Neuroscience Humor
You can read a lot of neuroscience into things where none was intended initially.  The following are jokes about, informed by, or inspired by neuroscience.




Point to ponder
I used to think the brain was the most interesting part of the body, but then I thought, "Hey, look who's telling me that!"

Developmental neurobiology humor
SUCCESS:
At age 4 success is . . . not peeing in your pants.
At age 12 success is . . . having friends.
At age 16 success is . . . having a drivers license.
At age 20 success is . . . going all the way.
At age 35 success is . . . having money.
At age 50 success is . . . having money.
At age 60 success is . . . going all the way.
At age 70 success is . . . having a drivers license.
At age 75 success is . . . having friends.
At age 80 success is . . . not peeing in your pants.

This is terrible, but...
DOCTOR: I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but you do indeed have cancer... And that isn't all, you also suffer from acute memory loss.

PATIENT: At least I don't have cancer.


Rscheearch
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a ttoal mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig, huh?

*Incidentally, there's a thorough review of the history of this meme and the science behind what it purports to demonstrate here:  http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/personal/matt.davis/Cmabrigde/


This is pretty terrible too...
1st guy: I've been seeing spots.

2nd guy: Have you seen a doctor?

1st guy: No.  Just spots.


Not a joke so much as a parable about experimental science
A scientist catches a fly in his hand.  He opens his hand and says, "Fly, fly."  And the fly flew.
Later, he catches another fly.  He pulls off its wings.  Again he says, "Fly, fly."  And the fly just sits there.

He does this many, many more times, always with the same result.

He publishes:  "When the wings of a fly are removed, the fly is deaf."


Naming mutants
Scientists grant Drosophila genes curious and sometimes humorous names.  These are usually named to describe the effect of the mutant version of a given gene.  I've been collecting these names some time now.  Here are a few:

A talk at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Nov 2002 introduced a couple names to my collection.  Both confer a heightened sensitivity to alcohol, though to varying degrees: amnesiac and cheap date.

A wonderful group of Drosophila genes were summarized in a book called A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation.   One gene was found in Drosophila which caused males not to mate with females.  The gene was dubbed fruity (which was a little cute since they were fruit flies after all), but was later changed to the more politically correct fruitless since no offspring were produced.

Since this book was written with a popular audience in mind, the author included the following aside:
 

Mutant naming is a subject unto itself.  One mutation knocks flies unconscious when the temperature drops below 76 degrees Fahrenheit; its name is Out Cold.  A mutation that puts splotches of color on the abdomens of male flies but adds nothing to females is called Male Chauvinist Pigmentation [mcp].  One mutation which makes flies mate for only ten minutes instead of the usual twenty is called Coitus Interruptus; and another, having a somewhat opposite effect, is called Stuck.


Of course, since this book was published, you may have read about the Drosophila longevity gene known as Indy (as in "I'm Not Dead Yet"), but most people don't know the original source.  If you happen to be a Monty Python fan, you may recall the scene from "The Search for the Holy Grail" set in a village during the Black Plague in which a man with a cart full of dead bodies attempts to pick up a still-live man who complains that he can't be taken because, "I'm not dead yet."

Isn't it nice to know that biologists are interested in high culture?

See also http://tinman.vetmed.helsinki.fi/eng/drosophila.html for more of the above.  I submitted these to this site; it's a great read.


Understanding a Research Publication
...or "WHAT THEY WRITE and (WHAT THEY MEAN)"

It has long been known that...
(I haven't bothered to look up the reference.)

...of great theoretical and practical importance
(It is interesting to me.)

While it has not been possible...
(The experiments didn't work out.)

to provide definite answers to these questions...
(but I figured I could at least get a publication out of it... )

The W-Pb system was chosen especially suitable to show the predicted behavior...
(The fellow in the next lab had some already made up.)

High purity... Very high purity... Extremely high purity... Super-purity... or Spectroscopically pure...
(Composition unknown except for exaggerated claims of the supplier.)

A fiducial reference line
(A scratch)

Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study.
(The results of the others didn't make sense and were ignored.)

...handled with extreme care during the experiments.
(...not dropped on the floor.)

Typical results are shown...
(The best results are shown...)

Although some detail has been lost in reproduction, it is clear from the original micrograph...
(It is impossible to tell from the micrograph...)

Presumably at longer times...
(I didn't take the time to find out.)

The agreement with the predicted curve is:
excellent
(fair )
good
(poor)
satisfactory
(doubtful)
fair
(imaginary )
as good as could be expected
(non-existent)

These results will be reported at a later date.
(I might get around to this sometime.)

The most reliable values are those of Jones
(He was a student of mine.)

It is suggested that...
It is believed that...
It may be that...
(I think...)

It is generally believed that...
(I have such a good objection to this answer that I shall now raise it.)

It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding...
(I don't understand it...)

