A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches. The salt spray of the sea was detected in Colorado. Neon on Jupiter is absorbed into raindrops of helium. Astronomers discovered an ancient, metal-poor star in the Sculptor Galaxy, and British metallurgists traveled throughout northern Telangana to record the oral history of wootz steel. A report presented at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society concluded that most American supermarkets use inappropriate refrigeration temperatures for queso fresco. The world’s largest meat-eating plant was found to prefer not tree shrews but rather their feces. The Yale School of Medicine announced the creation of a fellowship in obesity studies, sponsored by PepsiCo. High-fructose corn syrup is likelier than sugar to cause obesity and may also scar the liver. Half the mothers of fat five-year-olds could not identify them as fat, and obese children as young as three were showing early warning signs of heart disease. Serving sizes in images of the Last Supper were found to have grown by two thirds over the past millennium.
A Zurich Zoo zebra cleaned a hippo’s teeth, the brown bears of Greece continued chewing through telephone poles, and a new species of boubou shrike with blue-gray eyes was discovered in Africa’s Albertine Rift. British scientists figured out why some chickens come out half cock. In the English town of Somerset, seventy-five starlings suddenly fell from the sky and died, and in London, a fox ate a dead baby after stealing it from a mass paupers’ grave. Two bottled ghosts—of an old man and a young girl—were sold at auction in New Zealand. Southeast Asia’s tiny flat-headed cats were dying out. Eleven Siberian tigers in a Chinese zoo died, likely due to the shoddy lodgings and bad chicken provided them, and two Indian tiger cubs were poisoned, likely by vengeful goatherds. The Swiss voted against furnishing animal plaintiffs with government-paid attorneys. University of Hiroshima scientists made goldfish fearless by injecting their cerebellums with lidocaine. The dolphins of Zanzibar are stressed by the tourists who come to swim with them. Gloomy octopuses vastly prefer HDTV to regular TV. Movie editing was found to have evolved toward the natural pattern of human attention, which corresponds to the natural rhythm of the universe; Rebel Without a Cause, in particular, was found to possess a near-perfect universal rhythm.
The passages above are from the “Findings” section in the May 2010 issue of Harper’s and were written by Rafil Kroll-Zaidi.