Scientists Who Think Too Much

Hello Dear Readers!  Today, let us peer into the levers and pulleys that comprise the thinking apparatuses of our beloved scientists and researchers!  Come join me, won’t you?

A picture of where Seti might point its telescope
Let’s see . . . eenie meenie miney etc etc. 

Seti Focuses Efforts on Listening to Known Exo-Planets

Seti, a group of researchers who live more by the story Horton Hears a Who than any other branch of the scientific community, have recently decided to point their telescopes at 86 stars that are known to have planets.

Up until now, the researchers at Seti, all with PhD’s in Listening Closely,  were taking turns playing “spin the telescope” to decide which direction they should listen in.  Unfortunately, aside from one shotgun wedding, this method yielded no results.

“The big challenge with these kinds of observations is to rule out the false positives generated on Earth,” Jill Tarter, Seti VIP was quoted as saying after getting her hopes up last winter over what she thought was an intelligent signal from out there, but was later turned out to be a Portuguese broadcast of I Dream of Jeannie.

 

Casino or bust!
Casino or bust!

Keeping Dead Languages Alive Is Easy, It’s Finding People to Talk to That’s the Rub.

Researchers, whose jobs it is to sit around and pin dates on things that will  happen in the future, have recently decided that by the year 2100, the mankind will have lost half the languages that are now spoken.

Luckily, in California, Eureka High School has launched a program to keep alive the Native-American language, Yurok, which was down to only six native speakers in 1990, and today, thanks to the schools efforts, there are now over 300 high school kids who speak Yurok.

“Now it’s just a matter of locating the only six people on earth who can understand them,” the Eureka High School principal was quoted as saying after loading up the rooter bus with 300 fluent Yurok speakers and heading off to the casino.

 

One . . . two . . . wait wait wait . . . one . . . two . . .wait wait wait . . . one . . .two . . .
One . . . two . . . wait wait wait . . . one . . . two . . . wait wait wait . . .one two . . . wait wait wait

Felix Baumgartner Fell Faster Than Originally Thought

With a name like Felix Baumgartner, Felix Baumgartner felt compelled to do something spectacular on behalf of all the other Felix Baumgartners of the world which is why last October, he ascended to a height of more than 120,000 feet in a special helium balloon before stepping off and plummeting back down to earth.

Since then, Mathematicians have been burning up their Texas Instrument calculators in an effort to figure out exactly how fast Felix Baumgartner was actually falling.

As a result, the original figure of 843.6 miles an hour has been upgraded to ten miles an hour faster  — causing the clouds through which Felix Baumgartner was falling to be remembered even blurrier in his mind’s eye than he was previously remembering them to be.

Researchers say the lessons learned from the jump will inform the development of new ideas for emergency evacuation from things like spacecraft, experimental aircraft and hot air balloons traveling somewhere over the rainbow.

And there you have it, Dear Readers, today’s foray into the minds of our scientific community!

Until next time . . . I love you

What the Scientists Are Thinking About

Welcome Dear Readers to today’s installment of “What the Scientists are Thinking About.” The stories here are actual scientific studies.  And while the  names and institutions  are real,  I have taken the liberty of punching up the reports to make them a little more interesting.

Say, "Holy Cow!  Did you feel that?"
Smile and say, “Holy Cow! Did you feel that?”

Was the Image of Christ on the Turin Shroud Caused by an Earthquake?

Italian scientists rummaging around in the Vatican Christianity Relic Vault decided to postulate that the Turin Shroud was created by an earthquake because it looked like they were going to have to stay late if they didn’t postulate something by the end of the day.

The Turin Shroud is a length of linen cloth thought to bear the image of Jesus after his crucifixion, and the Italian scientists have recently postulated that the Turin Shroud is real by coming up with this explanation:    a powerful earthquake  took place in 33 AD which triggered a release of neutron particles, effectively imprinting Jesus’s body on the cloth like an X-ray — and that a corresponding increase in the level of carbon 14 messed with the radiocarbon dating tests to register the shroud as being only 768 years old.

