Posted tagged ‘geek humor’

So You Want To Win A Nobel Prize…

April 7, 2015

Excellent advice from one who has.

Rule number two in this list of ten commandments goes beyond the needed snark (and the first principle, which might be called the Tao of science: the only way to achieve Nobelity is not to strive for it).


This second principle actually says something dead on point on where discovery happens, in an argument that I think bears on much beyond science itself.  It requires that the prize-aspirant should “hope that your experiments fail occasionally.”  Why?


There are usually two main reasons why experiments fail. Very often, it is because you screwed up in the design by not thinking hard enough about it ahead of time. Perhaps more often, it is because you were not careful enough in mixing the reagents (I always ask students if they spat in the tube or, more recently, were texting when they were labeling their tubes). Sometimes, you are not careful enough in performing the analytics (did you put the thermometer in upside down, as I once witnessed from a medical student whose name now appears on my list of doctors who I won’t allow to teat me even if I’m dying?). These problems are the easiest to deal with by always taking great care in designing and executing experiments. If they still fail, then do them over again! But the more interesting reason that experiments fail is because nature is trying to tell you that the axioms on which you based the experiment are wrong. This means the dogma in the field is wrong (often the case with dogma). If you are lucky, as I was, then the dogma will be seriously wrong, and you can design more experiments to find out why. If you are really lucky, then you will stumble onto something big enough to be prizeworthy.

And with that, a chance to think about non-stupid things for a while.  Open thread, y’all

Image:  Diego Velasquez, The Drunkards, or the Triumph of Bacchus1629.

Always Be Innovating

April 1, 2015

Via Boing Boing, this, from Google Japan:

Most scary:  the seeming universal nature of hipster affect.

And, with that….top of the day to you all.

Now That’s An Interesting Approach To Research…

October 25, 2010

Just a bit of Monday silliness before diving back into the struggle.

How’s this for a protocol (in a study that shall remain nameless to protect the proofreading reputations of its authors) through which the researchers plan to test a new scheme for tissue classification:

Since the problem was rather small—larger data set are being prepared to be run at the supercomputing facilities provided by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications—we run the ten-fold cross-validation runs in a 3GHz dual core Pentium box with 2 GB of rum.

I’m not sure just how looped my computer could get on the mojitos to be made out of 2GB of Captain Morgan’s, nor do I hope to find out.

Depressingly serious stuff to resume shortly.

Image: Joe Machine, “Sailor and Rum

Monday Rude Humor: Einstein on Simultanaeity Edition

December 15, 2008

A much quoted quip by Einstein goes something like this:

Spend a minute with your hand on a hot stove, and it feels like an hour.  Spend an hour with a pretty girl, and it feels like a minute.  That’s relativity!

Hidden within relativity, if not the joke, is the insight derived from Einstein’s analysis of the relativity of simultanaeity.  Think the famous lighting/train thought experiment.

Now comes xkcd’s reanalysis of the concept, to which, this being a family blog, I will link, and not embed.

Enjoy the week…..

Friday xkcd break: When Mathematicans Stray

December 5, 2008

With thanks, as always to xkcd, in whose head it must be passing strange, (though fun) to live.

Friday Inanity: Stupid Cat Pictures Dept.

November 21, 2008

xkcd speaks truth

November 5, 2008

I hate it when some stranger gets my psychosis so damn spot on:

James Fallows Shows Mercy…

October 21, 2008

On his much abused USB stick. His wrap here — which includes the announcement, gratifying to those of his readers moved to sympathy for his forlorn servant, that the loyal slab of memory has now, at last, been translated to a better place.

My comment here was mostly an excuse to write up the donkey factoid incuded therein.  My only additional thought is that for all that Fallows swears — cross his heart! — that he intended no ill to his suspiciously frequently tech-hospitalized bit of circuitry, this still seems like a case for that still purely imaginary Society for the Preventio of Cruelty to Gadgets.  Just sayin….

Up Before My Kid Deep Thought: Presidential Politics Parallel Universe Edition

October 1, 2008

Just think:  if one justice out of five had voted with the Force instead of the Dark Side…there is a non-zero chance that the Democratic Party nominee for President in 2008 would be Vice President Joseph Lieberman.

Charles Darwin Talks Like A Pirate

September 19, 2008

It is, as I am sure everyone knows, International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Now I know y’all will be honoring this important day in all the appropriate ways. But when I discovered this handy Pirate translator, I realized that those of us in and around science have, perhaps, lagged in the intensity of our festival rites.

So, without further nattering, I offer to all, an evolutionary Pirate offering: this translation, which I’m sure you will all recognize.

Aye, thar is grandeur in this ‘iew o’ life, with its se’eral powers, ha’in’ been originally breathed int’ a few forms or int’ one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cyclin’ on accordin’ t’ the fixed law o’ gra’ity, from so simple a beginnin’ endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and be bein’, e’ol’ed.

Do have at it yourselves. If you get anything good, feel free to post it to the comments.

Image: N. C. Wyeth, “Captain Bill Bones,” (Illustration for R. L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island), 1911. Source: Wikimedia Commons.