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10 of the most bizarre research papers of all time

Female Scientist Pipetting Colored Chemicals Into A Tube
Female Scientist Pipetting Colored Chemicals Into A Tube

The Most Bizarre Research Paper Topics Of All Time

The silly, strange, and impressive research done in the name of science

Some research papers are groundbreaking and rock the scientific world, while others are there mainly to entertain the researchers themselves. However, occasionally, a research paper comes along that turns people’s heads both in and out of the scientific world, and everything from the title, the research methods, or even the way it was written entertains everyone.

Adela Belin from Writers Per Hour dives into the details of ten of the most weird, wacky, and wonderful research papers.

  1. The Driving Abilities Of Rats

In the research for this paper, it was discovered that not only rats can drive, but they quite like it! In 2020, a group of behavioral scientists designed ROVs (Rat Operated Vehicles), which were toy car bases with a plastic jar on top and a copper wire inside to make the cars go forward when touched. Rats who drove were rewarded with mini marshmallows and Froot Loops. The scientists were trying to see if rats from an “enriched environment” were more interested in driving. Turns out they are!

  1. Iambic Pentameter Chemistry

In this paper, the topic itself isn’t the oddity, but instead the way it was written. This 1971 chemistry research was written entirely in iambic pentameter, just like a Shakespearean play.

It’s pretty impressive how the authors frequently used words like “dihalobenzenes” and had them flow in the strict stressed/unstressed pattern of The Bard.

‘It already takes so much time and attention to write a research paper, so going the extra mile to turn it into poetry ensured an over forty-year-old chemistry paper still gets talked about,’ says Adela.

  1. Does A Stripper’s Menstrual Cycle Affect The Tips She Earns?

In 2007, for a paper entitled “Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap dancers: economic evidence for human estrus,” eighteen women recorded their menstrual cycles and tip earnings for 5300 lap dances.

The results were quite conclusive, with the women reporting almost double the earnings during their “estrus” (when they were ovulating) than during menstruation. The author of the paper argues that this is proof that humans do, in fact, have a period of “estrus” (sometimes known as being “in heat”) like that of other mammals such as cows and dogs.

  1. Get Me Off Your F****** Mailing List

In 2005, two researchers were so infuriated at being on mailing lists they created an entire paper entitled “Get Me Off Your F****** Mailing List” that consisted only of those six words. The abstract, the findings, and the creative graphs and charts all have the same conclusion. Maybe it was sent to the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology as a joke, but the paper was fully accepted and published.

‘The publishing of a paper like this shows not only the authors’ humor but also that of the publisher,’ notes Adela.

  1. Do Unicorns Exist?

This paper sounds like a dream to every little girl (and probably some adults of every gender), but unfortunately, no unicorns were found. In fact, the paper entitled “The Possibility of Unicorns” doesn’t examine fossils or analyze DNA to look for these legendary creatures, but instead is an argument about philosophy and logic. Specifically, this paper deals with modal logic, which is used to speak about possibility. Ultimately, the paper concludes, unicorns could exist – but just for argument’s sake.

  1. Side Effects Of Sword Swallowing

Side effects include a sore throat, chest pain, and… major gastrointestinal bleeding. The 2006 paper, “Sword swallowing and its side effects,” was authored by sword swallower Dan Myer and included a photograph of him performing the act in the paper. Along with his radiologist co-author, Myer discovered exactly what muscles sword swallowers learn to control in the process of sword swallowing. Their control of these muscles is quite impressive; however, some of the respondents of the study reported serious injuries like internal bleeding – but usually only when multiple swords were swallowed at once.

  1. Why Do Scientists Like To Lick Rocks?

Adela says, ‘Maybe this author wanted to prove he wasn’t the only one with a desire to put a fossil in his mouth! This not-so-serious piece of research reads more like a story or memoir than a scientific paper.’ The piece, “Eating Fossils,” published by The Palaeontological Association, is a tongue-in-cheek look at archaeologists’ desire to lick fossils. It argues that the wetness of saliva helps bring into focus the small details embedded in the rock. It also goes into a lot of detail about the flavor profiles of certain rocks and fossils and discusses mineralogists, geologists, and other rock-related professionals who all have an affinity for rock-licking.

  1. Penile Injuries Caused By Vacuum Cleaners

It’s now documented science that it’s not a good idea to use a vacuum cleaner as a way of pleasuring yourself. This 1992 paper was a study of a particular injury suffered by a man who got creative during his DIY time – which turned out not to be such a good idea! The good news is that the skin lesions and urethra injury suffered by this man eventually healed in full. The bad news is that although these incidents are rare, other papers document similar injuries from vacuum cleaners.

  1. Roller Coaster Cure For Kidney Stones

Why trouble yourself with a doctor’s visit when you can just go to Walt Disney World? The authors of this 2016 study claimed that patients with kidney stones reported passing them on a roller coaster – specifically on Thunder Mountain Railroad in Walt Disney World, Florida. The researchers created a model of a male urinary tract that would simulate a real kidney stone and put the model on various seat positions of Thunder Mountain. The conclusion of “Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster” found that the ride does indeed speed the kidney passing process, specifically if you’re seated in the back rows of the coaster.

  1. Can A Lizard Get You High?

This paper is one of many that has documented the phenomenon of people taking tails from lizards, crushing them to a powder, and smoking them with tobacco or marijuana. This particular paper was inconclusive on whether a psychoactive chemical was present in any part of the lizards. Still, the author noted that there was a patient who did seem dependent on smoking lizards as if addicted to another type of drug.

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