As much as the Internet (fucking) loves science, we still tend to think of scientists as boring old people in lab coats who carry clipboards around all day before going home and reading whole medical encyclopedias for fun. However, scientists look for ways to liven up their daily grind just as much as the rest of us -- only they have funding and access to all manner of futuristic geegaws that are unknown to the general populace. The end result is that they end up playing God, but like, after He's had a few drinks.
We all know that salmon swim upstream to spawn, making your failure to go out on Friday night because "your hair looks weird" sound pretty pathetic. Unfortunately, humanity has been sock-blocking salmon for decades, and it's only getting worse; many of the 80,000 dams across the United States serve as giant, fishy diaphragms. Since salmon sex is very important for the ecosystem, not to mention hot, we've tried everything short of loading the fish on pressurized tubes and shooting them upriver to get them home.
Wait, no, we have tried that. And it looks awesome.
While the concept sounds like something a panicked child would doodle on a trifold hours before the science fair, this is a legitimate system that can fire a salmon up to 230 feet in the air. The company responsible for this, Whooshh (good thing there's an extra "h" at the end, or it would sound silly), originally invented the cannon to transport fruit, until someone said, "Fuck it, let's put it a live tilapia in there and see what happens." Shockingly, the tilapia didn't come out as sushi on the other end, and so Whooshh is now officially in the fish-shooting business.
Michael Hoeweler/Popular Mechanics
30 feet per second! 40 fish per minute! 15 confused fishermen per hour!
The fish don't appear to suffer anything worse than temporary bafflement, although more extensive tests are still ongoing. If successful, salmon cannons could be installed throughout the country, and then hopefully human-sized ones will be put in water parks. The tests are being run by a government lab, although a sizable portion of the funding is coming from a mysterious outside benefactor known only as Y.B. (his address only says "Jellystone Park").
A RoboDeer is exactly what you think/hope it is: a robot that is also a deer. And yes, they do technically fight crime, since they're being used to catch poachers in our parks, forests, and roadways. Imagine you just shot a deer, and instead of keeling over, it does this:
Custom Robotic Wildlife
Prime Directives: protect the innocent, uphold the law, eat grass.
Oh, and we're not kidding when we say RoboDeer is part deer; it's built by opening up a taxidermied animal, stuffing a radio control system and some moveable parts into it, then putting it back together while cackling manically as thunder booms in the background. Then you stick it somewhere you suspect poaching is a problem and make it flick its tail, turn its head, and move its ears until someone shoots it. It's essentially a Disney animatronic that can take a bullet. Or more accurately, up to 1000 bullets. Shit, forget RoboCop -- these things are one command to extinguish Earth's flora away from being cuddly Terminators.
Engineering & Technology Magazine
The one on the right looks a little uncanny-valley-ish.
And yep, they're working. Robot animals have been used for years, and poachers keep falling for them. The company that makes the RoboDeer, Custom Robotic Wildlife, also manufactures CyberBears, MechaWolves, TurkeyNators, and more (note: we invented all those names, but CRW can have them for free). So whether you're looking to capture people hunting illegally or just want to terrify your loved ones, you've got options. Planned future updates include a wider range of motion, an ability to question their reason for existing, and the desire to feel love.
Time and Life Pictures/Getty News/Getty Images
"I know it gets lonely out here, Johnson, but that's not what these holes are for."
Every college student has enrolled in at least one course that no one took seriously, like interpretive dance or economics. If we told you there's a psychology class that involves watching Seinfeld episodes, you'd probably assume it's one of those bullshit courses. But nope, everyone at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital takes "Psy-feld" a lot more seriously than that name implies.
"Could Jerry be more paranoid-schizophrenic?" "Get out of my classroom."
Putting aside the obvious question of why Frasier wasn't deemed the more appropriate sitcom for psychiatry students, we're both impressed and concerned by the professor's dedication to his craft. In addition to creating a database describing all 180 episodes and their medical talking points, Dr. Anthony Tobia has written a paper about the delusional behavior exhibited by five of Elaine's boyfriends. Wait, is the paper in list format? Do we at Cracked owe this guy money?
A study on the same percentage of Jerry's girlfriends would take several decades.
All of Tobia's students are required to participate in Psy-feld, and so far, they have determined that (to some degree) Jerry is obsessive compulsive, George is egocentric, Kramer is schizoid, and Elaine has borderline personality disorder. Meanwhile, Newman is just plain "sick," because such pure evil defies scientific explanation.
If all goes well, future courses will include "Law and Disorder: How Every Seemingly Normal Person You Meet is Actually a Turbo Rapist," "Great Anatomy: Sleeping With Your Medical Colleagues To Liven Up Your Dull Lives," and "Watch All 13,300 Episodes of General Hospital Because I Fucking Said So."