If scientists wouldn’t have been so tired postulating the above postulation, they might have gone on to postulate another scenario in which the Turin Shroud was an actual snapshot of Jesus taken by Leonardo Di Vinci after he invented a camera and a time machine and went back in time and photographed Jesus using a strip of linen because he  forgot to invent any photo paper  —  and then folded the shroud up and neatly tucked it under his arm  before  slipping into the Vatican under the guise that he was just there to wash the windows and stuck it in the Christianity Relic Vault when the Pope wasn’t looking.

“We believe it is possible that the neutron emissions by earthquakes could have induced the image formation on the Shroud’s linen fibers, through thermal neutron capture on nitrogen nuclei, and could also have caused a wrong radiocarbon dating,”  Professor Alberto Carpinteri was quoted as saying just before taking to his bed for a week due to a bad case of big scientific word exhaustion.

Cartoon Shrimp
 . . . huff . . .huff . . . . . huff . . . huf . . . are we there yet, buddy?

We Threw Some Shrimp on the Treadmill for you. That’ll be $682,570 please!

Biology Professors Louis and Karen Burnett at the College of Charleston recently spent $682,570 in government grant money to jury-rig a treadmill for  shrimp to workout on and then took the shrimps’ vital signs  –a scientific endeavor for which Uncle Sam picked up the check but didn’t even get to eat any of the shrimp.

According to the National Science Foundation, the money was granted for a project called, “Taking the pulse of Marine Life in Stressed Seas.”

The  researchers wanted to find out just how stressed out shrimp got by running on a treadmill.  The study revealed that running on a treadmill isn’t all that stressful for shrimp but the researchers themselves became stressed out from stressing how much more research grant money  is needed to complete the study.

Next, the scientific duo is planning to measure shrimp stress by figuring out how much sweat is formed on a shrimp’s forehead while it watches videos of people chowing down on Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp at Red Lobster.

Of course,  first they will need several million dollars of  government grant money to determine where, exactly, the forehead is located on a shrimp.

And there you have it, Dear Readers!  What the Scientists have been thinking about.

Until next time . . . I love you

What the Scientists Are Thinking About

Oh what a horrible bad dream nightmare bad dream  nightmare I just had!

Scientists study whether some nightmares are scarier than others

After exhaustively studying whether some nightmares are scarier than others, scientists at the University of Montreal had to go lie down but made darn sure to keep the lights on.

Many of the scientists nearly got carpal tunnel syndrome collecting 10,000 dream reports from the nightmare-study participants.

The scientists then hunkered down to the task of analyzing 253 nightmares, 431 bad dreams and 203 dreams in which people  just turned their heads repeatedly back and forth on their pillows while making ugly faces and mumbling a lot.

After weeks of analyzing these reports, researchers finally decided to just file everything under “miscellaneous” but not before coming to the following conclusions:

1) Nightmares are more intense than bad dreams and 2) nightmares are often triggered by external events.

However, the  researchers stressed that there are way more conclusions to come to and that they should definitely continue getting their government grant money while they continue their arduous task of coming to more conclusions.

"Hey!  Who is you callin' dum?
 Intelligent Life Form

Scientists are trying to understand how dumb we are compared to extraterrestrial life forms that could be way, way smarter than us.

Astronomer and astrophysicist, Lord Martin Rees says that intelligent extraterrestrial life forms might be completely unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

“Just as a chimpanzee can’t understand quantum theory, it could be there are aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains.” Lord Martin Rees kindly pointed out by gently glossing over the fact that 99.9 percent of the human race can’t understand quantum theory either.

In an effort to further explore this idea, a team of scientists will soon publish a paper detailing an exercise called COMPLEX — COmplexity of Markers for Prolfiling Life in EXobiology.

COMPLEX will compare various non-human intelligences imagined by scientists with other non-human intelligences imagined by scientists so that if we come across any non-human intelligences that are so smart we can’t detect them, we’ll at least be able to asses them.

Even though it all sounds rather confusing, the COMPLEX scientists are at least hoping for a Nobel prize for coming up with the coolest scientific acronym.

A scholar perplexed as all get out.
Previously perplexed scholar more perplexed than he was previously

The death of Alexander the Great is perplexing scholars more than they were previously perplexed

For the last 2,000 years, scholars have been perplexed and deeply divided about what killed Alexander the Great at the age of 32.

