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No. 112: Jul-Aug 1997

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Computer Con-Fusion

Not content with joking about "nominative determinism" (SF#108), the "Feedback" page of New Scientist has been having fun with "rogue hyphens." These errant hyphens occasionally appear in the very best of our newspapers and magazines. Word processors insert them in the wrong places when trying to justify lines of text. Some are hilarious, as are these gleaned from Canadian newspapers by B. Taylor:

mans-laughter deter-gents calfs-kin thin-king cart-ridges end-anger tramp-led casual-ties prick-led

(Anonymous; "Feedback," New Scientist, p. 80, February 18, 1997.)

Comment. Certainly there can be nothing anomalous about rogue hyphens. Wrong! After G. Kasparov was defeated recently by IBM's Big Blue computer, all the commentators told us not to worry about being replaced because computers were just machines. For example, they had no sense of humor. From the cleverly inserted hyphens above, we now know this is not true!

From Science Frontiers #112, JUL-AUG 1997. 1997-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987