Has Ken Kesey infiltrated BBC News online?
Confusion over Auntie's acid-inspired features
Eyebrows were raised when ancient Scottish waves swept inland. The revelation that mosquitoes like sweaty people raised a few mumbles. When a bloke decided to put a clock on top of his own mountain, it seemed rather far out. But it came to a head when a million kids apparently jumped in the air at the same time, a scientist said the world could turn to jelly in an instant and MIT spoke of learning something from following people's mouse movements.
It's clear something is going on at the Sci/Tech news desk at BBC News Online. We consulted with Register guru, augur and general mystic, the Hermit, stationed in a cave high in the hills of Hood River, Oregon.
After some deep thought, he recalled a similar time when peculiar, esoteric articles made it into the mainstream press. A time of great spiritual effort, although not success. When people spoke of great dreams, stripped whole fields of flowers and said "man" a lot.
"Is Ken Kesey still alive?" he inquired. Yes, we reply. And get this - his last known whereabouts was on the way to London from Cornwall having relived the Merry Pranksters bus antics across Europe. Ken and the Pranksters were famed in the 60s for distributing huge quantities of LSD and holding acid-inspired parties, often with the Grateful Dead in attendance. Is it possible that Ken has infiltrated the BBC? We list the evidence:
Today: Reading your mouse movements.
We're informed that Web sites will soon be able to read your body language and know what you want before you've even clicked on it. Incredible, but how? Researchers have found a way to track people's mouse movements in a bid to see how they behave when using the Internet. Certain movements are common, apparently, and so they can use this data to predict how someone is interact with a Web site.
These researchers are from MIT of course (aren't they always?) - and they reckon their experiments will enable people to create personalised Web sites on the fly. The research was pretty advanced too - 17 people were asked to buy a CD or DVD from a site - and they tracked their mouse movements.
Hmmm. We remember a similar thing when researchers attached cameras to people's heads to see how people looked at one another and how they read magazines. Unbelievably, people looked first at people's eyes and then, if you're a bloke, at a woman's breasts. Other such insights followed from the magazine experiment. People looked at headlines and then pictures. The bigger the headline, the sooner they looked at it. Which was sort of reinventing the wheel since designers have been more than aware of this since the year dot.
Good to see MIT is still at the cutting edge.
Friday: Earth does not move for science
We're told of how a million schoolkids jumped up in the air in unison to launch "Science year". Science year? What have we been doing up til now? Anyway, schools all over the country joined in apparently and scientists attempted to measure it using a seismograph. They reckon it would release two billion joules of energy. Maybe it did, but all attempts to measure it failed miserably.
But there was "an intriguing 'squiggle' in Cornwall". It set a world record for the number of people who for some ungodly reason decided to jump in the air at about the same time. Does it remind anyone of the hippy belief that all you need is everyone to act together? Just once, man.
Thursday: Universe 'could condense into jelly'
This has to be our favourite: scientist warns that the entire universe could turn to jelly at any moment. Not only that but it has the same probability of happening as you buying two winning lottery tickets in one week. Now, that is a long shot, we must admit, but perhaps not quite long enough seeing as the universe has been in existence for a few billion years. The entire universe turning to jelly in an instant? Sounds like a bad trip to us.
What's the theory? Supersymmetry. You see, every particle that makes up matter has a theoretical heavier ghostly partner with similar but not identical properties. Thus the universe is on a knife edge and could suddenly condense into jelly if the partner forms spontaneously. Light would stop shining, electricity would no longer work and the matter that makes up us, the Earth and the stars would disintegrate to form a different kind of matter, said Dr Benjamin Allanach. Barking.
Thursday: Octopus arms do the thinking
Octopus' arms have their own brains, sort of. Hey - have you ever noticed how amazing hands are, man? Like, picking things up. Like they have a life of their own. Wow! Andy's turning green; where's that unicorn gone?
Monday: Visions of a wired future
Danny Hillis sits down, chews on a cactus, and explains how we'll have to change our genetic material, how computers are controlling our reality and why he put a clock on top of a huge mountain so people can visit it like a shrine.
You need any more evidence? ®