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The Weird Week in Review

The Bike-eating Tree

A bicycle lost over 50 years ago has been found -five feet off the ground, swallowed by a tree. Ninety-nine-year-old Helen Puz told the story of how she received a bicycle for her 8-year-old son in 1954. The boy was not particularly happy about riding a girl's bike, and one day told his mother the bike was lost. Forty years later, Puz read a a local newspaper account of a tree in the same woods her son used to roam that had grown up around a bicycle. Photographs of the bike had already spread around the world. The mystery of where her son had left his bike all those years ago was solved. There's not much chance of recovering the bicycle; it's quite rusted, but the front wheel still turns!

Oompa-Loompas Sought in Assault Case

Police in Norwich, Norfolk, England, are looking for two Oompa-Loompas in connection with an assault on a 28-year-old man, who was left with cuts, bruises, and two black eyes. The man was attacked as he was leaving a kebab shop.

"Police are seeking a group of four people, two of whom were dressed as Oompa-Loompas, who attacked a male on a night out," a spokesman for Norfolk police said.

"Two of the males were dressed as Oompa-Loompas from [the Roald Dahl book] Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with painted orange faces and dyed green hair and were wearing hooped tops."

The spokesman added: "One of the males in the group then pushed the victim to the floor before he got up. He was then hit on the head, fell to the floor and hit again."

Anyone with information is urged to call the Norfolk police.

Three Tries, No Jewelry

Two men attempted to break into a jewelry store in Beaudesert, Australia, on New Year's Eve by breaking through the back wall of the building. However, when they went through the wall, they found themselves in a KFC outlet -which was still open! The two took the opportunity to hold up the restaurant, and made off with $2,600. Police said the KFC robbery was the pair's third unsuccessful attempt to burglarize the jewelry store that day! That morning, they had failed to break the store's glass windows. Then they tried breaking in through the back door, but entered a thrift store instead -which netted them only $50 from a charity box. The jewelry store remained untouched. Peter Welsh and Dwayne Doolan were arrested when police raided Welsh's home.

Suing for Her Name

A 15-year-old girl in Iceland is suing the government for the right to use her own name. Blaer Bjarkardottir was named and baptized before her family was informed that the name Blaer was not on Iceland's approved list of 1,853 female names. Blaer is referred to as "Stulka," which means simply "girl" on all official documents. The rules are especially frustrating, as Blaer is an Icelandic name, but only approved for males. Bjarkardottir points out that the name was used for a female character in a novel by a Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic author. Meanwhile, Bjarkardottir must explain the circumstances of not having an official name when dealing with any bank or government service.

Secret Fishing Spots Sold for Revenge

Angela Potter of Waikato, New Zealand was not happy when her ex-boyfriend moved to Australia with her suitcase, which she said has sentimental value. But he didn't take everything with him.

Miss Potter was clearing out her garage when she found the GPS markings for fishing spots in the Bay of Plenty and many other areas of the North Island, so she auctioned them off on Trade Me last January and scored herself a whopping $3000.

The auction received 89,688 views, making it the 10th most viewed Trade Me auction of 2012, a surprise to Miss Potter.

The ex-boyfriend was not happy about his secret fishing locations being sold to the highest bidder. Potter said she didn't do it to be vindictive, but rather for a laugh.

A Restraining Order Against Helicopter Parents

Aubrey Ireland is a 21-year-old student at the University of Cincinnati. A judge granted her a restraining order against her parents, who must now stay 500 feet away from their daughter until September. Ireland's complaints that her parents were controlling her life at first sound similar to many college students, but her parents installed monitoring software on her computer, required her to leave a Skype connection on all night so her mother could watch her sleep, and made unannounced 600-mile visits to Ireland's department head. They also threatened to force Ireland into mental health treatment. Since the restraining order was granted, Ireland's parents have requested a refund of $66,000 in educational costs. Meanwhile, Aubrey Ireland was awarded a full scholarship for her senior year.

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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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