90 Miles From Tyranny : 10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (3/16/19)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

10 Offbeat Stories You Might Have Missed This Week (3/16/19)

Yet again, it is time to look at some of the more unusual or unique stories that made their way through the news cycle over the last several days.

Animals take center stage this week as we cover killer chickens and the efforts of scientists to bring the woolly mammoth back from the dead. We serve cheese made with hip-hop music and pair it with some Chinese wine. There is also talk of priceless artifacts, whether they sit at the bottom of the ocean or in a tiny Italian church.

10The Milky Weigh

Photo credit: Smithsonian Magazine

According to a study published in Astrophysical Journal, scientists have used new data to come up with the most accurate measurement of the Milky Way. They say that our galaxy clocks in at around 1.54 trillion solar masses.The updated information comes to us courtesy of calculations made by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the ESA’s Gaia satellite. Previous estimates ranged anywhere from 500 billion to three trillion solar masses. Surprisingly, only a small amount of the Milky Way’s mass comes from its roughly 200 billion stars, the planets that orbit those stars, and the 4-million-solar-mass black hole that sits in the middle of the galaxy. Most of the mass comes from the mysterious dark matter.Researchers have been able to estimate the mass of distant galaxies with much less difficulty than our own because we can see their velocity. To come up with this new measurement, they have observed dozens of globular clusters (groups of densely packed stars) orbit the Milky Way’s center. With access to a decade of data, they were able to approximate how fast our galaxy spins, which was used to calculate its mass.[1]

9Treasure In Davy Jones’s Locker

Photo credit: usatoday.com

A recent discovery by an English fishing crew has spurred talks of sunken treasure. They may have stumbled upon an anchor which once belonged to a vessel that went down while carrying a giant fortune in gold and silver.The ship in question is the Merchant Royal. Launched in 1627, it was lost at sea in 1641 somewhere off the coast of Land’s End in Cornwall after hitting bad weather. At the time, it was carrying around 45,000 kilograms (100,000 lb) of gold plus 400 bars of Mexican silver. In today’s money, that would be over $1.5 billion. Experts have identified the anchor as belonging to the Merchant Royal. However, given that they based the identification only on size and age, it is not something definitive.As the vessel might be the most valuable shipwreck in the world, it is sure to attract plenty of treasure hunters. Should an explorer find the “El Dorado of the seas,” they would have to report it to the British government and go about securing a salvage license because it will most likely be located in British waters.[2]

8Murder Most Fowl

There is an old saying that advises us not to let a fox guard a henhouse. As we all know, whenever this cunning intruder makes its way into a chicken coop, it leaves behind bloodbath and slaughter. However, that’s not what happened at one poultry farm in northwest France. The fox entered the henhouse, but the chickens ganged up on it and killed the intruder.Students from Le Gros Chene agricultural school in Brittany were surprised one morning to find the body of a fox in one of their coops. It had numerous marks which suggested that it had been hit by beaks repeatedly.[3]The chickens are free-range, so they spend most of the day outside. When it is time to turn in, the coop has a hatch door which closes automatically and cannot be opened from the inside.Farmers believe that the fox became trapped and the hens’ herd instinct kicked in. The inexperience of the predator also played a role as the dead fox appeared to have been a juvenile. The farm had another fox intrusion about a year ago, and that one was far more lethal for the birds.

7A Volatile Feature

Photo credit: cnet.com

Toyota has applied for a new patent for a “vehicle fragrance dispenser.” At first, this does not seem like anything out of the ordinary. Other automakers have features which dispense perfumes or other pleasant scents when people get in their cars. However, no one else has thought to weaponize this system. Unlike the others, Toyota’s dispenser can be configured to deploy tear gas.According to the patent, Toyota’s fragrance dispenser goes above and beyond what other systems can do “by adding a personal twist.” Whereas current dispensers can only hold one fragrance at a time, their innovation can contain several. Using mobile devices, the car can determine if a specific occupant has entered the vehicle and dispense their preferred scent.The fragrance generator can also be configured to release tear gas in the event of an “illegitimate engine start.” The idea behind this feature is to prevent a thief from stealing the car.[4] At the moment, Toyota’s “vehicle fragrance dispenser” is just a patent. There is no word yet from the company if they plan to include the feature with its “tear gas” option in any of the future lineups.

6Back From The Dead

The woolly mammoth might one day walk the Earth again thanks to the efforts of Japanese scientists who managed to produce “biological activity” in mammoth cells frozen for tens of thousands of years.According to Scientific Reports, researchers from...

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