The Weirdest Scientific Papers Ever Published
I should try to bias towards relatively non-famous papers. Extra points if it’s a genuinely weird paper that nobody else seems to have noticed.
A lot of them necessarily repeat ideas I’ve expressed elsewhere (for other weird topics), but hopefully you won’t mind.
Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation (Current Biology, February 2013)
We talked about this one in our article on weird animal communication.
SARS — a clue to its origins? (Lancet, May 2003)
One of several oddball papers from the majestic collaboration between Chandra Wickramasinghe and Fred Hoyle, centered around the idea that microbial life on Earth sometimes comes from space. For another good one in this arena, check out Francis Crick’s paper on directed panspermia, the concept of alien beings intentionally seeding Earth with life.
Long-Delayed Radio Echoes: Observations and Interpretations (VHF Communications 1993)
This unassuming title belies a paper that
IRAS-based whole-sky upper limit on Dyson spheres (Astrophysics 2009)
The Wow! Signal of the Terrestrial Genetic Code (Icarus 20xx)
Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature (Journal o fFood Science, July 2006)
Dogs are Sensitive to Small Variations of the Earth’s Magnetic Field (Frontiers in Zoology 2013)
Sounds a little odd, but not outlandish, right? Well, this is the landmark study that showed that dogs prefer to poop with their bodies aligned with the Earth’s magnetic field.