Murphy’s Law and Saturn

Murphy’s Law covers all of time and space. It is newly demonstrated in this report from the Associated Press: David Atkinson spent 18 years designing an experiment for the unmanned space mission to Saturn. Now some pieces of it are lost in space. Someone forgot to turn on the instrument Atkinson needed to measure the […]

Personal Nose Filters

Personal nose filters. Yes, personal nose filters. The manufacturer reports that they (a) are "tested by Universities in Belgium and The Buteyko Breathing Institute in Asia;"  (b) do not protect against poisonous or toxic gases, fumes, vapors, etc.; and (c) should be kept out of the reach of children. (Thanks to Earle Spamer for bringing […]

Dirty cups

Not so long ago, "in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the discovery of penicillin — a happy accident in which rogue mold grew in a forgotten petri dish,  the Royal Society of Chemistry has asked its most unhygienic stakeholders to send in photos of their most disgusting, molded-over and crufted-up coffee cups." Many people […]

New Year’s Non-Cork Popping

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (formerly and lovingly known as the Centers for Disease Control) have/has issued a statistics-based safety reminder for New Year’s Eve celebrants. The full report appears in the December 24, 2004 issue of MMWR. Here are some highlights: New Year’s Eve Injuries Caused by Celebratory Gunfire — Puerto Rico, […]

Facing Santa

Pediatric reactions to Santa Claus are photo-documented in a new research project. Based in South Florida, the project would seem to confirm the disturbing findings reported last year (and  subsequently in more detail) by 2003 Ig Nobel Literature Prize winner John Trinkaus.

Best of the bad

Ben Goldacre of The Guardian has just announced this year’s crop of Bad Science Award winners. One of our favorites is Dr. Ali ("Britain’s top integrated health expert") of Harley Street, whose eminence and apparent lack of an MD degree have been remarked upon by admirers and passers-by. (Thanks to Linda Rosa for bringing this […]

New Judgment for Homeopathic Medicines

Are homeopathic medicines truly medicines? Officially, um, yes. Now they are. So says the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. In a ruling published on October 27, 2004, the Bureau did a flip-flop, reversing its previous opinion. Prior to October 27, the Bureau said that homeopathic medicines are, more or less, foods. But henceforth, […]