The beat goes on…or does it?

Published 4:19 pm Friday, April 19, 2024

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Basketball season has come to an end once again, with the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments recently wrapping up. As an NC State fan, it was an exciting run to watch both teams make it all the way to the Final Four.

Even though neither team made it to the championship game, I’m happy with what they were able to accomplish. I had a lot of fun watching the games, especially as each win seemed almost more improbable and unexpected than the last.

But that’s the fun thing about life sometimes. You never quite know what’s going to happen. There’s a whole world of interesting, strange, and unexpected things happening all the time.

Like the solar eclipse, for example. That’s not something you get to see every day! In fact, it’ll be years before we get a chance to witness another one. Even though locally we weren’t in the path of totality (we only got around 78 percent coverage here), it was a fun experience to wear those special glasses and peek up at the sun on Monday afternoon to watch the shadow move across the sun. You don’t often expect to look at the sun and see it shaped like Pac-Man or a crescent moon, right?

A lot of people were excited about the solar eclipse, considering just how many people made special trips to places where they got to experience 100 percent coverage.

But, as with any unusual event, there were naysayers out there spreading silly conspiracy theories and myths about the eclipse. NPR had a whole article debunking the weird myths some people were worried about.

Some of the most ridiculous myths were things like “pregnant ladies shouldn’t watch the eclipse because it’ll harm the baby” and “food prepared during the eclipse will be poisoned.” Both of these outlandish theories are rooted in concerns about radiation from the sun. But that doesn’t really make much sense to worry about when you realize that an eclipse is just a shadow passing by. Nothing more and nothing less.

NASA summed it up best on their website about the eclipse: “The basic idea is that total solar eclipses are terrifying and their ghostly green coronae look frightening, so it is natural to want to make up fearful stories about them and look for coincidences among events around you.”

Over the past few days, I’ve also read a couple of other strange stories with headlines that had me doing a double-take. Here are a few other unexpected articles from NPR:

In addition to dispelling eclipse myths, NASA is also going to create a time zone for the moon sometime in the near future.

Your first thought, like mine, is probably “why would we need a time zone for the moon?”

Well, apparently the Coordinated Lunar Time Zone “is all about ensuring the success of future, multinational missions to the moon.” Apparently, time moves just a bit faster on the moon compared to here on Earth, but you need “extreme precision” to coordinate space flights.

So if anyone wants to keep sending exploratory equipment and such to the moon in the future, the whole global community needs to be better coordinated to work together. Working on the same clock can help that.

It makes sense to me! I only wish that we could better coordinate time zones here on Earth too. (Daylight savings being observed in some states but not others must be a headache for anyone traveling!)

In more down-to-Earth but still strange news, officials from Chechnya (a region in Russia) announced last week a ban on music that’s “too fast” or “too slow.” Instead, the people are only supposed to listen to music with a tempo ranging from 80 to 116 beats per minute (BPM).

The Ministry of Culture said music should “conform to the Chechen mentality and sense of rhythm. Borrowing musical culture from other peoples is inadmissible.” Despite the announcement, which gives artists until June 1 to rewrite their music, there were no details on how the ban would be enforced.

Personally, I think it seems a bit ridiculous. What’s the downside to listening to whatever kind of music you like? Why’s the BPM range extremely arbitrary? The whole thing has me scratching my head.

In case you’re curious about which songs would no longer be allowed, NPR provided a few examples of songs that are either too slow or too fast, according to the new Chechen standards.

Songs that are too slow include “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin (69 BPM), Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” (68 BPM), and “Imagine” by John Lennon (76 BPM).

“Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles (129 BPM) is considered too fast, along with other well-known songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana (117 BPM), “Toxic” by Britney Spears (143 BPM), and “Hotel California” by the Eagles (147 BPM).

I suppose this isn’t the first time Hotel California has been considered controversial.

Lastly, I was intrigued by an article about “glow-in-the-dark” petunias.

The genetically modified plant was developed by Keith Wood and his company based on research he’s been conducting on bioluminescence for the past few decades.

His first glowing project, conducted about 40 years ago, was a tobacco plant with a firefly gene inserted into it. That was only a research project to study how genes interact within an organism.

But the new bioluminescent petunia, however, is really just a project for fun.

“We don’t think about science as just bringing joy to our lives,” Wood said. “We thought we could do something really special here. We could create a kind of decorative plant that was really just [for] enjoyment.”

Unlike the original tobacco plant, the petunia doesn’t glow thanks to firefly genes but instead a mix of glow-in-the-dark mushroom genes. It took 10 years to gain approval for sale by the USDA, but now maybe you could get a glowing petunia for your garden one day soon!

That’s pretty neat. Unexpected, but still neat.

 Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.