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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Science
Hidden Messages in Water — I got an email from Enio asking me: I would like to know your opinion about Masaru Emoto's "Crystal Water Photos". First, some background. Masaru Emoto's book The Hidden Messages in Water is currently #66 in sales rank on Amazon. That means A LOT of people are buying it. Here's the blurb from the cover that pretty much explains what Masaru Emoto and his crystal water photos are all about: The Hidden Messages in Water is an eye-opening theory showing how water is deeply connected to…
Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2005.   Comments (123)

Sky Disc of Nebra — Yet another German archaeological fraud has possibly been uncovered. The Guardian reports that controversy has erupted over the authenticity of the 'Sky Disc of Nebra'. The disc, which shows the sun, moon and stars, was found in 1999 by two amateur metal detectors near the town of Nebra in Germany. It was believed to be 3600 years old. Now some experts, including Peter Schauer of Regensburg University, are claiming that it's a fake. This issue has arisen because the two guys who found…
Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005.   Comments (14)

Indian Whiz Kid Wins NASA Competition — A 15-year-old boy in India, Saurabh Singh, appears to have had everyone going with a story about how he won an international exam given by NASA to discover young scientists. The Indian media were singing his praises, and lawmakers were ready to give him money to facilitate his studies. Except that it turns out NASA gives no such exam. However, the boy is now changing his story, saying that the exam was given by Oxford University, not NASA. This all sounds strangely similar to the tale…
Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2005.   Comments (11)

United Nuclear — United Nuclear sells some scary stuff. Looking for some uranium? They've got it. As well as super radioactive ore. They'll ship it right to your front door. Plus, chemicals to build explosives. It all has a jokey feel to it, but the more I look at the site, the more convinced I become that it's real. I think it's a store for science hobbyists that's purposely going for the 'mad scientist' feel.
Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2005.   Comments (51)


No Life on Mars? — This is the exciting news about life on Mars that the media reported on Feb. 16: A pair of NASA scientists told a group of space officials at a private meeting here that they have found strong evidence that life may exist today on Mars, hidden away in caves and sustained by pockets of water. The scientists, Carol Stoker and Larry Lemke of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, told the group that they have submitted their findings to the journal Nature for publication in May,…
Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2005.   Comments (21)

Neanderthal Hoax Exposed — A sensational archaeological hoax has been exposed in Germany. It's been revealed that Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten, a professor at a University in Frankfurt, has been systematically lying about the ages of skulls he found, claiming that they were far older than they actually were. In one instance he said that a skull was 21,300-years-old, although it was only 1300-years-old. As the Guardian reports: "Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man…
Posted: Mon Feb 21, 2005.   Comments (41)

An Orange Inside Of An Apple — Dawn in the UK sent me this curious item that appeared in today's edition of the Daily Express. It's about an orange that shopper Patrick Hurt found inside of an apple. Mr. Hurt, 36, from Kiveton Park, South Yorks, said: "Apart from what was inside the apple looked perfectly normal. I have no idea how the orange got in there and I have never seen anything like it in my life." Greg Tucker, professor of plant biochemistry at Nottingham University, said: "The effect may have arisen…
Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2005.   Comments (21)

Unusual Mineral Name — At first I thought this might be a bit of geological humor. But no. It appears to be quite serious and quite real. It's a mineral named Cummingtonite. So named because it's found in Cummington, Massachusetts. For those interested, its cleavage is good in two directions at 56 and 124 degree angles. Its hardness is 5-6. (via Snark Hunting)
Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2005.   Comments (8)

Insomniac Ukrainian — Here's another example of why Ananova is so widely known as a credible source for news. The title of this latest journalistic gem: Ukrainian hasn't slept in 20 years. The article describes Fyodor Nesterchuk who just stays up reading while everybody else sleeps. The local doctor claims he has "examined Nesterchuk extensively" and can't find anything wrong with him, except for the fact that the guy never sleeps. Although I don't believe for a second that this guy has really gone for…
Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005.   Comments (29)

Meteorite Strike or Hoax? — Wayne Pryde believes that he has taken the first photograph ever to capture the image of a meteorite striking the earth. He was taking pictures of clouds when he happened to get this photograph of what might be a grain-of-sand-sized meteorite hitting the Earth. But meteor experts aren't so sure. They're not yet crying hoax (Mr. Pryde swears that he hasn't digitally altered the photo), but they don't think the photo shows a meteor impact. However, they have no idea what else it might…
Posted: Wed Dec 08, 2004.   Comments (15)

