We’re all science scouts!

You may notice a few of us SciBloggers sporting a few new badges today.


Here’s my collection.
























You’ll have to read all about the Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique to figure out what they all mean. This isn’t an exclusive club, of course—feel free to decorate your blog with your hard-earned science activity badges.


  1. quork says

    The SSOERAAAP isn’t biased against those who do not believe in a supreme being like those other scouts, are they?

  2. says

    So what’s the top rank of the Science Scouts? Big Bang?

    [Being an Eagle Scout who liked spoof patches, I have to send this URL around to the rest of the troop.]

  3. quork says

    …For example, was able to escape from unjustified prison term, with the clever use of a paper clip and DW40…

    AAAIIIEEEEEEeee! They spelled WD40 incorrectly. This organization is hopeless. What would MacGyver do?

  4. says

    Weird that I qualify for The “has frozen stuff just to see what happens” badge in levels I and III, but NOT II.

    (And a bunch of others. Does singing about surge suppressors count for the “I’m a freaking rock star who sings about science!” badge?, or do I have to drag out 30+ year old tapes of us singing “Why Does The Sun Shine?” (later covered by TMBG)?)

  5. quork says

    I see you have the “I bet I know more computer languages than you, and I’m not afraid to talk about it” badge. If Mark Chu-Carroll reads this post you’re in big trouble.

  6. ctenotrish says

    Could one make a water displacement (WD) product from water? Even after 40 attempts? Brain cramping just a wee bit . . . .

  7. says

    The Level III Electric Shock badge is my proudest accidental achievement. I went nearly three minutes before the person watching noticed something was wrong and cut the power… and I remember absolutely nothing. 240s suck.

  8. James Taylor says

    PZ, where’s your ninja badge? With the beatdowns you have given out, I think you have earned it.

  9. says

    One of my fondest memories of grad school was the TA who did an Ooops with a high voltage, 3 phase circuit – as he jumped/flew back from the resulting short, the first words out of his mouth were, “Ha, Ha, I’m still alive!”

  10. says

    I think I’m going to have to suggest some model rocket badges, some badges having to do with managing data, the wrestling of marine mammals, the sacrifice of animals used in experiments, the dealing with smelly animal parts, and the most exalted QA badge.

    I definitely qualify for all three freezing badges, though. And the ‘open flame’ badge – I guess those are natural badges for chemists, eh?

  11. says

    Whoa. I definitely get the “bug sex” badge. I’ve not only engaged in experimental insect breeding, but in experimental insect inbreeding.

    Hmmmm, maybe there should be a badge with an image of a pedigree chart with some of the mated pairs linked by double lines. :-)

  12. Carlie says

    It’s awfully animal-centric. Hmpf. Can the dentist drill badge also be used by someone who has used dental wax for decidedly non-dental applications?

  13. Rugosa says

    Hey, I’m not even a scientist and I qualify for the level III electric badge! Kids, always remember to check the cord on an appliance _before_ you turn it.

  14. says

    Hey, me too! I didn’t go 3 minutes though – mine was more of the “being knocked across the room” variety.

    Did that once too because of a bad switch on a refrigerator table at a pizza joint when I was just out of high school.

    All in all I’ve been zapped hard about four times. The three minute episode was the worst because I don’t remember any of it. That one involved a leaking pipe, two wrenches and a portable man lift. It shouldn’t have happened at all, but the power disconnect on the lift was apparently not exactly working the way it should have been.

    The moral of the story is that I don’t touch electrical stuff any more, mechanically inclined or not…

  15. BruceJ says

    Hah, I got Level 3 Electric Shock before I graduated high school.

    And sadly, knowing how to repair instruments like HPLC pumps, gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers and the like DID, in fact help me to repair household appliances…:-/

  16. Pygmy Loris says

    I guess I qualify for the electrical shock level three. Once upon a time I decided to see if my dad was telling the truth about an electric fence…..he was…..geez that hurt.

    I love the “dodger of monkey shit” badge, but I think it should be “dodger of primate shit” apes throw their shit around too.

    One question though, do bones count as internal organs or do they have to be fleshy? and how about “has handled dead monkey heads for scientific purposes” badge?

