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Thursday, 2 April 2009

April Fools

April Fools Day has come and gone, and science, being stranger than fiction at times, once again proved a fertile ground for media pranksters.

There's a discussion going on over at the ABSW-L about good April Fools stories past and present. Our Chairman, Ted Nield, tells of a piece he did about the Geological Society honouring the then England cricket Captain Nasser Hussein, who studied geology at Durham. All good fun until a Daily Express sports reporter rang weeks later to say he'd been chasing up the story and trying to get a comment out of a "Dr Avril Foley" of the "University of Limerick"...

Mike Kenward recalls a New Scientist piece about genetically engineered beef, with an added tomato gene to make ketchup redundant. Bernard Dixon remembers another feature they ran about fragments of ancient pottery that had been unearthed showing several young ladies, and parts thereof, engaged in interesting activities.

This year it was a bit hard to tell the fact from fiction on the New Scientist website, with a report on a study of navel fluff, fuel cells for medical implants that feed on human blood and masturbation bringing hay fever relief for men (all of which may well be true. I haven't checked, though the last one comes with references. Pun intended. Sorry :p).

Elsewhere, the Express did a piece on an invisible car, the Telegraph reported that fish could be the solution to our energy crisis, and the Guardian said it was going to publish only on Twitter (a good satire but rather poor as an April Fools prank). And over on Radio 4, the Today programme also had an item on spider monkeys bringing donuts in tribute to an island-bound alpha chimpanzee female, with scientists debating whether primates should now be reclassified as the same species as humans.

What's the best science/technology/medicine-related April Fools you've heard?