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April Fool's Day, 2002
Butterfly Advertising. (2002) Virgin Atlantic announced plans to print ads on butterflies:
"Dr Antonia Monteiro at SUNY Buffalo is developing a genetic modification method that would allow companies to put markings such as logos on butterflies by scanning their wings with a laser beam. Virgin is confident that butterfly advertising will become a successful and popular new medium for airlines… Virgin executives say they hope to launch the butterfly program by the spring, allowing time for final testing and lasering of the Virgin logo on the butterflies."
Greatest Cities Prank. (2002) Maxim magazine printed multiple covers for its April 2002 issue, simultaneously declaring thirteen different American cities (including Detroit, Philadelpia, New York, and Miami) to be the "Greatest City on Earth." Readers in each city received an appropriately targeted issue of the magazine. In addition to the cover, the issue also included two pages listing the benefits of the cover city and disparaging the other cities. For instance, Philadelphia readers were told about their collective toughness and the Ivy League "hotties" at the University of Pennsylvania. However, readers in other cities were told that Philadelphia was merely a "glorified . . . [bathroom] break between New York and Washington, populated by larded pretzel-munchers and 'half-wits' who dress up as the Founding Fathers." However, some of the New York cover issues were "accidentally" sent to Philadelphia, thus revealing the joke.
Infinite Power Generator. (2002) Online retailer ThinkGeek.com debuted a Desktop Zero-Point Infinite Power Generator, at a price of only $199.99, although the item was permanently "On Backorder".
"At the quantum level, all matter in the universe vibrates constantly - even at absolute zero! The Desktop Zero-Point Power Generator takes advantage of this seething abundant energy by converting naturally occurring EM energy into 120 Volts / 200 Amps of electricity.
The generator is 8 inches square, and weighs just under 3 pounds. When activated, the generator will generate power indefinitely! The unit emits a very quiet whirr, and less than 600 rem of residual ionizing radiation! ThinkGeek recommends you drain the unit's non-volitile waste chamber once every three months, and dispose of the tritium/deuterium slurry at a licensed disposal facility.
Sorry, not available in 220V."
A ThinkGeek spokesman later told Wired magazine that long after posting the generator for sale, they continued to receive numerous requests to purchase it: "We've had people e-mailing us from all over the world telling us they were very interested in it."
Federally Funded Health Care for Pets. (2002) NPR's All Things Considered reported that the Bush administration had proposed extending universal health care to pets. The measure was designed to assist all animals, including "Your dog, your cat, your iguana, your great komodo dragon."
However, the proposal was meeting with opposition. James Cardigan, spokesman for the group People Are People Too, feared the government could get tangled in massive legal liability by letting nature simply take its course. For example, "what if a hamster covered by federal health care is eaten by a snake also covered by the federal government?"
Universal pet health care was estimated to cost $345-trillion.
PigeonRank. (2002) Google revealed the secret at the heart of its search technology: PigeonRank. Clusters of pigeons had been trained to compute the relative values of web pages:
PigeonRank's success relies primarily on the superior trainability of the domestic pigeon (Columba livia) and its unique capacity to recognize objects regardless of spatial orientation… By collecting flocks of pigeons in dense clusters, Google is able to process search queries at speeds superior to traditional search engines, which typically rely on birds of prey, brooding hens or slow-moving waterfowl to do their relevance rankings. When a search query is submitted to Google, it is routed to a data coop where monitors flash result pages at blazing speeds. When a relevant result is observed by one of the pigeons in the cluster, it strikes a rubber-coated steel bar with its beak, which assigns the page a PigeonRank value of one. For each peck, the PigeonRank increases.
Whistling Carrots. (2002) The British supermarket chain Tesco published an advertisement in The Sun announcing the successful development of a genetically modified 'whistling carrot.' The ad explained that the carrots had been engineered to grow with tapered airholes in their side. When fully cooked, these airholes caused the vegetable to whistle.