What Seinfeld can teach us about science

From micro pigs to the doping dangers of a poppy seed bagel, life may be imitating the US sitcom

When Jerry Seinfeld starts hisUKtour, listen out for a science joke. From earlier today in his TV job, the comedian poked fun at science. In his 1981 HBO debut, he said of weather forecasts:” And then my favourite component, the planet photo. This is really helpful. A photo of the Earth from 10,000 kilometers away. Can you tell if you should take a sweater or not from that shoot ?”

His eponymous 90 s sitcom is also jam-pack with nuanced references to science, with the storylines of some of the most famous episodes centred on it: George Costanza pretends to be a scientist in The Marine Biologist, while in The Abstinence he becomes a boffin after swearing off sex. In The Non-Fat Yogurt, Kramer has a romantic fling in a lab and inadvertently spoils an experiment testing whether the frozen snack is as healthy as it sounds.

Academics have written volumes about the sociology and doctrine of Seinfeld, but the role of science has been left relatively unexplored. In an attempt to redress this, I have recently published a peer-reviewed paper on the subject in the Journal of Science and Popular Culture.

Researchers have brought science and Seinfeld together in other spaces: in 2014, mathematicians from the University of Vermont quantified the sitcom’s happiest attributes and seasons( Kramer and season 5 respectively ). In 2017, Seinfeld fan and freelance scientific editor John McCool exposed the murky practises of a predatory periodical– one that offers publication without proper peer review in exchange for payment. The periodical accepted a article he submitted for consideration under this identified of Dr Martin van Nostrand, a pseudonym used by Kramer when impersonating medical doctors, on the topic of uromycitisis- a fake medical precondition invented by Seinfeld. And a popular US dermatologist and a TV superstar calls herselfDr Pimple Popper, inspired by the derogatory name Jerry utilizes for a doctor he’s dating.

Some spectators have gone to great lengths to find out whether the social sciences in Seinfeld stands up. The Film Theorists YouTube channel examined whether it’s really possible to die from exposure to toxic glue on old-fashioned envelopes, as George’s fiancee Susan did in the serial( reassuringly, they say, it’s not ). And what about Elaine failing a drug test after eating a poppy seed bagel? This was exactly what happened to one Pennsylvania mother, whose babe was taken away by welfare authorities until the errors was cleared up.

A lot of the science in Seinfeld comes from Jerry’s standup acts within the show.” Somebody, I usurp, genetically modified these ponies ,” he says in The Pony Remark.” Do you think they can shape them different sizes? I mean, could they shape them, like, the size of a one-quarter, if they craved? That would be fun for Monopoly, though, wouldn’t it ?” The suggestion is absurd, but in such cases of life imitating fiction, scientists are now using gene editing to create miniature swine, such as micro animals, to sell as pets.

In the opening standup scene of The Mango, Jerry says:” How about that seedless watermelon? What the claimed invention, scientists are working on this. You know, other scientists dedicate their own lives to fighting cancer, Aids, heart disease. These people are going:’ No, I’m focusing on melon. Oh sure, millions of people are dying needlessly. But this[ attains spitting noise ], that’s gotta stop .'” While the diseases Jerry mentioned still haven’t been antidote, scientists today are still engaged in the questto engineer seedless fruit, including tomatoes.

Jerry
Jerry Seinfeld at a standup concert Photograph: Netflix

A lot of Seinfeld’s standup skits show how some scientific ideas had become common knowledge. Seinfeld casually references Biosphere, Dian Fossey, and tungsten or wolfram, and shatters with the TV cliche of scientists as socially awkward singletons. Jerry dates a political scientist, Kramer falls for an FDA chemist, and George gets a date by pretending to be a marine biologist.

At the same time, the evidence establishes us laugh at misconceptions about science, like Kramer’s assumption that the government has created a pig-man, that there’s such a thing as “quoning” or that fat molecules in frozen yoghurt modify when it meltings.

In The Abstinence, lack of sexuality turns George into an intellectual who would rather talk about science than his job with the Yankees. He ventures on to the baseball field to teachMajor League musicians how to improve their game:” Hitting is not about muscle. It’s simple physics. Calculate the velocity, v, in relation to the trajectory, t, in which g, gravitation, of course, remains a constant .” He then reaches a home run and says:” It’s not complicated .”

George was ahead of his time; data analysis and athletics science have become a bigger part of sport than ever before.

Ultimately, science is likewise George’s untying. He reverts to his former stupid self after having sex with a Portuguese waitress.” I calculated my odds of ever getting together with a Portuguese waitress ,” he says.” Mathematically, I had to do it, Jerry .”

Whether the science in Seinfeld tasks is a mixed bag. There’s no evidence that abstinence can attain you smarter; in fact, the opposite is indeed true. But if you were wondering about the science behind shrinking? That one stands up.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ science/ blog/ 2019/ jul/ 12/ seinfeld-teach-science

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