Monthly Archive: January 2014

Space Weather Could Cook Us At Any Moment

The sun is usually the last thing we think of in relation to damaging storms, since we tend to associate the sun with good weather. Perhaps this is why the connection between solar activity and geomagnetic surges on Earth wasn’t discovered until 1859. The sun easily has the potential to do us more harm than all the elements on Earth combined—but there are much bigger and more powerful stars in our universe, all with the potential to blast harmful cosmic rays at us unexpectedly.

‘SOS’ Doesn’t Stand For Anything

People rarely have the need to use Morse code these days, but even plenty of novices know SOS. It’s the easiest code to remember since it’s a simple three dots, three dashes, and three more dots. Most people believe that, because it was often used on the seas, it stands for “save our ship” or “save our souls.” However, it turns out that SOS doesn’t actually stand for anything at all, and is used simply because of how easy it is to remember.

Syphilis Evolved To Leave Its Victims Alive Longer

From its first appearance in Europe in 1495, syphilis was a fast-acting disease which devastated the bodies of sufferers and killed them within the space of six months. By 1546, however, it had become a slow-acting disease whose symptoms could be felt for decades. This change came about because the bacteria which caused the disease had evolved, seemingly realizing that by leaving sufferers alive for longer, it would ensure the survival of its species for much, much longer than previously possible.

Exorcisms May Have Psychological Benefits

A new take on psychology suggests that the centuries-old practice of an exorcism might have clear and useful psychiatric value (in some specific circumstances). Psychologists and psychiatrists are beginning to suggest that performing an exorcism on a person suffering from various mental illnesses might serve to help them on the road to recovery—especially if they’re devoutly religious and firm believers in demonic possession. For those that believe their problem is because of a demon that’s possessing them, an exorcism could just work.

BP Technically Didn’t Clean The Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing perhaps the largest maritime oil spill in history. British Petroleum, the charters of the oil rig, addressed the spill with the use of Corexit, a dispersant that would clean the oil and then allegedly biodegrade. Corexit did not clean the Gulf, nor did it biodegrade; it only diluted the oil. Corexit is also toxic to marine life.

The Ghost Army Of World War II

During World War II, the Ghost Army was a special unit created by the United States military. This band of artists used costumes, sound recordings, and inflatable tanks to keep the Nazis on their toes. By the end of the war, the Ghost Army had saved between 15,000 and 30,000 American lives.