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October 23, 2012

Two pooch-loving ladies wave at Mitt Romney's motorcade on Oct. 23 in Delray Beach, Fla. After his final debate with President Obama in Boca Raton on Oct. 22, Romney headed west to host rallies in Nevada and Colorado. The Week Staff

3:48 p.m. ET

A bizarre, fast-moving rock with the "proportions of a giant cucumber" has entered our galaxy, becoming the first stony object of its sort ever observed zipping through the Milky Way, The Washington Post writes. As if the interstellar passerby wasn't exciting enough, extraterrestrial researchers are gearing up for what could be the observation of a lifetime — proof that intelligent life exists beyond our own little corner of the universe.

"The possibility that this object is, in fact, an artificial object — that it is a spaceship, essentially — is a remote possibility," explained the director of the Berkeley Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Research Center, Andrew Siemion.

Researchers have named the rock 'Oumuamua, the Hawaiian word for "messenger." 'Oumuamua's strange "behavior" is what has some researches thinking it could be more than just an ordinary quarter-mile-long cosmic pebble:

Planets and asteroids circle the sun on the same plane, like water swirling around a basin. 'Oumuamua dipped into the solar system from outside the plane, as if leaked from a cosmic faucet.

It is shaped strangely, too. Most asteroids of this size are spherical. This object has the proportions of a giant cucumber. In fact, Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb recently told [Russian billionaire Yuri Milner] that 'Oumuamua has the optimal design of a vessel meant to travel through space, The Atlantic reported. [The Washington Post]

To get ready for the event, scientists announced that they will be pointing highly sophisticated radio telescopes at the space rock to pick up if it is using technology to reach its speeds of up to 196,000 miles per hour. The devices are so sophisticated, in fact, that "if an electronic device no more powerful than a WiFi router or telephone handset is transmitting on 'Oumuamua, the telescope will be able to sense it," the Post writes. Read more about the 'Oumuamua visitation here. Jeva Lange

2:07 p.m. ET
Leon Neal/Getty Images

One of the world's most popular dating apps just got a little bit creepier.

Tinder announced Tuesday that it's testing out a new feature letting users see more social media content from people they match with. The "Feed" — which is being tested in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada — is an updating timeline where users can see new Instagram posts, Spotify top artists, and new profile pictures from their Tinder matches. Engadget notes that the dating app already allows users to connect their Instagram and Spotify accounts to their Tinder profiles, but this new feed takes it a step further by creating something that resembles a Facebook News Feed filled with content posted by potential romantic interests (who, let's remember, you don't actually know yet).

If you don't want your matches to know about your life before you meet them, Tinder lets you manage which social media accounts and posts get linked to its feed. But once you allow it, Tinder users can interact with your social media content. As Tinder proclaims: "[G]ive Leilani a shout-out on her solid Boomerang skills, or let Zoe know the 'Best. Burger. Ever.' pic she just posted is your favorite too."

Tinder missed its most recent quarterly profit estimate, but the dating app is still profitable and was recently valued at $3 billion. The "Feed" is one of several new features Tinder has rolled out this year. In June, Tinder announced the creation of a subscription service that allows paying users to see who has "liked" their profile. And two weeks ago, the company introduced a machine learning tool that uses algorithms to show users new people that it thinks they will swipe right on. Tinder has over 50 million users, and the company recently promised to "blur lines between the physical and digital world for dating." Totally not creepy! Kelly O'Meara Morales

1:47 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sixty-one percent of Americans think Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore should be kicked out of the Senate if he wins the special election on Tuesday night, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll has found. A plurality of Republicans also agree that Moore should be removed, at 45 percent, while 29 percent think he should be allowed to serve in the Senate if he beats his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.

Moore is accused of pursuing — and in one case, assaulting — teenage girls as young as 14. He has denied the claims, and been endorsed by President Trump and the Republican National Committee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he believes Moore's accusers and that the former judge "should step aside" in the race, and other Republican senators, including Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), have suggested Moore should be expelled if he gets elected.

The divide across the American public is noticeably tied to gender, with half of Republican women thinking the Senate should expel Moore, whereas only 39 percent of Republican men say the same. Overall, 65 percent of American women and 56 percent of American men agreed Moore should be expelled if he wins Tuesday evening.

