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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Any Idiot Could Have Come Up With The Car

During a recent visit to the Smithsonian's National Museum Of American History, I was more than a little amazed to discover they had dedicated an entire freakin' room to the history of the automobile. I've seen some pretty strange things in museums, with the usual mumbo-jumbo brainiac explanations, and I've heard people talk about how the car is the "most important" invention of the 20th century.

I was under the impression that things in museums are supposed to be interesting. I want to see remarkable innovations created by humanity's greatest minds, not some souped-up hay wagon that any bozo with some scrap metal and a free afternoon could dream up.

When you get down to it, a car is really nothing more than a couple of chairs on wheels—wheels, mind you, being those round things that have been around forever! It was only a matter of time before someone thought to plop a seat down on four of them and roll around in it. Just toss in an internal-combustion motor utilizing a high-octane accelerant to produce kinetic energy to rotate the axle, and whammo! You've got yourself an automobile.

It's so simple, it's almost impossible not to invent.

It may have been the first readily-accessible, self-propelled vehicle to allow efficient travel between distant cities, thereby radically altering the course of human civilization, but big frickin' deal. I wouldn't go so far as to call the car "inventive." The horse-and-buggy already got us halfway there, thank you very much. It doesn't take a mechanical engineer with extensive knowledge of metallurgy and thermodynamics to make the leap from that to gas-powered cars, am I right? It's the next logical step—watch: I walk around. I want to move faster. This horse isn't fast enough. Car. See? I just invented the car again in 10 seconds, so excuse me if I'm not jumping up and down at your "ground-breaking advancement in personal transportation."

I guess they're just giving out Smithsonian exhibits willy-nilly these days, because the museum had a whole wall dedicated to Karl Benz, the supposed creator of the automobile. Am I supposed to be impressed just because he was the first guy to put the idea for the car down on paper, even if everyone else was thinking the exact same thing right before he said it, designed it, and developed a speed regulation system and ignition technique to make it functional? Just because you're the first don't make you a genius.

A sofa-on-wheels with an eight-cylinder engine containing a functioning camshaft that activates its valves in perfect synchronicity with its pistons sounds exactly like something an underachieving third-grader would slap together the night before the school science fair. So you figured out a way to convert a relatively small amount of an easily accessible combustible via the four-stroke cycle into an enormous amount of energy capable of propelling a two-ton chassis from zero to 60 in under a minute? Yeah? And?

I should thank the Smithsonian, however, for pointing out how any old numbskull, if given the time and inclination, will eventually put together this supposedly world-altering little doodad. After reading how it's nothing more than some tires, a couple seat belts, an engine, a combustion cycle, intake valve, oil sump, and complex ignition system with a distributor timed precisely so that wires are sparked only once at a time, the good people at the Smithsonian have taken what was already one big exercise in pointlessness to a whole new level.

It's sure as heck no cotton gin.

I thought I was living in an age of innovation. But if the car is the best thing we've been able to come up with in the past hundred years, then color me bored. Want to hear a better way to get around, off the top of my head? Okay, how about giant robots carrying us from place to place in human-sized satchels slung across their chests?

And even that might be too easy.


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