The 25 most “WTF” science stories of 2019

Things got weird this year. Real weird.

25 most wtf science 2019

The end of the year (and the decade, depending on whom you ask) is nigh. To celebrate, Inverse is counting down the 25 most WTF scientific discoveries of 2019. Think of it as your own advent calendar of weird, icky, incredible, and mind-boggling moments in science.

Curious about what marijuana does to sperm? We’ve got you. Worried about the side effects of peeing too much at night? Look no further. There are stories on these topics and more strange science from 2019. From why the brain trips on LSD to what intermittent fasting really does to your body, these are our top picks of weird, wonderful, WTF science from the last 12 months.

Did we miss anything? Email us your favorite WTF science moment from 2019.

In the meantime, have a look at the 25 most “WTF” science stories of 2018.

man drinking poison

25. WARNING: “Miracle Mineral Solution” is not safe for human consumption

This so-called miracle tonic, marketed as a “treatment” for myriad health conditions, has the FDA worried.

dank vapes

24. How Dank Vapes sparked an American vaping crisis

The non-existent company turned out to be the biggest conspiracy in THC vaping yet.

men drinking

22. Quitting casual drinking affects men and women in different ways

Alcohol can take a toll on mental health — but the exact effects may depend on your sex.

skeletons

21. Bones secrete a special hormone when you’re stressed

Osteocalcin helps us to respond to feelings of acute stress — and helps us deal with them.

fish

20. How cuckolding could be this fish’s secret weapon for survival

For the male of one fish species, not being the baby daddy may have an unexpected benefit.

spider

19. Climate change is making a social spider more aggressive

The climate crisis could become an arachnophobe’s nightmare.

marijuana sperm

18. Scientists discover marijuana may have a surprising effect on sperm

Turns out the testicles are sensitive to cannabinoids.

salt

17. 3 diets significantly cut people’s life expectancy — study

We have bad news for salt lovers everywhere.

Sunny day with blue sky and some clouds, snow-capped mountain peak (volcano) with drought plain of Bolivian Altiplano.

16. Ancient psychedelic drugs were found in 1,000-year-old pouch

Scientists identified traces of five different psychoactive chemicals.

robot hand, human hand

15. Six-fingered people exemplify why an extra digit means a better hand

Some polydactyly people have “superior” abilities.

shark detective

14. How a 24-year-old mystery was solved by a shark tooth

This summer, a crack team of scientists used advanced DNA technology to solve a shark-attack cold case.

rabbit orgasms

13. How copulating rabbits helped reveal the evolutionary roots of female orgasms

A rabbit called Frank and his female partners co-wrote a new chapter in the history of orgasms.

brain on lsd

12. Study reveals what happens to the brain on LSD

The psychedelic experience has a lot in common with sensory overload.

caterpillar fungus, c. sinensis

11. Scientific breakthrough may push an aphrodisiac mushroom into the mainstream

The fungus can be found protruding from the corpse of a dead caterpillar.

Taylor Swift in Cats

10. ‘Cats’ is undeniably creepy, and there’s a psychological reason for it

They’re sexy. They’re creepy. They live in the uncanny valley.

near-death experience

9. Almost all near-death experiences have these visions in common — study

Deceased relatives and dark tunnels are just the beginning.

christians

8. How Medieval Christians built the modern nuclear family

A centuries-old cultural shift still influences families — and you — today.

viagra

7. Pfizer study argues Viagra may improve an unexpected type of performance

Viagra’s parent company tried to expand its empire from the bedroom to the office in 2019.

eye crisps

6. How a “fussy eater” went blind from a junk food diet

This rare, devastating condition is usually only seen in war zones.

peeing cost

5. Peeing at night could cost the United States’ economy billions

Midnight nature calls cause unwelcome disruptions to sleep — but the costs may be even higher.

ancient human

4. Ancient humans procreated with at least four other species

In 2019, the human family tree got a little more complicated.

intermittent fasting empty plate

3. The science-backed guide to intermittent fasting, 2019’s most popular diet

In 2019, Inverse asked the experts what intermittent fasting actually does to your body.

alarm clocks

2. Mutants among us: “Natural short sleepers” reveal the genetics of sleep

Understanding why some people need just 4 to 6 hours sleep a night could lead to better sleep for everyone.

noses on a green background

1. Scientists discover a “therapeutic gold mine” in one surprising place

Everyone hates it, but snot might solve many of our woes.

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