The Week In Weird Science

March 21, 2019

Here’s your rundown on all the mind-bogglingly cool, amazing — and strange — stuff the scientists have been up to lately.


Jack the Ripper is one of history’s most notorious murderers, perhaps in part because his shocking crimes on the streets of London in the 1800s remained unsolved. But in March 2019, forensic researchers announced in the Journal of Forensic Scientists that they uncovered enough 100 year old (and then some) evidence, and tested it, and linked one suspect above all others to the crime. The culprit: Aaron Kosminski, who at the time of the murders was a 23-year-old barber and at one time a suspect. (Scotland Yard can’t quite arrest him — he died in 1919.)


Physicists at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology used a piece of advanced technology called a quantum computer to make one of the biggest science-fiction tropes a possibility: Yep, they traveled in time. Okay, well, they didn’t actually travel in time, they reversed time, and even then, they only performed a successful simulation to show that reversing time is possible…at least in theory. The team said in its pressed release that they were on the verge of breaking the second law of thermodynamics, which says that as time moves forward, the entropy, or lack of order, in a closed system, can only increase. (In their example, a rack of hit pool balls scatter, but will not return to its neat little triangle.) However, in their simulation, they were able to make this chaos stop…thus controlling the “arrow of time,” which always moves in one way. Stop the entropy, and stop time, in other words.


According to researchers from Switzerland, there might be something cheesemakers can do impart a richer flavor in their Emmental (also known as “Swiss cheese”) cheese: Expose it to hip hop music. Back in September 2019, scientists in Burgdorf, Switzerland placed nine wheels of cheese, each weighing 22 pounds, into their own wooden crates. For the last six months they were aged, and once released, tested, and rated for both flavor of aroma. Oh, and the cheeses also endured round-the-clock music. Some sat and listened to Mozart’s The Magic Flute, some to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” some to techno, and some to A Tribe Called Quest’s 2016 album We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. The results: The hip hop cheese tasted best. “The most obvious differences were observed in strength of flavor, smell, and taste,” researchers said. “The hip hop sample topped the list of all cheese exposed to music in terms of fruitiness.” Researcher Michael Harenberg of Bern University attributes the enhanced flavor profile to the energy in hip hop, which then “directly resonated inside of the cheese.”