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The Weird Week in Review

Tuba Thefts Linked to Banda Music

A rash of tuba thefts may be attributed to the popularity of a genre of music called banda. High schools all over Southern California report thefts of Sousaphones and concert tubas, which may be sold on the black market to banda musicians. Mexican banda music has been growing in popularity over the past twenty years, and the tuba is the most important instrument for the distinctive sound. Banda bandits are suspected because other instruments that are easier to carry off and sell for scrap have been left behind in the break-ins.

Courthouse Evacuated Over Coconut

A deputy at the Frederick County Courthouse in Maryland spotted a coconut on Wednesday morning. The coconut was placed on one of the building's columns, and appeared to have been split open and pieced back together. The courthouse was evacuated and the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Bomb Squad responded. Upon examination, they determined that the coconut was no threat. The investigation continues.

738-pound Tuna

Nathan Adams caught a pretty big fish, considering he was only using a rod and reel and fishing from a 20-foot boat. Adams landed a Pacific bluefin tuna that weighed in at 738 pounds! Bigger tuna have been caught, but the New Zealand fisherman may have set a world record for a rod and reel. Tuna that size can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars at a fish market, but Adams cannot sell the tuna for meat, as New Zealand law bans selling fish caught from a registered recreational vessel. He is considering having the fish mounted, which means Adams cannot eat the tuna himself, either.

Giant Chicken Stolen

A 10-foot-tall chicken was stolen last week from a poultry farm in Windham Township, Ontario. The fiberglass rooster had been guarding the farm since it was imported from Texas in 2004. Thieves broke the $3,000 chicken and made off with it, leaving its feet behind. An anonymous caller reported the bird's whereabouts, and police found it in a backyard in Milton. The homeowner, 36-year-old Brent Smith, was arrested for fowl play possession of stolen property. The farmers, Sonia and Frank Dierick, are hoping that an auto body shop may be able to reattach the big bird to its feet.

Terrifying Tom Turkey

Edna Geisler of Commerce Township, Michigan, is afraid to leave her home, because she is being stalked by a turkey. The 69-year-old woman calls the big tom "Godzilla." The bird stakes out her front lawn from sunup to sundown, and attacks if she tries to cross the yard. It has bumped her and even clawed her once. A wildlife expert says the behavior is unusual, but it appears the gobbler is defending its territory. Geisler just hopes Godzilla leaves before gardening season begins.

Town Covered in Spider Webs

Townspeople in Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia, were evacuated during recent floods. When they returned, the fields surrounding the town were covered with a blanket of spider webs! Experts explained that the local wolf spiders threw out webs hoping to escape the danger of flooding, a process called "ballooning." The water made the webs more visible to the human eye. The water also makes the webs stickier, which means they trap more insects. The many webs are actually advantageous to people, as they help capture mosquitoes, which normally thrive during floods.

Steven Seagal Sued over Raid

The expected response to a story we posted here a year ago has come about. Last March, actor Steven Seagal assisted the Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff's office in a raid over suspected cockfighting. They showed up with an armored vehicle and a SWAT team and busted through a wall at the home of Jesus Llovera. The raid, during which Llovera's dog was shot, was filmed for the TV show Steven Seagal: Lawman. Llovera initiated a lawsuit this week against Seagal and the sheriff. The recorded raid was for an episode that was supposed to be aired in January, but the show was pulled from the A&E network lineup.

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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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