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Everyone loves a good meme. Science geeks are no exception. But sometimes these memes require a little bit of explanation for those who aren’t full time nerds themselves.

1. The “Hugs Bison”

This little girl just discovered the Hugs Bison!

This beautiful ink drawing by Niroot Puttapipat is more high art than meme, but Niroot drew this as a play on the Higgs boson, which was finally found hiding out in the Large Hadron Collider back in 2012. (OK, it wasn’t hiding exactly. They created the Higgs by smashing together protons at 299,792,455 meters per second — or just 3 meters shy of the speed of light.)

When the news of the discovery dropped, most folks had never heard the word “boson” before. And almost no one outside of physics knew the correct pronunciation (bōzän). I’m pretty sure that if some journalist had written an article about the discovery of the Hugs Bison particle, named after one Dr. Niles Hugs, no one would have batted an eyelash.

2.      (You Are) Basic

You may or may not remember from the high school chemistry class that you did or didn’t take that solutions of liquid have a pH level (aka, their “potential of hydrogen”). According to Wikipedia, pH is: approximately the negative of the base 10 logarithm of the molar concentration, measured in units of moles per liter, of hydrogen ions — whatever the hell that means. All that matters for the purpose of this joke is that a solution with a pH below 7 is called acidic and a solution with a pH above 7 is called basic. If you don’t understand the last part of the joke, let Ted Danson’s excellent character from The Good Place explain it to you:

3. You Matter

Sticking with puns that lean heavily into the less grammatical, you could do worse than a nod to Einstein’s famous equation.

In this equation m is mass, which is the property that all “matter” has. That c is the symbol used to represent all 299,792,458 meters per second worth of the speed of light. Put it all together and what have you got? Energy. Though technically, you need to square the speed of light first, and even then this famous equation is just the energy of an object when it isn’t moving. But the full equation

is admittedly less amenable to punchlines.

4. Joke’s On You

Honestly, if you don’t find this one funny, I’m not sure what to tell you. Though it does bring up something that people always get hung up on when “conservation of energy” is bandied about. Energy is never created or destroyed, thus the conservation bit. But it can change forms, some of which aren’t particularly useful. And once that electrical energy generated (well, transformed) at the power plant gets converted into heat energy by a bunch of lightbulbs, it’s basically unusable. So funny joke, but also wholly misleading.

5.      Data Science

Everyone who has ever made a powerpoint slidedeck for their boss knows that if you use pie charts in your presentation you are basically doing “data science” and thus everyone should take your ideas super seriously. And while using “big data” is always a plus, even a pie chart with a single category can be highly informative, as demonstrated by this “How Much of Japan is Japan” chart.

And for the record, I am absolutely about to buy just bought this mug.

Honorable Mentions

Because, biology.

First, Outer, Inner, Last – bitches.

Avogadro’s got game! But seriously, as if you wouldn’t try this if you had your own number.

Not sure if this is really a science thing, but damn did I ROTFL when I read the tiny words at the bottom.

This basically sums up the epistemological state of modern theoretical physics. It’s comedic in the sense of a greek play — meaning it’s tragic but, so far, no one has died.

I would have gone with All Gregor’s Saying Is, Give Peas a Chance, myself – but this is still pretty good.

This one took me a minute… I’ll wait while you look it up.

Jesse Stone

Jesse B. Stone loves science and writing. Apologies if you were looking for the "Jesse Stone" played by Tom Selleck in the CBS movies.

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