1: ‘Duck Quacks Don’t Echo’
A researcher from the University of Salford in Greater Manchester disproved the popular belief that duck quacks don’t echo [source: CNN]. However, that didn’t stop a 2014 National Geographic series from adopting the slogan for its title. This comedic look at science investigates alleged facts that are bizarre, unbelievable or odd. On every episode, each of the three hosts initiates an experiment about a different topic. Staff scientists ensure a systematic approach.
For instance, brunettes, blondes and gingers may all wonder whether redheads tolerate pain better. Appliance lovers seeking to reach new heights need to know whether you can climb a wall using vacuum cleaners. Cognitive science comes under scrutiny to answer the question: Does conversing with a pretty woman lower a man’s IQ? And who hasn’t wondered whether it’s possible to play music on a banana? Hmmm … would that be a wind or percussion instrument?
2: ‘Science of Stupid’
Hard to think of a more explanatory title than “Science of Stupid.” Premiering on the National Geographic Channel in 2014, the series actually covers real science topics such as torque, gravity and Newton’s laws. But Newton is not the dummy. The “stupid” comes in with the introduction of Internet videos that focus on people doing scientifically moronic things. Afterward, the show explains why the stunts failed or (surprisingly) succeeded.
Check out the series to see people bungee jumping blindfolded. Watch jet packs fail, brainiacs jump off roofs, slip-and-slide water tracks turn into disaster areas and tree cutting nearly becoming life-threatening accidents. Why do people engage in such idiocy? Maybe they just don’t know any better. According to Time magazine, 25 percent of Americans are unaware of the heliocentric universe. In the European Union, that number increases to 36 percent. Plenty of stupid to go around.
3: ‘Outrageous Acts of Science’
Part of the fun of science is watching other people do really stupid things. At least that’s the assumption of “Outrageous Acts of Science,” which premiered on the Science Channel during the summer of 2014. The show offers Internet clips of people doing amazing, dangerous, ingenious, thrilling or ridiculous things. After their survival is assured, the show’s educational team explains the science behind the activities.
You’ll see videos both intriguing and downright weird. Ping-pong balls floating during a zero gravity flight are amazing to watch, as is an octopus that camouflages itself. But what’s up with that bicyclist riding on a treadmill? And why do those goats keep fainting when they’re frightened? No animals or people are truly harmed, but viewers might bust a gut laughing.
4: ‘What Is That?’
What is that? A cavern? A Martian valley? A water slide? Nope, it’s a video of your digestive system. During half-hour episodes of the Science Channel’s 2013 series “What Is That?” viewers are shown close-up images and unique perspectives of objects and substances from the natural world. Each show presents nine different videos, and the audience tries to guess what they’re seeing. Recognition is not easy, so clues pop up periodically. If the digestive system appears foreign to you, maybe you’ll solve the mystery with the clues “Can have butterflies” and “Hydrochloric acid on walls.”