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The Weird Week in Review

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Exploding Refrigerator Wrecks Home

Kathy Cullingworth of Normanton, England was awakened by an early morning explosion downstairs in her home. She and her husband found their refrigerator had exploded, leaving appliances wrecked, the kitchen walls cracked, and windows broken. Firefighters came to the home to turn off the electricity and inspect the damage. Cullingworth said there was no carbonated drinks or alcohol in the refrigerator that could have caused the blast. Investigators don't know what sparked the explosion. The eight-year-old refrigerator is still under warranty and will be examined by the manufacturer.

8-year-old Wing Walker

Tiger Brewer of London, England has become the world's youngest person to walk on the wing of an airborne plane at the age of eight. Brewer's grandfather Vic Norman operates a formation wing walking team and offered the boy a chance to try the stunt this week on a flight over Gloucestershire. Tiger stood on the wing of the biplane as it cruised at 100 miles per hour. The previous youngest wing walker was 11-year-old Guy Mason, son of Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, who performed the stunt in 2001.

Catfish Clean Foreclosed Pools

Nine percent of the homes in Wellington, Florida are under or in danger of foreclosure, and many of them have pools that are no longer maintained, which leads to a problem with mosquitoes. City authorities are trying an alternative method for controlling the insects. They are stocking the pools with catfish from the Amazon in hopes they will clean the pools and consume mosquito larvae.

"Everybody is looking to see how they work out, but starting the program this time of year is like us mowing grass with a push mower when it's already knee-high," said Dave Hoy, a fish farm owner who has used plecos for years to clean fish tanks.

3,000-year-old Butter Found

150butterbarrelAn oak barrel of butter has been found in a bog near Gilltown, Ireland. Two workers, John Fitzharris and Martin Lane, noticed a white streak in the peat and uncovered the barrel, later estimated to be 3,000 years old. The butter is now white adipocere, resembling animal fat, that is the final product of many organic substances preserved in bogs. Curators at the National Museum of Ireland consider the barrel to be from the Iron Age.

"Putpockets" Give Out Money

A broadband provider in London, England is giving away money with the help of twenty reformed pickpockets. The participants are putting five to twenty pound notes in unguarded pockets and purses in public squares around London. At the end of this month, the company plans to take the program to other towns. A total of 100,000 pounds will be given away.

"It feels good to give something back for a change -- and Britons certainly need it in the current economic climate," said Chris Fitch, a former pickpocket who now heads TalkTalk's putpocketing initiative.

"Every time I put money back in someone's pocket, I feel less guilty about the fact I spent many years taking it out."

Watch Returned 128 Years Later

150pocketwatchIn 2000, Rich Hughes was diving near a shipwreck off the coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales when he spotted a shiny object under the sea. He retrieved a pocket watch with "Richard Prichard 1866 Abersoch North Wales" engraved on the casing. After nearly ten years of detective work, Hughes reconstructed the story of the pocket watch and its owner. Ship captain Richard Prichard died during a voyage of the Barbara and was buried at sea. A man named Jones took over both the ship and the captain's effects, but did not have the necessary navigational skills. The ship sailed into the wrong channel and sank during a storm in 1881. The crewmen were rescued, but captain Jones went down with the ship, and presumably had the watch on his person. Hughes enlisted the help of an amateur historian to track down Prichard's family. He finally found a grandson of Prichard's cousin, and will present the watch to the delighted descendent next month.

Cow-damaged Breast Saved by Pink

Kimberley Koy works at a cattle station in Australia and was slightly gored in the chest by a cow's horn in the line of duty. The horn didn't break the skin, so she thought there was no damage done. A week later she boarded a flight to Sydney to see a Pink concert, and her left breast swelled to twice its size! Her implant had been damaged by the cattle incident, and the air pressure caused silicone to leak out. Koy said,

"When I woke up the day after the plane trip it was double the size of my right one "¦ I thought I had breast cancer.

"If I hadn't have gone to the Pink concert I wouldn't have known my breast was leaking."

The implant was replaced yesterday.

