Gloria Doerr was at home when she learned that her late father, Paul Alfred Doerr, had been linked to one of the most notorious murder sprees of the twentieth century. Her son had stumbled on a podcast interview with Jarett Kobek, a best-selling novelist based in Los Angeles, who wrote in How to Find Zodiac about how her Dad might just have been the maniac who more than fifty years earlier had terrorized the Bay Area with a string of seemingly random killings. But he's only the latest suspect: others include a house painter, a former schoolteacher, and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. “There are probably 50 or 100 suspects named every year,” sighs Richard Grinell, who runs the website Zodiac Ciphers.
Britain secretly backed Mussolini’s infamous March on Rome
Benito Mussolini’s seizure of power in Italy in 1922 was secretly assisted by the British government, which bet on the fascist dictator to protect its interests in the Mediterranean, a new book claims. Backed by violent gangs of black shirts, Mussolini set up a fascist regime in Italy in the 1920s, banned Jews from public life in the 1930s and sided with Hitler in the Second World War before he was lynched by partisans in 1945. Although he battled the British in Africa during the war, archives show that Mussolini partly owed his rapid rise to British officials who helped to organise his 1922 march on Rome, according to Giovanni Fasanella, co-author of the new book Nero di Londra.
Hibernating bears could hold a clue to diabetes
If a human ate tens of thousands of calories a day, ballooned in size, then barely moved for months, the health outcomes would be catastrophic. Scientists have long been puzzled why this same behavior doesn’t lead to diabetes in grizzly bear. About 1 in 10 Americans, or about 37 million people, have Type 2 diabetes. However, unlike humans, bears can mysteriously control their insulin resistance—turning it on and off like a switch. Now, by feeding honey water to hibernating bears, researchers at Washington State University have discovered genetic clues to how these bruins can control their insulin. Their results—published in iScience—might lead to better diabetes treatments for people.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft takes the closest images of Europa in 20 years
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has taken the closest images of Jupiter’s moon Europa in more than two decades. On 29 September, it flew just 352 kilometres above the surface of the icy moon, only the third time any spacecraft has been within 500 kilometres of it. The images from this swoop are extraordinarily detailed. At the time of the fly-by, Juno was travelling at nearly 24 kilometres per second, so it only had a 2-hour window to collect detailed data before it sailed away again. In that time, it took pictures and collected data on the moon’s surface composition, interior structure and its interaction with the magnetic field of Jupiter. The pictures reveal ridges and channels slicing across Europa’s surface.
Mad magazine’s oldest artist is still spoofing what makes us human
Sergio Aragonés had long read Mad magazine back in Mexico by the time he first landed in New York, toting fresh artwork and hope. He stepped through the humor outlet’s front doors 60 years ago, expecting to find the place as wild in spirit as the publication’s satirically hip pages. This was, after all, the home of the staff’s self-anointed “Usual Gang of Idiots.” Instead, the recent college student was introduced to a relatively staid Madison Avenue office. Where was the whimsy? The Mad-cap frivolity? This was no clubhouse of high jinks. “I thought it was going to be a lot of jokes on the walls,” Aragonés says by Zoom from his home in Ojai, Calif., where he celebrated his 85th birthday last month.
Radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor turned the frogs black
It’s not often that you can watch evolution in action right in front of your eyes, but if you ever manage to visit the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone — which is a most unusual holiday plan — then you may notice its normally green frogs are now black. As black as charcoal briquettes. What happened? The accident resulted in huge amounts of radioactive cesium-137 being deposited throughout most of Ukraine as well as in parts of Norway and the UK. It is well-known that radioisotopes that collide with DNA can damage it, and this damage can create to genetic mutations. But not all mutations are harmful. Apparently, some of these genetic mutations caused the local population of the Eastern tree frog, Hyla orientalis, to change its skin color from bright green to black.