Around this time in 2011, an event that was definitely not a “blink and you’ll miss it” affair: a staring contest that took over 40 minutes.

The event was called So You Think You Can Stare, and it was being held in Australia’s Northern Territory to raise money for a charitable cause.

On hand were some veterans of the competitive staring circuit (and I guess I should mention that apparently there is a competitive staring circuit).

The two finalists were Fergal “Eyesore” Fleming and “Stare Master” Steven Stagg.

There were four referees on hand to make sure there was no “eyelash-on-eyelash impact” that would affect the starers.

While that would have been a no-no, twitching and making faces were allowed.

And no doubt the competitors were doing plenty of both.

A typical person will typically blink 15 to 20 times a minute, which works out to tens of thousands of times a day.

Blinking is a way to clear stuff out of our eyes that shouldn’t be in there, and it helps keep the oxygen and moisture our eyes need in those eyes.

It’s not like clockwork, though.

We may blink less when we’re intensely concentrating, or when we’re staring at screens.

On the other hand, some good blinks at just the right times can be the short breaks our brains need, to help us stay focused.

When you get out of that habit and stop blinking, it gets weird.

And it doesn’t feel great.

When the event had gone past the half hour mark, Eyesore said his eyes were, well, sore.

He said it felt like he was getting a tattoo on his eyeball.

But the contest continued.

And since the finalists needed to concentrate on their staring, they couldn’t really do much else for the length of the competition.

So it was really just two dudes looking at each other, minute after minute, as their eyes got more and more strained.

Not the most dramatic sporting event of all time, at least until the ending.

After 40 minutes and 59 seconds, the Stare Master blinked.

Eyesore was declared the winner, and the people who’d been staring at the competitive staring final for that whole long time could go look at something else.

A research team in Japan has developed a way to use artificial intelligence to make “a system capable of interpreting various emotional states in chickens.”

Their system used “complex mathematical algorithms” end quote to interpret the meaning behind chicken vocalizations.

I’d settle for AI telling us why the chicken crossed the road.


Victory for ‘Eyesore’ in 40-minute staring competition (ABC Australia)

Scientists Say New AI Can Translate What Chickens Are Saying (Futurism)

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Photo by Thom Wong via Flickr/Creative Commons