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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Science
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)

Impact in June — Head for the hills. The end of the world is near. For the past month conspiracy-theory sites have been all abuzz with the latest scare story: that a comet surrounded by a cloud of dust is going to hit the Earth this month and trigger an end-of-the-human-race scenario. Word of the approaching comet was first leaked on the internet by someone using the screen name 'Aussie Bloke,' who claimed to be an Australian astronomer. You can look at some of his posts over at Bushcountry.org
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2004.   Comments (8)

Meteor Hoax — A couple of people have sent me links to this meteor hoax that the AP fell for. The AP reported that a meteor about the size of a small car hit near Olympia, Washington early this morning. Its source for this story was one Bradley Hammermaster, supposedly an Astronomy professor at the University of Washington, who called in a report of the meteor to Seattle's KIRO radio. The AP later had to admit that, "No one by the name of Hammermaster is known to the astronomy department, and the…
Posted: Thu Jun 03, 2004.   Comments (2)

Cicada Cash — The cicadas have returned, and with them the rumor that researchers at Johns Hopkins University will pay up to $1000 for specimens of rare blue-eyed cicadas. Unfortunately, the rumor simply isn't true. In fact, no researcher at Johns Hopkins even studies cicadas, let alone insects, though back in 1947 the university did employ a Biologist, William D. McElroy (who later moved out to UC San Diego), who announced that he would pay kids twenty-five cents for every 100 fireflies they could…
Posted: Tue May 18, 2004.   Comments (0)

Giant Skeleton Unearthed — A remarkable photograph reveals archaeologists unearthing a massive (and when I say massive, I mean massive... we're talking a 50-foot behemoth here) skeleton at a site in Saudi Arabia. Of course, the Saudi military is keeping this all very hush, hush. The public couldn't handle knowing about such a remarkable discovery. If you get your news from The New Nation, 'Bangladesh's Independent News Source,' you might think this was an actual piece of news. But of course, it's totally false.…
Posted: Thu May 13, 2004.   Comments (0)

Stephen Hawking is on the Mic — You may know Stephen Hawking as the brilliant theoretical physicist and best-selling author of A Brief History of Time. But did you also know that in his spare time the man is a gangsta rapper? Perhaps you're familiar with his album, A Brief History of Rhyme. Hawking's other career as a 'lyrical terrorist' is lovingly explored on this fan site, MC Hawking's Crib. Yeah, it's a hoax, but it's amazingly detailed, even including MP3 samples of Hawking's songs. (And thanks to Bill Boldt for…
Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2004.   Comments (3)

Dragon Hoax Was a Hoax — Back in January I posted an entry about what I called the Almost Great Dragon Hoax. It described a tiny dragon that had been found in a jar of formaldehyde in a garage in Oxfordshire. Supposedly the dragon had been created in the nineteenth century by German scientists trying to hoax their British counterparts, but the joke had been spotted by the British and placed in the trash... only to be recovered from there and end up years later in the Oxfordshire garage. Now it turns out that…
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (1)

Dihydrogen Monoxide Claims A Victim — I didn't think there was anyone left who hadn't heard this joke already. It's the one about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide, a chemical found in many toxic substances and often used as an industrial solvent. Sounds scary, but dihydrogen monoxide is, of course, simply the scientific name for water, or H2O. Apparently the city council of Aliso Viejo, California hadn't heard the joke before, because they were about to ban the use of styrofoam cups because dihydrogen monoxide was used in…
Posted: Sun Mar 14, 2004.   Comments (3)

Peppered Moth Evolution Kit — In 1953 Bernard Kettlewell performed a set of experiments that proved that predation by birds was responsible for the peppered moth population changing from mostly white to mostly black. The reasoning was that industrial pollution had caused the barks of trees to turn dark. Therefore black moths resting during the day on the darkened trunks of trees had a selective advantage over white moths, because the birds could see the white moths more easily and prey on them. Kettlewell released…
Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2004.   Comments (4)

Transgenic, hair-growing plants — New Scientist has published an interview with Laura Cinti, an artist who claims that she has collaborated with an unnamed genetics lab in order to create a transgenic cactus that grows human hair. Christopher Chauvin brought this to my attention, and, like him, I'm a bit skeptical of Cinti's claims. First of all, it seems like quite a scientific achievement to get a cactus to grow human hair. Second, it seems suspicious that the lab that did the work can't be named. Third, it doesn't…
Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2004.   Comments (14)

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