Some Seriously Funny Science

The other night I was playing volleyball and, during a team huddle, made a joke that the only players working hard were those with two X chromosomes (a playful jab at the male players on my team). The only response I got was a single, delayed smile along with a bunch of blank looks. That joke certainly would have produced a better reaction among my scientific colleagues, even if that simply meant a bunch of immediate groans.

I happen to think science-minded folks like myself have a terrific sense of humor, it’s just tailored to a more niche audience since a lot of the jokes we tell may not be immediately understood by the average person. While I appreciate comedy in all forms, I delight in laughing at and making jokes related to science.

Since I don’t think I am alone, I thought I would share a few events in today’s blog that really highlight the humor that can be found in the scientific community.

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Thank a Tech or Assistant

Today’s #FridayFeeling is one of gratitude for all of those people who do the things that make our lives easier: lab techs, work-study students, undergraduate assistants. They put up with our requests and changes of mind and help keep our laboratory glassware clean, solutions sterile and experiments running. Do you have someone who helps you keep your experiments up and running?eh26

Two-Sentence Scary Lab Stories

jackolantern_editYour bloggers at Promega Connections like Halloween. In the past we have reviewed our top scary blogs and provided lists of things to do with pumpkins and suggestions for what to do when you have too much leftover Halloween candy. This year we are jumping on the 2-sentence horror story bandwagon with a twist: the 2-sentence scary/funny lab story. Here are a few of our creations. If you have one of your own, leave it in the comments.

saveI had just finished writing the final chapter of my dissertation, when a pop up box appeared :“Are you sure you want to exit without saving changes”. Then the screen went blank. Continue reading

Science News for April the First

This year I have the uncommon honor of blogging on April 1st. For those people who do not know, the first day of April is called April Fool’s Day where jokes, practical and otherwise, abound and news headlines may or may not be disingenuous. For example, Google is introducing Google Nose to improve and share olfactory experiences. Can you spot which of the following science news stories were created for the holiday?

The Desinovian genome that was recently sequenced was actually found to be a close relative to that of Neandertals. In fact, the close alignment and identity of the two genome sequences means that these two separate designated ancestors of humans are, in fact, most likely the same species. This means that Neandertals had a wider continental distribution than first thought, indicating a greater likelihood of their genetics becoming part of modern Homo sapiens.

In an interesting role reversal, antibiotic-sensitive bacteria are mounting a reproductive blitz to take back territory ceded to antibiotic-resistant bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-(NDM-1) producing strain of Klebsiella pneumonia and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). The newest territorial battleground is the human body. One woman recovered after infection with multidrug-resistant MRSA when treatment with ampicillin cleared up the infection in a week.

Bacteria have also taken the headline in a new way: gut microbiota from mice that had slimmed down after gastric bypass surgery were transplanted into obese mice, inducing weight loss without surgery. This research is the just latest in studies looking at how the microbes in the gut influence the entire organism. If this research can be replicated in humans, gastric bypass surgery may lose out to a knifeless solution.

#Overlyhonestmethods

Frustrated scientistThis week @dr_leigh started a highly popular Twitter hashtag #overlyhonestmethods that has brought hundreds of scientists across the globe out of the proverbial Twitter woodwork. Some of us here at Promega Connections have been reliving our bench science careers and following the hashtag with great interest. Someone will call out a new post to the hashtag, and we will chuckle and start telling stories of our research careers. It’s amazing the things I am learning about my colleagues. Scientists are careful and detail-oriented folks, but the practice of science on a daily basis can be frustrating, especially when you come in the next day to find that none of your colonies grew or that you forgot to add the Taq to your PCR. This hashtag has been a delightful, fun way for scientists around the world to connect, express their common frustruations and laugh a little before returning to the serious work at hand. Continue reading

Spoetry from Promega Connections

ScienceOnline 2012 and the connections I made through it continue to inspire me. On Wednesday, April 11, @BoraZ, one of the Science Online organizers, tweeted a link to a website that described Spoetry, poetry made from spam. Spam poetry purists look for the poetry written by the spammers, but I’m taking a slightly different approach to spoetry. I want to turn spam into “art” (I use the term “art” loosely.) For quite sometime I have maintained a running file of some of the more entertaining spam comments that have come across the Promega Connections blog and through my Promega email account, but I haven’t quite known what to do with them. Sort of like the plastic applesauce containers I save; they seem like they should be useful, for something…

I have tweeted at least one spam email that I received: “Just got spam email for a lyophilization webinar. Can you imagine how dry that would be?”

Spam is such a waste of time and electrons. Time because we have to create filters to manage it and then recreate filters to manage the spam that gets through the filters we created. Electrons, well because it’s cyberspace.

But I’m an earthy girl, committed to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”.

So, I’ve reduced spam with filters on the Promega Connections blog and rules on my email accounts: I don’t see a lot of the spam.

But what about reuse and recycle? I can only come up with one-liners for a few spam remarks. But spoetry…therein lies real possibility. I can write lots of bad poetry using spam.

So now, thanks to Bora, I know what I can do with all that unused spam. Spoetry. My apologies to our readers, but this was fun.

If you want to try some spoetry, but are not at all a poet, you can play with the instant poetry forms from the education technology training center or the Random Spoetry Generator at spoetry.org. Have fun playing with your spam, and if you want, share your spoetry in the comments section. We would love to hear from you.

Cinquain

Posting
Make a great point
Share with my social net
One of the best bloggers I saw
Weblog

Haiku

Site Has given me
Inspiration to succeed
For some reason, Thanks

William Carlos William Tribute Poem

Plagairism

This is just to say
I have copied
the blog
that was on
the website

and which
you were probably saving
for your first book
Forgive me

it was fabulous
so inspiring
and so tempting

Spine Poems
(In a spine poem, each line of the poem begins with the word of a book title.)
Bertil Hille’s Ionic Channels of Excitable Membranes

Say What?

Ionic columns towering above, scrolls forming
Channels of worship for the Greek Gods, better defined than the Gods
Of today. Just more believable—a Gods controlling each part of the universe
Excitable in their humanity. Their emotions resonating like tympanic
Membranes struck with a mallet.

Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

Phishy

The credit report score you requested is adrift at
Sea, but if you click on this link and look
Around, you will see we are not phishers, trust
Us.

Other spoetry resources

Wikipedia Entry

Humorous New Types of PCR

Undoubtedly, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has revolutionized biological research and has become one of the most common techniques in today’s laboratory. At times, it seems that a new variation of PCR is described in the literature every month. You might think that you are familiar with the dozens of PCR variations, but I am guessing that you haven’t heard of some of these.

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Lab Laughs

Molecular biologist/cartoonists are few and far between, so we are really grateful to have enjoyed Ed Himelblau’s cartoons as part of our eNotes publication over the last nine years. Here’s one of my favorites.
Western blot cartoon

You can see more cartoons from Ed in the eNotes cartoon archive. Check it out if you need some light relief.