The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Technology
Guardrail Speed Cameras — The Louisiana State Police want everyone to know that they don't have speed cameras installed in guardrails along the highways. They say that a picture circulating online showing a speed camera disguised inside a guardrail is the "latest and greatest urban legend." The thing is, it's not quite an urban legend, because these evil guardrail speed cameras do exist. Or rather, there are existing traffic-monitoring systems that include speed detectors in guardrails, while a camera further…
Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2013.   Comments (0)

iPhones are not waterproof. — Apple released the iOS 7 update for iPhones last week, and pranksters (allegedly from 4chan) set to work creating a series of spoof ads claiming the update made iPhones waterproof. Update to iOS 7 and become waterproof. In an emergency, a smart-switch will shut off the phone's power supply and corresponding components to prevent any damage to your iPhone's delicate circuitry. Needless to say, the iOS 7 update does not make the iPhone waterproof. It's not clear if anyone fell for…
Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013.   Comments (0)

A levitating computer mouse? — This levitating computer mouse (aka "The Bat") is listed as a product in the "testing period and research" phase on the site of Kibardin Design. But it's raising a few skeptical eyebrows. Not that it wouldn't be possible to build a levitating mouse, but io9 notes, "to us it looks a little like someone took a Microsoft Arc Mouse, fixed it to a plastic ring, and added a few aesthetic details with the help of some carefully applied modeling clay and a couple coats of Krylon." The…
Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2013.   Comments (1)

Iran’s Space Monkey Mix-up — There's some monkey business going on in Iran's space program: Iran's Space Agency Confirms Reports on Launch Used Images of Two Different Monkeys thelede.blogs.nytimes.com A senior official at Iran's space agency confirmed on Saturday that state media reports on the launching of a monkey into the thermosphere had used images of two different monkeys. The official insisted, however, that the monkey had survived the journey and that Iran was not trying to cover up a failed flight...…
Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2013.   Comments (1)


LazyTruth Fact-Checking Widget — A software company has announced it's making a widget called LazyTruth that will scan all your incoming emails for misinformation: tl;dr: We’re building an inbox widget that surfaces vetted information when you receive an email forward full of political myths, urban rumors, or security threats. It’s called LazyTruth. Basically the widget will scan the text of your incoming emails and check them against "pre-existing nonpartisan information". It's an interesting idea. I'll be…
Posted: Wed May 09, 2012.   Comments (3)

The Human Birdwings Hoax — Jarno Smeets claims to be a mechanical engineer from the Netherlands who's attempting to build a machine (Human Birdwings) to let people fly with flapping wings like a bird. It's not human-powered, per se. As you can see in the video, Jarno flaps his arms, and his arm motions are read by a Nintendo Wii controller and an Android smartphone which interprets them into mechanical commands. That's the theory, anyway. Is this fake? It seems to be. Wired did some digging into Smeets'…
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012.   Comments (4)

Virus-Noise-Reducing Cable — Add this to the list of bizarre and dubious claims made by the manufacturers of audio and computer cables. The manufacturer of the Xbox 360 Elite HDMI 2.5m Basic Cable claim that their product includes "anti-virus protection to reduce virus noises." I'm glad someone is finally doing something about those awful virus noises! (via reddit)
Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2012.   Comments (5)

The Man Who Claims He Invented Email — Back in November 2011, Time magazine ran an article titled "The Man Who Invented Email." It was about V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai who, in 1978 as a 14-year-old kid, wrote and copyrighted a program called EMAIL. This article led the Smithsonian to recently acquire various documents related to Ayyadurai's 1978 program, in order to immortalize its contribution to American life and culture. In late February, the Washington Post added to Ayyadurai's growing fame as the creator of email by writing…
Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2012.   Comments (3)

Clay iPads — At least 10 people in Vancouver who bought iPad 2s have reported opening up the packaging only to discover it contained a slab of modeling clay, not an iPad. It's an old strategy for thieves to conceal their crime by replacing the item in the box with something of lesser value. Reminds me of the case from 2006 of the Hawaiian boy who opened an iPod box on Christmas Day, only to discover it contained a package of meat. Link: Yahoo!
Posted: Fri Jan 20, 2012.   Comments (1)

Quantum Levitation Car Racing — A video of a race between miniature cars floating above a track by means of "quantum levitation" was recently debunked. The intro screen to the video credited it to the (fictitious) "Japan Institute of Science and Technology," but the true creator was Sony and SCE Studio Liverpool. The Business Insider says: "the video was a ploy by Sony and developer SCE Studio Liverpool to promote the Wipeout 2048 game that's coming out on the PS Vita." I'm assuming the video was inspired by a…
Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012.   Comments (2)