Unfortunately, a quantitative theory to account for these effects has not been formulated.
(...no one else understands it either.)

Correct within an order of magnitude.
(Wrong.)

It is hoped that this work will stimulate further work in the field.
(This paper isn't very good but neither are any of the others on this miserable subject.)

Thanks are due to Joe Glotz for assistance with the experiments and to John Doe for valuable discussions.
(Glotz did the work and Doe explained what it meant.)

A definite trend is evident...
(These data are practically meaningless.)

A careful analysis of obtainable data...
(Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer.)


Things Not To Do at Your Thesis Defense
Written by Master Peter Dutton with contributions by Jim Lalopoulos, Alison Berube, and Jeff Cohen, Patricia Whitson and a few others.

1) "Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for the singing of our National Anthem..."
2) Charge 25 cents a cup for coffee.
3) "Charge the mound" when a professor beans you with a high fast question.
4) Describe parts of your thesis using interpretive dance.
5) "Musical accompaniment provided by..."
6) Stage your own death/suicide.
7) Lead the spectators in a Wave.
8) Have a sing-a-long.
9) "You call THAT a question? How the hell did they make you a professor?"
10) "Ladies and Gentlemen, as I dim the lights, please hold hands and concentrate so that we may channel the spirit of Lord Kelvin..."
11) Have bodyguards outside the room to "discourage" certain professors from sitting in.
12) Puppet show.
13) Group prayer.
14) Animal sacrifice to the god of the Underworld.
15) Sell T-shirts to recoup the cost of copying, binding, etc.
16) "I'm sorry, I can't hear you - there's a banana in my ear!"
17) Imitate Groucho Marx.
18) Mime.
19) Hold a Tupperware party.
20) Have a bikini-clad model be in charge of changing the overheads.
21) "Everybody rhumba!!"
22) "And it would have worked if it weren't for those meddling kids..."
23) Charge a cover and check for ID.
24) "In protest of our government's systematic and brutal oppression of minorities..."
25) "Anybody else as drunk as I am?"
26) Smoke machines, dramatic lighting, pyrotechnics...
27) Use a Super Soaker to point at people.
28) Surreptitiously fill the room with laughing gas.
29) Door prizes and a raffle.
30) "Please phrase your question in the form of an answer..."
31) "And now, a word from our sponsor..."
32) Present your entire talk in iambic pentameter.
33) Whine piteously, beg, cry...
34) Switch halfway through your talk to Pig Latin.  Or Finnish Pig Latin.
35) The Emperor's New Slides ("only fools can't see the writing...")
36) Table dance (you or an exotic dancer).
37) Fashion show.
38) "Yo, a smooth shout out to my homies..."
39) "I'd like to thank the Academy..."
40) Minstrel show (blackface, etc.).
41) Previews, cartoons, and the Jimmy Fund.
42) Pass the collection basket.
43) Two-drink minimum.
44) Black tie only.
45) "Which reminds me of a story - A Black guy, a Chinese guy, and a Jew walked into a bar..."
46) Incite a revolt.
47) Hire the Goodyear Blimp to circle the building.
48) Release a flock of doves.
49) Defense by proxy.
50) "And now a reading from the Book of Mormon..."
51) Leave Jehovah's Witness pamphlets scattered about.
52) "There will be a short quiz after my presentation..."
53) "Professor Robinson, will you marry me?"
54) Bring your pet boa.
55) Tell ghost stories.
56) Do a "show and tell."
57) Food fight.
58) Challenge a professor to a duel. Slapping him with a glove is optional.
59) Halftime show.
60) "Duck, duck, duck, duck... GOOSE!"
61) "OK - which one of you farted?"
62) Rimshot.
63) Sell those big foam "We're number #1" hands.
64) Pass out souvenir matchbooks.
65) 3-ring defense.
66) "Tag - you're it!"
67) Circulate a vicious rumor that the Dead will be opening, making sure that it gets on the radio stations, and escape during all the commotion.
68) Post signs: "Due to a computer error at the Registrar's Office, the original room is not available, and the defense has been relocated to (Made-up non-existent room number)."
69) Hang a pinata over the table and have a strolling mariachi band.
70) Make each professor remove an item of clothing for each question he asks.
71) Rent a billboard on the highway proclaiming "Thanks for passing me Professors X,Y, and Z" -
BEFORE your defense happens.
72) Have a make-your-own-sundae table during the defense.
73) Make committee members wear silly hats.
