Well, after taking a month’s break from writing and work (Yeah, writing is fun !!) i have come back. And what other day could i have chosen than the April Fool’s Day. The day started with the various pranks put up by Google which at first shocked me and then brought a pleasant smile. To all of you who missed it here is a small compilation-
1). Gmail Blue
2). Google Nose
3). Google Maps & TREASURE !!
4). Youtube Closing Down
However, the reason for writing this post was not just cataloging all of Google’s Treasure trove of pranks, but more to celebrate the fact that science too can be funny !! Its not all geeky or nerdy as some may have let you to believe…
To celebrate this very fact, National Geographic came up with a list of famous Animal Hoaxes:
My personal favourite about the ultimate thing in science humour — IgNobel Awards.
Winner: Robert A. Lopez “for his series of experiments in obtaining ear mites from cats, inserting them into his own ear, and carefully observing and analyzing the results.”
Why he did it: Sounds uncomfortable, and it was by all accounts. Still, as Marc Abrahams reports in The Guardian, Lopez’s itchy experiment helped him prove that Otodectes cynotis mites could infect humans, which he suspected was the cause of at least one rash in a young girl who liked cuddling her mite-ridden cats.
Category: Public Health
Winners: Elena Bodnar, Raphael Lee, and Sandra Marijan “for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.”
Why they did it: The concept for this invention may seem silly, and the drawings in the team’spatent don’t help, but during a biological or chemical terror attack you probably wouldn’t care.
Category: Safety Engineering
Winner: Troy Hurtubise “for developing, and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears.”
Why he did it: Well, to see if he could survive a grizzly attack. But, according to Wikipedia, the suit may also have applications in riots, explosions and other dangerous situations in which you’d want protection.
Winner: The British Royal Navy “for ordering its sailors to stop using live cannon shells, and to instead just shout “Bang!”
Why they did it: According to the BBC, the Navy decided to forego live ammunition for the childlike verbal “bangs” after the government drastically cut military budgets.
Winners: N. Bubier, Charles Paxton, Phil Bowers and D. Charles Deeming “for their report ‘Courtship Behaviour of Ostriches Towards Humans Under Farming Conditions in Britain.’”
Why they did it: According to the authors, an increase in ostrich farms and a lack of knowledge on how they breed in captivity spurred the research. Anecdotal evidence showed the birds got frisky whenever people were nearby, so the researchers decided to confirm whether it was true. It was. The authors concluded: “Courtship behaviour towards humans may be important in the reproductive success of ostriches in a farming environment.”
Winners: Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin “for perfecting a method to collect whale snot using a remote-control helicopter.”
Why they did it: Being a whale doctor isn’t easy, especially when your patient weighs multiple tons and is swimming in the ocean. One way to monitor health is to check the microbes living in and on the whale to see if they may be causing disease. As these winners have shown, it’s possible to collect at least some of those whale microbes with the marvels of modern technology.
Winners: Jack Harvey, John Culvenor, Warren Payne, Steve Cowley, Michael Lawrance, David Stuart, and Robyn Williams “for their irresistible report ‘An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces.’”
Why they did it: As this Abrahams Q&A with Wired explains, the research took place in Australia, where sheep shearing is a major industry. Dragging the sheep to the equipment is difficult and dangerous and the scientists researched various floor configurations and materials to see what which surfaces made the job easiest.
And finally, for all of you wondering about how in the name of devil did someone came up with the idea of April Fool’s Day. I came across an excellent article in Nat Geo blog wondering the same thing. It was quite a fun read.