Project Black Mirror — Since the end of October, a group of young programmers have been blogging about their attempt to control Siri (that voice-activated iPhone app) using their thoughts. They call their effort Project Black Mirror. The basic premise is to measure the pattern of their brain waves, and then to design a program that can "detect the signature patterns that indicate a certain word is being thought of" and pass this information along to Siri, which executes the command. On their blog, they…
Posted: Tue Nov 15, 2011.   Comments (1)

Steorn: perpetually in the news — Irish company Steorn is back in the news with their perpetual motion machine. Having had their claims dismissed by a jury of scientists earlier this year, they're now appealing directly to the public by staging a demonstration of their machine in Dublin. I still can't figure out if these guys really think they've developed a new, revolutionary technology, or if it's all a cynical publicity ploy. Links: herald.ie, steorn.com/orbo Related entries: Official verdict: Steorn didn't…
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2009.   Comments (9)

Polar Bear Simulacra — The St. Louis Zoo hasn't had much luck keeping its polar bears alive. From riverfronttimes.com: The zoo's last polar bear, Hope, was euthanized in April when veterinarians found it had cancer. In May 2005 another polar bear, named Churchill, ate a fatal helping of cloth and plastic inside its bin and died while undergoing stomach surgery. Five weeks later, a polar bear named Penny died at the zoo from infection. Turns out, she had two dead fetuses inside her uterus, though zoo…
Posted: Wed Nov 18, 2009.   Comments (8)

CNET lists top 8 brainless tech rumors — CNET UK has come up with a list of "the eight most brainless tech rumours ever." They are: Hoverboards are real The large hadron collider will kill us all X-ray is a hoax Home taping to kill music Apple will buy Nintendo Google to buy CNET Y2K Bug will kill us all Bill Gates is the antichrist An odd list. They've omitted classics such as killer cell phone calls, cell phones explode gas stations, sunlamps cook internal organs, the Nokia speed trap detector, and (of course)
Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009.   Comments (3)

Does the internet promote extremism and crazy rumors? — Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker discusses whether the internet promotes the spread of bizarre rumors by encouraging "group polarization": People’s tendency to become more extreme after speaking with like-minded others has become known as “group polarization”... “Views that would ordinarily dissolve, simply because of an absence of social support, can be found in large numbers on the Internet, even if they are understood to be exotic, indefensible, or bizarre in most communities,”…
Posted: Mon Nov 09, 2009.   Comments (8)

Divining Rods for Bombs — Despite major bombings that have rattled the nation, and fears of rising violence as American troops withdraw, Iraq’s security forces have been relying on a device to detect bombs and weapons that the United States military and technical experts say is useless. The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works “on the same principle as a Ouija board” — the power of suggestion — said a retired United…
Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009.   Comments (4)

Solar Panel Made From Human Hair — Milan Karki, a young inventor from rural Nepal, claims to have figured out a way to replace the silicon in solar panels with human hair. From the Daily Mail: Milan and four classmates initially made the solar panel as an experiment but the teens are convinced it has wide applicability and commercial viability. 'I'm trying to produce commercially and distribute to the districts. We've already sent a couple out to the districts to test for feasibility,' he said. The solar panel, which…
Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2009.   Comments (11)

Man claims to be allergic to Wifi — DJ Steve Miller claims that he is allergic to Wifi. Being caught near a Wifi connection causes him agonizing pain. From the Daily Mail: The condition, known as electromagnetic sensitivity, affects two per cent of the population, and this is set to grow as more people opt for wireless internet signals. Steve navigates normal daily chores with the help of a ‘wi-fi detector’ which spots areas he should avoid. But the sensitivity has made moving house a real mission for Steve, who has…
Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009.   Comments (14)

No Flesh-Eating Robots — About two weeks ago, rumors began to spread online about a flesh-eating robot created by the military. The robot, named the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR™), would be a reconnaissance droid that could survive for long periods behind enemy lines by foraging for fuel. This fuel would include virtually any kind of biomass: twigs, branches, apple cores, stray cats, or even human bodies. The robot, it turns out, is real, but the claim that it will be able to feed on human…
Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009.   Comments (6)

USB-Powered Chainsaw — A new hoax website advertises the World's First USB-powered Chainsaw: Current materials used on bodies of chainsaws are too heavy for office use. Lighter materials, however, could cause the vertical axis of the guide bar to shift when pressure is applied onto the saw chain. Research and development introduced several innovations to offer an optimal blend of tough plastic and lightweight alloy. It's said to be shipping in September. The real question is who created this page and why.…
Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009.   Comments (12)

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