74) Simulate your experiment with a virtual reality system for the spectators.
75) Do a soft-shoe routine.
76) Throw a masquerade defense, complete with bobbing for apples and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.
77) Use a Greek Chorus to highlight important points.
78) "The responsorial psalm can be found on page 124 of the thesis..."
79) Tap dance.
80) Vaudeville.
81) "I'm sorry Professor Smith, I didn't say 'SIMON SAYS any questions?'. You're out."
82) Flex and show off those massive pecs.
83) Dress in top hat and tails.
84) Hold a pre-defense pep rally, complete with cheerleaders, pep band, and a bonfire.
85) Detonate a small nuclear device in the room.  Or threaten to.
86) Shadow puppets.
87) Show slides of your last vacation.
88) Put your overheads on a film strip.  Designate a professor to be in charge of turning the strip when the tape recording beeps.
89) Same as #88, but instead of a tape recorder, go around the room making a different person read the pre-written text for each picture.
90) "OK, everybody - heads down on the desk until you show me you can behave."
91) Call your adviser "sweetie."
92) Have everyone pose for a group photo.
93) Instant replay.
94) Laugh maniacally.
95) Talk with your mouth full.
96) Start speaking in tongues.
97) Explode.
98) Implode.
99) Spontaneously combust.
100) Answer every question with a question.
101) Moon everyone in the room after you are done.
102) "Laugh, will you? Well, they laughed at Galileo, they laughed at Einstein..."
103) Hand out 3-D glasses.
104) "I'm rubber, you're glue..."
105) Go into labor (especially for men).
106) Give your entire speech in a "Marvin Martian" accent.
107) "I don't know - I didn't write this."
108) Before your defense, build trapdoors underneath all the seats.
109) Swing in through the window, yelling a la Tarzan.
110) Lock the department head and his secretary out of the defense room. And the coffee lounge, the department office, the copy room, and the mail room. Heck, lock them out of the building. And refuse to sell them stamps.
111) Roll credits at the end. Include a "key grip" and a "best boy."
112) Hang a disco ball in the center of the room.  John Travolta pose optional.
113) Invite the homeless.
114) "I could answer that, but then I'd have to kill you"
115) Hide.
116) Get a friend to ask the first question.  Draw a blank-loaded gun and "shoot" him. Have him make a great scene of dying (fake blood helps).  Turn to the stunned audience and ask "any other wise-ass remarks?"
117) Same as #116, except use real bullets.
118) "Well, I saw it on the internet, so I figured it might be a good idea..."
119) Wear clown makeup, a clown wig, clown shoes, and a clown nose. And nothing else.
120) Use the words "marginalized", "empowerment", and "patriarchy."
121) Play Thesis Mad Libs.
122) Try to use normal printed paper on the overhead projector.
123) Do your entire defense operatically.
124) Invite your parents.  Especially if they are fond of fawning over you.  ("We always knew he was such an intelligent child.")
125) Flash "APPLAUSE" and "LAUGHTER" signs.
126) Mosh pit.
127) Have cheerleaders. ("Gimme an 'A'!!")
128) Bring Howard Cosell out of retirement to do color commentary.
129) "I say Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!"
130) Claim political asylum.
131) Traffic reports every 10 minutes on the 1's.
132) Introduce the "Eyewitness Thesis Team".  Near the end of your talk, cut to Jim with sports and Alison with the weather.
133) Live radio and TV coverage.
134) Hang a sign that says "Thank you for not asking questions."
135) Bring a microphone. Point it at the questioner, talk-show style.
136) Use a TelePrompter.
137) "Take my wife - please!"
138) Refuse to answer questions unless they phrase the question as a limerick.
139) Have everyone bring wine glasses.  When they clink the glasses with a spoon, you have to kiss your thesis.  Or your adviser.
140) Offer a toast.
141) Firewalk.
142) Start giving your presentation 15 minutes early.
143) Play drinking thesis games.  Drink for each overhead.  Drink for each question.  Chug for each awkward pause.  This goes for the audience as well.
144) Swoop in with a cape and tights, Superman style.
145) "By the power of Greyskull..."
146) Use any past or present Saturday Night Live catchphrase.  Not.
147) Stand on the table.
148) "You think this defense was bad?  Let me read this list to show you what I COULD have done..."


