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A Comet May Have Caused the Winter of 536 to Last for 10 Years

Oh, that's why it's called the Dark Ages

General consensus is that the Dark Ages sucked. Unicorns went extinct, you were either a witch or had the plague, and oh yeah, winter lasted for ten years once.

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Because Everybody Loves Bacon: Watch Sea Lice Consume A Pig From The Inside Out

Have you ever wondered what a pig would look like if you turned it into a centimeters thick living carpet of writhing underwater scavengers? Wonder no more, thanks to the latest work from forensic scientists at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. In an effort to better understand how human corpses decompose in seawater, the research team placed a pig carcass  -- the most accurate, though least flattering, analog for human decomposition -- in a cage in the nearby Salish Sea to see how it would fare. It took a colony of sea lice just 4 days to colonize the corpse inside and out, reducing it to a pile of bones.

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Tiny Organisms Might Be the Dorkiest, Smartest Creatures Alive

Here's an organism to whom a bunch of us can relate: rotifers. Why can we relate to them? Because they might be the coolest, dorkiest creatures ever. And apparently, the species can shapeshift their offspring to hide from bullies (i.e., predators)!

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Did Saddam Hussein Want to be Darth Vader?

Did Saddam Hussein want to be like Darth Vader? That's one of the provocative questions posed by artist Michael Rakowitz's latest exhibition, The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one's own, currently on display at the Tate Modern museum in London. More broadly, Rakowitz's work explores the linkages between Western science fiction and Hussein's regime in Iraq. As fanciful a connection as that may sound, this isn't just a matter of an artist interpreting the world as he pleases. Rakowitz has done his homework, and Hussein may have had a Star Wars obsession after all: according to the artist's research, the first showing of Star Wars in Iraq may have taken place at a Baathist private party attended by Hussein in 1980, and some of his regalia may well have been inspired by Imperial trappings:

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Caw-tion: Crows Hold Grudges Against Humans for Years

As if they weren't already scary enough: New research shows the extent to which crows are able to remember individual human faces and hold grudges against people who have crossed them in the past -- even if it's been several years since they had a negative encounter.

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Fire with Fire: Researchers Block Spam Using Spammy Botnets

Just as former bank robbers are the best at stopping current bank robbers and venom can be thwarted by antivenom from the same snake, so, apparently, are the botnets that spew out billions of spam messages each day useful for stopping new spam in its tracks. Researchers at Berkeley's International Science Institute have found that by capturing an infected bot and analyzing the template it uses to blast out its infernal payload, they can accurately predict and filter out the kinds of spam messages that botnets will send out -- all without accidentally capturing legitimate e-mail.

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