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10 New Mind-Blowing Discoveries

You have to read it to believe it -- here's 10 crazy things the world learned this week.

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7. Fine brine wine

Actually, a 12-day stint in the Keys, or under the Keys as it were, sounds like a lovely idea and those aquanauts could probably use a little drink after all that exhausting experimentation. 

Perfect time to discover underwater wine.

The AFP reports that French vineyard manager Bruno Lemoine, working with a barrel maker and an oyster farmer experimented with aging wine under the sea and found, to everyone’s delight, that the salt the wine absorbs by osmosis made it taste decidedly better than a batch aged on land. 

The AFP story details some earlier “sea vintages” and the process Lemoine and his colleagues used to age the 2009 wine (so it had already aged two years), including building identical barrels in which to age both batches, and how one was kept at Lemoine’s chateau and the other “sunk underwater among the prized oyster beds of the Bay of Arcachon, north of Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast.” That barrel, in a concrete chamber in which it could “roll around a little” as if it were on the sea floor, was only exposed to a little air when the tide was very low. The wines were named Tellus and Neptune, for the Roman goddess of the land and god of the sea and aged in their respective places for six months. 

In the end Tellus was “disappointing,” while an expert wine taster said that Neptune “lost some of its alcohol content, while on the other it saw its sodium concentration rise, adding a subtly salty note that brings out the best of the tannins,” the AFP reports.

Another way to enjoy wine -- what a lovely legacy to leave to the world. Cheers!

8. A bouquet of “Ew…”

Wine and flowers are typically a lovely combination and undersea wine and undersea flowers sound surreally beautiful…and then you have the “bone-eating snot flower.” Seriously, it’s called Osedax mucofloris , literally translated, “bone-eating snot flower,” which we throw in just because, as io9’s Robert T. Gonzales points out, it’s the weirdest damn thing with the funniest name in the entire world.

It’s actually an animal, not a flower, and it feeds on dead whale bone. It has a root system that goes into the bone and pokes out like flowers, as described by Adrian Glover to the BBC , which also reported, when they were discovered, that they were a new species of what is sometimes called “zombie worms.” The part of the creature that is out in the seawater is “covered in a ball of mucus, so they are quite snotty,” Glover says. “That is probably a defense mechanism.”

Yeah. We know people like that. 

9. Plagued

We’re kind of used to undersea creatures that seem like they’ve come to us from another planet or an ancient era. What we’re not used to -- and don’t want to get used to -- are diseases from the past staging comebacks.

Lynne Terry of the Oregonian reports that a man in a hospital in Bend came in showing symptoms of the Black Plague. It’s now a treatable disease thanks to antibiotics, but four cases have been reported in Oregon in the past 17 years. Emilio DeBess, Oregon’s public health veterinarian, urged people not to handle wild animals -- plague is carried by fleas that infest rodents and the man in the hospital was trying to get a mouse away from a stray cat. Terry reports, “Initially, the man had swollen lymph nodes -- a sign of bubonic plague -- but now he's showing signs of septicemic plague, when the bacteria multiply in the bloodstream. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bleeding mouth, nose or rectum and dying tissue. The third type is pneumonic plague, which affects the lungs.”

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