Improbable Article Titles
    By Tommaso Dorigo | June 22nd 2014 09:33 AM | 8 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

    View Tommaso's Profile
    The Cornell arxiv is known to not accept preprints without a minimal screening of their contents. Still, I am sometimes led to wonder if a similar attention is paid to the liberty that authors at times take with the titles of their papers.

    I am officially on vacation since yesterday, so you should not expect the list below to be a very comprehensive one. I just offer four examples of titles that might have been considered for some form of moral suasion toward the author by the arxiv managers, but apparently haven't. I just quote some titles below which struck me as kind of odd.

    Also, beware: I am not arguing that the titles are inappropriate in any way; actually, I myself let sometimes go with titles that might be considered a bit weird (some time ago I wrote a CDF note titled "Top quarks down the drain", for instance). All I am saying here is that some of my colleagues might frown upon reading the following - or maybe they don't even notice; the best form of humor is in fact the involuntary one in this kind of business.

    - "The incredible bulk" : a study of some regions of parameter space of the minimal supersymmetric extension of the Standard Model, called "the bulk", receives a title which jokingly alludes at the green Marvel character.

    - "Making the most of MET" : this is, I think, an involuntary slip - to an experimental physicist working at a hadron collider MET means missing transverse energy, to many others it may mean "methylethyletryptanine, a hallucinogenic substance.

    - "Slim SUSY" : not involuntary - jokes using the shorthand of Supersymmetry as a female name are quite commonplace. Still, one wonders whether it is an appropriate description of the content of the paper.

    - "News on Penguins" : this is probably involuntary instead. There are theorists who work with Penguin diagrams all their life, and to them, "Penguin" is nothing but a diagram containing a certain internal virtual loop. [I should maybe mention that the naming of those diagrams as "penguin diagrams" dates back to a bet between Melissa Franklin and John Ellis, see here].

    Okay, this list is quite short. Please contribute to it by letting the rest of us know what is the weirdest title of a serious paper you came across. Use the comments thread below. Thanks!

    PS I am leaving to Greece tomorrow, and will have erratic internet connection for a couple of weeks. I will post something here, but do not expect my answers to your comments to be quick nor thorough...


    For me I rather go for the meat than the fatty surface.  Freedom to catch attention I suppose.

    Some questions though: Did you try to find out if those titles have some kind of effect on the readers? Did it do any good?  On your part, were you motivated to read those articles?
    I think this one is clever:

    "The unbearable lightness of being: CDMS vs. XENON"

    I know the title of Paul Frampton's next paper.

    "Heavy Top Models as an Explanation for Confinement"

    Ha, ha, clearly the best so far.

    Hi all,

    Camilo: no, my interest in this topic is just tangential... As for me, I see all titles of new papers in some of the arxiv categories, and indeed some trigger a smile, but I am not usually drawn to look inside.

    The unbearable lightness of being thing is cute, but Frampton's Heavy Top Models and how they explain confinement is a clear winner IMO !

    Not a funny title, but a rather amusing abstract:

    Dirty black holes and hairy black holes,