Every year, science ventures farther into the unknown, and every now and then it leads to a bizarre discovery or two. Here are the strangest of those discoveries from 2012.Check out more lists like the mythical creatures that were discovered to be real, the strangest creatures ever found, and the most terrifying children that belong in horror movies.
Massive River Systems on Another World
The spacecraft Cassini recently did a flyby of Saturn's moon Titan. It's the only moon in our solar system with a thick atmosphere, but we'd suffocate on its surface because of the lack of oxygen. During its flyby, Cassini took some rather interesting photos:
"But that looks like a river on Earth" you say, and you'd be right. Titan has liquid rivers that behave very much like the ones we have here, but you wouldn't want to swim in them-- unless you enjoy the feel of liquid methane on your skin. You see, Titan is really cold. Cold enough for methane to exist in liquid form, and that's what those rivers and oceans are. Pure methane. And liquid methane is much colder than liquid nitrogen, so this river isn't exactly something you should go skinny dipping in.
Titan is the only other world we know of that has liquid on its surface, much less rivers and oceans. It even has its own "water cycle" and the stuff rains from the sky, just as water does on Earth. Some scientists have even gone so far as to suggest that simple, methane based life could have developed on Titan the same way water based life did here, but that's something we won't find out until we go there.
A Gun That Can Make You Shut Up
Everyone has that annoying friend that they just want to shut up from time to time, and now you can. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan recently created a "gun" that can physically prevent a person from talking.
It works because whenever we are speaking, we're passively listening to what we say. That may not seem all that important, but it plays a large part in maintaining coherence while we speak. The gun records the sound of the person you're aiming at, and shoots their speak back with a few millisecond delay, which is enough to make their brain think that they are babbling like an incoherent moron. It can make normal people stutter, or just shut up altogether.
Humanity appears to be in the midst of a neverending quest to see just how much nothing we can cram into something. And while aerographite is technically something, it's mostly nothing. It's 75 times lighter than Styrofoam, but still strong enough to retain its shape after squishing it-- kind of like a Twinky... if a Twinky could totally absorb light as well.
Aerographite will have all sorts of real world applications, from allowing us to decrease the weight of batteries to purification and even protecting the senitive bits in satellites from space vibrations. Because that's a thing that plagues satellites apparently.
Here's a video of the stuff bouncing around like a bunch of jumping beans.
The human race has finally delved into necromancy and created something that would make Dr. Frankenstein proud. It's really as simple as strapping a couple of electrodes and a little backpack to a cockroach and then driving it around like a child''s remote controlled car:
The roaches are aren't harmed at all. They're placed in the freezer for a few minutes prior to attaching the device, and that puts them into a sort of hibernation. The general idea is that these "bio bots" could be used to locate survivors of disasters in hard to reach areas. "Why not just build a robot" you ask? Because cockroaches will instinctively scurry away from danger, making them less likely to get crushed or stuck.
Plus, it's a simple form of mind control, which I'm sure we can all agree is pretty awesome.