This year in science has been absolutely incredible. There’s been black hole mergers, the death dive of Cassini, and massive scientific advancements in all fields.
However, 2017 was also the year that the FDA warned people not to eat their own body parts, the Flat Earth Society held a conference for their members from around the globe, and a woman became pregnant whilst already pregnant.
Without any further ado, here are the weirdest, funniest stories from a spectacularly bizarre year in science.
10) An Image Of A Man Killed In Pompeii Went Viral, Because It Looked Like He Was Involved In An Act Of Self-Love When He Died
The remains of around 1,150 people have been found from the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. Amongst the dead, there are families huddling together and two men embracing as they died.
Then there was this guy, who went viral for obvious reasons. People speculated that he was preserved in one final act of self-love, because, well, it really does look like that might be the case.
We will probably never know what the man was really doing, but it’s possible the man was killed whilst masturbating. However, it’s also possible his body fell like this naturally.
Theories on how Pompeii victims died suggest many were killed instantly in a blast of hot gas. A study in 2001 looked at 80 skeletons and found signs that the victims close to the eruption were killed before they felt any pain.
“[There were no signs of a] voluntary self-protective reaction or agony contortions, indicating that their vital organs must have stopped within a shorter time than the conscious reaction time,” said Dr Alberto Incoronato of the University of Naples Federico II, as reported by The Telegraph. “The cloud was a mixture of hot gas and ash. It caused little damage in the town itself but killed these people instantly.”
Other victims were killed by falling debris in collapsed buildings or possibly by suffocating in the ash. However, the lack of debris found around the “masturbating man” and the fact that he isn’t covering his face seems to suggest that he was one of those who died instantly, without ever seeing it coming.
On the other hand, it could just be an embarrassing position that his body wound up in.
“Most of the human victims found in Pompeii often show ‘strange’ position of arms and legs, due to the contraction of limbs as a consequence of the heat effect on their bodies after death occurred,” Volcanologist Pier Paolo Petrone told The Daily Dot.
9) Moron Decides To Tease Enormous Alligator While Dressed As A T-Rex
In “why the hell would they do that” news, a man decided to put on a T-rex costume and taunt an alligator… as you do. The 35-year-old in the costume said that he couldn’t see out of the suit, which would probably put most people off from taunting an alligator. Not this guy.
8) There Was A Concerning Spike In People Searching For “Why Do My Eyes Hurt” Just After The Eclipse
The eclipse was one of the more fun science stories of the year. Whether you’re an astrophysicist or a small child, we can all agree that the Moon moving in front of the Sun is pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, despite many warnings not to, it seems there were a lot of people who looked directly at the Sun during the eclipse. It wasn’t just the POTUS.
Just after the eclipse, there was an uptick in searches for terms such as “eclipse headache” and “eyes hurt”.
In fact, a lot of related terms seem to have had more traffic on the day of the eclipse, including the phrase “looking at the Sun” and the vastly more specific phrase “I looked at the Sun”. You all don’t deserve an eclipse.
7) White Supremacists Took Ancestry Tests, Only To Discover They Aren’t As Genetically “White” As They Thought
2017 has been a horrifying year filled with white supremacists being terrible human beings. They’ve done some awful things this year, but let’s not forget another moment of stupidity.
Some white supremacists took a genetic test to prove how white they are to their white supremacist friends, only to find out they’re not as white as they thought they were (spoiler: nobody is).
The white nationalist forum responded in a variety of ways, including racists getting angry at other racists for not quite being white enough genetically.
After one person revealed they were “61 percent European”, another person replied: “I’ve prepared you a drink. It’s 61 percent pure water. The rest is potassium cyanide… Cyanide isn’t water, and YOU are not White.”
The forum saw some people being kicked out because they aren’t “white enough”. Whilst obviously it doesn’t matter where the hell you came from, genetically or otherwise, it’s fun to see some white supremacists losing their minds after finding out their true origins.
They also spent time in the forum trying to debunk the validity of the tests themselves. Read more about their dismay here.
6) The World’s First “Adult Service Droid” Was Created
Whilst most people’s attention has been on the technically impressive Sofia robot, you may have forgotten this is the year that brought us the world’s very first “adult service” droid, and it’s horrifying.
The droid moves back and forth like it’s moshing. It gets even more horrifying when you realize she is wearing a parka coat because she doesn’t have any skin. Yep, the world’s most technically advanced robot prostitute is essentially a mannequin’s head on a stick. Nightmare fuel.
5) The CDC Had To Issue A Warning Telling People Not To Eat A Part Of Their Own Body
In 2017, the fad for eating parts of one’s own body appears to have taken off. Kim and Kourtney Kardashian did it. X-Men: First Class actress January Jones did it. All the celebrities appear to have eaten their own placenta after giving birth.
