Friday, December 17, 2004
It is with great pleasure and some trepidation that we introduce to you our wetnosed colleague Qubit, The Token Reader, who in his inaugural post this morning links to the 2004 Bad Science Awards, presented by Ben Goldacre of the Guardian. Qubit has already excerpted the best bit (Durex Performa, second runner-up as Bad Science Product of the Year), so we will content ourselves with a plateful of table scraps:
BAD SCIENCE PRODUCT OF THE YEAR: Space Tomato Number One, part of the Chinese government's "space breeding" project, where radiation in space is used to create comic book mutations and giant space plants, including tomatoes weighing almost a kilogram. It was never made entirely clear why the mutations would be beneficial, or why you needed to be in space to get irradiated. The Chinese news agency Xinhua stated that, "in China the radiation effect is always positive, leading to bigger and better vegetables that will revolutionise agriculture."
LEAST PLAUSIBLE COSMETICS CLAIM: A hair-straightening treatment by Bioionic, called Ionic Hair Retexturizing: "Water molecules are broken down to a fraction of their previous size ... diminutive enough to penetrate through the cuticle, and eventually into the core of each hair". Shrinking molecules caused some concern among the physicists at the ceremony, since IHR was available just 200 yards away, and the only other groups who have managed to create superdense quark-gluon plasma used a relativistic heavy ion collider. The prospect of such equipment being used by hairdressers was deemed worthy of further investigation.
BAD SCIENCE CELEBRITY OF THE YEAR: Anthea Turner was commiserated with on being burgled and losing £40,000 worth of possessions one month after having her house feng-shuied at great expense, and Carole Caplin also inevitably made an appearance, but both were trumped, to great popular acclaim, by Jeanette Winterson, for her excellent plan to send homeopathic remedies to treat HIV in Botswana.