Videos from the University of California at San Francisco show how researchers studied the alcohol consumption habits of lovelorn fruit flies in one of 2012's weirdest experiments.
By Alan Boyle
Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and the Apocalypse: 2012 had it all. But only 10 stories about the past year's strangest scientific research can make it into our Weird Science hall of fame???so we're going to need your help.
Past winners of the Weird Science Awards include glow-in-the-dark kittens and puppies, a 2,700-year-old marijuana stash, meth-crazy fruit flies, reattached rabbit penises and the corpse-dissolving machine. The Maya apocalypse came in for honorable mention last year?and the year before, but this could be an even bigger year for end-of-the-world weirdness.
There are lots of other contenders from 2012, however. It's hard to beat the story about the sex-starved flies who drowned their sorrows in alcohol while researchers watched. That covers sex and drugs. It also can make you feel sorry for the scientists who had to watch all that fly-sized heartbreak. (They might want to compare notes with the researchers who studied why alcohol makes people feel good.)
The sixth annual Weird Science Award competition follows the precedent we've set in past years: We offer up 30 nominees from the past year, and it's up to you to pick the top 10. We've included a couple of studies that have won?Ig Nobel awards ? which are given annually to recognize?"research that makes people laugh ? and then think." That's a fine criterion for the Weirdies as well. Or you can go with research that makes you laugh ? and then makes you wonder, "What on earth were they thinking?"
Write-in votes and second-guessing are encouraged; you can register them in your comments. If a write-in vote gets enough support from commenters, the research in question will be added to the ballot.
The 10 nominees that get the most votes as of noon ET Jan. 2 will be the 2013 winners of the Weirdy Awards. Later that day, we'll discuss this year's crop of weird science with Ig Nobel?creator Marc Abrahams?on "Virtually Speaking Science," a talk show that plays out on the Web and in the Second Life virtual world. Tune in at 9 p.m. ET Jan. 2.
Johan Ordonez / AFP - Getty Images
Maya shamans take part in a ceremony on Dec. 21, celebrating the end of the calendar cycle known as Baktun 13 - and the end of the hype over a 2012 doomsday. Click on the image to watch a video about the phenomenon.
Here are the nominees, in chronological order. May the oddest science stories be ever in your favor!