Tribble Cam, and Other April Fools' Day Space Pranks

Today is April Fools' Day, in case you haven't heard.

Obviously, it's a day to be wary of just about everything you read on the Internet, as some of the hilarious "pranks" being executed are difficult to spot.

The most wonderful prank we've seen so far is the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's tribble cam. This streaming webcam is pointed at a container of fuzzy, adorable tribbles — fictional creatures from the original "Star Trek" TV series. Just like other wildlife webcams, such as the bald eagle cam or the panda cam, the tribble cam gives constant live coverage of these adorable creatures. [Astronauts 'Spacewalk' Without Spacesuits in Cosmic Prank]

According to this fantastic video, the museum is engaging in a tribble breeding program. The "bold, innovative, not-at-all-ill-advised experiment" will run for 24 hours, the museum blog reports. Considering the lessons we've learned about tribbles from "Star Trek," we're curious to see how this program evolves over the course of the day. The video is full of Trek references that fans will appreciate.

Here are some more space and science-related April Fools' Day pranks from around the Web.

  • The Huffington Post is reporting that British astronaut Tim Peake has seen an alien UFO, and that NASA will hold a news conference about the sighting next week.
  • As we reported earlier today, the online news site Gizmodo fell for an early April Fools' Day prank this week: the site reported that the Analog Watch Co. was selling a limited set of watches made of rocks brought back from the moon by a Russian lunar lander. The watch company's website really is advertising the sale of these watches — but when visitors to the site click the button to purchase one, they're alerted to the prank.
  • The website Ozy has an article that claims to be a personal essay by the camera man who helped Stanley Kubrick shoot the fake moon landings.
  • ThinkGeek, the ultimate source for science and science-fiction inspired products, has released its annual line of fake April Fools' Day items, including a SpaceX Vertical Landing Mentos & Diet Coke Rocket and a "Star Trek" White Noise Sleep Machine. ThinkGeek started this April Fools' Day tradition in 2001, and since then about 20 percent of the fake items have become real, including the Flux Capacitor USB Charger and the "Star Wars" Tauntaun sleeping bag.
  • The physics news publication Physics World reports that a quantum computer defeated a Jenga master "in five straight games at a tournament in Canada." 
  • Two major particle physics laboratories have announced that they are swapping mascots. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, and CERN, located outside Geneva, Switzerland, are both home to massive particle accelerators, and both have animals living on their campuses. A blog post on the Fermilab news page reports that a bison, formerly of Fermilab, is now at home on the CERN campus, while a CERN sheep has made the trip to the US. According to the blog post, "If the pilot program proves successful, the 2017-2018 exchange will include goats from Berkeley Lab and black bear from Kamioka Observatory in Japan."

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter