No-one quite sure what the point is anymore, survey finds

London, UK. A recent survey of ten thousand UK scientists carried out by Imperial College Kings of London (ICKL) has found that no-one is quite sure why they bother.

“It’s just a huge pointless circle”, said Prof. Joan Jett, a senior group leader at ICKL and former glam rock star. “The first and only objective of any grant is to start writing the next grant. We publish a paper announcing the project, then we put out a press release, then we start writing the next grant application. We never do any actual science” she continued

“I thought the PI knew why we did it” continued Eddie Genetics, one of Jett’s PHD students.  “but when I asked her, she just stared at me for ten minutes then left the room. It was very uncomfortable”.

Jett picked up the thread again: “We thought the director of our institute might know, so we asked her ‘Why do we do this?’.  She said the point was to win money.  ‘But why?’ we asked.  ‘So we can publish papers’ she replied.  ‘About what?’ we insisted.  Sadly, she didn’t understand the question”

“We thought industry might help us” added Fay Ledscience, industry liaison officer at ICKL.  “We were sat in a meeting with one company and they said ‘Out of this £1m research grant, we contributed 50p, therefore we own all of the IP and your ideas.  Give them to us.  What are your ideas?’.   Our scientists just looked blank.  Finally, I had to explain to industry ‘No, that’s why you’re here – to give us ideas’.  They looked furious.  Finally, their accountant stood up, slammed his fist on the table and shouted ‘I told you this would happen!’ and stormed out” Fay continued, looking very worried.

Finally, a large group of senior researchers from ICKL approached Prof. Oldfart Lockheed, FRS, chief executive of the science funding council (SFC).  “We asked him what the point was” said Jett, spokesperson for the group.  “He said ‘You need to publish papers'; we said ‘Why?'; ‘So you can win grants'; we again asked ‘why?'; ‘So I can demonstrate impact'; ‘yes, but why?'; ‘So I can get more money from the government’ he replied”.

At this point Jett simply put her head in her hands and began sobbing quietly.

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BREAKING: NoSQL just “huge text file and grep”, study finds

BREAKING NEWS: a study by the institute for distributed investigation of technologies (IDIOT) has found that all NoSQL technologies are essentially just a massive text file combined with the UNIX tool ‘grep’

NoSQL has risen in popularity in recent years as a hipster alternative to relational databases.  Technology companies tend to move their entire data management system to a NoSQL backend, before moving it back to a relational database management system less than 12 months later.

“This is a huge shock!” said Dr Rick Slowman of the University of Birmingham.  “We’ve all written shitty scripts that grep huge files to link them together, but noone thought an entire tech sector would be based on this!” he continued.

In a related report, IDIOT have confirmed that XML is totally shit.

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NIH announces all funding decisions to be made by someone who hates you

Bethesda, USA.  In a shock turn of events, the NIH announced today that every single funding decision from this day forwards will be made by a person who hates you.

NIH funding has suffered recently, with grant success rates plummeting as more and more desperate scientists apply for less and less funds.

“This is the perfect solution!” announced Colin Francis, inventor of the first Ebola vaccine and Director of NIH.  “We basically have no federal funding.  Nada.  Zilch.  They gave us a few billion dollars but I spent it all on the phantom Ebola vaccine I might have created in the 80s” he continued.

“This is a stroke of genius” said May Beliar, NIH head of communications.  “As we have no money left, we can’t award any grants.  But instead of just saying that, we will continue as usual, but have everyone nominate someone who hates them to review their grants.  It’s insanely brilliant.  Nothing will get funded ever again – but noone can accuse us of having no budget!”

In an unrelated announcement, Colin Francis announcced an unprecedented $1 trillion investment in basic research, and asked everyone to provide a list of the 10 people who hate them the most.

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University administrator demands new email emphasis tool

Edinburgh.  A University administrator has demanded a new tool with which to emphasize parts of e-mails, having exhausted traditional methods such as bold, italics, red text and flashing text.

“The simple fact is that people ignore my emails” said Ima Jobsworth, a senior administrator at the University of Berwick.  “In the early days I used bold and italics to emphasize parts of the text, and people paid attention” he contnued.  “But then they figured out that the bold and italicised sections were just as irrelevant to them as the rest of the email, perhaps even more so”.

