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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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« The Life of a Key Opinion Leader | Main | Put In Another Methyl Group: A Villanelle »

September 17, 2010

Spread of the Pun Virus

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Posted by Derek

Are we going to see this in all the Wiley-hosted European-based journals? Angewandte Chemie has specialized, as has been noted many times, in wince-worthy puns in its article abstracts.

Today I take a look at ChemBioChem and find this. No one is safe.

Comments (17) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Scientific Literature


1. You're Pfizered on September 17, 2010 9:00 AM writes...

Good grief. At least it was a decent song.

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2. Daniel Levy on September 17, 2010 9:06 AM writes...

Ouch! Not much more to say.

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3. Bob on September 17, 2010 9:21 AM writes...

This whole business of cringe-worthy subtitling is almost as embarrassing, patronising and insulting as the Royal Society of Chemisty's "4Chemists" series.

At least Wiley have something to sell, and thus can almost be excused in their efforts to attract traffic/interest to their wares.

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4. Jose on September 17, 2010 9:54 AM writes...

You meant "p(h)unny virus," right?
And wait, you read ChemBioChem?

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5. retread on September 17, 2010 10:19 AM writes...

The best one was on the cover (yes the cover) of Nature years ago about some planetary physics.

Rings around Uranus

An occasional pun is OK to liven up the dreariness of scientific prose. Consider the first sentence of the article I was reading when I took a break to see what Derek was up to

"Correlated activity in connected neurons can trigger long lasting changes in synaptic strength in which sign and magnitude of synaptic modifications depend on the relative timing of pre- and postsynaptic action potentials."

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6. Kevin on September 17, 2010 12:29 PM writes...

How about this one? Apologies if this already made an appearance on this blog.

Caveat mTOR: aberrant signaling disrupts corticogenesis. J Clin Invest. 2010 May 3;120(5):1392-5. doi: 10.1172/JCI43030.

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7. D.J. on September 17, 2010 12:31 PM writes...

You keep on bringing these up as if they're bad things! Personally (no chemist here), I love the wordplay, and think that the highest homage to a pun is to tell it to others to try to get them to groan.

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8. Wavefunction on September 17, 2010 12:48 PM writes...

Well, you still can't beat the 1971 "Comparative mobility of halogens in reactions of dihalobenzenes with potassium amide in ammonia" paper in J. Org. Chem. written in iambic pentameter verse. I wish they still allowed such things. It begins thus:

"Reactions of potassium amide
With halobenzenes in ammonia
Via benzyne intermediates O C C U ~ . ~ ~ *
Bergstrom and associates6 did report,
Based on two-component competition runs,
Bromobenzene the fastest to react,
By iodobenzene closely followed..."


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9. Margot on September 17, 2010 12:51 PM writes...

And this one from Science a while ago:

Anciently Asexual Bdelloid Rotifers Escape Lethal Fungal Parasites by Drying Up and Blowing Away

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10. Pharmaheretic on September 17, 2010 1:22 PM writes...


Peer review highly sensitive to poor refereeing, claim researchers

Just a small number of bad referees can significantly undermine the ability of the peer-review system to select the best scientific papers. That is according to a pair of complex systems researchers in Austria who have modelled an academic publishing system and showed that human foibles can have a dramatic effect on the quality of published science.

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11. Sili on September 17, 2010 2:19 PM writes...

'He that would make a pun would pick a pocket.'

As it happens, I lurrrve puns.

But I'm inclined to agree that more articles need to meet stylistic requirements.

If you have to report your results as a villanelle, I think we'll see fewer methyl, ethyl, butyl, futile papers (that pun doesn't work in my idiolect as it happens).

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12. A_man_called_Horace on September 17, 2010 2:43 PM writes...

What I found oddest was the author list - they use academic titles Prof / Dr etc. Must be a biology thing

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13. JR on September 17, 2010 3:51 PM writes...

Someone's been saving that one for a while....

Could be a euro thing horace

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14. Anonymous on September 21, 2010 7:10 PM writes...

at least they didn't say "doin it naturally"...... ugh

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15. joe on September 22, 2010 12:12 PM writes...

People and their humour...

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16. Doug on October 15, 2013 1:40 PM writes...

Put down the pun and Van Der Wall(k) away!

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17. Doug on October 15, 2013 1:41 PM writes...

Put down the pun and Van Der Waal(k) away!

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