It’s called Google whacking, and the craze has spread across the globe. The idea is that you put a pair of seemingly random words into the Google search box with the aim of producing only a single hit – a Google whack. Now, for bored biomed researchers everywhere, Mathew Smith and Christopher Morris of the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University have devised a purely scientific version.
To play the game, which they have called Pubmed Whack, you enter two search words on the main Pubmed search page (www.ncbi.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi) with the aim of getting just one cited reference back. For example, “dendrimer endocytosis” is a Pubmed whack, as is “mitochondria daffodil”.
Perhaps the years working at New Scientist have affected Feedback’s brain, but we have tried this and found it strangely addictive, in a frustrating sort of way. To our chagrin, “neanderthal spacecraft” produced no citations at all, whereas “neanderthal computer” produced five. We’ve been at it for hours, and we are still desperately trying to get a whack.
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