Nile Crocs, 'Brain Bugs' & More: Five Things We Learned This Week

Peter Thiel, pictured in 2013.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, during a panel discussion in Beverly Hills, California, on May 1, 2013. Gus Ruelas/Reuters

From Peter Thiel's financing of the Hogan/Gawker lawsuit to the population boom of squid and octopuses, here are five things we learned in Tech & Science this week:

Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor who co-founded PayPal, talks to students during his visit to the 42 school campus in Paris on February 24. Jacky Naegelen/REUTERS
  • Nile crocodiles, native to Africa, have been found in Florida. The extremely large crocodiles are much more aggressive than their American counterparts and are known to attack and eat humans. But researchers caution that there's no need to panic; they believe the four Nile crocs found are likely the same four who escaped enclosures years back. They have no evidence that Nile crocodiles are breeding or being bred by others on our shores.
University of Florida researchers say they are the first to document Nile crocodiles in the state out of captivity, though all of the animals had escaped enclosures. Juda Ngwenya/REUTERS
  • The global population of octopus, squid and other cephalopods has been growing for 50 years, but scientists aren't sure whether their population boom is good for marine life. Rising temperatures and a decline in species that prey on cephalopods likely are the reasons for the population boom, said a study published May 23 in the journal Current Biology. But it's unclear whether we should applaud their growth; they're predators that can impact other species, but their increased numbers may help other marine creatures who feed on them.
The giant Australian cuttlefish (Sepia apama) was once in decline, but now its numbers have increased, as have populations of cephalopods in general over the past 60 years. SCOTT PORTELLI, WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER
  • Artificial intelligence may one day be able to create wholly original pieces of art, film or music, prompting thorny questions on whether such compositions can be considered art at all. As demonstrated at the tech festival Moogfest, AI already can finish a tune after a human has laid down the basic melody but can it create? Research group Magenta aims to find out. Some art educators say fear drives criticism of such efforts, but others believe that such AI programs are no more than a tool for human artists to create with.
A robot musician performs during the "Robot Ball" scientific exhibition in Moscow on May 17, 2014. Sergei Karpukhin/REUTERS
Herpes simplex viruses pass through the outer protein coat of a nucleus, magnified 40,000 times. Dr. Ruth Itzhak's research published in 1997 revealed a potential link to the presence of HSV-1 (one specific variety of Herpes simplex) and the onset of Alzheimer's in 60 percent of the cases they studied. However, she has only been able to study a low number of cases since the work has received only a cursory nod from the greater research world and little funding. Eye of Science/Science Source