Tuesday, March 16, 2004

A party game for scientists

Match The Publication To The Nationality

a) The paper has 37 authors. The text starts with a detailed
description of the origin of the universe in the big bang, covers the
formation of heavy elements in supernovae, the Milky Way, the birth of
the Sun and planets, the origin of life, plate techtonics, human
evolution, societal development, the complete history of the relevant
field, starting with preshistory through the ancient Greeks and
medieval alchemists. The actual unique results reported occur in the
final paragraph of the paper and involve a slightly more detailed
measurement of the half life of negative ions in neutral polymer
solution than was reported last year by the same researchers at the
same annual conference.

b) The author has 23 pages of painstakenly worked out calculations.
He's obviously an intelligent man who knows his subject thouroughly.
Reading between the lines it appears that his actual apparatus
consisted of some twisted bailing wire, used chewing gum and a broken
toaster. This publication would probably have been a significant
contribution to the field 30 years ago. As it is, you wonder why the
author bothered.

c) The author might have an important contribution. Or maybe not. It's
hard to tell. The structure of the paper is incoherent, and careens
recklessly between snippets of significant data and pointless detail.
It's as if he had no idea what is important data to present, and what
isn't, and just wrote down anything that popped into his head as it

d) Total bollocks. The author is confused beyond belief, and presents
results that violate all of known physics, causality, common sense, the
laws of god and man, and probably the tax code. All presented with such
certainty and assurance that you want to pound your head with a
concrete block until it goes away. You wonder if the author found his
Ph.D. on the sidewalk, or in a box of Crackerjacks.

e) Not all that bad, really. Looks like he did some significant work.
And the description of his experiment is giving you a serious case of
apparatus envy. This paper almost makes sitting through three days of
the other idiots worth it. This is the only paper you've seen so far
that you might want to read carefully when you get home. The author's
list of degrees and titles is longer than the actual text.





5) Indian

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