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April Fool’s Day Round Up

by on 2014/04/01

On April 1st it’s often difficult to work out what’s a real story and what’s a prank, especially if you’re reading certain newspapers that feature on Research the Headlines regularly.  On Tuesday morning we asked on twitter (@ResTheHeadlines) and among the contributors to this blog for suggestions of good research-related April Fool’s Day stories from the media and other sources.  This is just a quick round up of those that were sent in, or that we found with a bit of searching.  The Guardian’s live blog and the accompanying comment thread were particularly useful in finding amusing stories.  No prizes for the editors of most of the UK dead tree media for their rather unimaginative stories related to Scottish independence, and no, the new suggested advice on how many portions of fruit and veg to eat was not an April Fool!  Please contribute in the comments for this post if there’s anything we’ve missed.

First up we have particle physics and typography news; CERN announced that they’ve changed all communications to use what is universally recognised as the world’s greatest font, Comic Sans.  This follows on from their successful use of the font in the powerpoint slides used in the announcement of the particle consistent with the Higgs’ Boson.

The mysteries of studying the mysteries of the human brain using fMRI are revealed in this in depth study in the Guardian which was lead by the strangely familiarly named “Prof Brian Trecox”:

“Most people think that we know a lot about how MRI scanners actually work. The truth is, we don’t,” says Trecox. “We’ve even been misleading the public about the name – we made up functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in 1983 because it sounded scientific and technical. fMRI really stands for flashy, Magically Rendered Images.

One of the leading lights of the open access movement in science publishing and co-founder of the Public Library of Science (PLOS) appeared to have a shocking change of heart, mainly because he was jealous of the attention given to authors of Nature papers.  Of course, Nature does get it wrong and we’ll return to that soon with a follow up blog on the STAP stem cells paper on another less foolish date.

Innovative agriculture next with a report of a “biodynamic” wine producer in sunny BC, Canada, using ground up meteorites to “energise” his soil.  Not sure if it’s any stranger than whatever “biodynamics” is anyway.

“I think there’s real energy out there in the stars and if there’s any way I can transfer it to my wine it has to be through the soil right?”

Newshound (sounds legitimate) reports that scientists at Liverpool John Moore University have successfully cloned a dinosaur, though it might look a little more like a Kangaroo Joey to most.   They do seem to have confused some people though.

In another dinosaur related story, the Edinburgh Reporter, er, reports on the theft of dinosaur bones from the National Museum of Scotland.  The alleged thief is apparently a dog, the rare Abyssinian Wire Haired Tripe Hound

Robert Gordon’s University in Aberdeen have come up with an innovative new way for students to get to lectures on time with their new “Park and Glide” hovercraft service up the River Dee.

After the recent spate of people catching TB from their pets, it has been reported that DEFRA are proposing to extend the badger cull to ‘all host species’ for bovine TB, including domestic pets, in order to eliminate all disease!

Finally in archaeology news the National Trust reports on the biannual adjustment of the Avebury stone circle in order to correct for the recent change to British Summer Time.

 “Obviously Stone Age man didn’t have daylight saving, so twice a year we have to move one of the stones.” said Hilary Makins, National Trust Head Ranger.

That’s it for now.  Let us know if there’s anything we’ve missed!

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