April Fools 2021 Round-Up: From Endangered Pokémon To Astronauts' Baking Requirements.

So far this year, we had an interesting selection of pranks. Image Credit: Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock.com

It’s April Fools Day – the day corporations attempt realistic (and unfunny) pranks and everyone is being super careful in checking the sources of what they are reading on the internet. The world of science has also long embraced this, with unusual papers and incredible announcements.

Over the years, there’s been the discovery of flying penguins and the first evidence that The Force of Star Wars fame is real. So far this year, we had an interesting selection, including several peculiar scientific papers applying rigor and methods to some certainly unexpected topics.

The Australian Reptile Park has announced that families including young children can now experience a "dangerous, deadly, (and probably illegal)" close encounter with Elvis the Crocodile, the 500-kilogram (1102-pound) seawater croc that lives in the park. You can even bring your own swimsuit if you fancy. One can only fear what the 55-year-old crocodile's reaction would be if that were actually allowed.

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More focus on the endangered Australian fauna comes from the Okinawa Institute Of Science And Technology Graduate University. In particular, they are concerned about the poaching of both adults and eggs of Kangaskhan (Garura kangaskhani) – a Pokémon, the only species endemic to Australia in Pokémon go. The researchers are also worried about how the Pokémon will respond to climate change.

While obviously, there’s no Kangaskhan in real life, the research behind is a light-hearted showcase of model analysis and how many factors need to be taken into account when it comes to how a species will deal with the stress from human activities.

CERN, the international laboratory and birthplace of the Internet, has instead announced the Elevator-Inspired Fast-Fermion Endwise Linac collaboration – or EIFFEL – the tallest vertical accelerator in the world. In the detailed press release, the lab makes some important points on pushing the limits of the standard model of particle physics.

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“The Standard Model of particle physics has been very successful, but it can’t explain the 95% of the universe which is ‘dark’, and neither Einstein nor any physicist since has been able to cook up a working theory of quantum gravity,” theorist Flora Oilp said in a statement. “It’s time to challenge its most fundamental principle head-on.”

Flora Olip and the official spokesperson for the experiment, Pilar Olof, made a very good case for the construction of EIFFEL. We would be almost convinced if their names weren’t an anagram of April Fool.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has also had some fun this morning. ESA is currently in the process of hiring its new cohort of astronauts, and today they released some new requirements for the next aspiring astronauts. First of all, you have to have your own helmet. You need to be able to count backward in at least three languages – something useful in countdowns. And last but not least, you need to be able to make a good crème brûlée, a special request from one of the ESA instructors.

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April 1 is also a day where some peculiar papers are dropped in the ArXiv online repository. There’s one called “I Knew You Were Trouble: Emotional Trends in the Repertoire of Taylor Swift”, and another one trying to prove that a famous British product, the Jaffa Cake, is most definitely a cake and not a biscuit. This is a popular debate in the UK, and it was also at the center of a legal proceeding as chocolate-covered biscuits are taxed differently from cakes. Legally, Jaffa Cakes are cake – and, well, now it has been demonstrated scientifically.

"This paper was inspired by an argument and my mates had during my Ph.D.," Dr Héloïse Stevance told IFLScience. "I used my expertise to settle a petty argument amongst friends. Which is the best use of expertise EVER."

And it wouldn’t be April Fools without some apocalyptic scenario. In one of the papers published today, Dr Michael Lund spells doom for the Earth. It is based on Mamajek’s Law, which states the number of known exoplanets doubles every 39 months. Taking it too literally and imagining that these new planets appearing from nothing, the researcher estimates that all these new planets together will collapse in a single black hole destroying us within 230 years.

 


 THIS WEEK IN IFLSCIENCE

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