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The Weird Week in Review

New Species is Really Faux Hawk

A farmer in New Zealand is in trouble for painting hawks. Grant Michael Teahan was found guilty of animal cruelty after a YouTube video showed him capturing a bird in a paint-laden trap. Teahan had apparently been coloring hawks pinkish-red since at least 2009 as a prank. The prank worked, as bird watchers thought they had discovered a new species. Their excitement was crushed when one of the birds was later found dead, hit by a car, and an examination found that it was a common hawk that had been painted. Teahan faces a stiff fine and possible incarceration.

Attachment About Attachments

The Islington Council made a sign warning people not to attach anything to park furniture or trees -and then attached it to a tree at Highbury Fields in north London, England. A neighboring architect, who was annoyed at the many signs posted recently, went to remove the sign and was surprised to see who had posted it on the tree. Soon, others gathered around to laugh at the nonsensical notice. The council soon relocated the notice to a nearby message board. They blamed the mistake on a junior member with good intentions.

Burglars Leave Photographic Evidence

A Frenchman and an Irishman went into a bar in New Zealand, but they weren't supposed to. And they might have gotten away with the crime if they hadn't left their camera with shots of their escapade in it. David Farrell and Nicholas Moinet, traveling vineyard workers, broke into a boat docked on the Opawa River in Blenheim along with some other men and helped themselves to alcohol on December 9th. They took photographs of each other on the boat before they left. However, they neglected to take the camera with them, and investigators found it simple to locate the perpetrators from the images. The two men were ordered to pay a $300 fine to the court and to pay $240 in reparations to the boat's owner.

Drunk Driver Now Suing Victim's Family

David Belniak pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twelve years on three counts of DUI manslaughter after a Christmas Day 2007 traffic accident in Hudson, Florida. Now he's suing the family of the victims, saying the wreck was the fault of the deceased driver. Belniak is asking for $15,000 in damages, despite the fact that he was found to have alcohol, Xanax, and cocaine in his system when the crash occurred. Belniak was charged for driving under the influence in two previous incidences, including one in which a woman died.

Pecan Farmers on Alert for Nut Rustlers

Harvest time in New Mexico means that pecans are tempting for thieves. Farmers are posting guards, and at least one farmer has armed guards on alert around the clock. Sheriff's departments across the region are stepping up patrols near orchards. Pecans are selling for almost $3 a pound in shells, and up to $10 a pound shelled, and some farms have been victims of theft during harvest time in the past, even when pecan prices were lower.

Victim Concerned About Thief's Fitness

Peter Stevens of Cambridge, England, was in his car Friday when a thief opened up the back door and grabbed his laptop.

The 34-year-old runner and IT expert chased him and was surprised when he caught up with the thief after just 225 metres.

Realising the game was up, the puffed-out criminal dropped the laptop, allowing Mr Stevens to pick it up.

Mr Stevens said: “I was appalled by how unfit this guy was. I thought it would take a lot longer to catch up with him. If you are going to go into the snatch-and-run business at least try and get fit or at least play to your strengths and go for something less energetic.”

The thief, who Stevens believes is much younger than himself, has not been caught, but Stevens put his money where his mouth is. He made a donation to a local park to encourage fitness in young people.

Titanic Theme Played as Ship Sank

As the Costa Concordia cruise ship's hull was being ripped open on rocks off the coast of Italy, the Celine Dion song "My Heart Will Go On" was playing in one of the ship's restaurants. Yannick Sgaga, a tourist from Switzerland, told a Geneva newspaper that he and his brother heard the song as the evacuation began. The song became a hit in 1997 as the theme from the movie Titanic. In other strange shipwreck news, some TV reports called the Costa Concordia incident a "real-life Titanic," which gives the impression that they don't understand the Titanic was a real ship that sank nearly 100 years ago.

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