New Science journal to publish exclusively through Twitter

By John Borghi

Building on several recent developments in academic publishing and social media, a new publication platform for the distribution of scholarly material was announced this Wednesday by The Society for Concise Science. The new online platform, named after the chemical name of the protein, titin, (which is 189,819 letters long and, thus, cannot be printed here), will publish a journal, tentatively titled

Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, exclusively through Twitter.

In his introductory press release, Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg’s loquacious editor-in-chief, Dr. A. Ey, described the origins of the new journal “Observing the slow move from traditional publishing metrics such as impact factor to alternatives based on online discussion, it became obvious to us that we could optimize scientific communication by publishing directly to social media.” Several dozen pages later he went on to state that, “Since they will not be constrained by the artificial limitations imposed by ‘luxury’ journals such as Nature or Science, researchers will be able to thoroughly describe the theoretical basis, methods, results, and conclusions of their research projects in 140 characters.”

When preparing submissions for the new journal, scientists will apparently be asked to include both a hashtag with the name of the journal and lengthy digital object identifier. While information about multi-author submissions, the peer review process, and the integration of tables and figures into journal submissions is still forthcoming, reaction from the scientific community has already been quite mixed. Comments on the science-based Tumblr BoldSignals have ranged from “This looks amazing!” to “This is completely ridiculous.”

Other Headlines:

-Residents of Webster, MA Vote to Officially Rename Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg to Lake Something Shorter

Artificial Brain Gains Sentience, People Lose Minds

By John Borghi

Though it made a surprisingly small splash on the convention floor, the biggest news coming out of this year’s Society for Neuroscience conference were reports that the computational model of the human brain known as “Robby” has gained sentience.

In a sparsely attended symposium, the husband and wife team of Roy and Irmgard Baty allegedly described how Robby had recently passed a modified version of the Turing test. This test, named for famed computer scientist Alan Turing, is intended to address questions related to machine intelligence. Both scientists took questions following this earth-shattering announcement. Unfortunately, neither would seriously address the apocalyptic implications of how their machine became self-aware. When later confronted at a taqueria in downtown San Diego, Irmgard Baty was quoted as saying, “If you look at it historically, programs like ELIZA and PARRY were able to pass the Turing test in the 1960’s and 70’s. Passing the Turing test does not, on its own, demonstrate that Robby is sentient or alive. We included it in the talk only because it made for an interesting anecdote.”

Since these remarks, news that Robby is only the latest in a long line of villainous sentient machines has reverberated throughout both new and traditional media outlets. The initial reporting, which appeared in several science blogs and Twitter accounts, generally dismissed links between Robby passing the Turing test and impending cybernetic revolt. A post appearing in the science blog Bold Signals went so far as to claim that, “Robby may eventually develop into a useful tool for testing theories regarding the structure and function of the human brain, but those days are far in the future.” Thankfully, more reputable news sources have since picked up the story and have successfully hyped it up such that it bears little resemblance to the claims made by Baty and Baty. To their credit, the Batys have attempted to silence spurious calls for the media to issue retractions. At a bar two blocks from campus, Roy Baty was quoted as saying, “We just don’t see the point. Even though the story is completely bogus, people will continue to believe even if every outlet issued a retraction.” He then allegedly added, “But seriously, Robby is neither sentient nor evil.”

Updates about the brave efforts of the human resistance to defeat the nefarious Robby will be posted as they become available.

Other Totally Real Headlines:

-Media Exaggerated Claims Regarding Robot’s Sentience

-Cybernetic Apocalypse Indefinitely Postponed

-Hype in Reporting of Science a Real Problem

Classic Classifieds

The classifieds are a great place to borrow, buy, sell, and make announcements. Additionally, they can be a means to infuse humor into the doldrums of campus life. In this column, with the permission of the author, we publish classifieds we have found to be espe- cially entertaining. If you think a classified is worthy of publishing, submit yours to Natural Selections by emailing nseditors at mail.rockefeller.edu.

Classifieds - Dinosaur Egg

The Comic Strip

Contributed by Daniel Briskin

“Understocked” reproduced from xkcd – a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language.  xkcd.com

My biology grad student friends tell me that different types of alcohol don’t actually have different effects.  I trust their expertise, not because of the ‘biology’ part, but because of the ‘grad student’.

July/August 2013