Around 1500 years ago a village in Israel tragically burned to the ground, sparing absolutely nothing. 50 years ago, amongst the charred remains of destroyed homes and a synagogue, a scroll was discovered which looked like nothing more than a long piece of charcoal. Now, in a remarkable feat of ingenuity, this scroll was read by scientists without even touching it! They scanned the scroll through the use of a fancy sounding technique called X-ray Microtomography, creating digital slices which could then be separated and read line-by-line and page-by-page. In doing so, they discovered that the scroll was from the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Leviticus. Mind = blown!
This isn’t the first time scientific data has been found to be falsified, and unfortunately I’m sure it won’t be the last. This time an anonymous tipster has pointed a big fat finger towards 6 prominent research groups at the University of Tokyo, suggesting that falsified data has appeared in as many as 22 papers, most of which appeared in (no prizes for guessing): Nature, Cell, The New England Journal of Medicine, amongst others. While, of course, the leaders of these groups are denying these accusations in their entirety and nothing has yet been proven, this could be another example of how these highly fashionable and high impact factor (…whatever that means) journals can put unhelpful pressure on scientists which has negative consequences for the science. Let’s hope that these accusations are proven to be false.
With the Nobel season fast approaching, we start with a slightly less serious announcement of the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel winners, which awards strange, disturbing, or utterly useless science. Click the link in the title to check out this years winners!
Written by: Justin Aluko