16 April 2008

Book Meme

So there's this thing called a book meme...

I obviously wasn't paying attention in blog class, but apparently these memes are all over the net. As far as I was concerned, a meme was something Dawkins came up with to explain cultural evolution - and, oh dear, that sounded so pretentious. Very bad science communication.

I won't try to fashion a better explanation of meme than Dawkins himself. So here he is: "Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes, fashions, ways of making pots or building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation."

Book memes then. From what I gather, it's a kind of game/way of showing off your literary prowess to the blogosphere. The idea behind most of them seems to be that you take a random section of a book that "just happens" to be sitting on your shelf and post it on your blog. My Dawkins excerpt, for example, wouldn't count because I selected it for a specific reason. (Although it did serve the purpose of showing off my literary prowess - if you rate Dawkins, that is).

Probably the best way to explain this is just to do it. So... I stole this book meme from Niobe at Dead Baby Jokes, and it goes like this: Pick up the nearest book (although in my case The Selfish Gene is actually right next to my keyboard, so I'm going to cheat and pick something else), turn to page 123, count down to the fifth sentence on that page and post the next three sentences. Simple. Here goes then.

"It is still too early to say whether or not a malaria vaccine is a real possibility. Malaria research is not, however, just about drugs, vaccines and bed nets. One successful programme in Kenya is examining how local shopkeepers dispense anti-malaria tablets and whether their effectiveness in the web of malaria control can be enhanced through education."

Hmm. Not as successful as I'd hoped. For a start, page 123 had a picture on it, so I had to go to 124. And despite having picked up a sci-art book, I seem to have landed us with some pretty heavy issues. Never mind. Perhaps we've all learned something.

Oh, and to "transmit" the meme, you have to tag someone in your blog post. Captain Doug, my fellow blogger... you're It.


Hayley said...

I didn't think of it like this before, but I guess it's a sort of e-chain letter...

scary b said...

"split by spin-orbit coupling. We note that the quantum number mj does not enter - as indeed would be expected because the spherical symmetry of the problem has not been broken - so each state with a given value of j consists of (2j+1) degenerate components, which can be separated by an applied magnetic field as discussed in the next section."

Much less interesting when one is revising. My exams over the last month: quantum computation, advanced quantum, nanoscale physics, and magic. One more and I am a fully fledged physicist. I've waited so long for my wings!