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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Science
Uncontacted tribe not so uncontacted
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 24, 2008
Thanks to everyone who emailed me about the Uncontacted Brazilian Tribe hoax that's now making headlines (and is already noted in the forum). I was at the library all yesterday, so I didn't have a chance to post anything. Anyway, to summarize: Last month the Brazilian government released photographs of an "uncontacted" tribe living in the Amazon. At the time I noted it would be very strange for a tribe to be truly uncontacted, and sure enough this week brings the revelation that anthropologists have known about the tribe's existence for almost one hundred years. From the Guardian:
Categories: Science Comments (6)
Diesel Trees
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jun 06, 2008
With the price of gas going through the roof, there's been a lot of interest in alternative fuel supplies. For instance, various schemes to use water as a fuel have been getting renewed interest. But a new idea (at least, new to me) is the Diesel Tree. This is a tree that directly produces diesel fuel. All you have to do is tap the tree (just as you would tap a maple tree for its syrup), then fill up your tank with the oil, and you're good to go. From treehugger.com: the Brazilian Copaifera langsdorfii, to use its botanical…
Brunus edwardii
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 30, 2008
I recently received a nice letter from a reader in England: Dear Mr. Boese, I have enjoyed the Museum of Hoaxes greatly. I do not know if you want any more examples, but if not just throw this away. The Veterinary Record is the weekly journal of the Veterinary Profession, and I did the index for 36 years. So on 1st April 1972 I met some observations on the diseases of Brunus edwardii (Species Nova), Vet. Rec. (1972) 90, 382-395. It reads like a perfectly authentic scientific paper though the illustrations give the game away. So I suppose it…
Categories: Animals, Science Comments (14)
Touch Illusions
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 18, 2008
A recent paper (available as a pdf file) by Vincent Hayward in Brain Research Bulletin lists more than twenty types of tactile illusions that can be experienced using very simple equipment available in any hardware store. Some of the descriptions of the illusions unfortunately are rather technical, but here's a summary of a few of them: The Aristotle Illusion: Cross your fingers and touch your nose. You may feel two noses. (It didn't work for me.) The Comb Illusion: Lay your finger on top of the teeth of a comb. With your other hand, run a pencil back and forth against the teeth. You should…
Categories: Science Comments (9)
Martian Pareidolia
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 11, 2008
With the Martian Bigfoot recently making headlines, Dr. Charles Lintott wrote an article for the BBC that traces the long history of Martian pareidolia. Something about Mars makes us see things that aren't really there. It began with early astronomers believing that the surface of Mars was covered with canals. During the 1960s, some astronomers reported seeing signs of vegetation on the planet's surface. The image below shows (on the top row) the Martian canals. The bottow row (from left to right) is the "face on Mars" taken by NASA's Viking spacecraft in the 1970s; the fossils that NASA researchers claimed to have found in a Martian meteorite…
Petrified Foot
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 04, 2008
Bob (aka Cranky Media Guy) sent me a link to an article about "Scientific Hoaxes" scanned from the Dec. 1931 issue of Modern Mechanix magazine. I love old popular-science magazines like this. They're a great source of strange information. Unfortunately whoever scanned this article missed two pages, so you skip from a discussion of the Central Park Zoo Escape straight into a discussion of the Cardiff Giant. Nevertheless, the image of a "petrified foot" on the front page caught my curiosity. The caption reads: "A water-worn stone was once offered to the Smithsonian Institute as a petrified foot. Note the striking resemblance."
Categories: Pareidolia, Science Comments (12)
Man Makes Fake Moon Dirt
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 28, 2008
Dr. James L. Carter has a weird job. He manufactures fake moon dirt. His company, ETSimulants, produces tons of it every year. His primary customer is NASA, who needs fake moon dirt to test machines that might need to operate on the moon. In an interview with Pegasus News Dr. Carter explains: "When you land on the moon, all this dry, dry dust blows into the space craft’s engines. The astronauts’ safety rests on this substance being correct. There can be no mechanical failures once you’re parked on the moon’s surface.” I'm sure he could make some good…
Sneezing Bus Stop
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 28, 2008
In order to educate the bus-riding public about the physics of sneezing, Science World created a Sneezing Bus Stop. Watch the video to understand: They also created posters that can be wrapped around trees to demonstrate how much beavers can eat.
