Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fools' Day in Physics

It's April Fools' Day, so as usual, a number of prank papers have blossomed on the physics preprint arXiv -- this year produced a bumper crop.  Here are the ones that I was actually able to identify:

Pipe-cleaner Model of Neuronal Network Dynamics
Using pipe-cleaners to model networks of neurons. I remember when pipe-cleaners were actually used to clean pipes.

Astrology in the Era of Exoplanets
As the title suggests, the paper explores the impact of exoplanets on astrology.  Written by one of our (Vanderbilt) grad students.

An unexpected new explanation of seasonality in suicide attempts: Grey's Anatomy broadcasting
Shameless as I am, I draw the line at jokes about suicide

Pi in the sky
Looking for features in the digits of pi, and relating them to patterns in the cosmic microwave background.  We scientists just can't resist making jokes about pi.

SET-E: The Search for Extraterrestrial Environmentalism
Looking for signs of pollution clean-up in the atmospheres of extrasolar planets.  I have to admit that I thought this might be a serious paper at first (which of course is the point of a good April Fools' prank). And I'm not entirely convinced that this is a totally ridiculous idea!

It's a lot harder to be funny than to be smart.

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