There was plenty of important science this year, from ever-dire warnings of climate changeto the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. And then, there was the time everyone argued over a few seconds of a clip that said either “yanny” or “laurel.” With that in mind, here (in no particular order) are 10 of the best of weird science stories of 2018 — the disgusting, horrifying, and the viral.
1. “How a beach umbrella fatally impaled a woman with 800 pounds of force”
One can find plenty of horrifying case studies in medical journals, and this one from the Journal of Forensic Sciences doesn’t disappoint. Not recommended reading for anxious people who frequently go to the beach, or those already suspicious of enormous beach umbrellas.
2. “Paul Ryan says his car was eaten by woodchucks — we investigate”
Back in July, Paul Ryan told an audience at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. that his Chevy Suburban was eaten by woodchucks. The Verge decided to ask the tough questions: Did woodchucks specifically target Paul Ryan? Or do woodchucks typically chuck cars?
3. “Four times people cried ‘aliens’ — and four times they were wrong”
Every so often, someone will discover a tiny mummy, or a space rock will generate some unusual data, and the alien theories start popping up. Here are four examples of when people’s alien fears (or hopes?) were utterly dashed.
4. “Knickers, the extremely large cow, isn’t actually a cow”
We’re heartbroken too.
5. “One man ruptured his throat by trying to hold back a sneeze”
Imagine this: You feel a sneeze coming out. You pinch your nose to keep from sneezing, as one does. What happens next, in the case of this “previously fit and well” man, may horrify you.
6. “How this optical illusion made me question my reality”
Stare at these colors for long enough, and they’ll disappear. Why?
7. “What happens if you fall into lava?”
Back when Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano was erupting the US Geological Service kept poting terrifying photos and videos of the lava and Verge Science wanted to know: What happens if you touch it? Here’s a sample quote: “The water in the body would probably boil to steam, all while the lava is melting the body from the outside in.”
8. “Your ears are cockroach heaven and that’s why they keep crawling in there”
In Florida, a cockroach climbed into a woman’s ear and lived there for nine days. In New York, The Verge’s Alessandra Potenza talked to experts about why the ear canal is so attractive to the horrifying bugs. It’s not just that they’re an open orifice. It has to do with smell too. (On a side note, Potenza, despite being the author of the cockroach article, the lava article, and the beach umbrella article, seems mostly to fear public toilets. Ironic.)
9. “A Russian woman was embalmed alive — a funeral director explains what that means” “The heart probably pumped the formation through the arterial system, and so it would have spread all throughout her body. I can only imagine that it would have felt like a burning sensation. You’re being ripped apart on a molecular level from the inside out.”
10. “Yanny or Laurel? The science behind the audio version of The Dress”
Peter says: “Although I love that Chelcee Grimes shot at the top of the page (along with many others this year), I felt like going off piste for my choice. The Tattoo Convention was another of those events I probably wouldn’t have gone to were it not that I had signed up to go and review it for Getintothis. It was a superb event and the sense of collective spirit in the Adelphi was really refreshing. It was easy to get drawn into the vibe and before I knew it, the needle was out and my right forearm would never look the same again”
Kevin says: “I’d been meaning to catch The Mysterines play a few times year but couldn’t get the opportunity. The noise surrounding this band has been getting louder and louder every time they play. And on hearing the reviews from their gigs at Arts Club, and the On Air bank holiday festival this only heightened the hype. Their recent support slot on the Miles Kane gig provided the perfect setting to showcase their talent to an almost full Mountford Hall. They looked completely at home here, and not only sounded ferociously loud, they looked fantastic under the bigger lights.
2018 has been an incredible year for photography opportunities with far too many highlights to list them all, but a few that really stand out would be; Cream Ibiza Classics at Liverpool Cathedral, LightNight, The Blinders and Baxter Duryat Sound City, and Michael Head at Museum of Liverpool.”
Amy says: “I have chosen this image, even though it’s not OF Pale Waves themselves, because I completely understand the feeling that this girl is going through – the carefree, weightless joy of being front and centre of a gig you have been excited about for months and now it’s here, and you’re there, and they’re there, and the music is carrying you away. It’s one of the biggest joys of being a music lover.”
Paul says: “My favourite photo: the lead singer of Lennie Dies playing a Deep Cuts gig at Buyers Club. They were last on and there must’ve been no more than ten people left watching them. They could’ve been forgiven for going through the motions, but they gave it everything anyway. I love the energy and passion this photo captures, and I love the colour tones and the sharpness.
This was my first year shooting for GetIntothis and it began with a baptism of fire shooting the Bob Log III gig at Dumbulls – I actually wondered if it was some kind of initiation test! Nevertheless, it didn’t put me off and I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve been afforded. A downside for me though has to be the lamentable standard of stage lighting in almost every venue, it seems actually illuminating the band on stage is a thing of the past, just bathe them in a combination of dull green and purple light!”
John says: “I love this picture because of its movement and sheer joy in the face of the artist. Throughout the gig she had a smile on her face, and clearly loved what she does, and I think this picture captured her emotion. It’s always difficult to capture a drummer, especially in low light, and I think I nailed it with this one.”
Lucy says: “Shame always put on an energetic show and we know they’re going to go in the crowd for most of the show. This was being in the right place at the right time, the crowd were all pumped up and all the lights were on. This is Shame riding high on a Rough Trade album of the year and a 2018 of constant touring. Definitely one of the gigs of the year.”
Chris says: “I have photographed many a heavy metal act in my time, intense light and stage shows. But non of them have come close the The Prodigy, absolutely ground shaking performance. Incredible light show and a massive party atmosphere. A live act not to be missed.”