Unintentionally Inappropriate Science Papers

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.

  1. A N Oraevsky, Spontaneous emission in a cavity, PHYS-USP, 37 (4), 393-405 (1994)
  2. D Kleppner, Uninhibited Spontaneous Emission, Phys. Rev. Lett. 47, 233 – 236 (1981)
  3. 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)
  4. W. Simon, Nuts Have No Hair, Class. Quant. Grav. 12, L125-L130 (1995)
  5. S. Tanveer, Surprises in Viscous Fingering, J. Fluid Mech. vol. 409, pp. 273–308 (2000)
  6. C. Glocker, F. Pfeiffer, Multiple impacts with friction in rigid multibody systems, Nonlinear Dynamics, Vol. 7 Number 4, 471-497 (1995)
  7. 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)
  8. 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)
  9. 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)
  10. X. He, M. Dembo, Numerical Simulation of Oil-Droplet Cleavage by Surfactant, J. Biomech. Eng., Volume 118,  Issue 2, 201 (1996)
  11. 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…

Author

  • Sasha Corum - Jacks of Science Writer

    Sasha is the Senior Editor at Jacks of Science leading the writing team. She has been in the scientific field since her middle school years and could not imagine working in anything other than molecular atoms, kinetic energy, and deep space exploration. Dr. Corum has had her work featured in various print and online publications over the years with her most popular piece covering the First Law of Thermodynamics and ionization.