Science Is Funny
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.
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?
- Achenbach, Joel. "Why Carl Sagan Is Truly Irreplaceable." Smithsonian Magazine. March 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-carl-sagan-truly-irreplaceable-180949818/?no-ist
- Animal Planet. "About My Cat from Hell." 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/my-cat-from-hell/about-this-show/about-my-cat-from-hell.htm
- BBC. "'Brainiac: Science Abuse' - the TV Programme." 2002. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ptop/plain/A32873844
- Bearzi, Maddelana. "5 Simple Steps for Communicating Science." National Geographic. Oct. 11, 2013. (Nov. 24, 2014) http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/11/5-simple-tips-for-communicating-science/
- Blair, Elizabeth. "Move Over MacGyver: Other Shows Make Science Fun." NPR. Dec. 7, 2009. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121146862
- British Comedy Guide. "Duck Quacks Don't Echo." 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/duck_quacks_dont_echo/
- CNN. "Science 'quacks' urban duck myth." Sept. 9, 2003. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://edition.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/09/08/duck.quack/
- Discovery. "Mythbusters." 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters?_ga=1.169298657.152680077.1415883464
- Guinness World Records. "Farthest Distance to Fire a Pumpkin." 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/11000/farthest-distance-to-fire-a-pumpkin
- Holmwood, Leigh. "Sky Calls Time on Brainiac." The Guardian. July 28, 2008. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.theguardian.com/media/2008/jul/28/bskyb.television
- ITV Studios. "Brainiac: History Abuse." 2014. (Nov. 26, 2014) https://itvstudios.com/programmes/brainiac-history-abuse
- Keveney, Bill. "'Cosmos' returns to TV, with a big bang." USA Today. March 12, 2014. (Nov. 20, 2014) http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2014/03/08/fox-cosmos-series-with-neil-degrasse-tyson/6059985/
- Kluger, Jeffrey. "The Science of Stupid: Galileo is Rolling Over in His Grave." Time. Feb. 17, 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://time.com/7859/the-science-of-stupid-galileo-is-rolling-over-in-his-grave/
- National Geographic. "Duck Quacks Don't Echo." 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/duck-quacks-dont-echo/
- National Geographic. "Science of the Stupid." 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/science-of-stupid/episode-guide/
- PBS. "About NOVA." February 2008. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/about/
- Sagan, Sasha. "Lessons of Immortality and Mortality From My Father, Carl Sagan." New York Magazine. April 15, 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/04/my-dad-and-the-cosmos.html
- Science Channel. "Punkin' Chunkin'." 2014. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/punkin-chunkin
- Stokes, Mark. "'Made-for-TV' experiments can make really bad science." The Guardian. Dec. 13, 2012. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2012/dec/13/tv-experiments-bad-science
- Tocher, Claire. "How Television Brings Science Learning to Life." The Association for Science Education. September 2009. (Nov. 13, 2014) http://www.ase.org.uk/journals/primary-science/2009/09/109/
- TV Guide. "Brainiac's Test Tube Baby." 2014. (Nov. 20, 2014) http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/brainiacs-test-tube-baby/506502
Netflix's hit docuseries has it all: cult leaders, sex, biowarfare and illegal wiretapping. HowStuffWorks talks to the directors about the wild tale.