Glow-in-the-Dark Deer — Genetiate is a biotech company working on that one thing the world has been crying out for: glow-in-the-dark deer. It's such a bizarre project, that it screams hoax. The amateur quality of its website reinforces this impression. But I think it's real. Genetiate is a division of Geneticas Life Sciences. Those are the same people who, through yet another division, are creating the hypoallergenic cats. But why create a glow-in-the-dark deer? So that it will more easily be seen by…
Posted: Tue Nov 16, 2004.   Comments (20)

Coca-Cola As An Insecticide — Can Coca-Cola work as an insecticide? Indian farmers seem to think so. The Guardian reports that many of them have taken to spraying their cotton and chilli fields with the soft drink. The article quotes an agricultural analyst who suggests that this might actually work because the sugar in the drink would "attract red ants to feed on insect larvae". But a Coca-Cola spokesman dismisses the entire story as an urban legend: "We are aware of one isolated case where a farmer may have used a…
Posted: Wed Nov 03, 2004.   Comments (13)

Hypo-Allergenic Cats — I've been getting a lot of emails about Allerca, the company that claims it will start selling genetically engineered hypo-allergenic cats in 2007. It may be that they never manage to do what they claim they will do. Or at least, they never manage to do it in commercially viable quantities. But I'm pretty sure they're very serious about trying to do it. But I think they should lower the price a bit. At $3500 a pop, these cats are only going to be for the very rich, considering that you…
Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2004.   Comments (15)

Fake Mathematical Proofs — Not being very mathematically inclined, these had me puzzled for a while. The first proof shows that 64=65. It's quite convincing, until you actually get graph paper out (like I did) and try to do it yourself. Then you'll discover that the parts don't match up as nicely as they do in the animation. A more complicated fake proof can be found here, where 1 is shown to equal 2. I started to go glassy-eyed when I began to analyze the equation, so I quickly broke down and peeked at the…
Posted: Wed Aug 18, 2004.   Comments (6)

Tunguska UFO Hoax? — What caused the Tunguska Event, that massive, nuclear-bomb-strength blast that occurred in Siberia in 1908? A meteorite, is the standard answer. But a few days ago Russian researcher Yuri Lavbin claimed to have discovered "blocks of an extraterrestrial technical device" in the Tunguska area. Lavbin's theory is that a meteorite was headed for the earth, but it was blasted apart by an alien spaceship, thus causing the massive explosion. Why aliens blasting something out of the sky caused…
Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004.   Comments (7)

DNA Activation — If you've studied any biology at all, then you probably believe that DNA is a two-stranded molecule shaped like a double helix. How foolish you are! Toby Alexander has revealed that DNA is actually a 12-stranded molecule. There are two visible strands, and then 10 'etheric' strands. Toby laments that scientists have never learned about the 10 other strands because scientists "have to rely on physical observations and can only validate things that they can see with their eyes and…
Posted: Mon Jun 28, 2004.   Comments (24)

The Long Fall of Jan Hendrik Schon — Here's a guy who has fallen a long, long way down. Back in 2002 Jan Hendrik Schön was the soft-spoken boy wonder at Bell Labs, thought to be on a fast-track for a Nobel Prize. He had apparently solved the problem of how to construct a transistor out of a single molecule, which is like the holy grail for building a super-powerful nano-computer. But then his career collapsed when it turned out that 16 out of 21 of his published papers contained bogus data. Remarkably, as investigators…
Posted: Fri Jun 11, 2004.   Comments (5)

The Power of Prayer — Back in October 2001 the prestigious Journal of Reproductive Medicine published an article titled "Does Prayer Influence the Success of in Vitro Fertilization–Embryo Transfer?" (the journal appears to have removed this article from its server). The apparent answer to the question posed in the title was 'Yes!' In other words, empirical research appeared to demonstrate that praying could help infertile women conceive. So tough luck if you were an infertile atheist. But a recent article…
Posted: Fri Jun 11, 2004.   Comments (1)

Riemann Hypothesis Proven or Hoax? — A June 8 press release from Purdue University announced that one of its professors, Louis De Branges, has proven the Riemann Hypothesis (don't ask me what that is). This isn't just of academic interest because there's a $1 million prize that'll go to the first person who proves it, so the announcement has gotten some media coverage. The press release cautions that the professor's proof hasn't yet been peer-reviewed, but states that De Branges has posted the proof on his web page so that…
Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004.   Comments (1)

Bizarre Clouds — If I just saw this picture randomly out of context, I'd swear it was fake. After all, I've never in my life seen clouds that look like that. But according to the Astronomy Picture of the Day site (which I trust), the picture is real. They're Mammatus Clouds that appeared over Monclova, Mexico. Apparently such clouds sometimes form in turbulent air near thunderstorms.
Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2004.   Comments (12)

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