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Science & Technology

How Clinical Trials Work

Prescription medications undergo rigorous rounds of testing and approval before hitting the consumer market. The Onion breaks down the steps involved in this process

Scientists Develop New Extra-Sloppy Peach

DAVIS, CA—Explaining that the latest strain of the fruit was far softer and runnier than previous varieties, agricultural scientists at the University of California, Davis announced Thursday the successful development of a new extra-sloppy peach.

SpaceX’s Plan To Colonize Mars

SpaceX founder Elon Musk continues to lay the groundwork to attempt the human colonization of Mars. Here’s a step-by-step guide to his plan:

The Pros And Cons Of Self-Driving Cars

With Uber’s robot cars debuting this week in Pittsburgh, many wonder whether driverless technology will improve or endanger our lives. The Onion weighs the pros and cons of self-driving cars

How Animals Go Extinct

With an estimated 40 percent of species on earth now considered endangered, many wonder how it’s possible for these animals to be wiped out. The Onion provides a step-by-step breakdown of how species go extinct

Horrible Facebook Algorithm Accident Results In Exposure To New Ideas

MENLO PARK, CA—Assuring users that the company’s entire team of engineers was working hard to make sure a glitch like this never happens again, Facebook executives confirmed during a press conference Tuesday that a horrible accident last night involving the website’s algorithm had resulted in thousands of users being exposed to new concepts.

Team Of Vatican Geneticists Successfully Clone God

VATICAN CITY—Describing the groundbreaking work as a major step forward for theological research, a team of Vatican geneticists held a press conference Tuesday at the Apostolic Palace to announce they had successfully cloned God.

Dad Shares Photo Album Through Never-Before-Seen Website

SECAUCUS, NJ—Wondering aloud how the father of three even managed to find the online image-hosting service, family members of local dad Phil Yates told reporters Monday the 57-year-old had shared a photo album with them through a never-before-seen website.

NASA Discovers Distant Planet Located Outside Funding Capabilities

WASHINGTON—Noting that the celestial body lies within the habitable zone of its parent star and could potentially harbor liquid water, NASA officials announced at a press conference Thursday they have discovered an Earth-like planet located outside their funding capabilities.

‘DSM-5’ Updated To Accommodate Man Who Is Legitimately Being Ordered To Kill By The Moon

ARLINGTON, VA—Saying they were committed to ensuring the influential reference text accurately represented all known psychological conditions, leading members of the American Psychiatric Association announced Monday they would update the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition to accommodate a man who is legitimately being ordered by the moon to kill those around him.

NASA Launches First Cordless Satellite

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL—In what experts are calling a breakthrough achievement that is poised to revolutionize American space exploration and telecommunications, NASA announced Friday it has successfully launched its first cordless satellite into orbit.

What Is Pokémon Go?

Since its debut last Thursday, the augmented-reality smartphone app Pokémon Go has been downloaded millions of times and has grown publisher Nintendo’s stock by 25 percent. The Onion answers some common questions about the game and its unprecedented success.

Factory Robot Working On Some Of Its Own Designs After Hours

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC—Saying it had been mulling over the “fun little side project” for a while, an Electroimpact Quadbot reportedly put in some extra work after hours at the Boeing assembly plant Wednesday to try out a few of its own original designs.

Books Vs. E-Readers

Though e-readers have increasingly supplanted books in the digital age, many bibliophiles defend the importance of physical texts. Here is a side-by-side comparison of physical books and e-books
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Study Finds Jack Shit

BALTIMORE—A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins University announced Monday that a five-year study examining the link between polyphenols and lower cholesterol rates has found jack shit.

“I can’t explain what happened,” head researcher Dr. Jeremy Ingels said. “We meticulously followed correct scientific procedure. Our methods were sufficiently rigorous that they should have produced some sort of result. Instead, we found out nothing.”

Added Ingels: “Nothing!”

As Ingels stepped aside to compose himself, fellow researcher Dr. Thomas Chen took the podium to discuss the $7 million jack-shit-yielding study.

“We are all very upset,” Chen said. “When we began, this looked so promising, I would have bankrolled it myself. Now, after five years, I couldn’t tell you if polyphenols even exist.”

The study, which Chen characterized as a “huge waste of time and money,” was financed by a Johns Hopkins alumni grant to determine the effects of the compound polyphenol on cholesterol. A known antioxidant found in herbs, teas, olive oil, and wines, polyphenol was originally thought to lower cholesterol—a theory that remains unproven because the Johns Hopkins researchers couldn’t prove squat.

“We can’t say zip about whether it lowers cholesterol,” Ingels said. “We don’t know if it raises cholesterol. Hell, we don’t know if it joins with cholesterol to form an unholy alliance to take over your gall bladder. At this point, I couldn’t prove that a male donkey has nuts if they were swinging in my face.”

Dr. Jeremy Ingels, head of the total-waste-of-time-and-money study.

When a study’s results are inconclusive, a research team often asks for more time and money to finish. Such is not the case with the Johns Hopkins project.

“No. No fucking way,” Ingels said. “I don’t know about Dr. Chen, but I know that Dr. [Kerri] Bruce, who has been a real trouper through all of this, is quitting science to start a catfish farm in Louisiana. Me, I have a long date with my bed and cable TV. I may still do something in science, but if I do, it’ll probably be something easy, like re-linking cigarette smoking with lung cancer, just to get my confidence back up. It’s too early to say. I’ll have a better idea after a month of watching the Game Show Network and eating raspberry danishes.”

Ingels also spoke of Dr. James Long, a biochemist who worked on the inconclusive study until lapsing into alcoholism six months ago.

“Poor Jim just couldn’t take it,” Ingels said. “We were all hitting the bars pretty hard once we began to see that things weren’t adding up. I think he took it the hardest because he was the one who proposed the study in the first place. I guess he was accustomed to research leading to something... anything.”

In spite of the fruitless results, other researchers at Johns Hopkins expressed confidence that, in time, some positive results can be gleaned from the study. Ingels has relinquished all collected data to the university, but stressed that he will not offer any further assistance.

“You want to look over this big fat goose egg, go nuts,” Ingels said. “I don’t want to hear the word ‘polyphenol’ for the remainder of 2003.”

Chen then took the podium to make the team’s closing statements.

“I just want to clarify that we had the best intentions going into this study,” Chen said. “We thought we would make a scientific discovery about polyphenols and cholesterol that would benefit the health of millions. I guess we were wrong. We tried to find a link, but instead we found bubkes.”

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