COOL THINGS! (VOL 2.6)
Above: As stunning view of the Northern Lights over the Faroe Islands. Credit: Alessio Mesiano
Welcome to the July 2021 issue of Cool Things! Each month, we want to bring you news on scientific discoveries, historical information, and other interesting finds from across the internet. Before we dive in today, we also wanted to tell you about our new project in case you hadn't heard already: We have a brand new book!
Above: Infinite vacuum of space not included
Relics: A History of the World Told in 133 Objects is an amazing new journey across the history of our planet that you can pre-order it right now on our website. Any orders from our site will also come with a certificate stamped with Tyrannosaurus Rex Bone Ink. What is T. Rex Bone ink? Come find out!
Relics will be released in bookstores around the world in October, but only orders direct from the site will come with the T. Rex ink. To everyone who's pre-ordered already, thank you so much for the support! If you're just hearing about it now, come check out what's inside! We're sure you're going to love it!
Now, let's get into this month's issue of Cool Things proper!
40 Years Since the Royal Wedding 🍰
Above: Princess Diana in her wedding gown, July 29, 1981
This week marks the 40th anniversary of the royal wedding ceremony between His Royal Highness Prince Charles Windsor Lady Diana Spencer. Over 750 million people from around the world tuned in to watch the ceremonies. This article has collected a full rundown of the day from start to finish and is a wonderful read.
We also launched the Royal Wedding Cake specimen this month, which comes from a preserved slice of the official wedding cake. The cake itself reached 5 feet tall and was over 200 pounds in total. That's a lot of fruitcake! You can celebrate the anniversary and get a piece for your royal collection here!
Release the Pharaoh Cut
Above: A depiction the Book of the Dead with everyone's favorite crocodile lion goddess, Ammit.
A set of 2,300 year old Egyptian hieroglyphics have been digitally rebuilt after the original linen they were inscribed on was torn. These hieroglyphs are from a telling of the Book of the Dead, a funerary text which contained incantations to help passage into the afterlife. No two versions of this book are exactly the same and it likely dates back to the Ptolemaic period. You can read more about the discovery here!
Light Up the Night!
Above: A bolide caught on camera in Utah! Credit: Matthew Vandeputte
Some of our Norwegian friends in Oslo may have been witness to an amazing astronomical phenomenon last weekend! At around 1 am local time on July 25th, a bolide meteor arced across the sky, travelling almost 36,000 miles an hour and glowing bright as it descended.
Bolides (meteorites which light up like fireballs as they enter the atmosphere) are a rare enough occurrence. This one was even able to be seen from a major city as it lit up the sky for a few moments. Another famous bolide would be the Chelyabinsk event back in 2014, though this one wasn't nearly as destructive. This article has a link to video of Oslo being illuminated as it passes!
Where'd All the Sharks Go?
Above: A lone fin in a vast ocean...
Scientists have discovered a new and strange extinction event that occurred 19,000,000 years ago. In the early Miocene, something caused a mass die-off of shark species throughout the world. All in all, about 90% of shark species were wiped out, meaning not only that the shark population was almost destroyed, but the diversity between different types of sharks took quite a blow as well. This is just the first step in the research though, especially since the cause of the extinctions is currently unknown.
Interestingly, the famous Megalodon shark first emerged a little before this event and survived for long after it. It seems like it takes more than a mass extinction to keep that big fella down.
Above: Might Morphing Pasta Noodles! Source: CMU
How can you make pasta even better? With computers, of course! Three dimensional noodles like macaroni or fusilli take up a lot more space than their flatter counterparts, which leads to some inefficiencies in packaging and storage. Pasta researchers (an amazing job title) have developed a new technique for storing these forms of noodle.
By scoring flattened strips in specific patterns, the pasta can be stored flat but made to roll itself into shapes once released. The whole process was developed with computer analysis, effectively "programming" the pasta to curl into twists and spirals when cooking! Check out the video here!
Tomatoes on the Brain
Above: Delicious tomatoes ready to be picked!
There's nothing like a BLT made with ripe summer tomatoes (our secret is to add some salt to bring out the flavor!), but did you know the fruit can feel pain? Well, not really, but new science suggests that tomatoes can in fact sense damages from insects and react!
While plants don't have neurons like we do, they can send electric signals through their stems. It turns out that these signals reacted whenever the plant was being eaten by bugs and even correlated with a rise in hydrogen peroxide production to stave off microbial infection. This evolutionary response likely helps protect the tomato plant from disease, but it's still fun to imagine what a tomato would think about! Check out the study here!
Above: A scenic Appalachian landscape, 480 million years ago... It just wasn't a mountain range yet!
Ever wonder why you don't find many dinosaur fossils in the Appalachian mountains? It's because they're old; older than even the dinosaurs! That's not the only cool thing about them though. Check out this Twitter thread from @AlexPetrovnia to see all the amazing history behind the mountain range!
That's all for now but we'll leave you with a winner of our #mymuseum contest! You can enter yourself by posting a pic to Instagram with #mymuseum or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Winners are chosen every week and get a $30 gift code!
This entry comes from @thesamtietjen on Instagram! It looks like our chain mail has found a worthy sword to have its side. Pretty sweet Samantha, thanks!