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An Extreme Psychological Study May Have Affected a Young Ted Kaczynski

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As a Psych 101 student in college, you may have participated in experiments grad students concocted as part of their research papers or theses. Ted Kaczynski did, and it was so extreme, it may have helped shape the worldview of the man who would later build and send 16 bombs, killing three and injuring 23.

In 1959, 17-year-old Kaczynski was a sophomore at Harvard. He had completed high school at 15, then enrolled at the Ivy League school at an age when most teenagers are cramming for their driver’s license tests.

At this young, impressionable age, the future Unabomber was recruited for a psychological experiment run by famed psychologist Henry A. Murray. But unlike the ones you and I probably participated in during college, the experiment Murray conducted lasted three years.

In it, Kaczynski and 21 other students were told to develop their personal philosophies on life. Then they would debate that philosophy against another undergraduate student. But as it turned out, this was no friendly discourse. When they showed up to debate, the test subjects were attached to electrodes, seated in a chair facing a one-way mirror, and subjected to hot, bright lights. The debate wasn’t with a fellow undergrad at all, but a law student who had been told to go to town on the ideals of these young men. To make matters worse, they then had to watch video of the argument after it was over, which forced them to go through the humiliation all over again. Murray himself called them "vehement, sweeping, and personally abusive" attacks.

Prior to this particular stint at Harvard, Murray worked for the Office of Strategic Services (the OSS, the precursor to the CIA) during WWII, training spies to handle intense interrogation from the enemy. Some experts believe that he simply continued that line of study on unwitting undergrads.

Did having his morals and values ridiculed and abused push Kaczynski over the edge and eventually make him punish those who didn’t believe in his manifesto—including university professors? Or did the brutal psychological study have no effect on Kaczynski at all? Perhaps the future terrorist had social problems long before he stepped into Murray’s office? We may never know—the Murray Center has sealed any files relating to Ted Kaczynski and the results of the experiment he was part of, saying, "We have a very strong policy of maintaining the confidentiality of people who participate in studies archived here. This particular file has been permanently removed, with the reason being that we cannot protect its confidentiality anymore."

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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images
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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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