The Nobel prizes were awarded last week. I say prizes in reference to the ever-important Ig Nobel prizes in addition to the normal boring prizes. I say ever-important because the Ig Nobel prizes always have a direct impact on the common man! This year, the Ig Nobel for chemistry was awarded to a group of researchers for discovering that Coca-Cola could be an effective spermicide, where the vanilla Nobel was awarded for discovering some glowing jellyfish protein. Which research truly has more important to the common cola-guzzling man?
The Annals of Improbable Research are always a great source of laughs. Most of which are comedic in a sad way because somehow scientists are getting research grants for absurd things like pouring out caffienated beverages on stuff when you are a poor student surviving mostly on a diet of caffienated beverages.
However, there exists another rare specimen of comedy in scientific literature: unintentional innuendo. To appreciate this low-brow/high-brow LOL-mashup, it helps to fall into a sweet spot of ignorance wherein you don’t quite know the definition of a particular term in the given context, but you confide in the fact that the research is peer-reviewed so you know it can’t be as it sounds!
I’ve included a list of some of my favorites as an example, in a handy semi-correct citation format.
- A N Oraevsky, Spontaneous emission in a cavity, PHYS-USP, 37 (4), 393-405 (1994)
- D Kleppner, Uninhibited Spontaneous Emission, Phys. Rev. Lett. 47, 233 – 236 (1981)
- D. Vlassopoulos, et al. From hairy balls to hairy rods : Using macromolecular chemistry to bridge the gap between polymers and colloids, The Journal of Rheology (2000)
- W. Simon, Nuts Have No Hair, Class. Quant. Grav. 12, L125-L130 (1995)
- S. Tanveer, Surprises in Viscous Fingering, J. Fluid Mech. vol. 409, pp. 273–308 (2000)
- C. Glocker, F. Pfeiffer, Multiple impacts with friction in rigid multibody systems, Nonlinear Dynamics, Vol. 7 Number 4, 471-497 (1995)
- U. Andreaus, P. Casini. Friction oscillator excited by moving base and colliding with a rigid or deformable obstacle. Int. Journal of Non-Linear Mech. Vol. 37, Issue 1 117-133 (2002)
- W. Likos, N. Lu. Automated Measurement of Total Suction Characteristics in High-Suction Range: Application to Assessment of Swelling Potential, Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Vol. 1755 119-128 (2001)
- W. Zhong, M. Zhang, Jet penetration depth in a two-dimensional spout–fluid bed. Chemical Eng. Science. Volume 60, Issue 2, Pages 315-327 (2005)
- X. He, M. Dembo, Numerical Simulation of Oil-Droplet Cleavage by Surfactant, J. Biomech. Eng., Volume 118, Issue 2, 201 (1996)
- R. Wozniak, M. Rout, J. Aitchison. Karyopherins and kissing cousins. Trends in Cell Biology, Vol. 8 Issue 5 184-188 (1998)
Are there any papers of this nature I am missing? Sometimes the titles of papers just aren’t as lewd as I hope. I searched through TATA box papers for hours the other day…