Since you asked… April 13

1 May 2013 by Alex Brown, posted in since you asked...

EDL or English Disco Lovers

The EDL (English Disco Lovers) are some of the nicer People On The Internet

The world of Internet search terms is a weird place. From predicting flu trends based on people looking up their symptoms (which may be a bit more complicated than first thought), to activists raising awareness of the unpleasantness of Rick Santorum and the EDL, search terms reveal a lot about People On The Internet.

In this monthly series, I've been highlighting some of the weirder search terms that have landed people on this blog. I do this partly for the "huh?!" factor, but also in the hope that some of these genuine questions may find an answer.

In no particular order, here are my favourite Do You Speak Science? search terms from April 2013:


"fabriquer antenne fm intérieure"

My first foreign-language search! This is French for (approximately) "make interior fm antenna" - the searcher is probably looking for DIY instructions for building a radio. I have no idea what this person would have found on this blog, as I haven't written about radios yet, let alone in French.

"science in coat hangers"

Whoever searched for this probably found my post about scientific words which are porte-manteaux, but far more interesting is this neat demonstration of how different materials transmit sound in different ways. The sound made when you hit a coat-hanger fades quickly if you are listening through air, but a piece of string attached to the coat-hanger and pressed against your ear will make the noise last a lot longer.


"false perception sketches"

No idea.


"puns on the word science"

Although I am a fan of fairly terrible puns and I write about science, I have never actually used a pun on the word "science" itself. I imagine there are plenty.


"puns with 'adapt'"

I think this is another hybrid, an artefact from having ever used the word "adapt", and my pun habit. For this post, I tried to make a pun about adaptation, but none of them would fit. Have you got any?


"supermarket flagship"



"asks a series of questions that can be answered in two ways"

This is a false positive: I use words like "series" and "questions" in my posts, so they show up in search results. It seems Internet searches are not perfect. I think the ultimate question of this blog, "do you speak science?", can be answered in far more than two ways.


"is water maker one word or two"

I don't think "watermaker" is a word at all, but it is the nickname I gave to hydrogen in this post. If in doubt, use a hy-phen.


"so glad false friends are out of my life"

Dear reader,

You poor thing... though I'm happy that you are rid of them!

For my part, I write about false friends in the metaphorical, linguistic sense. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

Yours faithfully,



Rick Santorum

Santorum: a false friend, literally and metaphorically. Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia

On a related note, this month I went to the fantastic Question. Explore. Discover. (QED) conference. There I learned that falscher Freund in German not only means linguistic false friends, but also - and please indulge my use of euphemistic jargon for a moment - "unintentional defecation". It's not a million miles from what is colloquially referred to as a "shart". So it seems Santorum is a false friend in more than one sense...


"im do for an upgrade as of march 13th?"

Umm... not a clue about this one.


"how many types of yoghurt can they try to sell"

That would be a lot.


"why is hydrogen brown on the periodic table"

Is it?

I think "brown" turning up is a result of my name - I hope whoever was looking for this found my post about hydrogen interesting.


"speaking logs"

That's an amusing image! Of course, logs of wood don't talk. Once again, this is a dud. "logs" is a product of this blog being on the SciLogs network, and "speaking" features quite prominently here.


"rock balancing leandro inocencio"

I used a picture of rock balancing in my Pi Day post. Leandro Inocencio is the rock balancing artist from the Philippines who was responsible for it.


Rock balancing

Rock balancing. Credit: Leandro Inocencio

It seems it's been a weird month on DYSS. I wonder what May will bring... you can expect posts about lithium, meningitis, stars, and more...


Over to you:

  • Can you shed any light on this month's search terms?
  • Do you know any puns on the word "science"?
  • What weird or unusual search terms have led readers to your site?
  • Have you searched for something odd online recently? What did you find?
  • Have any of your recent searches taken you somewhere unexpected? Where was it, did you discover something new?

5 Responses to “Since you asked… April 13”

  1. Noby Reply | Permalink

    I love looking at search terms people have used to find my website. A surprising number of people want to know why 'I'm a male, my nipples are lactating', bringing them to the page I wrote about Male Lactation.

    Get a lot of R-rated search terms on account of the fact that I once wrote an article about snakes having two penises...

    Someone also wanted to know 'what is the estimated rat population in 2013'...I dont even know how my site was found from that...

    • Alex Brown Reply | Permalink

      Some great search terms there, Noby, thanks for your comment!

      Of course, I'm now curious to know how many rats there are in the world this year...

  2. elkement Reply | Permalink

    I keep collecting search terms now for a quarter before I turn them into search term poetry.
    Two weeks ago I have reviewed the first book full of spam poetry on my blog (no kidding) and I already got a search term equivalent to the title of this book - which is in turn a phrase from a spam comment:
    "surprise potatoes in soldiers soup"
    Another interesting search term was this:
    "working diagram of 1852 flushing toilet"
    ... related to my articles on the Coriolis effect and busting the myth of the behavior of the vortices on Northern and Southern hemisphere.
    Both of these search terms were related to words contained in the header line, so it seems Google gives quite a weight to the header.

    • Alex Brown Reply | Permalink

      I do love your poems - I'm not sure whether I'm surprised that someone has written a whole book about spam comments!

  3. Sean Buchan Reply | Permalink

    My favourite is the frankly terrible spelling of "due" for an upgrade on March 13th ... part of me wonders whether it was meant to go into a messenger but a multitasker put it in the wrong window then the person decided to check what google could send them in return...

    I get some really awesome searches that make me feel I might have actually answered people's questions, but then again I also get a vast majority of "red light district" related searches seeing as I wrote about it, once, briefly. I think the R-Rated search world is at least 50% of searches...

    Then I got :has only one leg" (in the quotes); "old lady sex in efficiency"; but my favourite, "find bonnie boroughs in naples fl" and I have NEVER written any of those words on my blog, ever. Weird huh?

    Interesting post :D didn't know you had a blog until now Alex!

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