It's Friday. It's also Friday the 13th. And it's also October, A.K.A. Halloweentember. You know what that means: it's time for some spoOooOooOooky science stories. Here are 13 of the most shudder-inducing tales we could find in the Popular Science vaults.
A mysterious submarine death
Let's get the party started with some old-school scares. Just this past summer, researchers claimed to finally solve the mystery of the H.L. Hunley, a hand-cranked submarine used by the Confederate army during the Civil War. Their findings were cool and all, but what really blew us away was the mystery itself: All eight members of the crew died seated at their battle stations. The sub was, for the most part, intact, and there was no sign that they had made any effort to evacuate or pump out water. None of them suffered broken bones. By all appearances, they'd died without a struggle. If the image of eight soldiers sitting stoically in wait of death doesn't wig you out, well, sorry. It's wiggy.
Terrifying childcare inventions
Tech can be terrifying, too. Especially old tech. Popular Science is 145 years old (even though we don't look a day over 25) so we can actually pull from our own history for some creep-tastic innovations. Here we have some truly troubling childcare inventions from the early 20th century. Apparently, we once put out a call for readers to invent hermetically-sealed, soundproof tubes in which to stow annoying babies on trains. We would like to formally apologize to babies.
The grossest clam of all time
As you watch the giant shipworm Kuphus polythalamia ooze out of its shell like Tim Burton's idea of cake frosting, a few words might spring into your mind. "Science fiction plague," perhaps, or "dear god, why have you forsaken us," or "put that thing back where it came from, or so help me." Please enjoy this video of the shipworm in question saying a bright and beautiful good morning to the world:
Two-butted nightmares from the deep
Speaking of nightmare monsters from the deep: this year scientists brought up a whole bunch of off-putting creatures from the deep. An expedition in Australia’s Eastern Abyss showed that when you gaze into the abyss and the abyss gazes back, the abyss is often a fish with two butts. Or one that looks a lot like a penis. Like, a lot. These animals look so much like penises! And that's terrifying. It's basically a rule that any organism that's evolved to live at the bottom of the ocean is going to look really, really weird to us. Whether they're delightful or horrifying is just a matter of perspective.
The haunting voice of a talking monkey
Have you ever wondered what monkeys would sound like if they could talk? No? Well, now you'll be thinking about it for the rest of your life. A recent study used a computer model of the macaque's vocal tract to simulate the would-be mutterings of a monkey with the power of speech. It's horrifying. Check it out for yourself.
The math behind the internet's worst fear
Assuming this isn't your first time surfing the good old world wide web, you've probably heard of trypophobia. Technically speaking, that's a fear of holes. But we're talking specifically about the surprisingly common phenomenon in which clusters of holes or hole-adjacent things (think lotus seed heads and honeycombs) make the viewer deeply, deeply uncomfortable. It might be that this strange aversion is triggered by the mathematical similarity between these patterns and the ones you'd see in images of mold and skin rashes, which we've obviously (and rightfully) evolved a distaste for. Find out more—if you dare.
What happens to your body if you die in space?
In space, no one can hear you scream. Unless you're in the international space station, which has air that your sound waves can vibrate through. Or, if you're in a spacesuit that also has air in which your vocalizations can travel, and a communication system to broadcast your shouts to fellow astronauts and ground control.
Anyway, it turns out that NASA is really reluctant to talk about what would happen if an astronaut died in space. Where would there bodies go? What would their crewmembers do? Now that longer missions to Mars and beyond are on the horizon, it's a question people have to get pretty serious about. Check out our recent feature on the subject.
Scientists want more body farms
Body. Farms. What the heck? Well, they're necessary. In fact, we need more of them. Find out why scientists really, really need donated corpses (and a lot of dead pigs) to decompose under all sorts of natural conditions.
For the first time, a deer was caught eating human remains
Speaking of body farms, one of them played host to a strange and spooky occurrence that made it into the Journal of Forensic Sciences this year. For the first time ever, scientists captured footage of a deer—just, like, a regular lil white-tailed deer—munching on human remains. Cameras caught a deer (on TWO occasions, mind you) with a rib bone hanging out of its mouth like a cigar. This is the first known evidence of a deer scavenging human remains. Thankfully, this is likely to be a rare event. We think.
Mountain lions are terrified of talk radio
We're not the only species that gets scared. A recent study on some literal scaredy cats found that mountain lions are so afraid of humans that the sound of talk radio sends them running. Then again, maybe they're just annoyed? Hard to say.
Your halloween costume could make you go blind
Counterfeit contact lenses are a Halloween staple. For a few bucks, you can pop in a pair of zombified or otherwise seasonally appropriate lenses and dress your eyeballs up for a night on the town. But they can actually cause infections so bad you could go blind. So maybe skip that part of your fabulous ensemble. Speaking of creepy eye content: could we interest you in a story on eyeball tattoos?
Some alternative costume ideas
If the article mentioned above has totally ruined your costume plans, here's a gruesome alternative. With two iPads, a cheap shirt, and some fake blood, you can trick friends and family into thinking you've got a gaping hole in your chest. Or you can try, anyway. If that doesn't do anything for you, we've got another 13 suggestions for science-themed costumes. If dressing up isn't your thing, make a flameless hack-o-lantern.
Actual spooky action (at a record-breaking distance)
We can't forget the spookiest science of all: Spooky action at a distance. Otherwise known as entanglement, this weird quantum phenomenon saw unprecedented action in a Chinese experiment published earlier this year. Check it out.