Seven Stories This Week: Weird Science Edition

Yes, the King of Pop has gone to meet the Emperor of Pop, and taken much of his patented weirdness with him. Lest you forget that Earth is strange enough even without the scion of Neverland Ranch, here are a few of this week’s viral stories to remind you that will make you question what you thought you knew for sure. Hulu Ad Time Now More Valuable than Primetime

Yes, the King of Pop has gone to meet the Emperor of Pop, and taken much of his patented weirdness with him. Lest you forget that Earth is strange enough even without the scion of Neverland Ranch, here are a few of this week’s viral stories to remind you that will make you question what you thought you knew for sure.


Hulu Ad Time Now More Valuable than Primetime

Defying all conventional wisdom, Hulu is commanding almost double the ad rates of the Fox network during primetime, says a new study by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Advertisers are willing to pay more for ads that appear online because there are fewer spots per episode that inundate viewers, and in surveys, Web viewers recall the content of ads they see more accurately than traditional TV watchers. Whether or not that’s a function of the younger demographic watching Hulu remains to be seen, but the bottom line is the same: there is indeed a premium to be made on online content. Below, members of the cast of hit CBS show CSI: Miami, looking irresistibly cool.

CSI: Miami

“Best Guess” Account of Facebook’s Founding Might Be Crap

You probably thought you knew the Facebook story: nerdy Harvard kids come up with a good idea, and one of them steals it and becomes a billionaire. But the author of the best-selling book “Bringing Down the House,” about a group of MIT students who beat the odds at casinos, has a different take. The intrepid half-breed reporter is taking on the story of the founding of Facebook, using one of the site’s discontented co-founders as his source for the scoop. In his new book entitled, “The Accidental Billionaires: the founding of Facebook, a tale of sex, money, genius and betrayal,” Mezrich makes kingpin Mark Zuckerberg out to be a “hard hearted genius with a fetish for Asian women,” says CNN. The book is full of prurient stories of hard drug use, profligacy and koala-eating (yep), few of which can be independently confirmed. His reportage has been called fictitious; indeed, Mezrich admits he “reconstructs” scenes and dialogue. Still, other classmates of Zuckerberg’s at Harvard (like the ones who sued him for stealing his idea) have made remarks that seem to support the characterization of the founder. Can a book be true in spirit without being factually impeccable? Does anyone else doubt that Zuckerberg could be so… badass?

The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich

The Science of Obama’s Fly Swatting

If you’re a normal person, you’ve probably tried slapping flies to death on a number of occasions and failed. That makes the President’s recent fly-smiting during a CNBC interview more than just impressive; it’s downright discouraging. Is this guy above average at everything? Discover Magazine discusses why the household fly’s multi-lens visual system and air-sensitive cilia make it incredibly difficult for oafs like us to beat it to the punch, even with our advanced prefrontal cortex and the uncanny physical aptitude that comes after having two Friday afternoon drinks. As for Obama’s kill? He got lucky.

Women Are Happiest at Age 28

Never ones to let any of life’s coy mysteries go un-crushed, researchers at Clairol (who knew?) have carried out a study of 4,000 women between the ages of 12 and 65, determining that 28 is the golden age for female happiness. That’s when the women surveyed said their sex lives were best, and it was close to the high points of their career (29) and their relationships (30). The study also found that in terms of physical self-confidence, women’s hair is “their crowning glory.” Really, Clairol?


The Telegraph UK tops off their summary of the report with this image, which proves things pretty conclusively. And you thought that youth begat contentment?


Hitler’s Stealth Fighter, Finally Built

Realizing Hitler’s most ambitious dreams isn’t a hobby that is altogether admirable, but in the case of der Fuhrer’s never-built plans for a stealth Luftwaffe fighter, the results are incredible. The Horten 2-29 was conceived too late in the war for the Third Reich to bring it to production on a mass scale, but one prototype does exist–it’s been sitting in storage in a U.S. facility for 50 years. Now engineers from Northrop Grumman are attempting to recreate the fighter using the existing model and the original Nazi blueprints, to see if the plane would, in fact, have been able to elude radar. Had it worked as planned, the Horten 2-29 might have reversed Germany’s fortunes and put the Allies on the defensive. And incredibly, it was made almost entirely of wood. Check out the original below.

Broken Window Knob Might Scrap Space Shuttle Flights til Winter


If the last entry in this week’s list leaves Nazi Germany looking particularly scientifically apt, then this story from makes our technology look comparatively idiotic. A knob from a work lamp somehow found itself between pressurized panes of glass in the space shuttle Atlantis’ window #5, presenting a potential safety hazard that could ground the aircraft for six months. The knob found its way inside the enclosure in orbit, when the shuttle’s seams expand. Now that Atlantis is back on the ground, engineers can’t get it back out–even after trying to use dry ice to shrink it. The knob’s ridges have the potential to compromise the integrity of the glass, which could lead to depressurization while in flight. The offending knob, below.

The Deadly Lure of Roach Sex

Cockroaches have been around for about 200 million years, and seem poised to outlast any disaster we can bring upon the earth. But in the battle against the obstinate pests, there might be a crucial trump card, according to scientists: the bugs’ sex pheromones. Researchers at Cornell and NC State may have figured out how to synthesize the scent that makes roaches come a-running, whether or not there’s food nearby to distract them. The most common breed, the German cockroach, is responsible for the spread of dysentery, cholera and other diseases. Plus, they’re really gross. It’s about time we conquered the most minor of beasts.



Global Warming May Be Natural, Say MIT Scientists

Researchers at MIT recorded an increase in methane levels around the world this year, which correlates to the warming effects we’ve all come to assume are man-made. But the discrepancy is that the methane levels rose all over the planet at roughly the same time; conventional wisdom says that pollution from the northern hemisphere should take nearly a year to make its way southward. That has the research team speculating that warming might be part of a natural cycle after all. Read the report here.



About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs