"Thanks to enzymes, humans are solar-powered." 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony & Lectures. [more inside]
With the momentous series finale of Breaking Bad just hours away, fans of the show are hungry for something, anything to wile away the time before the epic conclusion tonight. So why not kick back and chew the fat with your fellow MeFites with the help of a little tool I like to call "The Periodic Table of Breaking Bad." [more inside]
British comedian Josie Long explores All the Planet's Wonders in a very short series on BBC radio: Collecting. Animals. Astronomy. Plants.
"I attempted to repeat the experiment, however once my assistant discovered that I didn’t really have any tuna, she declined to participate in any further tests."
The Pliocene Pussy Cat Theory (which originally appeared in The Annals of Improbable Research) argues that the human ancestor Australopithecus domesticated cats for hunting, defense and harvesting static electricity to make it easier to climb trees. The theory, which was proposed by Lorenzo Love, is a parody of the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (which is critiqued here and in shorter form here). Whether you know about the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis or not, the Pliocene Pussy Cat Theory, and Love's follow-up, the Subterranean Ape Theory, will completely alter your understanding of human evolution.
In case you needed another reason to love/fear them: With a tone that sometimes rings condescending or conspiratorial but always wonderfully flippant, the best minds of cracked.com discuss the grandest extremities of modern physics.
’Twas the nocturnal time of the preceding day... A science writer's take on the famous Christmas poem.
How Computers Work. Recently recovered & scanned in by the good folks at BoingBoing, this was an early textbook explaining the fundamental concepts & inner workings of modern computing systems. I believe a slightly different edition of this book was my own introduction to computers when I was in 6th grade or so, which explains a lot about my approach to using them.
Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
Following in the footsteps of prestigious publications like the Annals of Improbable Research, NCBI ROFL, Rejecta Mathematica, the Journal of Universal Rejection, and the Journal of Unpublished Results, comes the Journal of Are You Fucking Kidding. Previous, previously, and previouslier. h/t to Retraction Watch
Futurama has always been a haven for geek humor, but last week's episode "The Prisoner of Benda" pushed things to the next level. First hinted at in an American Physical Society interview with showrunner David X. Cohen (previously), staff writer and mathematics Ph.D. Ken Keeler devised a novel mathematical proof based on group theory to resolve the logic puzzle spawned by the episode's brain-swapping (but no backsies!) conceit. Curious how it works? Read the proof (in the show or in plain text), then see it in action using this handy chart. Too much math for a lazy Sunday? Then entertain your brain with lengthy clips from the episode -- including two of the funniest moments in the series in the span of two minutes.
Polio: A Virus’ Struggle is a Graphic Novella by James Weldon. When we eradicate a disease, do we ever think about how it may effect the disease? Learn all about the history of Poliomyelitis, as he tells his story to the group.
The Annals of Improbable Research magazine is available in two free online formats. Tagline: Research the makes people LAUGH and then THINK. Visit some of the site's classics or simply check out the newest members in the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists. Hours and hours of brain stimulating fun.
Duelity - the beginning in two parts The Vancover Film School does a really cool visual retelling of creation. The 'biblical' version with a science edge. The 'evolution' version with a biblical edge. And you can watch them both at the same time!
Theory of Humor. A scientific paper, written by Tom Veatch, describes his Theory of Humor. When is something funny? When is it not funny? When does it cross the line? Why are puns generally shitty? And the mysterious and magical powers elephant jokes have on children, revealed! A great data set to use for practice in applying the theories presented in the paper can be found here.
Speculative Grammarian is the premier scholarly journal featuring research in the neglected field of satirical linguistics. Don't miss: Re-Rating the World's Languages, Hunting the Elusive Labio-Nasal, The Endangered Languages Armamentation Programme, New speech disorder linguists contracted discovered! and of course Choose Your Own Career in Linguistics.
"To dream of eating pancakes, denotes that you will have excellent success in all enterprises undertaken at this time." "To dream of lard, signifies a rise in fortune will soon gratify you." "Dairy is a good dream both to the married and unmarried." "To dream of seeing your thigh smooth and white, denotes unusual good luck and pleasure." "To dream of noodles, denotes an abnormal appetite and desires. There is little good in this dream." "To dream of seeing a marmot, denotes that sly enemies are approaching you in the shape of fair women." -- What's in a Dream? A Scientific and Practical Interpretation of Dreams by Gustavus Hindman Miller, published in 1901.
Electrical lighting conspiracy theories can be paranoid, downright bizarre, or actually pretty reasonable.
The Science Creative Quarterly. Not technically a 'quarterly,' but a 'fortnightly'. with both news/educational content (Hollywood vs. Science: How Far Are We From Intarstellar Travel?; Asparagus, Stinky Pee, and Scientific Curiosity) and creative content (Sexy Universe; African Lion Family Objects to Their Portrayal in Recent Discovery Channel Documentary; Trash Talkin' at the Aquarium.)
Arsole? Putrescine? Dickite? Moronic Acid? This list of Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names (one NSFW image) proves that scientists can be funny, as does this Stuffy Scientists page, and Mark Isaak's terribly thorough Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature (see, especially, Puns). If you are tempted to wonder what the Father of Taxonomy might have thought of the irreverence of those last two collections, keep in mind that Linnaeus himself named this plant "Clitoria Mariana" in honor of an 'acquaintance', according to this page.
Coyotus Interruptus? New Scientists readers were asked to come up with new and necessary scientific words and their (amusing) definitions. These are the results.
In these troubled times, we would all do well to remember the lesson of the Apasht. But you'll have a hard time finding this vanished Neolithic culture in any mainstream anthropology textbook. That's why these archives are such an invaluable resource.
The world's funniest joke. The results are in. Here it is. Using science, British researchers have determined the funniest joke in the world.
I don't remember chemistry being this interesting.
I usually wouldn't post something that I found through the office "humor" mailing list, but this just seemed very MetaFilterable. Physics geeks especially take note.