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science
2017 Ig Nobel Prizes Celebrate Research on How Crocodiles Affect Gambling and Other Odd Studies
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iStock

The Ig Nobel Prizes are back, and this year's winning selection of odd scientific research topics is as weird as ever. As The Guardian reports, the 27th annual awards of highly improbable studies "that first make people laugh, then make them think" were handed out on September 14 at a theater at Harvard University. The awards, sponsored by the Annals of Improbable Research, honor research you never would have thought someone would take the time (or the funding) to study, much less would be published.

The 2017 highlights include a study on whether cats can be both a liquid and a solid at the same time and one on whether the presence of a live crocodile can impact the behavior of gamblers. Below, we present the winners from each of the 10 categories, each weirder and more delightful than the last.

PHYSICS

"For using fluid dynamics to probe the question 'Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?'"

Winner: Marc-Antoine Fardin

Study: "On the Rheology of Cats," published in Rheology Bulletin [PDF]

ECONOMICS

"For their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble."

Winners: Matthew J. Rockloff and Nancy Greer

Study: "Never Smile at a Crocodile: Betting on Electronic Gaming Machines is Intensified by Reptile-Induced Arousal," published in the Journal of Gambling Studies

ANATOMY

"For his medical research study 'Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?'"

Winner: James A. Heathcote

Study: "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" published in the BMJ

BIOLOGY

"For their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect."

Winners: Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, and Charles Lienhard (who delivered their acceptance speech via video from inside a cave)

Study: "Female Penis, Male Vagina and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect," published in Current Biology

FLUID DYNAMICS

"For studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee."

Winner: Jiwon Han

Study: "A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime," published in Achievements in the Life Sciences

NUTRITION

"For the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat."

Winners: Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo A. Torres

Study: "What is for Dinner? First Report of Human Blood in the Diet of the Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Diphylla ecaudata," published in Acta Chiropterologica

MEDICINE

"For using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese."

Winners: Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly, and Tao Jiang

Study: "The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study," published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

COGNITION

"For demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually."

Winners: Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, and Salvatore Maria Aglioti

Study: "Is That Me or My Twin? Lack of Self-Face Recognition Advantage in Identical Twins," published in PLOS One

OBSTETRICS

"For showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly."

Winners: Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte

Study: "Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginal Music Emission,” published in Ultrasound

PEACE PRIZE

"For demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring."

Winners: Milo A. Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz, and Otto Braendli

Study: "Didgeridoo Playing as Alternative Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome: Randomised Controlled Trial," published by the BMJ

Congratulations, all.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Courtesy of Julia Donovan
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Art
Meet the 12-Year-Old Boy Who Makes Surreal-Looking Dolls Using Found Materials
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Courtesy of Julia Donovan

Some dolls are cutesy, but not Callum Donovan-Grujicich's fantastical creations. As Bored Panda reports, the 12-year-old artist from Whitby, Ontario crafts tiny, surreal-looking figures, some of which have won art show prizes and been featured in national magazines and on TV.

Donovan-Grujicich first began making art dolls around two years ago, when he was 10. The bodies and faces of the dolls are made from clay, and the limbs from stuffed cloth, but the young artist often uses found objects—like bits of old metal—to create facial features or accessories like hats and jewelry.

"Found objects are a big part of his process and often, he says, the inspiration for the whole sculpture comes from some rusted piece of metal," Donovan-Grujicich's mother, Julia Donovan, tells Mental Floss. "He loves to collect old-looking scrap metal and anything else that he finds interesting."

Aside from art classes at a local gallery, Donovan-Grujicich is entirely self-trained. Someday, he hopes to earn a master of fine arts degree to teach and make art, but for now, the preteen continues to hone his unique aesthetic by making dolls and creating stop-motion animation and live-action films with his brother.

Some people might view Donovan-Grujicich's figures as grim—especially for a kid—but his mother thinks they simply provide a different perspective on beauty.

"A lot has been made of the darkness in Callum's work, which I think has been completely overblown and misunderstood," Donovan says. "Callum is sometimes serious, but not a dark person at all."

You can check out some of Donovan-Grujicich's work below, or visit his website for more information.

A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

 A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

 A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

 A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

 A sculpture made from found materials and other objects by 12-year-old Callum Donovan Grujicich.
Courtesy of Julia Donovan

[h/t Bored Panda]

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