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.
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!
Leonardo da Vinci ... fashion designer?
'Rapunzel Number' brings math to ponytails
Legless amphibians could win weirdness prize
Sex-starved flies drown woes in alcohol
Earliest painting of transvestite uncovered
Zoo chimp devises elaborate plots to attack humans
Ancient 'Loch Ness monster' suffered from arthritis
MIT engineers solve stuck ketchup problem
Rock music compared to animal distress calls
Turtles' sex act frozen in time
Scientists explain why people wear pants
Three-hour sex sessions exhaust squid
Shark teeth have built-in toothpaste
Bizarre fish has penis on its head
Researchers create a sneeze-free geranium
Scientists figure out why coffee spills
How physics can tilt the odds in roulette
Mice can change their (ultrasonic) tune
Bizarre turtles pee from their mouths
Puppies learn to catch yawns as they grow
'Finding Nemo' fish talk their way out of a fight
750-legged millipede sets world record
DNA report claims that Bigfoot is part human
Help out researchers: Send them your poop
Scientists make brain cells from urine
Is reality 'unreal'? Scientists aim to find out
Did magic mushrooms inspire Santa saga?
Maya apocalypse fizzles out
'Alien'-like skulls unearthed in ancient cemetery
Scientists unravel secret behind Rudolph's red nose
Still more weird science:
- 10 weirdest animal discoveries of 2012
- 10 stories that made us blush in 2012
- A dozen obvious findings for 2012
- 2012 Weird Science Awards
- 2011 Weird Science Awards
- 2010 Weird Science Awards
- 2009 Weird Science Awards
- 2008 Weird Science Awards
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence.
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