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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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March 19, 2010

The Referee Reports Are In

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Posted by Derek

I realize that there have been about one Godzillion of these videos by now (the Michael Jackson one is a particular favorite), but at the same time, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have similar thoughts the last time I had a manuscript rejected:

The movie is, of course, "Downfall" (Der Untergang), and probably many more people have been motivated to see the whole thing thanks to these YouTube clips. I have to turn the sound down a lot to really get into the spirit of the parodies; my German is still sufficient to make the reworked subtitles clash. Which reminds me of a distinctly weird sensation, watching a World War II documentary at home with my father after returning from my German post-doc stint. When archival footage of Hitler came up on the screen I suddenly found that I could follow his speech, and watched in amazement as he pounded the podium, hitting the compound verbs at the end of his sentence.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Scientific Literature


1. Robert Bruce Thompson on March 19, 2010 10:50 AM writes...

Yeah, I've seen this clip about a dozen times now, with captions on everything from global warming to the health care plan to, now, submitting papers.

I have the same problem you do, although it's been more than 30 years since I used my German. I found out just how little I remembered ten years or so ago when one of my wife's subordinates imported a Russian wife. None of us spoke any Russian, and she spoke no English. We finally figured out that she and I both kind-of spoke German. That was at least enough to get things over the first hump.

It's weird. Sometimes when we're watching a movie with spoken German, I can't follow a thing they're saying. But then Nena's 99 Luftballons popped up on random play one time, and I could understand every word she sang.

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2. D. Loring on March 19, 2010 11:01 AM writes...

As an exchange student in Germany right now, just getting used to the fact that I can understand this strange language these people are speaking, these Downfall parodies are really confusing. I had to turn the sound off completely to stop myself from being distracted.

And don't ask me why, as an exchange student in Germany, I am reading a chemistry blog. Just chalk it up to your excellent writing.

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3. milkshake on March 19, 2010 11:45 AM writes...

here is the ultimate Downfall parody, to end other Downfall parodies:

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4. Cartesian on March 20, 2010 5:20 AM writes...

I did study as well in Germany (one year), and I should write that I was also proud to be able to understand german on TV.

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5. Rich Rostrom on March 20, 2010 12:55 PM writes...

A little point about Downfall. In 1942, Hitler visited Finland and met with Marshal Mannerheim. A Finnish intelligence officer secretly recorded their private conference. This is the only known recording of Hitler's "conversational" speech (as opposed to his public oratory). Bruno Ganz used this recording to prepare for his role in Downfall.

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6. zDNA on March 22, 2010 7:48 AM writes...

Per Derek's last comment, I also had the eerie experience of suddenly being able to directly understand Hitler's speeches. This occurred for the first time when I was visiting the Holocaust memorial and museum in Washington DC. That was a bit unnerving. That being said, I still find these parodies to be uproarious...

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7. midwest process chemist on March 24, 2010 9:00 PM writes...

One of my favorite ones is about Notre Dame football.

There's something I've always wondered, though. What is actually going on in the movie at this point (ie what's the real dialogue)? If anyone has a link to the original clip, could you post it here?

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