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Light Pillars, See-Through Soil, Magic Carpets and More Mysterious News Briefly — February 15, 2021

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Mysterious News Briefly — February 15, 2021

You know the weather is bad in places that rarely if ever experience snow and icy weather when residents start seeing ‘light pillars’ – those  mysterious bright columns into the sky that are caused by light sources being reflected by ice crystals suspended in a cold, calm atmosphere. Of course, if believing it’s aliens keeps you warmer, go right ahead.

In a recent interview with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk revealed Tesla is working on a Roadster supercar that will be powered by rocket engines, hover a meter above the ground and have an emergency airbag underneath if the power fails. How about an emergency airbag in the front to help park in in the garage?

University of Pennsylvania engineers developed a new technique using bright LEDs under an acrylic vacuum chamber to levitate plastic trays the width of a pencil like miniature magic carpets. The next step is either bigger plates or smaller genies.

Good news for bald guys – scientists in Japan used stem cells to engineer hair follicles with regenerative properties so they can grow back when they fall out. Better sell short now on those toupee maker stocks.

A senior fisheries biologist at Wisconsin’s department of natural resources who prefers to be called the “sturgeon general” is accused of lying to conservation wardens investigating allegations that his employees were secretly supplying sturgeon eggs to a network of caviar processors and is now facing nine months in prison and $10,000 in fines if convicted. He should get some time off for that clever nickname.

Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, we can reveal the scary story of St. Valentine’s skull, which has allegedly been preserved since the third century when Valentinus was beheaded, and is now on display at the ancient  Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Is this a sign Valentine’s Day should be merged with Halloween?

A Romanian cybersecurity researcher claims he easily broke into IT systems belonging to Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, PayPal, Netflix and more than 30 other major corporations, and was then paid by the corporations for exposing their vulnerabilities. “Exposing their vulnerabilities” – this guy probably never gets second dates.

Professor Michael Bronstein at Imperial College London says the same artificial intelligence training that went in to developing Alexa and Siri can be used to train AI to talk to and understand animals, starting with highly communicative animals like whales, dolphins and elephants. You’ll have a long wait if you want AI help to find out if your snake prefers mice or rats.

By mixing clear hydrogel beads –tiny plastic blobs that can absorb a thousand times their weight in water — with dirt, agricultural researchers have developed see-through soil that will allow farmers to survive water shortages by directing it to where it’s needed the most. Will see-through soil drive shy worms deeper underground?

China’s Yutu 2 rover sent back a photo of a shard of rock sticking out of the ground on the far side of the Moon that looks strangely like a milestone marker on Earth. Let’s hope the rover gets close enough to see if its owners measured distances in miles or kilometers.

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