April Fools for Physicists
April 3, 2012 5:04 AM   Subscribe

Some physicists celebrate April Fools Day by posting spurious papers to the arXiv preprint server.

Non-detection of the Tooth Fairy at Optical Wavelengths
We report a non-detection, to a limiting magnitude of V = 18.4, of the elusive entity commonly described as the Tooth Fairy. We review various physical models and conclude that follow-up observations must precede an interpretation of our result.

The Proof of Innocence
A way to fight your traffic tickets. The paper was awarded a special prize of $400 that the author did not have to pay to the state of California.
On the Ratio of Circumference to Diameter for the Largest Observable Circles: An Empirical Approach
I present here a measurement of pi as determined for the largest observable circles. Intriguingly, the value of 16/5 asserted by the House of Representatives of the State of Indiana in 1897 is still viable, although strongly disfavored relative to 22/7, another popular value. The oft-used `small-circle' value of 3 is ruled out at greater than 5σ. We discuss connections with string theory, sterile neutrinos, and possibilities for (very large) lower limits to the size of the Universe.
Gods as Topological Invariants
We show that the number of gods in a universe must equal the Euler characteristics of its underlying manifold. By incorporating the classical cosmological argument for creation, this result builds a bridge between theology and physics and makes theism a testable hypothesis. Theological implications are profound since the theorem gives us new insights in the topological structure of heavens and hells. Recent astronomical observations can not reject theism, but data are slightly in favor of atheism.
posted by alby (16 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
No discussion of the time-variation of fundamental constants would be complete without a mention of the Oklo natural fission reactor.
posted by The White Hat at 5:17 AM on April 3, 2012

And indeed, this is no discussion of the time-variation of fundamental constants.

That proof of innocence paper is amazing. Did the author really get a ticket for non-stoppage based on the police "observing" while behind another car?
posted by DU at 5:19 AM on April 3, 2012

One has to be careful with these in the lab. I think it's because I often joke about things like the "small circle approximation" of pi (e.g. sqrt(8) = 3 for large values of 8, maybe you've got an odd number of minus sign errors, everyone knows atoms aren't colored but are labeled, etc.) that my colleagues are certain I'm an idiot.
posted by fatllama at 6:31 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

"We performed this transformation because it is what our software does and we hadn’t any better ideas."
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:42 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Maybe they are aiming to get published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results?
posted by Renoroc at 6:55 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

No tooth fairy my ass. I am the farking tooth fairy. There are millions of us. It's true each one of us has a fairly limited client base, but all together our name is Legion.sparklydust
posted by jfuller at 8:22 AM on April 3, 2012

I'm going to cite one of these in my next undergrad paper to see if the grader is actually paying attention.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:37 AM on April 3, 2012

I agree with DU - that innocence paper has a story behind it and I want to hear it!
posted by DreamerFi at 8:44 AM on April 3, 2012

"As a result of this unfortunate coincidence, the officer's perception of reality did not properly reflect reality."
posted by Robin Kestrel at 9:23 AM on April 3, 2012

"At this point we gave up and went inside to make breakfast."

Ahhh. Been there, done that. The wisdom moment when you realize you have run out of clues, results, and coffee.
posted by Iosephus at 10:48 AM on April 3, 2012

The references on the tooth fairy article make this so much more hilarious ...


Adam, T., Agafonova, N., Aleksandrov, A., Altinok, O., Alvarez Sanchez, P., Anokhina, A., Aoki, S., Ariga, A., et al. 2011, arXiv:1109.4897

Can Your Child Sense Invisible Monsters? Fox News Channel, 1997 May 22.

Ereditato, Antonio. OPERA experiment reports anomaly in flight time of neutrinos from CERN to Gran Sasso. CERN. 2012 Feb 23. http://press.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases2011/PR19.11E.html

Indecision 2012 - New Hampshire GOP Debates. The Colbert Report. Jon Stewart, Tom Purcell, Stephen Colbert (prod); Jim Hoskinson (dir). Comedy Central. New York, 2012 Jan 9

Seuss, Dr., T. The Tooth Book. Random House, 1981.

Tooth Fairy. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Web. 2012 Mar 31
posted by TurkishGolds at 1:41 PM on April 3, 2012

The Null Packet is the name of my new band.
posted by Decani at 2:59 PM on April 3, 2012

My personal favorite April Fool's paper is from last year, from Dustin Lang and David Hogg:

Searching for comets on the World Wide Web: The orbit of 17P/Holmes from the behavior of photographers (a summary is at astrobites).

In addition to featuring the memorable figure caption "Iz commut in heer?", the paper is remarkable for both doing something completely frivolous (in the April Fool's spirit), while simultaneously introducing a powerful technique into the astronomical literature. I'm going to be (non-ironically!) referencing it in my next paper.
posted by janewman at 11:18 PM on April 3, 2012

April fools is wonderful! :)
posted by jeffburdges at 4:09 PM on April 17, 2012

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