If we learned one thing in 2016, it’s that you can never trust the public to make a sound decision, and that’s exactly what happened when the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) held a vote to choose the name of its brand new $340m research ship.
The winner, by a very wide margin, was Royal Research Ship (RRS) Boaty McBoatface. The daft name was first suggested as a prank by BBC radio presenter James Hand, who never expected it to catch on. But the Brits’ famously silly sense of humour led 124,109 of them to pick Boaty McBoatface as their favourite, four times as many as voted for RRS Poppy Mai – the name of a 16-month-old girl with incurable cancer – which came second.
Sadly, the killjoys at NERC decide to go with the considerably more sensible RRS Sir David Attenborough, after everybody’s favourite naturalist, and a subsequent petition calling for Attenborough to change his name to Sir Boaty McBoatface, which attracted more than 2,000 signatures, failed to persuade him it was a good idea.
However, Boaty McBoatface will live on – one of the ship’s submersibles will bare the wacky moniker when the ship is completed in 2019.
Science isn’t always serious. The Weird Science series, collated by the Australian Science Media Centre, serves up the most quirky, curious and downright bizarre science stories of 2016.