19 December 2010


Who says scientists don't have a sense of humor? Wit and satire are alive and well in the world of Bunsen burners and beakers, microscopes, graphs and lab coats. Cases in point --

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is "an international non-profit organization with the stated goals of promoting cooperation between scientists, defending scientific freedom, encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting scientific education and science outreach for the betterment of all humanity. It is the world's largest scientific society .... and the publisher of the well-known academic journal Science." The journal is also available online at Sciencemag.org.

In the website's year-end issue, the headline feature is the Top 10 ScienceNOWs of 2010, a list of their favorite and most popular stories. Click on the above link, then click on the numbered tabs beneath the summary (each tab is both an article title, and a link to that article), then see how much of this information you had ever heard of, and compare to see which is your favorite. They include --
  1. The Secret of Turtle Island.
  2. Superaccurate Clocks Confirm Your Hair Is Aging Faster Than Your Toenails.
  3. The Shocking Truth About Running Shoes.
  4. How to Train Your Robot (to Lie).
  5. The Spiky Penis Gets the Girl.
  6. Tiny 'Flying Saucers' Could Save Earth from Global Warming.
  7. Is Your Dog Pessimistic?
  8. Oil Drop Navigates Comples Maze.
  9. These Dance Moves Are Irresistable.
  10. Does Our Universe Live Inside a Wormhole?

Elsewhere, at the blogsite Science 2.0, behavioral therapist Andrea Kuszewski takes on Mattel, the manufacturers of the iconic fashion (some would say nightmare) half-century-old doll Barbie, in Hey Barbie, Show Me the Science! Mattel has allegedly seen the light and broadened the infinite variations on the doll to include a number of real-world careers (and add to their profit margin in the process). During a recent shopping trip with her niece, Kuszewski discovered that the company's level of enlightenment is decidedly limited. Her comments are wickedly insightful. A sampling --

"I am not going to complain about Barbie's waist-to-hip ratio, or her idealistic/unrealistic beauty, or her breasts. I have no issue with Barbie's physical appearance or wardrobe -- I have a problem with Barbie's career choices .... Apparently, News Anchor Barbie and Computer Engineer Barbie were added after a public vote for new professions to augment Barbie's CV. These are fantastic additions to the initially chosen group of professions. As I looked through the remaining choices, each subsequent one made me wince even more, with a few exceptions .... Get a load of all the exciting things Barbie is telling girls she can be when she grows up:

  • A Pizza Chef (random, anyone?)
  • A Pet Vet
  • A Babysitter (a babysitter? really?)
  • A Dentist
  • A Ballroom Dancer
  • A Computer Engineer
  • A News Anchor
  • A Race Car Driver (cool!)
  • A Kid Doctor (le sigh)
  • A Ballerina
  • A Bride

"Oh, where to start with this. Let's start with the positive and work our way to WTF, shall we?"

And so she does, and so can you, if you're up for a little astonishment, laughter, and head shaking. Cheers.

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