Click here for free access to our latest coronavirus/COVID-19 research, commentary, and news.

Support nonprofit science journalism

Science’s extensive COVID-19 coverage is free to all readers. To support our nonprofit science journalism, please make a tax-deductible gift today.

Chris Hardie/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

When @#%$! is your imaginary co-author

Apparently if your physics paper is rejected for publication, resubmitting it with a pseudonym that’s an Italian profanity may change your luck. That’s the bizarre story appropriately uncovered by Italian science writer Vito Tartamella—he has penned books on swearing and Italian surnames. In 1987, after their paper on “non-equilibrium molecular dynamics, connecting fractal geometry, irreversibility and the second law of thermodynamics” was rejected, physicists Bill Moran and William Hoover chose to resubmit it with a new title and an additional co-author they named Stronzo Bestiale, a phrase that Hoover overheard on a plane ride to Paris. (For those without Google Translate, it means total asshole.) The paper, and subsequent ones with the same co-author, was accepted. The joke, Hoover says, reflects the vulnerability of the review systems in scientific literature.

Latest News