The Hoax Museum Blog
Sky Disc of Nebra
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 02, 2005
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 it were charged with handling stolen goods after they tried to sell the disc to a museum. I don't really understand what the basis…
Indian Whiz Kid Wins NASA Competition
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 24, 2005
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 of Faye Nicole San Juan, the Filipino girl who just a few months ago claimed that she had won an International Science Quiz in Australia (the quiz didn't…
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 24, 2005
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.
No Life on Mars?
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 21, 2005
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, and their paper currently is being peer reviewed. This is how NASA responsed to the news two days later: NASA…
Neanderthal Hoax Exposed
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 21, 2005
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 between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago," said Thomas Terberger, the archaeologist who discovered the hoax. "Prof Protsch's work appeared to prove that anatomically modern…
An Orange Inside Of An Apple
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 19, 2005
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 through developmental mutation. It's not unheard of for flowers to become misformed. It…
Unusual Mineral Name
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 15, 2005
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 by The Curator on Thu Jan 27, 2005
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 twenty years without even taking a nap, I have read articles speculating that in the future scientists might be able to eliminate, at a genetic level, our need for sleep. There's an interesting science-fiction novel, Beggars…
Meteorite Strike or Hoax?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 08, 2004
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 be. The Astronomy Picture of the Day site has put up a hi-res version of the image and is asking for help from the…
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 16, 2004
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 motorists. The site gives this explanation: "By implanting the gene of a special jellyfish into deer, the transgenic NIGHTSAVE deer produced by GENETIATE (patent pending) have fluorescing…
Coca-Cola As An Insecticide
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 03, 2004
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 soft drink as part of his crop management routine. Soft drinks do not act in a similar way to pesticides when applied to the ground or crops. There is no scientific basis…
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 28, 2004
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 can pick up a cat for free at the pound, and as they themselves admit, female cats are far less allergenic than male cats anyway.
Fake Mathematical Proofs
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 18, 2004
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 answer explaining why the proof is wrong. (via Metafilter)
Tunguska UFO Hoax?
Posted by The Curator on Fri Aug 13, 2004
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 an alien technical device to fall to the ground isn't clear to me. Lavbin announced this discovery in Pravda (which is kind of like announcing a major scientific…
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jun 28, 2004
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 microscopes." Ah, yes. Those silly old scientists relying only on their eyes and microscopes. But Toby, armed with a B.S. in Computer Science (and a natural flair for B.S. in…