian movies which center on using humans as energy source of machines is about to come true. Using the human skin as the source, a dermal patch which works as a power storing system which processes and stores static electricity generated from the triboelectric effect. The energy garnered from the friction of dissimilar objects was enough to light a mobile phone. What’s even fascinating (and scarier) is when these dermal patches are attached to the forehead and throat, our normal activities are still enough to light twelve LEDs. This was made possible by the faculty members from the University of Singapore last January.

18. Cancer from Parasites

Lung cancer

Meanwhile, a man in Colombia died after being inflicted with lung cancer. While this disease is mostly linked to an unhealthy lifestyle, his case was extremely peculiar and disturbing. It was caused by a growing tapeworm inside of him which carried malignant tumors that affected his healthy cells. Worst, scientists who examined him do not have the idea on how to treat his condition at that moment because anti-tapeworm treatments do not respond to these parasite-induced tumors. This horrific sounding true story is a very rare one as the patient has HIV beforehand, which greatly weakened his immune system for this kind of uncomfortable development to occur.

17. Time Travel is Real

Time-travel cabin

Einstein’s theory of relativity does not rule out the ability of humans to travel forward to the future or to go back in time. However, it was deemed to be highly improbable given the technology during his time, despite the theoretical possibility. Now, what are you going to do if a group of scientists tell you poker face that they’ve just succeeded to travel back in time ala “Back to The Future”? They were really able to do that wonder of quantum physics, this time through the use of a computer. They sent data in a “closed timelike curve” through the fabric of space-time whose similarity is akin to a wormhole. Were you able to get the explanation? Don’t worry, you have to be an expert in Physics to get a grasp of things. They also eye for grander things: if we are able to connect to a laboratory in the future or the past, we might be able to solve Mathematical enigmas which we originally thought are impossible to solve.

16. Twelve Years, No Bath

Bathing and relaxing

Most people view the need of bath for hygienic reasons but David Whitelock, a Boston-based scientist, has other things in mind. He hasn’t taken a bath in 12 years! Many would think that this is just another case of a weird scientific experiment but Whitelock is doing this on purpose. His inspiration came after he found that horses roll itself to dirt and still retain being healthy because of bacteria in the Nitrosomonas genus which are absent in us. Due to that discovery, he theorized that this certain microorganism can avoid unpleasant body odor if obtained by humans and he even made a body spray made from it! While bathing is not a necessary staple for humans until the recent history, scientists have yet to find a substantial evidence which link Nitrosomonas and skin protection.

15. Our Boss is A Robot

Joel Kinnaman, left, and Jackie Earle Haley star in Columbia Pictures’ “Robocop.”

While it is predicted that robots will surpass our intelligence by 2030s, Hitachi, a Japanese conglomerate company already appointed an AI boss as a middle manager. Its job is to issue work orders, manage database systems and oversee human activities. As a result, it is expected to improve efficiency of the company by 8% as it knows kaizen, a Japanese way of exercising speedy productions. This nonhuman middle manager is programmed in such a way that it reacts and thinks in real time – whether it be on logistics or in weather predictions. Not much is known at this time about this AI manager but it is rumored that it is more than just a software package. Two then?

14. Green Turds at Halloween

The Black burger

This story is not some sort of an environmental campaign but rather a depiction of an already weird situation about the limitations of our digestive system. Burger King unleashed the black burger to its customer during the Halloween Eve. This suspicious-looking food did not do them anything out of the ordinary until they went to their daily toilet visit. The Whooper just made everyone’s feces’ green! This gave the customers a real scare. Yet they were assured that it does not have an adverse health effect. This phenomenon is simply another case where food colors used to make the burger black were digested into components but were not completely absorbed by the body. Nonetheless, it was a very nice Halloween present from Burger King!

13. He Can Paint Through His Eyes

Eye painting

Art precedes science but their midway is a fascinating story on its own. Humans are known to draw using hands, thus those who can by using their feet easily become internet sensations. How about someone who can draw using his eyes? This ability took out of a Marvel comic was done by Graham Fink, a British multimedia specialist using Tobii – an advanced eye-tracking system which uses an eye-tracking infrared camera to follow even the smallest movement of his pupils. Fink has also some credit from exercising a monstrous level of concentration in order to come up with artworks drawn using the mere eye.

12. Nails which make Wolverine blush

Mr Long (Nails)

Breaking world records requires effort that surpasses excellency. It is always fascinating whenever we set a new one, but some are just baffling. Enter Shridar Chillal, a 78-year old man from India who made a world record by not cutting his nails in his left hand since 1952. The result? His nails grew to a monstrous length of 30 feet! Of course, that was not without repercussions. He has difficulty finding employment due to his unhygienic manner and he scares people away. He has also trouble sleeping at night because of his nails. So, congratulations to his world record, I guess?

11. Robots Which Learn The Same Way As Humans Do

Learning robots

Robots normally function teleoperated or by autonomously. Yet psychologists and scientists from the University of Washington were able to create robots which basically learn like humans do – by imitating what they see from other people. Scientists conducted a series of experiments which enabled robots to follow human gaze and differentiate one thing from another – just by means of observation. This was made possible by creating algorithms similar to how a child acquires learning. A factor of uncertainty was also included, so robots can ask help from humans. This one functions differently from the iCub as the latter has preset programs which allow it to act like a child.

