Showers (as in, actual showers) of dead tadpoles, fish and even frogs have confused scientists, meteorologists, and officials in central Japan’s Ishikawa Prefecture, located on the Japan Sea Coast. One resident found 13 dead carp, each around 3 inches long, on and around his car. Another reported hearing a strange noise in a nearby parking lot, then found 100 tadpoles covering cars in the lot.
Various objects and animals do occasionally fall from the sky: It’s called “Fafrotskies,” short for “fall from the skies.” These events generally occur when water spouts, storms, and strong winds suck objects from bodies of water and deposit them on land. But because there had been no reports of strong wind, many officials and meteorologists say this explanation can’t explain the torrent of tadpoles.
An alternative explanation is that birds who eat tadpoles and fish carried the animals in their mouths, then dropped them while flying. Still, some bird experts say that if this had happen, the tadpole carnage would have covered a more sizable area.
Doctors have long known that food, alcohol, stress, and hormones can cause migraines. And now, research shows that weather can too.
For years weather-related headaches were considered “clinical folklore,” until Harvard researcher Kenneth Mukamal conducted a “large-scale” study and found that fluctuations in temperature can contribute to or even cause the pain.
The researchers examined the headache complaints of over 7,000 patients admitted to Boston area ERs from 2000 to 2007, and compared them to weather patterns. In particular, Mukamal, a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, used data from meteorological and pollutant monitors to see how the weather was three days before each patient’s visit.
Most normal people gauge the weather by checking online, hitting up the Weather Channel, or falling back on that old standby, looking out the window. But one group of physicists refuses to toe the line, instead predicting local temperatures to within 1°C by checking a particle detector that resides almost half a mile underground. Spending a lot of time way, way beneath the surface of the earth can do this to a person.
The detector, located in a former mine turned particle physic lab in Minnesota, was built as part of a project to study neutrinos, but it can also detect other particles known as muons. When high-energy cosmic rays from outer space collide with atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, particles called pions are created, which quickly decay into muons. Muons are negatively charged—sort of like heavier versions of electrons—and many have enough energy to penetrate underground. Muon levels drop in cool weather because cold air is denser, and pions are more likely to get destroyed by colliding with atoms before they have a chance to decay into muons.