Ima continued: “I started using red fonts, and then yellow.  Then I discovered how to highlight the background.  Then I realised you could make text flash by using certain HTML tags.  I used them all.  Nothing worked.  My utterly irrelevant emails remained unread, or even worse, deleted.

Email fatigue within the academia is a serious problem, with many researchers receiving upwards of 500 emails per day.  Despite this, the University Administrators Union has promised to increase pointless emails by 10% each year.

“What we need are new tools” continued Ima.  “We need to think outside of the box.  I have put forward a proposal to integrate a loud klaxon noise into emails, I think about 65 decibels should do it.  If researchers don’t read my emails, the klaxon would sound for 10 minutes.  Maybe we could get a spray that would show up under UV light too.  That might work”

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Scientist accidentally publishes bitter, drunken, half-formed, barely coherent blog post

TEXAS, USA.  Late last month, Steve McKnight president of ASBMB, over-privileged white man, conqueror of peoples, scaler of mountains and an inspiration to everyone, received an e-mail; an e-mail we can all sympathise with.  Some people, some unworthy mortals, had reviewed his NIH grant and deemed it unfundable.  Steve was angry.  This kind of thing shouldn’t happen to scientific superstars such as he!

As many of us normal, average people might have done, Steve went out to drown his sorrows.  One whisky followed another, until after 50 shots (yes, 50, for as you know Steve is no mortal man), Steve was drunk, and he stumbled home.  On entering his house, he walked athletically and elegantly (for alcohol does not affect Steve’s other-worldly muscle control) down the hall and passed the door to his open study.  Glancing in, he noticed his open laptop… a flame of an idea in his quite brilliant mind, Steven sat down and got to work.

Unfortunately, even God-like intelligences are adversely affected by whisky, and the bitter piece that Steve wrote, angry at his grant rejection, was a barely coherent, offensive piece of utter shit, raging with half-formed ideas about how modern scientists were no better than “riff raff”, and how things were much better before the war.

“Sweet Lord, I only went and hit ‘publish’ instead of ‘delete'” Steve laments during our interview.  “I mean, sure – I do think I am at least 50% better then everyone else on the planet, and I do think that most people are fucking stupid, but, you know, you never want that kind of stuff to get out there, do you?  No-one is supposed to read it!” he carried on.

We left Steve alone, his mighty, incredible, brain-filled head in his hands.  We’re sure such an amazing, extraordinary, inspirational man will bounce back.

(for a bio of Steve, we recommend you read this)

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Thermo anounce P2 chip available tomorrow, P3 available the day after

BREAKING NEWS: ThermoFisher who own Life Technologies who own Ion Torrent have announced that the fabled P2 chip for their sequencing technology will be available “tomorrow” and that the P3 chip will be available “the day after”.

When asked if that means the P2 chip will be available in 24 hours time, our source said “No, you don’t understand.  The P2 chip will be available tomorrow.  Ask us again in 24 hours time, and the answer will be the same – the P2 chip will be available tomorrow.  Same with the P3.  It will arrive exatcly 1 day after the P2 chip – the day after tomorrow”

In other news, the company announced that their HiQ chemistry consisted of billions of nanobots that have systematically removed all indels from every life form on Earth, which means that it no longer matters that the PGM and proton cannot detect them reliably

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Miracle Ebola drug to be withheld until companies figure out how to make money from it

Liberia.  Miracle drug ZMapp, which is said to have saved the lives of two American aid works infected with Ebola, is to be withheld from further trials until pharmaceutical companies figure out how to make money from it, The ScienceWeb has learned.

Kent Brantly and Nancy Writbol, rich Americans, received ZMapp after contracting Ebola during an aid mission.  Both survived.  However, 1000s of Africans are currently infected with the deadly virus, and many are asking whether ZMapp will be made available to them.

“The problem is that we’re not in the business of saving lives, per se” our source said.  “We’re in the business of making money.  See, Kent and Nancy, they’re the kind of patients we like, they have health insurance and they’ll pay us thousands of dollars in fees to treat them.  Africans, on the other hand… not so much.  They tend not to have any money, so we don’t really want to save them” he continued.



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