Alibi V.27 No.45 • Nov 8-14, 2018 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Vatican

The Catholic Church has just launched an augmented reality game similar to Pokémon GO in which players catch saints. Using the same GPS-tracking and augmented reality (AR) technology as Pokémon GO, Follow JC GO! lets users capture religious figures and saints. Crux Now reports the game was developed by Catholic evangelical group Fundación Ramón Pané. Accessing the user's phone camera, it superimposes cartoon characters into the player's real-life surroundings. When a user “meets” a character, they are subjected to a religious quiz before they are allowed to progress. Players are also tasked with discovering Marian devotions and collect items like food and water to ensure their character's survival. The game also encourages religious behavior by prompting players to pray when they pass churches, hospitals or other public areas. Pope Francis reportedly gave the game his blessing. Fundación Ramón Pané says 43 designers, theologians, Bible experts, Church historians and engineers developed the app over 32,000 hours. It allegedly cost $500,000—financed through sponsors and private donors. The app was launched last month in Spanish, with future versions in English and Portuguese to be released. The free game is available for Android and IOS devices.

Dateline: Thermosphere

Following a parts failure, NASA was allegedly able to bring the Hubble Space Telescope back online by turning it off and on again and jiggling it back and forth. Space.com reports the nearly 30-year-old telescope went into “safe mode” last month after one of its orientation-maintaining gyroscopes failed. According to NASA's website, the faulty part caused the telescope to report incorrect rotation rates and prevented it from accurately tracking small movements in what's called “low mode.” A backup gyroscope returned unusual data and was unusable by handlers, leading to weeks of troubleshooting attempts while the telescope was offline. Operations team members reportedly attempted to fix the issue by turning the gyro off for one second and turning it on again, but the attempt did nothing. Team members then went on to initiate a “series of spacecraft maneuvers, or turns, in opposite directions” to clear any possible blockage. These maneuvers apparently worked, and the orbiting telescope is expected to fully resume its normal functions following a series of tests. Last month NASA released images of IC 63, a ghost nebula 550 light-years from Earth, that were captured by the telescope. The Hubble Space Telescope is a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency. It was launched into low earth orbit in 1990.

Dateline: Hawaii

A remote and ecologically important Hawaiian island has almost disappeared over the last month. According to NPR, Hurricane Walaka's intense storm surges have caused most of East Island, formerly an 11-acre landmass located northwest of Honolulu, to vanish. The island was uninhabited by humans, but biologists are concerned about the fate of two endangered species that use the island. The island has served as a safe nesting site for about half of the world's breeding green sea turtles. And around 200 critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals would visit the slice of land annually to bear children. Scientists are unsure of where these animals will go now, but say the effects could have been worse if the hurricane had struck at another time. As it happened, Walaka hit East Island at the end of the green sea turtles' breeding season in a year with a reportedly low turnout. Only around 120 turtles' nests were reported, down from 800 or more in past years. Chip Fletcher, an Earth science professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, told CNN that the islands in the area are formed as the sea level falls. He said sea levels are currently rising, causing the islands to submerge.

Dateline: Tennessee

A doctor allegedly borrowed $300,000 from a longtime patient and then diagnosed the woman with dementia when she asked for her money back. The Tennessean reports Dr. Suellen Lee is denying accusations that she was avoiding paying a loan when she diagnosed a longtime patient, identified in court records as E.W., with dementia. According to Lee she's being “set up,” but chose to retire her medical license last month because “there was no chance of reversal.” According to Tennessee state records, Lee borrowed the large sum around 20 years ago when her clinic fell on hard times. Lee claims she has been paying it back in installments, however E.W. requested that the loan be repaid in full approximately two years ago. When asked by investigators with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, she admitted that she diagnosed E.W. purely based on observation and that the diagnosis followed the patient's request for repayment. No second opinion had been pursued. Disciplinary records say E.W. was later assessed by a psychologist who found “no indication of dementia.” Lee still stands by her diagnosis and says the accusations are emotionally motivated. She claims E.W. was showing signs of memory loss and exhibiting erratic behavior. “She wanted to hurt me because she was so angry with me, because I had said that she was demented,” Lee told reporters.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.