SNIPPETS Weirdest Science Stories- Part 2
1. Robot battle: Talk about the geekiest battle of the year: MegaBots, a robotics startup in Boston, recently challenged its one and only competitor, Suidobashi Heavy Industry of Japan, to a duel. MegaBots builds giant, human-piloted robots that look like something out of a “Power Rangers” episode. The company’s 15-foot-tall bot, the Mark II, is set to take on Suidobashi’s Kuratas — a 13-foot-tall robot with an onboard arsenal of rapid-fire BB guns.
2. Spiky snack: A snake in South Africa opted for an unusual snack in June, and the decision cost the poor reptile its life. The 12.8-foot-long (3.9 m) python swallowed a porcupine whole. The python fell off a rocky ledge while digesting its meal, and park rangers think that, upon the snake’s impact with the ground below, the porcupine’s spikes may have pierced the python’s digestive tract, causing the animal’s death.
3. Spider shower: In May, residents of southwest Australia had some unusual weather. Millions of tiny spiders “rained down” on a region of New South Wales, covering the land with their sticky webs. “Spider rain” or “angel hair,” occurs when spiders exhibit a behavior known as ballooning, in which they release a small amount of silk from their spinnerets, which catches in the breeze, transpo
rting the critters to a new location.
4. Zombie simulation: Where should Americans retreat in the event of a zombie apocalypse? Researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, performed a full-scale computer simulation to determine how “zombie outbreaks” would spread through the United States. The scientists found that the best place to run when all of your neighbors turn into flesh-eating monsters is the Rocky Mountains, an inaccessible and sparsely populated region.
5. Robot hospitality: This year, developers in Japan announced the opening of a unique kind of hotel. The Henn-na Hotel, which translates to “strange hotel,” is staffed almost entirely by robots.
Reception attendants, waiters, cleaning staff and cloakroom attendants are actually walking, talking bots.