Tag Archives: humor

Stuff I find funny.

Poo and Shit, Revisited

Correspondent Bob has provided an interesting update on some research I did on relative publication rates back in 2010:

Just as a follow up to your Poo vs Shit analysis, a PubMed search today (11 April 2013) reveals that Shit is on the rise with 23 articles now with A. having first authorship on 7 and second on 4. That’s a 3.3-fold increase overall compared to Poo’s modest 16.9% increase from 359 to 420. As an additional modicum of irony, A. [Shit]’s articles are mostly related to BROWNian particle motions.

Shit’s fans will no doubt be pleased with these new hits.

It’s 2012.12.22: Time For a New Doomsdate

It’s about 30 minutes after the Winter Solstice now, which means the ancient Mayan calendar has officially ticked over to a new year, and thousands of doomsayers are looking a bit foolish right about now. If you’re one of them, don’t despair: I have the updated doomsdate right here for you.

Yes, that’s right, some Wise Old Ones Who Must Have Known Everything Because They Lived A Long Time Ago and Spoke Cryptically have entrusted me with their Great Secret. I know the true final date, the End of Time, the Last Day.

You see, I bought a date stamp about twelve years ago, and I knew right away that it was more than a mere office supply. Sure, this stamp would let me mark dates on invoices I sent, checks I received, bills I paid, and orders I placed or canceled, but it also encoded an end date. Rather than fill all of the available “year” spaces, the Wise Old Ones filled only a subset of them. Why?

Obviously, they meant to communicate something. And the latest year they included on this artifact was 2013. I can stamp all I like until the final day of the final month of 2013, but after that, nothing. They presupposed that nobody, anywhere, would ever want to stamp anything after that date.

39 December 2013: The world will be backordered.

39 December 2013: The world will be backordered.

My own random actions since 2000 have decoded the rest of the message, and revealed our civilization’s bizarre fate. I have answered, canceled, billed, charged, checked, delivered, entered, paid, received, and shipped various stampable items over the years, but there is one option that I have never, ever felt the need to exercise. That action is obviously being saved for last. Very last.

Carefully advancing the stamp to its last possible date, and aligning the action wheel to its only un-inked position, I reveal the terrifying truth. On 39 December 2013, the world will be backordered.

Prepare yourself.

Making Your Experiments Easier to Digest

One of the great things about being a science journalist is being among the first to hear about technologies that are cool, useful, and/or downright weird. Today, for example, I learned that the world’s leading manufacturer of artificial laboratory stomachs has released a fascinating new series of videos. You can check out their channel on YouTube, where you’ll find such gems as this brief instructional piece that covers – quite literally – the care and feeding of your artificial laboratory stomach:

Who’s More Productive? No, How.

There’s a common belief that science shouldn’t try to answer “why” questions. Instead, it should focus on what it’s good at: answering “how” questions. I wondered whether that was really true, so I compared the relative productivity of Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, and ranked them according to their PubMed publication records. Here are the results:

Productivity of questions

Productivity of questions

While this seems to bear out the conventional wisdom – How is more than fivefold ahead of Why – it suggests that Why is not completely unproductive, particularly when compared to Who, What, When, and Where. Indeed, Why’s 83 citations trounce Who’s three and When’s one, and we can only wonder what What and Where (zero citations each) have been up to.

If you’re wondering how How maintains its lead, the key seems to be diversification. Just a peek at the first five of How’s 554 papers indicates an incredible breadth of interests:

How's publications

How's publications

First Aid

I doubt I will ever craft a sentence that starts as intriguingly as the one midway through this article: “If you decide to administer first aid using a chain saw…”