There is one particularly perplexed scholar, however, who has been perplexed so long about what killed Alexander the Great he can’t even remember what it was like not to feel perplexed.

Dr. Leo Schep, a toxicologist at The National Poison Center thinks the culprit that killed Alexander could be poisonous wine made from Veratrum Album a poisonous flower which could have been fermented as a wine.

Dr. Leo Schep, who has been over-thinking what killed Alexander the Great for a decade now stated, “Some of the poisoning theories — including arsenic and strychnine are laughable.”  (But he probably only laughed because toxicology is one of the least funny professions there is.)

Dr. Schep believes poison Veratrum Album wine could account for the fact that it took Alexander 12 days to die while in horrible pain and unable to speak or walk, so Dr. Schep isn’t quite as perplexed as he was before about what killed Alexander the Great.

However, Dr. Schep went on to admit that the wine would have tasted very bitter . . . but then again they could have added sugar to it . . . or perhaps, honey . . .  so he would drink enough of the wine to kill him.

Dr. Schep readily admitted that this  part of his theory is still very perplexing.

“Oh great, now I’m even more perplexed than I was previously!” Dr. Schep wasn’t quoted as saying out loud, but he is probably screaming it over and over again in his mind right this very minute.

And there you have it, Dear Readers, what the scientists are thinking about.

Until next time . . . I love you

What the Scientists are Thinking About

"Ow!  You're crushing my fingers!"
“Ow!  Daddy this fish’s handshake is crushing my bones.”
“Ha ha! That’s not a fish, honey, it’s a marine mammal!”

Research Shows that Dolphins Are Ten Times Stronger than Human Athletes

Researchers at the Liquid Life Laboratory at West Chester University headed by a researcher actually named, Frank Fish, set out to determine whether a dolphin is ten times stronger than a human athlete.

Some of  Frank Fish’s colleagues –Paul Porpoise and Mary Marine-Mammal — wanted the research to determine whether dolphins were five times as strong as  as human athletes but apparently Frank Fish has to have his own way or he’ll end up pouting even more than usual.

Using nothing but a scuba tank and an ordinary garden soaker, the researchers watched the vortices in the water created by the dolphins to determine how fast the dolphins  were swimming.

The researchers were able to determine that the  dolphins were swimming way, way faster than a human athlete, that’s for sure, but are holding off on  announcing their findings until they double check  what the word “vortices” means again.

What did the hyena cross the road? To get to the better jokes! Now that's funny!
“What did the hyena cross the road?”
“To get to the better jokes!”
“Ahhahaha!  Now that’s funny!”

Hyenas could possibly be as bright as some primates — but either way have a much better sense of humor

Researchers have discovered that Hyenas are adept at solving problems and can even count (which would explain their excellent comedic timing).  Scientists now believe that the hyenas may even have intelligence levels that match some primates.

After studying the expressions on  hyenas’ faces ad nauseam,  researchers have concluded that hyenas can assess the size of a competing pack by listening to the rival packs’  laughter — to determine if the rival  pack out number them as well as whether or not the  jokes the rival pack of hyenas were laughing at were actually funny.

Scientists also observed that hyenas solved problems through trial and error. When the hyenas were confronted with a box of food, the hyenas tried to get it out trying different methods until they were successful — causing scientists to be even more impressed with the  intelligence of the hyenas — because apparently none of the scientists has ever owned a dog or a cat.

The scientists were quick to point out,  however,  that scientists are still smarter than hyenas.

Yes I could just tell you the answer, but first, let me explaining starting with creation and working my way up the timeline of mankind.
“Yes I know the correct answer, dear, but first let me clarify things by going back to the creation of the universe then working my way up the time line of events  year by year until we get  to present the day.”

Do You Suffer From Hindsight Bias?

Those who “knew the answer all along” may not be quite as clever as they are making themselves out to be,” say researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago.

After studying this “thinking you know something when you don’t” phenomenon, they  have come to the conclusion that people too often feel they knew something all along, but actually didn’t — they just thought they did.  Researchers call this phenomenon: Hindsight Bias.