  17. Pygmy Loris says

    Every primatologist should get the “sexing up science” badge. Primates are all about sex, food and reproduction….and that’s how we teach it in anthropology!

  18. says

    Hey, me too! I didn’t go 3 minutes though – mine was more of the “being knocked across the room” variety.

    Gotta love those kinds of shocks. You remember what you were doing just before the shock, and you remember getting up … later.

    I do have to say, though, that this list is awfully … biological.

    Thermite is never mentioned, for example. Nor are large but non-biological clouds of toxic gas.

  19. says

    I love the “dodger of monkey shit” badge, but I think it should be “dodger of primate shit” apes throw their shit around too.
    One question though, do bones count as internal organs or do they have to be fleshy? and how about “has handled dead monkey heads for scientific purposes” badge?

    I know, I thought there was a bias towards straight “biology” and not enough anthro-related badges, so I suggested some here.

    Bones are people too…or they used to be.

  20. says

    Aw, maaan! I wanna join! But:

    (a) I’ve only just started blogging.
    (b) So far – and this sample is not statistically representative, because I haven’t yet developed firm blogging habits – I have 9 posts, only three of which are related to science. This means I cannot reasonably conclude that I’m going to end up with a blog with 1/4 of the material related to science, so I can’t award myself that badge.
    (c) The science in question is maths and I’m not sure it counts.
    (d) I don’t really “[conduct my]self in such a manner as to talk science whenever [I get] the chance”. I only talk about maths all the time by accident. I mean, practically everything is related to maths when you think about it, it just sort of arises naturally.

    On balance, I think they might forgive me for (d). But it is the most important qualification… wouldn’t want to fudge it.

  21. says

    I’m a technical writer whose projects have included everything from toxicology to transaction sets. Do I get to be included in the club too? Does having a better-than-average grasp on statistics and risk assessment qualify me for anything?

    I definitely want that Electric Shock III badge — when I was a kid, I had a very bad experience with a Van De Graaf generator. I’m apparently not electrically conductive like normal people — does anyone know anything about that in the context of cerebral palsy?

    Oh yeah, there should absolutely be a “Crippled Genius” patch. *grin*

  22. says

    I definitely want that Electric Shock III badge — when I was a kid, I had a very bad experience with a Van De Graaf generator.

    A couple of years ago, one of our physics instructors got a Van De Graaf generator and was looking for volunteers to test it. I remember one of our bio instructors touching the generator in the “usual” way. His hair stood up as usual, but the generator for some unknown reason kept (painfully) zapping the poor guy in the kneecaps.

  23. llewelly says

    hm, I get badges for knowing more computer languages than you, freezing grasshoppers in H2O in the summer so I could take them to show and tell in the winter (they live through this .. so do butterflies, but a butterfly’s wings are ruined by the process …), and electrocuting myself while cleaning the stove (New house. turned out the power was ‘grounded’ to the water pipe … which was connected to the radiator next to the stove.).
    only 3 badges for me, but I’m not a scientist, I’m a software developer.

  24. says

    They say that if you have a suggestion, that you should contact them. There was a ‘crush you with my math’ badge, but there should be one for stats. Maybe some public health ones. Definitely need some for “I’ve worked with chemicals/ cell lines/ animals/ plants/ that are way too dangerous” badges. Perhaps a library badge for keeping almost every science text you have ever used.

  25. says

    I’m pretty sure that I qualify for the level III electrical shock badge myself. When I was really young I accidentally-on-purpose touched one of the prongs on something I was plugging in, because of curiosity. I got a nice little shock from that. Then, around late elementary or early Jr. high school, I kinda sorta accidentally-on-purpose touched the part on an exposed light switch box where the wire is held in place by a screw, again from curiosity. I don’t think either lasted more than a few seconds.

    It’s probably a miracle (in the non-religious sense) that I’m still alive…

  26. says

    I don’t think either lasted more than a few seconds.

    As far as I’m concerned no proper shocks last for more than a few seconds… at least as far as the one being shocked is aware.

