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The Weird Week in Review

Schools Perform UFO Crash Drills

Some schools in the United Kingdom are teaming up with law enforcement agencies to practice what to do if a UFO crashes nearby. In the drills held over the past two years, an "incident" is created, and police talk to 8- to 10-year-old students about what they should do. The students are not told about the drill in advance. Afterward, the students write about the experience. The drills are designed to improve the student's reading and writing skills and to encourage them to use their imagination.

Never Anger Your Tattoo Artist

An unnamed 25-year-old man in Bundamba, Queensland, Australia asked for a yin-yang symbol to be tattooed on his back. The 21-year-old tattoo artist instead inked his own ideas on the man's back.

It depicts a 40cm-long image of a penis and a misspelled slogan implying the man is gay.

Police said the pair had a disagreement before the tattooing.

Ipswich Detective Constable Paul Malcolm said the victim was mortified by what happened to him.

The man who inked the tattoo has been charged with two counts of assault and a violation of the public safety act. It will cost about $2,000 to have to tattoo removed.

Beaver Arsonist

A house and outbuilding in Perth Road Village, Ontario was destroyed by a fire on October 20th. The cause of the fire was not apparent until investigators noticed a tree had pulled down a power line, which shorted out and started a grass fire, which spread to the nearby cottage. Other fallen trees were found, all bearing the distinctive marks of beaver teeth. The fire caused about $150,000 in damage, but firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading to other buildings.

Foreign Couple Mocked in Maldivian Ceremony

The Vilu Reef Beach and Spa resort in the Maldives advertises packages in which couples can renew their wedding vows. However, the ceremony is in the Dhivehi language. An employee uploaded a video of a ceremony in which the celebrant mocked the couple, calling them "pigs", "infidels", and worse. The European couple was oblivious to the meaning of the words spoken. The foreign minister of the Maldives was "horrified" by the video (contains NSFW subtitles). A local newspaper was outraged -at the news outlet that reported the incident, accusing the site of wanting to destroy tourism in the Maldives.

New Monkey Species Discovered, Eaten

Early this year, scientist heard of a new and different monkey in the Kachin state of Myanmar. When they arrived at the site, they found the monkey had been "discovered" by the hunters who killed it. It was eaten soon after. The UK organization Flora & Fauna International (FFI) investigated the species named R. strykeri, which they nicknamed "Snubby". The monkeys' noses are so short and exposed that rainfall makes them sneeze. They spend time during rain showers with their heads tucked, which make them vulnerable to hunters. The hunters told the FFI team that the rainy season was a good time to look for the monkeys because they made more noise during rain. Eventually, the research team saw more of the snub-nosed monkeys, but they moved so fast that no photographs were taken.

RIP Paul the Oracle Octopus

Paul, the octopus who predicted the outcome of World Cup soccer matches, has died at his home at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany. He was two years old.

After Germany's semi-final defeat, Paul tipped Spain to beat the Netherlands in the final, which prompted one news agency to report he had spurred a jump in demand for Spanish government bonds. Paul's prediction duly came to pass: Spain won.

Staff at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in western Germany said in a statement they were "devastated" to learn of Paul's death when they returned to work on Tuesday.

"He appears to have passed away peacefully during the night, of natural causes, and we are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life," said the centre's manager Stefan Porwoll.

There was no indication that Paul had predicted his passing.

Snake Trapped in Woman's Bracelet

Samantha Brooks of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England was showing off her pet snake Prince when the snake became entangled in her bracelet. The bracelet became so tight that her hand began to turn blue, so a friend drove her to the local fire station. The firemen were startled, but then crew manager Kieron Hall used a ring cutter to break the bracelet and free Brooks' hand. The snake, who was trapped for about 40 minutes, was unharmed.

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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
Original image
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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