Science, Sort of

This is a little experiment in adding some humor to the week’s science news. In the spirit of empiricism, some jokes may be placebos. Feel free to submit data so I can revise my hypothesis.

Eau de Toilette

First up, great medical news: researchers have built a machine that can “smell” bladder cancer from a urine sample. That’s an incredible leap forward from the old method of uncapping the urine sample, holding it up to the nose of the newest lab tech and saying, “…Well?”

This is the kind of technology that makes you want to travel back in time to flaunt your futuristic superiority. Oh, you think 1862 is just sooo great, do you? When I’m from- I’m sure my t-shirt alone is blowing your mind right now. It also features a terribly clever joke- not that you would know. When I’m from, we’ve just built a machine that smells your wee and tells you if you’re sick! To recap, you smell wee in the street CONSTANTLY. I never have to- machine does all the wee smelling I need. AND it detects a disease you probably don’t even know exists in time to treat it. SEACREST OUT.

No word yet on whether asparagus could lead to false positives.

A Clock Big Enough to Make Flava Flav Jealous

More good news: scientists have finally developed a clock (no, that’s not it, wait for it) more accurate than conventional atomic clocks. The new “optical lattice clock” uses lasers to caffeinate strontium atoms, with the resultant vibrations acting as ticks and tocks. It can determine time to within an error of 1 second per 300 million years, a welcome improvement from the 1 second per 100 million years that the old, dreadful, atomic clocks burdened us with. Never again will I be 0.0000000000000001 seconds late for an appointment! I’ll be hired before job interviews even begin, on the basis of punctuality alone.

I’m Too Putin for My Shirt, Too Putin for My Shirt, So Putin it Hurts

Russian President Vladimir Putin was recently presented with a fake sample of water from Lake Vostok, the lake that’s been isolated beneath the Antarctic ice sheet for a terribly long time, and which scientists are examining for signs of life. Now, the first reports of analyses of DNA found in the ice just above the lake are showing surprising results suggesting more complicated life is down there than most expected to find. Which makes me wonder… Is this all leading up to some science fiction origin story for Putin? Perhaps we’ll find DNA from his parents, suddenly explaining his mythical power. That’s too subtle for Putin, actually, so maybe it’s straight on to “Yes, it’s true, I punched my way out of Lake Vostok as a child to conquer you Sun-eaters.” That would, I suppose, explain why he finds it unnecessary to wear shirts in Russia.

I’ll Believe That When PIGs Float Away

In other Antarctic news, the frozen continent fired another warning shot across the bow of the Southern Hemisphere powers last week, launching a 700 square mile iceberg from the Pine Island Glacier, one of Antarctica ice cannons. This is just the latest in a series of aggressive displays, including the destruction of its own Larsen B ice shelf in a show of force. Researchers and intelligence operatives had been monitoring a crack across the Pine Island Glacier for months, which finally set the projectile ice island free. Of course, climate scientists continue to claim that the poar continent isn’t trying to increase its geopolitical influence- indeed, they say it doesn’t even have a military! According to these scientists, who aren’t being very much fun, recent events can be explained by the fact that ice sheets flow toward the ocean, and that warmer water melts ice. But what if they’re wrong?

Free Delivery for Orders Over $10 Within the Greater Metropolitan Solar System

NASA, which has struggled with budget cuts over the last few years, announced plans for their next Mars rover mission. The new plan to bring Martian rocks back to Earth for closer study is to attach a cardboard box with a pre-printed label to the rover, and then enter a pickup request on the FedEx website. A representative of FedEx, however, issued a statement explaining that its slogan “The World On Time” was meant to refer specifically to Earth, and did not apply to any worlds beyond. The representative went on to say that NASA may have been thinking of SpaceX, the company owned by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk that is currently developing its own rockets, and that the mistake was understandable.

Three Strikes and You’re Broken Into Pieces and Swallowed

Finally, a story about sharks this week had Major League Baseball Scouts buzzing. It seems that the thresher shark- a gracile but vicious bastard of a cartilaginous fish- can whip its tail acrobatically at speeds up to 80 miles per hour to strike and kill prey. “I don’t know if it can hold a baseball with that thing,” Milwaukee Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin reportedly said, “but we need pitching and I aim to find out.”

“We still need some basic information,” Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington definitely didn’t tell me via email. “I mean, what’s going to work best– placing a tank of water on the pitcher’s mound or lowering batters underwater in some sort of cage? Does it like Gatorade or would that kill it? There are just a lot of unknowns.”

The league is being cautious, however, reminding teams that any non-human athletes must abide by the same performance-enhancing drug rules. There are already rumors that at least some of the sharks had purchased deer antler spray from controversial S.W.A.T.S. founder Christopher Key. The sharks have so far remained silent on the allegations.