Hi, Steve Mirsky here, and this is the Scientific American Science Talk podcast’s quiz, TOTALLY BOGUS. Here are four science stories, but only three are true. See if you know which story is TOTALLY BOGUS.
Story 1, Tokyo now has two solar stations where people can leave their electric bicycles to get topped off.
Story 2, the number of Google searches being conducted on smartphones went up five times in the last two years.
Story 3, a new study finds that about five million times each year somebody jumps the turnstiles and catches a stolen ride on a New York City subway.
And story 4, researchers are trying to stop mosquitoes that carry dengue fever by interfering with their ability to urinate.
Story 1 is true, Sanyo has put up the two solar lots, each of which can charge 100 electric bikes. Electricity for the parking lots’ own lighting is also provided by the solar panels.
Story 2 is true, five times as many Google searches happen on smartphones today compared with just two years ago. Google also expects that the ad rates for Google pages on mobile phones could eventually exceed the rates for regular computer web searches. Because so many of us are going mobile.
And story 4 is true, mosquitoes that take a blood meal need to urinate to be light enough to fly away. Blocking a protein in the insects’ renal tubes makes it unable to wizz. Leaving it susceptible to being thwacked. And incredibly unhappy. For more, check out the March 10 episode of the daily SciAm podcast, 60-Second-Science.
All of which means that story 3, about five million stolen subway rides annually in New York, is TOTALLY BOGUS. Because five million was the old estimate. But a new study finds that the actual number is almost four times as many. Some 19 million times each year somebody skips paying their way onto the trains. The old estimate was based on token clerk observations. But token clerks are busy with other tasks. So dedicated turnstile observers were brought in and their records generated the new figure. Because as the great New Yorker Yogi Berra once said, you can observe a lot just by watching.
Well, that’s it for this quickie edition of Science Talk. Get your science news at www.scientificamerican.com. And check out the video feature on the dark side of male pregnancy…in seahorses. For Scientific American, I’m Steve Mirsky, thanks for clicking on us.