The 25 most “WTF” science stories of 2019

Things got weird this year. Real weird.


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.

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.

24. How Dank Vapes sparked an American vaping crisis

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

23. Short-sighted Mars colonists could find sex with Earth-based humans lethal

Talk about fatal attraction…

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.

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.

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.

19. Climate change is making a social spider more aggressive

The climate crisis could become an arachnophobe’s nightmare.

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

Turns out the testicles are sensitive to cannabinoids.

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

We have bad news for salt lovers everywhere.

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

Scientists identified traces of five different psychoactive chemicals.

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

Some polydactyly people have “superior” abilities.

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.

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.

12. Study reveals what happens to the brain on LSD

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

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

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

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.

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

Deceased relatives and dark tunnels are just the beginning.

8. How Medieval Christians built the modern nuclear family

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

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.

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

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

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.

4. Ancient humans procreated with at least four other species

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

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.

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.

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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