24/01/05 139736e Senior Constable Andy Gray looks out for speeding motorists in Primary School Court, outside Maroochydore Primary School, as part of operation Back to School. Photo: Brett Wortman traffic offence ticket fine police
24/01/05 139736e Senior Constable Andy Gray looks out for speeding motorists in Primary School Court, outside Maroochydore Primary School, as part of operation Back to School. Photo: Brett Wortman traffic offence ticket fine police Brett Wortman

Top ten weirdest science stories of 2012

WHAT have you done to get out of a traffic ticket?

Perhaps you have used some form of flattery, such as : "Officer, your blue eyes go really well with your uniform."

Or maybe you turned on the waterworks and pleaded with the judge to have mercy at it was your grandmother's 100th birthday.

Many excuses come to mind but submitting a four-page paper arguing that three physical phenomena combined at just the right time could have mislead the officer, would undoubtedly not be one of them.

Well that is what one US physicist did to get out of his $400 ticket ... and it worked.

Australian Science Media Centre (ASMC) released its top 10 weird science stories of 2012 and physicist Dimitri Krioukov's paper titled The Proof of Innocence came in at No.7.

In his paper Mr Krioukov said the police officer could have perceived he hadn't stopped at the stop sign if three criteria were met:
The observer measures not the linear but angular speed of the car;
The car decelerates and subsequently accelerates relatively fast; and
There is a short-time obstruction of the observer's view of the car by an external object, for example another car.

The NewsMail went out on to the streets of Bundaberg and asked people what they would do to get out of a traffic fine.

It seems Bundaberg citizens are an honest bunch, with most people saying they would just pay the fine - and only one person admitting she had pleaded her way out of a ticket.

Damian Smith wrote on the NewsMail Facebook page: "Sounds like something Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) would do LOL."

Other interesting science stories listed by the ASMC were that women could tell whether a male stranger had been unfaithful just by looking at his face.

Plus, although they may not buy a sports car our ape cousins also suffer from mid-life crises with a study showing they are happier in their youth and twilight.

And finally "old people smell" is indeed real but, contrary to popular belief, is less intense and more pleasant than the body odours of the young.
 

Top Ten Weird Science News of 2012

1 The world's tiniest vertebrate was discovered on new frog species in New Guinea

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0029797

2 Watch out boys! Women can spot a cheater just by looking at them

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/9/1/20120908

3 One solution to Australian fires and feral population was to introduce elephants and other large mammals

http://www.smc.org.au/2012/02/round-up-bring-elephants-to-australia-nature-comment-piece-%E2%80%93-experts-respond/

4 Chimp off the old block: ape midlife crises were revealed

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/11/14/1212592109.full.pdf+html

5 The cane toad was given a taste of its own medicine

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2012/06/11/rspb.2012.0821.full

6 Another kind of emission: dinosaur farts were linked to climate warming

http://download.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/PIIS0960982212003296.pdf?intermediate=true

7 The proof of innocence paper

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1204.0162v2.pdf

8 Stand aside Dr Dolittle, animals were talking for themselves

http://download.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/PIIS096098221201086X.pdf?intermediate=true

9 "Old people smell" was confirmed as real, but it's not as bad as you may have thought

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0038110

10 Mum's the word: fairy wren babies need to chirp a singular note password to their mothers to feed

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212011256