However, a  group of highly-respected women who have been studying the  phenomenon  for the past 37 years have come up with what they feel is a more appropriate term for hindsight bias:  Husbands.

* * *

Until next time . . . I love you

What the Scientists Are Thinking About

“Sesquipedalian”

That’s easy for them to say

After studying a fossilized hyoid bone belonging to a Neanderthal, scientists have determined that Neanderthals could talk just as good well good as humans can.

“Many would argue that our capacity of speech and language is among the most fundamental characteristics that make us human,” said researcher Stephen Wroe who, as a human being himself, speaks very clearly except when trying to pronounce his last name.

“If Neanderthals also had language, then they were truly human too.”  Wroe added, an assertion that he knew didn’t really make any sense but he was just so darned happy!

Either way, all the researcher agree that even the ugliest human is way way prettier than the best looking Neanderthal that ever lived. Amen.

pigs that glow in the dark
Let there be oink!

The race to produce animals that glow in the dark

A Chinese team of researchers from Guangdong Province have injected jelly-fish DNA into pigs to quickly create a litter of pigs that glow in the dark in response to another team of researchers from Turkey who recently produced a jelly-fish DNA enhanced litter of glowing rabbits and are furiously working on making fluorescent sheep before the Chinese team can respond by creating a neon platypus and a night-light cow.

These accomplishments represent one more step towards a future in which genetic material from one animal can be incorporated into another opening the door to a new array of animals such as a living breathing turducken and a unicorn duck that doesn’t require night-vision goggles to see it after dark.

North Atlantic
The North Atlantic and a new species of sea snail, marine worm and two new types of clams. (sea snail, marine worm and clams not pictured)

New marine species discovered in North Atlantic

International experts have hailed the discovery of two new types of clams, a sea worm and a new species of sea snail as a momentous discovery.

“These hidden gems offer a fascinating glimpse of the treasures that still await discovery under the waves.” said Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochead who it is rumored found the sea creatures hiding behind some octopus bookends while he was dusting the northern Atlantic continental shelf.

Efforts were made to contact Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochead for verification of this rumor but he was out of the office dustbustering the coral reefs.

The snail, the worm and the clams declined to comment.

What the Scientists are Thinking About

MIT Researcher
MIT Researcher, Dr. Shattuck-Hufnagel 

That’s easy for you to say, sure, but you’re not an MIT Researcher.

Researchers at MIT have come up with the world’s most difficult tongue twister in an attempt to shed light on the brain’s speech planning process while at the same time shedding light on the MIT researchers brains’ ability to think up ways to get paid without doing any actual work.

Dr. Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (who prefers being called by her nickname Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers), and her scientific tongue twisting associates have deemed “pad kid poured curd pulled cold” to be the hardest phrase to utter in the English language with the exception of Dr. Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel’s hyphenated last name.

“Certain combinations of sounds appear to make people lose control of their mouths when spoken too quickly.”  Dr. Stafanie Shattuck-Hufnagel aka Sally Sells Sea Shells at the Seashore was quoted a little too quickly as saying and shortly thereafter was hospitalized with a serious case of  Uncontrollable Mouth Syndrome.

MIT has requested that all get well wishes and flowers be sent to the room where the sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick.

 

caveman
Plio-Pleistocene hominin Paranthropus boisei

The fossil remains of a hominid species dating back 1.34 million years was discovered right where somebody left it.

The partial skeleton of a large adult hominid has been uncovered in Tanzania by a group of researchers who couldn’t wait to use the new shovels they got for their birthdays.

Researchers uncovered a 1.34-million-year-old, well-formed forearm muscle that they think its owner used for “climbing, fine-manipulation and all sorts of behaviors” Dr. Charles Musiba and his team of researchers decided after thinking about it starting at lunch time and continuing to think about it off and on all afternoon until it was finally time to go home.

“We are starting to understand the physiology of these individuals and how they adapted to the kind of habitat they lived in.  The size of the arm bones suggests strong forearms and a powerful upper body.”  Dr. Musiba said out loud but he was thinking,  “Thank goodness he was dead or we could have gotten our butts kicked!”

