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Cockroaches Love the PlayStation 4, Too

Video game consoles are prone to a number of misfortunes, like Xbox 360’s “red ring of death” or more recently the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con and warping issues. But none have the gross-out factor of one of the PlayStation 4’s most unique issues: roach infestation.

In an article on Kotaku, writer Cecilia D'Anastasio visited Patrick Che, the co-owner of an independent console repair shop in Manhattan, who pointed out a pile of filled black garbage bags in the corner of his store. “You see those bags?” Che asked D'Anastasio. “Those are bags full of roaches. Those are all dead by now.” Though roaches can burrow into any system on the market, it's Sony's latest console that seems to be their ideal destination.

The problem has become so common with PS4s that Che’s shop, XCubicle, charges a $25 “roach fee” to clean the little critters out of the system’s vents and circuit boards. So what makes the PlayStation 4 such an attractive home to roaches (outside of the fact that it kinda looks like a swanky skyscraper from the right angle)? Apparently the PS4’s vents are wider than other consoles, and since they’re placed right at the bottom of the machine, it makes it easier for roaches to crawl right in if the system is placed on the floor.

When the roaches go into the system, they nest on the circuit boards, pop out babies, and, well, melt into the console’s innards. With a system that gets as hot as a PS4, melted roaches and their feces (shudder) will likely turn your console into an expensive paperweight before long. And chances are that you’ll never even know a roach was inside unless you bring it in for repair.

At XCubicle, they see at least one roach-infested PS4 per week, with other repairmen estimating that around half of all PS4 consoles they deal with have some sort of roach issue. The fix for this isn’t so simple: A repairman will have to replace the power supply, clean the system of any roach remnants, and sterilize the whole thing before getting it back to you. There's no one way to prevent roaches from entering your system, other than keeping a clean home, putting your console high up and inaccessible, and placing it away from easy entry points. If that fails, you'll be stuck either buying a new PlayStation 4 or bringing the system to an independent repair shop, as Sony won't accept bug-ridden systems for repair.

[h/t Kotaku]

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Food
This Couple Has Spent the Past 30 Years Visiting Every Cracker Barrel in the U.S.
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Ray and Wilma Yoder are probably America's foremost amateur experts on Cracker Barrel restaurants. As Eater reports, the Indiana couple is on a 30-year quest to eat at every single Cracker Barrel in the U.S. And they’ve almost completed it.

Ray Yoder of Goshen, Indiana, first started going to Cracker Barrel regularly when he worked delivering RVs across the country. Soon, Wilma was coming along, too, and the couple began hunting down Cracker Barrel locations in earnest, a pastime they’ve pursued for the past three decades.

Cracker Barrel got its start in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1969, and according to Ray, visiting the restaurants while on the road felt like being at home. “It has a down-home spirit, and everybody is friendly,” he told the Lebanon Democrat. He told the paper that stopping at Cracker Barrels helped relieve boredom when he was on the road.

Now, he and Wilma are celebrities to those in the Cracker Barrel know. Cracker Barrel’s corporate leadership invites them to opening day at new stores. Employees know of them, and sometimes they receive gift baskets when they come in to cross a new Cracker Barrel off their list. People ask to take their picture when they visit.

Ray and Wilma Yoder stand in front of two RVs outside a Cracker Barrel.

The 80-year-olds have just two rules for their visits: At each location, they always buy something, even if it’s just a cup of coffee, and leave a tip. There’s no limit on how many Cracker Barrels they’ll go to in a single day, though. They once visited 10 different locations on a drive along the East Coast. Overall, their Cracker Barrel adventure has taken them more than 5 million miles across 44 states.

The Yoders recently visited their 644th Cracker Barrel, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new location in Lavonia, Georgia, in early July. They’re hoping to hit up the last Cracker Barrel on their list—until the next one opens, that is—by heading to Tualatin, Oregon, sometime later this year.

[h/t Eater]

All images courtesy Cracker Barrel

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Image credit: Aziz Aboobaker, Edinburgh
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Animals
The Tardigrade’s Extraordinary Weirdness Continues
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Image credit: Aziz Aboobaker, Edinburgh

The mystery of the tardigrade—a.k.a. moss piglet, a.k.a. water bear—is one step closer to a solution. Scientists studying the microscopic animals' DNA say the tough, many-legged creatures may be distantly related to nematodes and other "wormy things." The researchers published their findings in the journal PLOS Biology.

Tardigrades are some of the strangest, most badass organisms on Earth. Don't be fooled by their tiny size—these animals are anything but delicate. They can survive in the most brutal conditions, from dehydration and starvation to burning heat, blistering cold, intense radiation, and even the vacuum of space.

How they pull off this near-invincibility is, naturally, a question of some interest among biologists (and to Mental Floss—links to our many articles about these amazing creatures are found throughout this story).

The authors of one 2015 study made headlines when they announced that one-sixth of the tardigrade's genetic blueprint had been swiped from bacteria and other organisms. This horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is not unheard of in nature, but other tardigrade experts, including a team at the University of Edinburgh, felt that 17.5 percent seemed suspiciously high, even for a maverick like the tardigrade.

The skeptics were right. Additional investigation into the tardigrade genome confirmed the presence of a few horizontally transferred genes. Just a few.

HGT aside, there's still plenty to discover in the tardigrade's genes. Tardigrades have been tardigrades for hundreds of millions of years. No fossils remain from their early days to tell us what they might have been before. We don't really know where they came from, evolutionarily speaking, or who their relatives are.

To find out, Edinburgh researcher Mark Blaxter and his colleagues picked apart the genomes of two tardigrade species, Ramazzottius varieornatus and Hypsibius dujardini. They found something unexpected: The armored, many-legged tardigrades seemed more closely related to worms than to insects.

If these findings are accurate, Blaxter told Mental Floss in an email, they challenge the very structure of the Panarthropoda family tree, which assumes "the leggy moulting animals are more closely related to each other than they are to wormy things like nematodes."

But he notes that there's lots more research to be done before issuing that challenge: "We have only looked at a tiny fraction of the 10 or more million species on Earth. Every new group, and possibly every species, will have something exciting in it we haven't seen before, and didn't imagine."

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