The poll surveyed 1,955 registered voters between Dec. 8-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 points. Read the full results at Politico. Jeva Lange

12:20 p.m. ET

Sassy and Roy Moore arrived in Gallant, Alabama, on Tuesday to vote in the state's special election. Moore was voting, anyway; Sassy is a horse:

It is not the first time the former judge has opted for a zero emission ride to the polls — he also cast his vote via horseback in September during the GOP runoff election, although that time he was on his other horse, Sundance. Moore has ridden Sassy to vote before too, though, so you might say this wasn't exactly her first rodeo.

If elected, Moore — who stands accused of pursuing teenage girls as young as 14 — will presumably join the Capitol Hill riding club, which includes Vice President Mike Pence, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R), Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Then again, Moore might not exactly be the type to ride in polite single-file:

Enjoy another look at Sassy, from afar. Jeva Lange

12:13 p.m. ET

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came to the defense of her colleague Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday after President Trump tweeted that Gillibrand "begged" and "would do anything for" campaign donations.

Trump's online attack on Gillibrand came one day after the New York senator called for the president to resign over the numerous allegations of sexual assault made against him. Gillibrand and Warren (whom Trump delights in calling "Pocahontas") have both been vocal critics of the president. Political commentators consider both women to be potential frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

There is however, one potential problem with Warren's defense of Gillibrand. The president's original tweet was criticized for its sexist implications, but Slate's Christina Cauterucci points out that Warren may have misinterpreted the meaning of "slut-shaming" in her tweet. Kelly O'Meara Morales

11:02 a.m. ET
iStock.

As if giant cockroaches weren't freaky enough already, new research shows the insects have learned how to gallop. A study published in Frontiers in Zoology found that giant cockroaches can increase their velocity and lateral mobility when they run in a rolling gait, similar to a horse's gallop, rather than keeping three legs on the ground at all times in alternating steps, which is commonly referred to as the "tripod gait." While this new revelation is perhaps slightly horrifying for anyone suffering from insectophobia, Tom Weihmann, a professor at the University of Cologne in Germany and a coauthor on the study, says it may actually help robots learn to run more effectively.

Scientists concluded long ago that everyone's least favorite insect has a limited capacity for elastic energy storage in their legs. In layman's terms, their legs aren't very flexible, and most cockroaches don't have the bounce capacity of LeBron James (phew). But somehow, cockroaches figured out that if they gallop sequentially with six legs and keep their legs from coming too far off of the ground, they get a lot faster and lot more agile. The study notes that the high-speed gallop "has not been described before for terrestrial arthropods."

But why are cockroaches galloping in the first place? Researchers say they're sometimes making "escape runs," and other times they gallop slowly on slippery surfaces to maintain stability. Weihmann believes our robots could learn a thing or two from the bug's unique running style. "Adapting the coordination patterns of robot legs to those of fast-running cockroaches can help the robot use energy more efficiently and hence increase its endurance in an inhospitable environment," he says.

Read the entire study at Frontiers in Zoology. Kelly O'Meara Morales

10:55 a.m. ET

President Trump and the White House have vehemently denied renewed accusations of Trump's sexual misconduct, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters Monday that "the president has denied [all] of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses." How, exactly, eyewitnesses can confirm that something didn't happen has been a bit of a head-scratcher, though:

Nevertheless, Sanders promised reporters Monday: "In terms of the specific eyewitness accounts … there have been multiple reports, and I'd be happy to provide them to you after the briefing has completed."

While Sanders hasn't delivered a list just yet, the White House is known to have eyewitnesses — two, for at least 13 separate allegations. Jessica Leeds claimed Trump groped her on an airplane, but a man named Anthony Gilberthorpe said he was also on the plane and that "Leeds was the aggressor," The Washington Post writes. There are questions surrounding Gilberthorpe's claim, though, as he "has a history of making unproven claims, including that he had once regularly provided underage boys to members of Britain's Parliament for sex parties."

In another case, Natasha Stoynoff claims Trump forcibly kissed her at Mar-a-Lago, and The Washington Post reports that five people heard her story around the time of the alleged event. While the White House did not technically present an eyewitness rebuttal, "a longtime family butler who came into the room after the incident said that nothing seemed unusual."

Review The Washington Post's entire tally of allegations and eyewitness rebuttals here. Jeva Lange

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