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The Weird Science Awards


 NBC's TODAY show

 reports on cloned cats.

Between the radiation-proof underwear and the glow-in-the-dark kitties (yes, yes, I know they're actually UV-fluorescent kitties), 2007 has been a banner year for weird science tales. That's fantastic for Cosmic Log - which, after all, was created to chronicle "the follies and mysteries of mankind." But which stories belong in the top 10 for weirdness? To resolve that question, we're going to need your help - so keep reading, then register your vote for the year's weirdest science story.

Here's how the Weird Science Awards work: You'll find a list of 31 stories below, organized chronologically. Feel free to review the nominees, then head over to this Web page and vote for the weirdest. If there's a weird science story that I've omitted from 2007, add it as a write-in comment. I'll even add your nomination to the official voting list if you get at least 10 other people to support it with their own comments. (I have done this already with Dennis McClain-Furmanski's nomination, as detailed below.)

The top five stories as of noon ET Jan. 2 will win the awards, along with another five stories chosen by editors at We'll publish an online award gallery by mid-January - and if one of the stories you nominated ends up in the top 10, you'll be credited in the gallery. That's your payoff for helping us chronicle the scientific follies and mysteries of 2007. 

And the nominees are:

Remember, if you don't see your favorite weird story listed here, you can always make a write-in nomination and get your friends to second it. For write-ins, use the comment box below. Make sure you register your preference using our ironically unscientific Live Vote before Jan. 2, by clicking on this link. You can also check back on the Live Vote to see how the balloting is shaping up. We'll declare our winners before the Iowa caucuses.

Update for 2 p.m. ET Dec. 18: There's been a crush of supporters for the "case of the missing crab lice," so I've added it to the list. I haven't approved the comments from all the seconders (or is that ninthers and tenthers?), but I do want to thank everyone for the write-in campaign. Now if only the presidential campaign were that simple. ...

Update for 8 p.m. ET Dec. 18: Marc Abrahams, the guy behind the Annals of Improbable Research and the Ig Nobel Prizes, sends along his recommendations:

"Hi, Alan! A nice group you've got there. I'm happy to see that Kees Moeliker's crab lice are crawling onto the list.

"Here's one about the Tim-ness of Tims and the Bob-ness of Bobs: a press report, essentially presenting a press release and the study.

"Here are two others:

"'Recalculating the Economic Cost of Suicide,' Bijou Yang and David Lester, Death Studies, no. 4, April 2007, vol. 31 pp. 351–61. Professor Lester reports: 'These authors argue that estimates of the net economic cost of suicide should go beyond accounting for direct medical costs and indirect costs from loss of earnings by those who commit suicide. There are potential savings from (a) not having to treat the depressive and other psychiatric disorders of those who kill themselves; (b) avoidance of pension, social security and nursing home care costs; and (c) assisted-suicide. By combining all of these costs and savings, it is concluded that the net economic cost of the 30,906 completed suicides in 1990 entailed an economic gain for the society of roughly $5.07 billion in year—2005 dollars.'

"'Sleepy Driver Near-Misses May Predict Accident Risks.' Nelson B. Powell, DDS, MD; Kenneth B. Schechtman, PhD; Robert W. Riley, DDS, MD; Christian Guilleminault, MD; Rayleigh Ping-Ying Chiang, MD, MMS; Edward M. Weaver, MD, MPH. Sleep, vol. 30, no. 3, March 1, 2007, pp. 331-342."

The same rule applies: Marc's suggestions would have to win over 10 supporters in the comments section. Or you can just enjoy the Timness of Tims and the Bobness of Bobs - and leave it at that.