A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A GRADUATE STUDENT
I read this years and years ago when I was an undergrad.  I just thought of it the other night and tracked it down on the net.  You can see how dated it is by some of the references, but the truths are eternal!

6:30 Wake up and lie awake in bed.

6:31 Realize you spent $18 on last night's dinner, means no eating out for the next 6 weeks.

7:00 Wake up suddenly with heart in mouth when you realize you didn't hit the snooze button--you turned it off.

7:01 Fall asleep again.

7:44 Wake up with heart in mouth again.

7:45 Ready to go to school, will shave tomorrow, will eat early brunch at (Denny's/Penny's/Lenny's/Dinko's whatever cafeteria).

8:03 Arrive at school. Realize your foreign officemate arrived earlier today and must have got more work done.

8:04 Pass by Advisor's office, chat with Secretary to find out if he is coming in today. He is, darn. Need to start work on the draft due this afternoon.

8:15 Read electronic mail.

8:20 Delete mail from students taking CMPSC201 regarding questions about the class.  Hate your TA job.  Depression: too much work to do today.

9:00 For jumpstart: go to Pepsi machine.

9:05 Kick Pepsi machine; promise yourself to call up the company and ask for your money back. Wonder why they would believe you.

9:33 Start printing out loads of stuff that may be vaguely related to your work.

9:41 Early morning stupefaction.  Mutter racist comments to yourself about your officemate.

9:43 Curse your officemate in a low tone he would not comprehend.  Feel good about him not grasping English well.

9:58 Finger everyone in the department and most people half way around the world (using the "finger" command, of course)

10:19 Feel sleepy, should not have stayed late playing tetris last night.

10:31 Momentary panic attack!!!!!!!!!!!!

10:43 Edit .plan file. write a shell program to edit .plan more easily.

10:59 Drop in at advisor's office and borrow something you don't need & and kinda make him aware you are working hard on your project.

11:05 Perverted daydreams

11:11 Read electronic news.  Mid-morning yawn time.

11:34 Start typing junk at a very high key-in rate to pretend you are working hard as your advisor passes by from outside.

11:35 Press the Backspace key for one and a half minutes until all the garbage you typed in is erased.  Realize that you can type more than 256 characters per half minute.

11:41 Flirt with the new girl in the department.

11:45 Print out some slides for afternoon's draft + presentation.

11:47 Print them again, you forgot to change the date from last presentation.

11:49 Print another copy in case this one gets lost.

11:51 Completely forget about suing the coffee machine company.

12:15 Hunger pangs: 12:20 BigMac/Fries time.  Drink a not-so-cold generic can of cola from your desk.  Ch-Ching, you just saved 35 cents by buying bulk cola.

1:00 Group Meeting with advisor.

1:14 Sudden awareness of one's shallowness resentment towards foreign officemate for sucking up to your advisor.  Get reminded by your advisor that you need to do some more work for your literature survey.

1:51 Advisor hands you the reddened copy of your draft for corrections.

1:51:02 The 49 second urge to murder advisor begins!!

1:51:52 Realize that he controls your assistantship/grade/ graduation possibility/graduation date/all job opportunities and the rest of your life.

1:52:53 Thank him.

1:52:54 Thank yourself for not saying something stupid to your advisor

1:53:00 Splitting headache #1

1:59 Check electronic mail, don't reply though, you are too busy to do that.

2:06 More generic cola.

2:17 Oh No, it is my turn to cook tonite :-(

2:30 Sit through the class you were told to sit through.

2:39 Look outside the window make unrealistic plans to quit this degree program and take up a job.  Wonder why blonde girls are so pretty.

2:48 More perverted day-dreams.  Close office door and open a few .gif files.  Sharpen pencil.

3:06 Worry about never graduating.  Time to write a letter--NOT!  No time for that.  Rearrange desk.  Call up bank, see if you have any money.  Fear of losing aid next Fall.  Read latex manuals to figure out how to put &$%&% in %$^% format.

3:43 Watch the clock.  Make plans to do a all-nighter tonite.  Vow to watch only 2 TV programs.

4:58 Notice advisor leave.

4:58:01 Sudden sense of freedom.  Go home for quick, short dinner break.

9:00 Come into the office

9:01 The hard working grad student you are, you have to come to the office late at night to "get the work done."

9:03 Check electronic mail.  Decide it would be a good time to attack those ftp sites since network won't be loaded.  Run into "since network won't be loaded" traffic and get the pictures into your machine.  Compress all the unwanted research/class directories to make space.  Back up all your pictures.

10:11 Admire pictures.  Begin work; Realize you need references.  Realize its too late today to go to the library.  Sudden feeling of having wasted the day.

10:49 Sudden feeling of possibly having to waste the night, decide to turn in early and come back very early tomorrow morning.  Decide to play a Tetris on the system to put yourself in a good mood.

11:15 Play game after game after game to improve your score and get on the scoreboard.  Realize that your officemate is still at number 6, two notches above you on the scoreboard.

12:20 Play until you beat your officemate into the 7th place.  A sense of achievement!!  Yes, today was not wasted!!  Return home to find your roommate watching David Letterman reruns on NBC. Tell him about the "hard working grad student day you had."  Discuss philosophy with roommate.

1:09am Think about becoming a philosopher and dining with 4 others.  (The Dining Philosophers problem, hee hee :-) (Comp Sci joke)  Argue with him about politics, why people prefer Japanese cars and whether it is better to set the heat to "hot" or "cold" to defrost the windshields faster.

1:49 Realize neither of you have bought milk today.  Get reminded of the "too much milk problem."

2:04 Forget about getting up early.  Turn the phone ringer off and go to sleep.


Links
Brain Jokes -  These are just awful!

 


 





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