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    What are scientists reading?
    By Adam Retchless | April 24th 2010 08:48 AM | 8 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Adam

    I get paid to study microbial evolution. These writings are for my non-scientist friends and family (hi guys!) and anyone else who sees any value...

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    I recently took a look around my department to see what academic scientists are reading. I ignored the stacks of research papers, because I know that no-one ever gets around to reading them. It seems that the most common reading materials for academic scientists are comics (at least for the grad students).

    Two of the most common information sources are XKCD (for technical information) and "Piled Higher and Deeper" (for reporting on academic culture). PhD comics are really made for the grad student. If you don't understand the name, think of the common meaning of "BS". Then think of how you might interpret "BS, MS, PhD". If you still don't get it, then you'll just have to check out the 200 most popular PhD comics.


    I can tell you what science site creators are reading.   A biography on Harry Houdini; 3 comics - but the old school kind, not online - a compilation book of X-men from the mid 1980s, a compilation book of Fantastic Fours from the mid 1960s and a stack of Thor from the 1970s.
    Becky Jungbauer
    Kim, if you ever want to have an adult conversation about the real world, I'm available because clearly Hank isn't. ;)
    Gerhard Adam
    Why would you think that reading a biography of Harry Houdini wasn't adult behavior?
    Mundus vult decipi
    I assume she means the comic books.   But my wife's reading is no better.

    I think I will do a formula for how to create modern fiction for chicks; basically, take the plot of "Under a Tuscan Sky" and make one of the guys a vampire.   The rest could just be fill in the blanks from a menu of choices.
    Gerhard Adam
    I assume she means the comic books.
    ... are you one of those guys that needs a punch line explained?  My point was that the comic books were the one thing that adult guys would understand as being adult .... :)

    I think I will do a formula for how to create modern fiction for chicks; basically, take the plot of "Under a Tuscan Sky" and make one of the guys a vampire.
    Yes, although vampires are a recent adaptation.  A few years back it was sufficient to simply have the guy (or woman) die.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Becky Jungbauer
    I did mean comic books, and I was jesting. I would not fit into your chick fiction formula - that crap bores me to tears. I'd rather clean all the bathrooms at Grand Central Station with my tongue than read chick lit.
    Andrea Kuszewski
    Don't forget The Oatmeal. Good stuff. PhD comics are just not that funny, in my opinion. More like a list of facts that are just painful to relive. However, xkcd is wicked clever, and my favorite.
    Thanks for the link to Oatmeal.

    I too prefer XKCD over PhD, which I hadn't read for a while until the guy who draws PhD stopped by my University for a talk. He was pretty darn popular. I think he's pretty good at pointing out the absurdities of the academic life. Above, I compared PhD to Doonesbury, but perhaps Dilbert is a better comparison.