10. When Mecha Robots Went Real

Mega Bots

You know people watched too many Transformer movies and Japanese animation shows when they decided to build real ones then engage themselves in a battle. MegaBots, an American company, challenged the Suidobashi Heavy Industry of Japan on a duel – using real life robots. The former company builds a giant one named Mark II which is 15 feet tall and can unleash powerful paintballs while its Japanese opponent, namely Kuratas might be a bit smaller at 13 feet but packs a more lethal punch and BB guns. A date for the awaited battle has yet to be announced but this is a battle robot geeks and otakus are waiting for.

9. An Eyedrop Which Can Give You Night Vision

Night vision eye-drops

Chlorine E6 has historically been used as treatment for cancer and night blindness and its light amplifying nature. Hence, a group of biohackers named Science for the Masses made a bold proposition that this chemical also enhances night vision – with Gabriel Licina as a willing test subject. The moment chlorine E6 was dropped in his retinas absorbed it, he temporarily gained night vision for a range of 50 meters. Thankfully, he did not suffer any negative consequences in his health for doing this daredevil act but he looked like an otherworldly being for hours due to the side effect of this chemical.

8. Snake Who Ate Prey To Its Death

Too much food

Pythons are certainly one of the most powerful predators on land but are not exempt for eating the wrong prey. A cyclist in South Africa saw a 12.8 foot variant which just ate a very large meal. Days later, the python was dead. Then they opened its stomach and found a 30-lb porcupine in it. So what caused its death? Porcupines are a common prey for pythons, as they can swallow up to 50 lbs. However, bad luck as they say; the snake fell from a higher ground resulting to the porcupine to bore snake’s digestive tract.

7. A Sweatshirt Which Moves on its Own

MIT bio-skin

Michigan Institute of Technology’ Tangible Media Group was able to debut a material called bio-skin which shifts shape on its own to allow a person wearing it to cool his perspiration by the means of opening and closing his clothes’ flaps. How is it possible? The species of medicinal bacteria called Bacillus subtlitis reacts to heat and moisture and is programmed to activate once these two factors reached the threshold point. The said institution has now partnered with the sportswear company New Balance to commercialize this technology.

6. It’s Raining Spiders!

Spider swarm

Australia might just presented the biggest nightmare for those who suffer from arachnophobia. It was near winter in that southern nation when the annual Angel Hair took place. Instead of spider silks, millions of tiny spiders fell from the sky which littered homes. Scientists say that ballooning (an act where a spider releases silk in the air) is common.  What was not is that these spiders were carried along with their webs which was due strong winds and unfavorable weather conditions.

5. Savvy Digital Thieves

Black hat

Morpho, an international hacking syndicate, feels like a group that comes out from a cyberpunk novel. They are infamous for conducting cyber-attacks to large companies like Apple, Facebook and Twitter whose motive is to sell any confidential information about these firms which they can steal. What’s more enigmatic with Morpho it is not backed by any government agency and tends to stay under the radar by implementing few but high-end attacks. This syndicate used a variety of attacks to infiltrate in some websites by willfully infecting others which attract the employees of intended companies. Symantec, a security software vendor, states that about 49 firms on over 20 countries are targeted. It is also suspected that there are 10 members of this group worldwide, who might be connected with major intelligence agencies.

4. Zombie Outbreaks in Real Life

Zombie Outbreaks

It seems like millions of video gamers rejoiced as their dream as to what will happen in a real life zombie apocalypse was answered in a scientific manner at Cornell University in New York. This was done via computer simulation if this outbreak spreads through the United States. To make this more realistic, they patterned how the range of how the infection can get similar to the decay of a half-life of a radioactive isotope.  The result was expected as one must avoid any city in this country if he wishes to avoid infection and least populated areas count as the safest havens. Rest assured that zombie outbreaks do not occur exactly like in the movies as modern diseases tend to slow down once they saturated a populated area.

3. An Emoticon Won Oxford’s Word of The Year

Laughing with Tears

It is totally a weird day on the planet when rainfall turns red, poops can turn green and a pictograph becomes the word of the year by the prestigious Oxford Dictionary. While there are a lots of emojis available on your smartphone keyboard, the institution chose the “Face Laughing with Tears” one as the representative on how words were overtaken by a literally nonverbal symbol last year. The use of these pictographs are not new but this year took its use to an abusive level (averaging about 7 billion emojis a month) which triples all of that were used in the social media in 2014.

2. A Hotel That Does Not Employ Humans

Autonomous hotel

Japan loves robotics so much that it has a hotel whose staff are all robots in a Nagasaki theme park. The appropriately named Hen-na Hotel (Hen-na is translated as weird in English), employs reception assistants, waiters, cleaning staff and bathroom attendants. They are all android robots which look scarily similar to humans as they can mimic eye movements. As they claimed, these robots can also understand Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean. Check-ins will be monitored by facial recognition systems instead of the typical ones. Thankfully operating costs of managing this hotel is low too as it will use renewable energy sources which resulted to a relatively low room rate of $60 as opposed to the normal charge of at least $170.

1. A Samurai’s Fight Against His Apprentice

Samurai vs Robot

Do not be fooled: this is not a post about Medieval Japan but a fight of Isao Machii, world champion samurai against a robot – and he lost. This one is a cheat though courtesy of Yaskawa Electric Corporation which produced the video out of advertisement. The technicians recorded every motion of this world champion samurai down to his every breath and fed it to the company’s Motoman-MH24 robot which is used mostly for industrial and therapeutic purposes. The result? A very one sided competition.

Do you have any weird yet science related story to tell? Share it below!

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