“Cows point north” not the oddest science story of the week

The winner is: Growing new ear hairs that can boost hearing

“Scientists have used gene therapy on mouse embryos to grow hair cells with the potential to reduce hearing loss in adult animals”

This is breakthrough news for those of us with hairy ears and lousy hearing. Now I’ll know when people say my unkempt ears look disgusting!

However the potential development of a bovine GPS is certainly my nominee for “Study Guaranteed to Win an Ig Nobel Prize.”

Somehow, cattle seem to know how to find north and south, say researchers who studied satellite photos of thousands of cows around the world. Most cattle that were grazing or resting tended to align their bodies in a north-south direction, a team of German and Czech researchers reports in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And the finding held true regardless of what continent the cattle were on, according to the study led by Hynek Burda and Sabine Begall of the faculty of biology at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.

Clearly we need to send three cattle into space and see if two of them still point north.

What with the recent advances in cattle miniaturization (NOT MAKING THIS UP), it seems quite possible that the big threat to TomTom could go Moo Moo.

Why do I think the people behind the cow study came up with the idea after a day of smoking pot and reading Gary Larson?

“Industry money may bias drink studies” and, from what I hear, there’s gambling going on at Rick’s Cafe Americain

Studies funded entirely by industry were four to eight times more likely to be favorable to their sponsors. None of the experiments fully funded by industry that tested beverages with a control group found fault with the drinks.

I haven’t been this surprised since it was alleged that Exxon was funding junk science around global warming.

Best quote of the story:

“This is yet another attack on industry by activists who demonstrate their own biases in their review by looking only at the funding source and not judging the research on its merits.”

This from Susan “What Did You Expect Me To Say” Neely, president of the American Beverage Association.

I’ll drink to that.

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” — Claude Raines as Capt. Renault in “Casablanca”