Snow_and_ice_scenic_landscape
“I can’t feel my anything.”

Coldest place on earth discovered

Scientists have discovered a place on earth so cold that anyone out in it for even a short period of time “would see their eyes, nose and lungs freeze up within minutes.”

Scientists didn’t go on to elaborate how someone whose eyes were frozen could see their nose and lungs freeze up or how a person could see their nose and lungs freeze up even if their eyes weren’t already frozen, but Coldest Place on Earth Scientists are quick to conclude that another study involving frozen noses, eyes and lungs is in order.

One lasting between six months and six years at least! The scientists are currently writing to the government asking for a  grant which is going to be harder than the scientists thought while wearing mittens.

* * *

Until next time . . . I love you

What the Scientists Are Thinking About

thylacines
A thy that hasn’t been cine in a long while.

Update on The Scientific Thylacine Expedition

Dr. Chris Clarke and Richard Freeman, a determined as all get out scientific researching duo from the Fortean Society, are, at this very moment, still wandering around the Australian outback looking and looking and looking for thylacines.  Blazing a trail through camels, brumbies, dogs and  dingoes — not to mention kangaroos, snakes and god only knows how many spiders, they will not give up until they find the extremely elusive thylacine, a creature that has been extremely elusive since it became extinct in the 1980’s.

After setting up camp in the Australian Outback, one of the remotest spots on planet earth, the researchers have failed to find a thylacine, but did manage to locate a Starbucks behind some Australian Outback bushes and used their Wifi to communicate that, although they haven’t found an actual thylacine as yet, they did manage to step in some suspicious looking dog droppings which the researchers dispatched to civilization for DNA testing via a Starbucks’ pastry delivery truck.

“The area is so damn remote,’ Freeman marveled while sipping his Grande, Iced, Sugar-Free, Vanilla Latte with Soy Milk,  “that I’d say there is a reasonable population of thylacines left.”

“In fact, I’d say there are more thylacines around the world than Javan rhinos.” Freeman scientifically concluded just after stepping in a big pile of Javan rhino droppings.

Christian Scientists
Only one out of four scientists considers himself cute.

Scientists Now Believe Our Universe Is Filled with More Habitable Planets Than They Previously Thought.

Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley and the lead author of a paper published Monday in a scientific journal called Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for Long-Winded Scientific Journal Titles, that earth-like planets having the temperature of a cup of tea are common around sun-like stars and went so far as to say, “the finding represents one great leap toward the possibility of life , including intelligent life in the universe.”  He failed to mention  how big a leap this finding was to the tea lovers everywhere and seemed to care less about his omission.

Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at MIT who was not directly involved in the new analysis but who was walking by the door while the scientists were talking about it — on her way to the break room for more tea —  pointed out to other scientists in the break room that “Earth-size doesn’t necessarily mean “Earth-like” but admitted the result will boost efforts to build telescopes that could obtain direct images on these planets.  A point that would have been well taken by the break-room scientists had they not been sipping their tea so loudly.

chihuaha wearing a saddle
Hi Ho Speedy Gonzales!

Scientists Warn that People Could be a Lot Shorter Tomorrow Than They Are Today.

A Team of Scientists from the University of Michigan have recently concluded after reading all about mammals in their Scientific Researcher’s Big Book of Mammals from 53 and 55 Billion Years Ago, that global warming is going to make people shorter.

“We are  confident that we’re seeing that one response to global warming in the past was a decrease in mammal body size.”  Lead Scientific Page-Turner, Philip Gingerich, stated while attempting to put a band-aid on his blistered index finger.

He then went on to state, “Bizarrely, fossil evidence from horses of the time indicated that they had reduced in size to something comparable to that of a small dog.”  He then proceeded to hop on the back of his Mexican Chihuahua to reenact a possible scenario from 53 billlion years ago,  but was immediately thrown off —  which he quickly blamed on the blister on his index finger.

“Over the next few thousand years following the climate’s recovery, however, the animals gradually returned to their normal size,” Philip Gingerich was immensely relieved to conclude before hobbling away.

* * *

And that concludes this Monday’s edition of What the Scientists are Thinking About, Dear Readers!

Until next time . . . I love you