Monday, 6 October 2008

A fifth force farce

Over the weekend a good friend of mine from undergrad sent me a link to this site discussing a joke publication on the discovery of a fifth fundamental force.

Personally, all credit to the guy! Threatening to take the mickey and submit a spoof paper, be it as an April fool or whatever, is something I think most people would talk about (probably somewhere between pint number 4 and pint number 5), but then casually side step when it came to actually joining pen and paper. But not Lawrence Krauss, oh no! He threatened, and then had the balls to back it up.

There are a couple brilliant bits in his article, but I think my personal favorite has to be reference 6:

'6. Thanks to the intermediation of high-ranking officials from certain Italian banks, Vatican archival material was made available to us.'

As good a spoof as the original manuscript is, he was completely out performed by the 'reviewing' team from PRL. Their report is a work of genius. This line from the editor had me in stitches for a good while:

'In addition, we feel that the general interest (and even novelty if you want to be arcane about it) no longer supports the discovery of new forces. Already five have been reported in the literature and we think the time has come to draw a halt to the unbridled publication of force discoveries.'

Hopefully most readers of the science blogosphere, especially those who've ever had the privilege of trying to sift through reviewers comments, should appreciate this as much as I did. Enjoy!

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