Weird, Wonderful and Wacky: Our Best Stories You Might Have Missed This Week


Dozens of the late drug kingpin Pablo Escobar's former pet hippos roam Colombia. But they're not native to the area, which poses a threat to the environment, Colombians and the hippos themselves. RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
Dozens of the late drug kingpin Pablo Escobar's former pet hippos roam Colombia. But they're not native to the area, which poses a threat to the environment, Colombians and the hippos themselves. RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images

Did you know that Colombia's home to the world's largest invasive animal species, and that platypuses are venomous? Well, you do now — and we haven't even gotten to the really good stuff! Keep reading to fill your brain with knowledge that'll impress your friends and woo your soulmate (fingers crossed).

The Weird

Hippos that once lived a life of luxury at the late drug baron Pablo Escobar's Colombian estate escaped after the property was seized. Now, the enormous, nonnative animals are busy gallivanting around the country, and their numbers are growing at a surprising rate.

It's well-known that coffee can cause the jitters. But some people are shook-up before they take the first sip of their cup of joe, thanks to trypophobia (a fear of holes). Those bubbles on the surface of the beverage can be triggering, and scientists may now know why.

Why use manpower when artificial intelligence can do a job faster and just as accurately? At least, that's the question news organizations are asking — some have enlisted software to churn out numbers-heavy news stories. Find out the upsides and downsides of automated journalism in this new article.

The Wonderful

The remote, freezing landscape of the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean boasts many frigid attractions, including the world's northernmost sushi restaurant and an uber-safe seed vault home to nearly a million crop samples. Obviously, it's a locale worth exploring. Listen to a recent episode of the podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind about the icy islands here.

Synchronized driving seems kind of showy. Who needs to drive a car on its side or in perfect unison with other cars? But, as writer Kate Kershner explains in this article detailing a CarStuff episode, these fancy stunts can have practical uses. Find out how synched driving could be a life-saver when autonomous vehicles are thrown in the mix in this article.

When astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, astronomer Amy Mainzer and author George R.R. Martin — among other scientific and artistic notables — work together, they're bound to create magic. Well, if you consider magic an educational, science-based computer game. Read about the prospective project here.

The Wacky

In typical internet fashion, people are getting all nostalgic, this time over Microsoft's discontinuation of MS Paint. Unsurprisingly, it's being replaced by a newer, shinier graphics editor called Paint 3D. But despite the hubbub surrounding Paint's "death," the 32-year-old favorite isn't truly going away. Find out how you can get the app (and your childhood) back once it's nixed from Windows OS here.

Humans are easily amazed. Case in point: Many people would be surprised to find someone who has the same birthday as them at a small gathering. But it's not unlikely — in fact, it's a matter of simple probability. Listen to this episode of the podcast BrainStuff to get to the bottom of the "birthday paradox."

We expect some frogs to be poisonous and jellyfish to be venomous, but it's hard to imagine mammals unleashing such toxic weapons against their enemies. But some mammals, like the adorable but admittedly silly looking platypus, can take down an opponent with one swift injection of venom. Learn about five cute but toxic mammals in this article.