Bizarre Starfish Wasting Syndrome

By Anupum Pant

Up in the Washington state a videographer and also a diver, Laura James noticed a couple of  dead Starfish on the coast one day. The dead bodies looked like something mysterious had happened. There were broken bodies and splats all over the place as if the fish had been zapped by a laser.

Laura videographed some of the tens of thousands of starfish bodies all over the north america’s pacific coast. No one was sure what was actually happening. And then there were reports of these mysterious starfish deaths from all over the west coast of North America.

For some time, only the sunflower starfish were thought to be affected by this. However, on further investigation, it was found that almost 12 different species of starfish were dying mysteriously all over the west coast (and some on the east coast too). When this was confirmed to be an epidemic of some sort, they started calling it the sea star wasting syndrome and notified the scientists.

Ben minor, a western Washington university professor of biology started collecting sea stars at the coast. They found a number of normal sea stars. Later when the search continued a pile of sea star arms and twisted parts of them were found at different places. Some of the live starfish were collected and were studied in the laboratory.

It was confirmed that the starfish which were affected by this epidemic experienced twisting arms and lesions first and then the arms crawled away in different directions, tearing the body of a starfish apart. All of it in under 24 hours. This bizarre disease then left a spill of inside parts of the fish and broken body parts all over the place.

No one knows for sure what causes this bizarre disease among the sea stars.

Ancient Brain Surgery 1000 Years Ago

By Anupum Pant

With specialized equipment and several other complications, we think we’ve come far with brain surgery. Today, brain surgery is supposed to be a modern advancement that enables us to treat obscure anomalies associated with the human brain. Of course we’ve advanced a lot, but there is no way we can reject the advancements in brain surgery attained during ancient times – Ancient brain surgery.

Trepanation: About 1000 years ago, ancient surgeons were already drilling through the human skulls; exposing the brain. Early Peru doctors were practicing a process called trepanation to treat a variety of brain related ailments.

The Story

Just a few days back, a research team led by UC Santa Barbara’s bioarchaeologist Danielle Kurin, excavated 32 skulls which illustrated that some sort of brain surgery was done on these Peruvian individuals back then. According to them, the skulls unearthed, had been drilled to treat swollen brains, or  of a neurological, spiritual or psychosomatic illnesses.

Around 1000 years ago, when a Peruvian empire was collapsing, on various skull, drilling and cutting methods were being employed to deal with challenges like violence, disease and depravation. This trend is seen as somewhat similar to how IED’s are driving exploration of prosthetic technology in the military now.  Exactly as guessed, not all of these ancient brain surgery procedures were successful, some of them did fail. But that is not the point.

According to Daniel Kurin talking about one of these 32 unearthed skull samples:

In one example, each hole is drilled a little deeper than the last. So you can imagine a guy in his prehistoric Peruvian medical school practicing with his hand drill to know how many times he needs to turn it to nimbly and accurately penetrate the thickness of a skull.

As noted by the lead researcher, a great amount of skill and practice was involved in these procedures. It is incredible to note that surgeons back then were using modern medical educational practices – using dead bodies to study physical sicknesses.

It wasn’t torture

Finally, if you’d argue that it could be a way to torture prisoners, scientists have something to disprove that theory too. What they were doing was not a way to torture people. They’ve found solid proofs that the skulls of individuals that were being drilled, were actually sick and were being operated upon by using proper operating procedures – like shaving hair before operating.

Largest Meteorite Left No Crater On Earth

By Anupum Pant

You should know: Meteor vs. Meteoroid vs. Meteorite

Meteor: The streak of light that we see in the sky is “Meteor”. When debris enters earth and gets burned up while entering, it leaves a streak of light. Unlike what is popularly believed, meteor is not the debris itself rather the word “meteor” refers to only the flash of light.

Meteoroid: A meteoroid is a mass that is small – ranging from a kilometer to only a few millimeters in diameter. Most meteoroids that enter the Earth’s atmosphere are so small that they vaporize completely and never reach the planet’s surface.

Meteorite: If the Meteoroid survives and reaches the earth’s surface, it becomes a Meteorite.

Hoba the Meteorite

About 80,000 years back, a ridiculously huge mix of Iron and Nickel entered the earth. It was so large that what was left out of all the burning through the atmosphere, measured 66,000 kg in the end. About half ton of this meteorite has gone to laboratories for research. Even after accounting for losses towards laboratories and vandalism, it is still the largest single mass of natural Iron on the Earth’s surface. It is the largest meteorite ever discovered till date and is called “Hoba”.

This meteorite was discovered by a farmer in Namibia in the year 1920. Since then, due to its mass, it has never been moved. The meteorite and the site has been declared as a national monument by the Namibian government and several tourists visit it every year.

Farmer’s Story: 

One winter as I was hunting at the farm Hoba I noticed a strange rock. I sat down on it. Only its upper part was visible. The rock was black, and all around it was calcareous soil. I scratched the rock with my knife and saw there was a shine beneath the surface. I then chiselled off a piece and took it to the SWA Maatskappy in Grootfontein, whose director established it to be a meteorite.

If that was hardly interesting…

The most puzzling thing about this meteorite is probably not that it belongs to a very rare class of meteorites (Ataxite), but the fact that it has no crater to be seen around it. Normally, a meteorite of this size should have left a crater hundreds of meters wide.

The best theory that explains the absence of any preserved crater around it is that, this piece of rock must have hit the earth’s surface at a very low angle. As a result, it must have skipped on the surface like a flat stone on water surface. And in the end, must have landed at the place where it lies today.