Friday, December 30, 2005

Funny Science of 2005

It was a great year for science in 2005, and of course there were a few stories I just didn't get to. So now's a great time for me to end the year with a handful of funny science news that never made it to The Phoenix.

Shattering Spaghetti (September) French physicists have found why uncooked spaghetti can break into three, seven or even ten pieces, but rarely two. It's because of elastic waves travelling along the pasta when dry spaghetti is bent and suddenly released at one end. Try it at home. uncooked spaghetti will almost never break in just two pieces. Leave it to the French to do such useful scientific research! Actually, the researchers think their findings can be applied to civil engineering to make structures like buildings and bridges more stable. The French will begin construction of buildings made from uncooked spaghetti by June of 2006.


Superman in Serbia (August) Serbian authorities are bombarded with reports of a real-life Superman after people claimed to have seen a cloaked figure flying over their houses.
Hundreds of residents in Ljubovija described seeing a cloaked person flying above buildings. One local said: "It was like something out of Superman or Batman. No one has any rational explanation for what we all saw." There haven't been any official conclusions to these reports, but I suspect vodka is somehow related.


Menstruating Boy (June) A Kolkata, India doctor reports that a teenage boy patient of his has been showing symptoms of menstruation. The 15-year-old 'effeminate' boy's bleeding has been occurring in the second week of every month and lasts three days. During the period he experiences stomach aches, cramps, nausea and mood swings. "We examined the boy. Though he has male organs, his behaviour and traits are like a woman," said physician Sudip Mondal.
Question - where does the boy put the tampon?


Spontaneous Toad Combusion (April) Toads were exploding in Germany for weeks. According to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians as many as a thousand of the amphibians had perished after their bodies swelled to bursting point and their entrails were propelled for up to a yard or two. According to Werner Smolnik of a nature protection society in Hamburg: "You see the animals crawling on the ground, swelling and then exploding." Scientists finally concluded that crows were to blame, as they learned to peck out a toad's liver. The toad expands, but there's a hole near his abdominal cavity, and the blood vessels and lungs explode. In a related story, Hamburg residents report crows unable to fly because of their fat bellies.


Heart to Heart (February) Heart recipients report strange occurances after surgery. Bill Wohl was a Type-A, overweight, money-obsessed businessman pursuing a jet-setter life - until five years ago, when he got a new heart at Arizona's UMC. Today, at age 58, he works part time and spends most of his new-found energy winning speed and performance medals in swimming, cycling and track. Bill also started charitable foundation. And he surprises himself by crying when he hears Sade, a singer he'd never heard of. When Bill was able to contact the family of his heart donor, he learned his donor was Michael Brady - a stuntman for Universal Studios. Brady was climbing a ladder on top of a train when he fell and died instantly. Brady's parents wrote to Wohl, noting their son had done volunteer work with children and AIDS patients in California. Brady's brother also said the stuntman was a big Sade fan. Twilight zone music playing...


Sarcastic Brain (May) Scientists say they have located the parts of the brain that comprehend sarcasm. They found the front of the brain was key to understanding sarcasm. Apparently, my 10th grade chemistry teacher had damage to the front part of his brain. An area called the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex then integrates the literal meaning with the social/emotional context, which will reveal any sarcasm. It seems to me that bloggers have the strongest right ventromedial prefrontal cortexes in the world.


Have a wonderful and safe New Year's everybody. Don't forget to add your extra one second to your New Year's countdown.


Dirk the Feeble said...

Why am I adding an extra second to my countdown?

angel, jr. said...

So why do Italians get upset when you slice your spaghetti while eating it? I was told to roll my spaghetti up and eat it whole, not to slice it in the presence of a "real" Italian.

The Phoenix said...

There's a link within my New Year's message about the extra second. The Earth's rotation is never constantly perfect, and perhaps the tsunami slowed the rotation down this year.

In order to get the atomic clock and the Earth's rotation to jive, they have to add one more second to 2005. This happens once every 15-20 years.

Italians get upset when you slice spaghetti because Italians believe food is sacred. You should never chop up anything that's cooked. You must shove all of it into your mouth whole.

David Amulet said...

Toads: I read in National Geographic that one culture learned many years ago to find out if a woman is pregnant by injecting her urine into a toad and seeing if it lays eggs. How does someone come up with THAT for the first time?!?

Spaghetti: Maybe this technology should be applied not to French houses, but to the nerves of French soldiers -- preventing them from fraying at the first sign of danger. It might break the French national pastime of surrendering.