Despite the fact that there is no evidence that eating your placenta has any health benefits, the idea has gone bizarrely mainstream, with plenty of people on YouTube posting videos on how to prepare placenta, cook placenta, or even turn it into a milkshake.
Well, it took off so much this year that the CDC put out a warning to everyone not to eat your own body.
In the report, the CDC says that health officials believe placenta capsules may have caused an infection in a baby in Portland, Oregon. The mother had her placenta turned into capsules by a company she thought to be safe, but the baby fell ill after she took them. The capsules were tested and found to contain infectious bacteria, though the researchers note they can’t rule out other possibilities.
“Placenta ingestion has recently been promoted to postpartum women for its physical and psychological benefits, although scientific evidence to support this is lacking,” the center warns in its report. They point out that “no standards exist for processing placenta for consumption.”
The CDC note that it’s possible the placenta pills were not heated properly to kill the bacteria.
“The placenta encapsulation process does not per se eradicate infectious pathogens; thus, placenta capsule ingestion should be avoided.”
Read more about the story here.
4) AI Tries To Design Inspirational Posters And It Goes Horribly Wrong
When you think of the phrase “AI goes horribly wrong”, your mind immediately leaps to robots killing humans. That day may come, but in 2017 it is a lot less sinister.
This particular AI was intended to design inspirational posters, but ended up with some dark words of advice.
3) A Woman Became Pregnant While Already Pregnant
Jessica Allen underwent IVF after she agreed to become a surrogate mother for a Chinese couple. Following a routine ultrasound, Allen was told she was carrying twins. She gave birth to two boys via cesarean section later that year. A month later, she received a photo of the two boys from the Chinese couple with a message saying: “They are not the same, right? Have you thought about why they are different?”
“I did notice that one was much lighter than the other,” Allen told ABC News. “You know, obviously they were not identical twins.” DNA tests later confirmed this suspicion. It showed that one baby was Allen’s biological child and the other baby was the Chinese couple’s child.
This is a phenomenon known as “superfetation”. It’s extremely rare because pregnant women’s bodies release hormones to stop ovulation. In this case, however, Allen’s body continued to ovulate. Since superfetation is rare in humans, scientists and practitioners know very little about how and why it happens.
Fortunately, both children are now fit and healthy. Allen and her partner Jasper recently received custody of their son and named him Malachi.
2) Flat-Earthers Tried To Prove The Earth Is Flat In A Variety Of Bizarre Ways
The Earth isn’t flat. You know it, people in the Middle Ages knew it, flat-Earthers apparently don’t know it. This year has seen a resurgence in flat-Earthers saying ridiculous things.
There was one flatty who took a level onto a plane to prove the Earth was flat, and then there was B.o.B who planned to launch satelites into space to prove the Earth looks like a map. Buzz Aldrin wrote B.o.B. to confirm that the Earth is in fact round, but that didn’t deter flat-Earthers.
The most bizarre attempt to disprove science came from one flat-Earther, who planned to launch himself into space in a homemade rocket. It’s not clear whether he was going for a Nobel Prize or a Darwin Award.
1) If You Enjoy The Song “No Diggity” And “Lose Yourself”, You Are More Likely To Be A Psychopath
As we enter 2018, you may be tempted to sit back, relax, and put on your favorite record – only to learn that psychopaths are more likely to listen to the rap and heavy metal music you’re listening to.
A stereotype in films is that psychopaths always listen to classical music (e.g. Hannibal Lecter). However, according to online research conducted by Channel 4 in the UK on over 3 million participants, those who score highly on psychopath tests are more likely to favor rap and heavy metal, with the least psychopathic favoring classical music and jazz. Online surveys, it should be noted, have serious drawbacks however.
In a similar vein, researchers at New York University studied 200 people who listened to 260 songs to determine if there was a psychopath link, The Guardian reports.
They found that people who scored highly on psychopath tests were more likely to highly rate songs like No Diggity by Blackstreet and Lose Yourself by Eminem. People on the least psychopathic end of the spectrum were more likely to be fans of My Sharona by The Knacks and Titanium by Sia. Two songs you should now claim to love with passion.
Of course, further tests are needed, especially since the results were preliminary, unpublished, and included a small sample size.
No Diggity and Lose Yourself were named by the researchers, but other songs were better predictors of psychopathy. The scientists declined to name these songs for fear of disrupting future experiments. We’re guessing Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran.
To be clear, you shouldn’t diagnose yourself based on your musical taste. If you’d like to read more about how psychopaths are diagnosed by trained medical professionals, see this Hare Psychopathy Checklist.