Categories: Pranks, Science Comments (6)
Down in the Antarctic researchers are building an "ice cube telescope" to detect neutrinos. It's one of the stranger telescopes ever built. Popular Science provides this description of it: Using a five-megawatt jet of hot water, technicians are melting two-foot-wide holes 1.5 miles into the Antarctic ice near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Before the water refreezes, they insert a cable strung like a set of Christmas-tree lights with globular camera housings. By the time the technicians are done in 2010, Ice Cube’s 80 vertical strings will adorn a cubic…
Still No Sex In Space
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 06, 2007
Ever since humans first made it into space, there have been rumors of sex-in-space experiments. Such rumors are doing the rounds again, and this time it's the Russians who are the focus of them. Russian officials decided they should go on record to deny them: "There is no proof ... that on any mission cosmonauts had sex," the deputy head of the Institute of Bio-Medical Problems, Valery Bogomolov, told a news conference in Moscow. "Cosmonauts, too, are regular people, but ... I have not heard about any sex in orbit," he said. The Russian scientist referred to…
Categories: Science, Sex/Romance Comments (7)
Sell My Dna
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 05, 2007
SellMyDna.com offers to help you sell a sample of your DNA to a research company, New Line Genetics, who will then obtain a patent for it. They pay $5000! Better yet, you can even sell your friend's DNA, because once a cell leaves their body, it no longer belongs to them. From their website: SellMyDNA.com does not condone the patenting of other’s DNA without their permission. However, what better way to surprise your loved ones for a birthday or holiday event than giving the gift of $5,000 and the knowledge that their…
Categories: Science, Websites Comments (0)
China Moon Controversy
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 03, 2007
Last week Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao released the first photograph taken by the Chang-e 1 lunar probe. The picture showed the surface of the moon. Wen declared, "Chinese people's dream of flying to the moon for more than 1,000 years has started to materialize." But then people on the internet started to point out that the picture looked an awful lot like a NASA picture from 2005. In fact, the two photos looked almost identical. So now the Chinese lunar probe programme is defending itself against charges of fakery. To be fair to the Chinese, the two photos aren't entirely alike. The shadows are different, and the Chinese photo shows an extra crater.…
Categories: Photos/Videos, Science Comments (14)
Robot Roaches Coated with Pheromones
Posted by The Curator on Sun Nov 18, 2007
Jose Halloy, a biologist at the Free University of Brussels, created little robot cockroaches that he programmed to behave in ways similar to real cockroaches. For instance, he could program the robo-roaches to prefer a light or dark shelter. The interesting part is that when he coated these robot roaches with roach pheromones, other roaches seemed to accept them as one of their own, and even would follow their lead: Halloy initially programmed the robots to have the same darkness preference as the cockroaches, and they joined the cockroaches at whatever shelter the majority chose to rest in. Next,…
Categories: Science Comments (3)
Bat Bugs Have Fake Genitals
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 27, 2007
National Geographic has an article about a "hotbed of deception" in the natural world. It involves the genitals of a small, reddish-brown parasite called the bat bug. In order to protect themselves from the unwanted advances of male members of the species, female bat bugs have evolved a region on their body similar to a fake genital: Researchers have long known that male bat bugs ignore females' conventional parts and instead use their sharp penises to stab the females' abdomens, injecting sperm directly into the bloodstream. So the females evolved a defense: structures called paragenitals that guide a male's needle-like member…
Categories: Science, Sex/Romance Comments (2)
Best of the forum - 21st September 07
Posted by Boo on Fri Sep 21, 2007
Due to my ongoing computer problems and personal situation, this is again brought to you by Madmouse. Peruvian Meteorite (eovti) An apparent meteorite landing in Peru has led to reports of illness amongst locals. Original suggestions for the cause of the sickness included radiation poisoning, but that seems unlikely. Sign Language Translator (Madmouse) There’s been a lot of discussion in the forum about this story. A group of UK students have developed a system to translate spoken or written words into British Sign Language that is then displayed by an avatar. Suggested uses include translating for…
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