    If you ever really want to have someone put the fear of electricity into you, drink some beers with a few linemen and listen to their stories.

  27. says

    Hmm, I seem to meet the requirements of:

    Talking Science
    Sexing Up Science
    Household Appliances
    All three freezing
    Radioactivity (no longer do this, but used to)
    Computer Language
    Invertebrate (obviously, given my name)
    All three electric shock

    I used to repair TV’s and do electrical work for fun. I’ve been hooked up to the power grid more than the average light bulb. I have been rendered unconscious by electricity on two occasions… now that’s a party! Both times involved a “Hey, watch this” sort of event and very large capacitors created specifically for a “Hey, watch this” event that didn’t involve frying myself.

    You know it’s a good electric shock when you can taste it even though you were shocked in the arm.

  28. Xanthir, FCD says

    Woo! Level 3 electric shock badge!

    Wanna have a fun time with electricity? Take one of those cheap disposable cameras, and strip off all the cardboard outer covering. Find the lead that connects the battery to the flash, and cut it. Splice two longer wires to each end of the clipped wire, so that you can easily manipulate/connect/grasp each. Charge the flash. Grab one end. And, carefully, grab the other.

    About 100 volts at a nice low amperage produces some very nice feelings through your arm and into your chest. I would not recommend this if you have a weak heart, but otherwise it’s fun and only slightly painful! Plus you get a cool tingling feeling for some time afterwards, especially if you do it multiple times.

    I have my high-school physics teacher to thank for this experience. I am certain he shocked himself more than once setting this up for our class.

  29. Bob O'H says

    Could one make a water displacement (WD) product from water? Even after 40 attempts? Brain cramping just a wee bit . . . .

    Homeopathic WD40?


  30. MorpheusPA says

    A couple of years ago, one of our physics instructors got a Van De Graaf generator

    Yeah, Rick, I can relate. I tried one out in high school, and had the wand in my right hand.

    It’s interesting to note that my fly was right in front of an outlet.

    Without noticing, I passed the discharge wand between my fly and the outlet…and ZZZZAAAAPPPP.

    Suffice to say that I burned more than my pants.

    It will be a long time before I forget that one.


  31. Flex says


    When re-wiring my house it got to the point where I just grabbed the hot wire to see if it was live. I’ve avoided getting hit by anything like 220 or higher, but I’ve been poked by 120 hundreds of times. Of course, I am a sparky….

    But the worst poke I ever got was after replacing the coil on my old car with a high-capacity gell cell. I Leaned over to examine the plugs on a misty day, and a spark jumped from my elbow to the coil, and from my knee to the bumper. 60KV, but almost no current. Boy, did that sting.

    Then of course, while we played a lot with liquid nitrogen in the service, my favorite dry ice trick is to place a 1/2 full bottle of vodka on a block for a week. Quite a bit of the water freezes out, and it pours like a syrup. It’s quite a bit stronger too.

    Good times.

  32. says

    Well, I guess I qualify for all three electrical badges. We had an electric fence in my parent’s back yard. It had fallen down, and before my Dad and I had a chance to fix it, we had a little harmless fun. My cousins were visiting, and one of them picked up the wire at Dad’s suggestion to see if it was working. It was. One zapped and embarrassed cousin later, I realized that I had a teaching opportunity. I picked up the end furthest from the power source, with most of the current earthing through contact with grass. I showed the kids how electricity causes muscle contractions, and that I got more of a jolt the closer I got to the power supply. I then encouraged them to try it out themselves. Fun was had by all.

  33. Steff Z says

    So, I’m having trouble with one of the badges.
    Do I get the Level III Electric Shock badge?
    Or do I have to glue it to the outside of the fishtank?
    What about the time I touched the fish on the back as she swam away, even though I KNEW what would happen? Does that count?

    Can electric catfish (Malapterurus sp.) even join the OOTSSOERAAARP?
    She does have an above average physique — a full-body sleeve of electric organ from gill covers to tail, and fetching black spots, not to mention the six jaunty barbels. And the voltage she can dish out certainly earns her an exemplary repute.

    I am sure I’ve blabbered on about her, in a science-education-ish context, several times. I think we can both join.