Like everyone else, my usual routines have been severely disrupted by the Chinese New Year holiday season. As far as I can tell, interesting science news is down this month as well as there are few really noteworthy announcements. The ones that I read this month probably belong more in the entertaining and sensational science news category.
- First, we have this bit about vampire bats in Brazil which ordinarily prey on birds having learned to drink blood from humans. This is significant as they have been previously been observed to starve rather than feed on pigs or goats and is probably an instance of natural selection in action as human encroachment in their habitat leads to a drop in the availability of their usual prey.
- Also in biology is the mystery of why so many corpse flowers bloomed in the year 2016. These plants bloom unpredictably once every 5 to 10 years and famously give off a smell of decomposing flesh when they do so. There aren’t many of these being cultivated yet somehow many of them bloomed in the same year all across the US and some other countries and botanists have no idea why this is so.
- Finally, here’s an announcement about a nova that should be visible to the naked eye on Earth. The problem is that it’s scheduled for 2022. The star in question is KIC9832227, actually a pair of stars that very close to one another. Astronomers have noted that the smaller of the two stars has been spiralling towards its companion and hence a nova is expected. This is noteworthy because all previous novas have been detected after the fact and this will be the first time that a nova has been predicted in advance.