Sarcasm: I've often been told I have half a brain, so maybe I am missing that part. But let me say Ithat truly love your blog. Oh, so much --it's great. The best, in fact. Really.

Happy New Year,

-- david

KC said...

Phoenix, you really do come up with some of the most fun/fascinating topics! I've only been reading your blog since August but it quickly became one of my faves and I check in often to see what you're up to. I look forward to reading much more cool stuff at your blog in 2006. (Hey, let's karaoke sometime in the next year.)

ziggystardust73 said...

menstruating boy.... aahahahahhahahahahahaaaa fantastic.

BrianAlt said...

Yes, it's a leap second year. Countdown requires the following...

Happy New Year!

And the leap second will occur every 7-8 years, as I understand it.

james said...

If I was a menstruating boy, the internet would not know about it.

Have a Happy New Year Phoenix.

Pixie said...

LOL.I was reading the other day about the leap second.

Have a happy new year too phoenix and all the best for 2006 :)

:P fuzzbox said...

I bet menstruel boy is a pad man. Nice to know what part of the brain understands sarcasm maybe soon they can isolate the smartass gene.

The Phoenix said...

Thanks for your kind words, David and KC. I've only been blogging since August, and I've learned so much. I hope to continue to entertain you all in 2006. Karaoke sounds great!

I read that the leap second is going to occur more often too. I wonder why - maybe it's GLOBAL WARMING!!!

Happy New Year to you, Pixie. Don't cook anything. I want you safe for 2006.

I'm thinking the boy is a pad man, myself. I hope the adhesive doesn't get stuck to his pubes.

Haas said...

Happy new year :), hope the new year brings many more of your posts.(Even if the new year comes one second late :P )

delmer said...

>>You should never chop up anything that's cooked. You must shove all of it into your mouth whole.<<

My boys would make excellent Italians.

Jim said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

siren said...

The exploding toady story is one of my favorites. Thanks for making learning fun, Phoenix! I hope you have a happy and prosperous New Year.

Jamie Dawn said...

That extra second thing is gonna really rock my world. I hope I can get back on track and feel normal again soon. I really hate uexpected changes.

The menstruating boy must be bleeding from his pee-pee hole. That does not make sense to me. Since when did a lady carry a baby in her bladder? That young man is suffering from Wish I Was A Girl Syndrome. They have surgery for that these days.

I hope your New Year's Weekend is a blast!!

Bruce said...

Happy New Year Phoenix. I hope you keep coming up with more of these stories. Who knows, maybe there's some kind of potion out there that can get the Cards a World Series title. :)

Eve said...

Happy New Year Phoenix ;)

melly said...

Ah, these are great :)
How, where did you come up with these?

Happy New Year, Phoenix.

Ben Heller said...

Great post.

French food is so expensive, so next time I visit France I'm taking my own can of Sauce and Parmesan cheese so I can start eating the buildings.

Happy New Year.


The Phoenix said...

Thank you everyone for making this such a great year, and having such a witty, intelligent, and humorous audience makes it so easy for me to keep writing.

Happy New Year my fellow bloggers!

Laurie said...

Great, I finally got the wall clock, stove clock, microwave clock, clock radio, cellphone clock, computer clock, car clock, and wristwatch (the wristwatch now seems redundant) all in sync after the end of DST, and now that one second is going to throw me off.

Does that mean we get an extra second to party tonight?

Happy New Year!

Yara said...

well it are really funny things to know. Happy new year to you too

barrett 'n megan said...

great stuff.

Big Pissy said...

Great post, as usual :)
I had read about the heart transplant thing...that's just...spooky...

Happy New Year!

Caryn said...

These are fascinating stories. Thanks!

Reiki said...

phoenix, you come up with some seriously weird shit. happy new year!

Kid Jacque said...

Happy new Year!!!

Great Stories! I love them!

Raynwomaan said...

I love weird science stories... and just news of the weird in general, 'cause the world can be *really* weird.

I'll be back. Good stuff.

Jim said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Jim said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

cube said...

Loved the sarcasm post. As I was reading about the results of activity in the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex, I thought, "Hey, that explains my warped point of view." Thanks for giving me the scientific name for it ;-)

cube said...

BTW did you happen to catch your atomic clock adding the extra second to the last minute before midnight? I was watching mine, but looked away for a second, and BAM, I missed it. Sheesh!

Paul Adams said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Hot said...

Toad combustion?

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