Museum of Hoaxes

Now midday has passed, if there is anybody still trying to download the Planck data from Wikileaks, I can gently point out it was a all a Poisson D’Avril by that naughty Strudel chappie. Stu has lots of other astro-geeky stuff, so check it out.

Planck leaks wins this years April Fool prize for me – funny, near the knuckle, and had me taken in but bemused for a little while as it was the first one I came across. But I also very much enjoyed Jon Butterworth’s “evidence for String Theory” post. Just slightly nutty. But thats String Theory for you. Outside the science world, Google seems to have taken over the role of the BBC as official purveyor of April Fool jokes. I liked “Introducing Gmail Tap” and the “Google Street Roo“. My kids really liked the Quest View in Google maps. (Check it out before it goes !)

Is this an April Fool’s joke ? There seems to be genuine doubt !

So I was tempted to drift through the InterWeb and collect lots of old classic April Fool jokes, like the Spaghetti Harvest and the Flying Penguins and so on, but I stumbled across a web site that has already done it beautifully – the Museum of Hoaxes. As well as the Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes, it has lots of other hilarious stuff. My personal favourite is the bloke who convinced Alaska residents that Mount Edgecumbe was going to erupt, by setting fire to hundreds of old tires in its crater. The Museum of Hoaxes web site seems to suggest it has an actual physical presence on San Diego, but maybe they just photo-shopped those pictures…

24 Responses to Museum of Hoaxes

  1. Michael Merrifield says:

    Radio 4 announced this morning that as part of its commitment to drama, it would be relocating The Archers to inner-city Birmingham, to make it more relevant to today’s society. I just managed to stop myself reaching for the green ink…

  2. Alan Heavens says:

    The semi-colonial state of San Serriffe is one of my favourites. See . The beach at Gill Sands is exceptionally good; in fact all of Lower Caisse is stunning, right down to Thirty Point. There is a map and a useful source of information at ; I will send you photos after my summer holiday there in June.

    • Monica Grady says:

      San serriffe is also my all time favourite. I especially liked how the islands moved because of tidal erosion and deposition.

      • Michael Merrifield says:

        Because I am that ancient, I also remember the original supplement had an advert from Guinness in it, in which they offered their special brew from San Seriffe where, due to the unusual climatic conditions of its production, when you poured it the head ended up at the bottom.

  3. Albert says:

    My personal favourite is on extracting sounds from ancient pottery. A recent version is listed on

    But I remember variations of this being reported in the 1970’s. Those referred to an acoustic archaeologist, who inserted the needle of a record player (remember those?) into a spiraling groove etched into an old Egyptian vase. The researcher discovered that the etching needle had vibrated in response to sounds in the pottery. By rotating the vase at the same rate that was used by the potter who etched the spiral, a 3000-yr old Egyptian folk song was recovered!

    • Michael Merrifield says:

      Not entirely a hoax: Woodbridge (1969, Proc IEEE, 57, 1465-1466, “Acoustic recordings from antiquity”).

      • Albert Zijlstra says:

        There is method in the madness. Still madness though.

        Baryonic acoustic oscillations are a million times older than Woodbridge’s antiquity. Aural cosmology. Could we measure the pitch change as one of those oscillations passes us?

      • Music of the spheres at last?

  4. As a proper operating system, utilities on VMS don’t do anything as crude as hard-coding error messages in the program. Rather, there is a mechanism whereby a status (which is a 32-bit number where each bit has a well defined meaning) is related to a nicely constructed error message, this being stored in something called a message file. So, a user with sufficient privileges can temporarily replace the real message file with a joke one on 1 April.

    • Albert says:

      Never knew there were so many errors in VMS. wasn’t there a similar (but shorter..) list for windows? The only one I remember from that is ‘error buffer overflow’

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