This Year So Far

This week’s trivia post coincides with a challenging midterm’s eve. Thus, this week’s post will highlight interesting topics from this year (mostly in science but no specific category) and link to the corresponding news articles. If any of the blurbs pique your interest, click the links to read more!

Scientists from Virginia Tech were interested in how snakes fly. You read that correctly. Snakes. Fly. Mostly found in southeast Asia, these mildly venomous serpents glide up to 100 feet between trees by wiggling their body, flexing their ribs, and generating lift.

Last year, the media was abuzz with reports about the first baby cured of HIV. This year, medical researchers have demonstrated the efficacy of the treatment by curing another baby of HIV.

The robotics company Kuka released a video of a ping-pong playing robot challenging the world’s number one in table tennis. The video was released as a commercial but claimed to be demonstrative of the future in robotics. It remains vague how the robot actually works, but the video is incredibly well-edited and awe-inspiring if it indicates the future capability of robots.

If you haven’t heard about 3-D printing, navigate your way to your nearest search engine and devour the information available about this amazing technology. The past few decades have seen tremendous strides in 3-D printing technology, and doctors recently replaced a woman’s skull with a 3-D printed skull, the first of its kind.

A brewery in Philadelphia has climbed aboard the recent zombie craze – by introducing a line of beer brewed with brains. The brains are actually smoked goat brains, but the headline was catchy enough to find its way to various media outlets.

Electrical engineers at the University of Michigan have developed a nano-sensor that can detect infrared light. The materials used (a thin layer of graphene) imparts transparency, which could have potential future use as a night vision contact lens. Of course, the implementation of this technology may take many years, but it is still an astounding feat of engineering.

Harvard recently re-introduced the idea that at least three of its library’s books may be bound in human flesh. Analysis of one of the books revealed that the cover is indeed flesh but flesh that belongs to a sheep. The binding of the other two books remains mysterious. Whether they are covered in human flesh or not, the creepy practice of binding books with human skin (called Anthropodermic bibliopegy) is nonetheless unsettling.

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