Seeing as how we're writing this while wearing our leather thongs and sitting deep within the bowels of Cracked's sexnasium, we know as well as anyone that the right outfit can make you feel like an irresistible sex machine. Still, we're surprised to learn that the same is true for rats, given that "as romantic as a rat in heat" is not an expression you hear too often (we hope). Science has recently determined that rats are turned on by rat jackets, the same way humans are turned on by human lingerie.
Jim Henson Co.
Thus explaining how Rizzo got laid the most out of all the Muppets.
In what scientists retroactively described as an experiment after realizing how weird their Saturday night house party had become, virgin male rats were given the chance to mate with females wearing tiny jackets. Later, given the choice between mating with more ladies who were dolled up in rat lingerie or girls who weren't afraid to go all-natural, the deflowered men went with the jacketed ones. At this point, we're guessing the scientists thought about broadening the experiment by adding little rat skirts and high heels, but they were running low on material for rodent clothing and had realized they hadn't been on any dates in six months.
Gonzalo R. Quintana Zunino
It would be a crime to cover up a booty like that, anyway.
Their conclusion was that the rats had learned to associate the sight and feel of the jacket with sex, while they associated the sight of a rat dressed in heavy flannel with a night spent spilling potato chips on each other and falling asleep in front of Dateline.
Male rats that enjoyed the benefits of playing dress-up had more activity in the pleasure centers of their brains, especially when the females let them do that one thing they normally only got on their birthday. On the other hand, putting in the effort to inject a little romance into their relationships wasn't worth it for the ladies, as the male rats were more likely to finish quicker and then apologize, explaining that they'd been really stressed out at work lately and were just so glad to see them. And so, with a single study, scientists were able to both explore the idea that we learn to associate certain items of clothing with sex and explain why those weird Kia commercials give men awkward erections.
KIA Motors America
Nope, never mind, this is still super wrong.
Leonard Mc Lane/Digital Vision/Getty Images
The Lunar Mission One Kickstarter campaign describes itself as "the most inspirational mission to the Moon since the Apollo landings" ... and then goes on to talk about how financial backers can send their hair into space. Apparently, there's a fine line between "inspirational" and the ramblings of your great uncle who says communists stole his brain back in '67.
The goal is to send an unmanned module to the Moon. The module will drill 20 to 100 meters (65 to 328 cheeseburgers grasped in the talons of bald eagles) into the surface in search of rocks billions of years old, fine cheese, and evidence of secret Nazi bases.
Plus it'll retrieve the keys Buzz Aldrin dropped in '69. He's still sleeping in his car.
Unfortunately, as the layoff victims of Cracked's defunct lunar division can tell you, going to the Moon isn't cheap. It's also hard to get people excited about it, as humanity has largely moved on to newer and sexier scientific endeavors, like sending people to Mars and convincing Alabama that the government didn't invent global warming to tax freedom.
Lunar Mission One was well aware that they had to spice up their campaign, and so for 60 pounds (or 94.05 units of the illegitimate government replacement for the God-fearing gold standard) supporters will receive a "memory box." The box can be digital, allowing future generations to rediscover your Carmen Sandiego erotic fanfiction and that one Pitbull song that, like, really gets you. Or it can be physical, allowing you to store a single strand of hair on the Moon, so mankind's descendants can clone you back into existence and laugh at your short, fat body (if the ending to Artificial Intelligence is to be believed).
Lunar Missions Ltd
Meanwhile, proposals to send human hair to Uranus keep getting distracted by fits of giggling.
The mission met its funding and is scheduled to launch in 2024, so you've got plenty of time to decide which of your precious memories -- or which particular strand of hair -- you'd like to jam into the bowels of Earth's natural satellite for eternity. And no, the strand can't be suspiciously curly and smell like underwear. We asked.
Welp, article over. See you next time, everyone!
Wait, you mean we have to explain that? Shit. The goal of this experiment was to determine how much energy mountain lions use in their daily activities in order to calculate their calorie requirements, which will be of use to conservationists, ecologists, and 24 writers. And what simpler way to achieve that than taking a member of a vicious predatory species that's notorious for an uncooperative attitude and getting it to enjoy the same light exercise that your grandparents partake in?
It took 10 months to get the cats treadmill-ready. The main trick was getting them to face forward and not look down at their feet, which tended to cause what we assume were hilarious wipeouts. Like many great things in life, this was accomplished by bribing the subjects with food. The team also had to build longer and quieter treadmills that wouldn't freak the animals out, and then they had to find a gym where the Pilates class would be cool with sharing their space with apex predators.
No official word on whether "Eye Of The Tiger" was blasting at all times, but come on.
Basically, putting mountain lions on treadmills is the least practical experiment you can conduct, short of shooting rats in heat at the moon with a cannon. The team was well aware of this, as most of their data came from collars with accelerometers in them that the cats happily wore. But dammit, they put mountain lions on treadmills anyway. Truly, the pursuit of knowledge and cool stories to tell about your job at parties knows no bounds.
You can read more from Mark, or learn about the time he tried to shoot robotic mountain lions dressed in lingerie at Jerry Seinfeld, at his website.