This week, the out-of-touch guide is taking a look at science. We got aerospace engineers licking space rocks, YouTube influencers using lie detectors, Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s twitter-feud with a frozen meat product, and more tales of when great scientific minds meet the internet’s rabble.
This week in science, part one: Neil DeGrasse Tyson vs. Steak-Umm
Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson is in a twitter feud with Steak-umm. The beef (get it?) started with a Tyson tweet that reads, “The good thing about Science is that it’s true, whether or not you believe in it” went mildly viral. This was too much for Steak-Umm, a brand of processed frozen beef sheets, who fired back, “log off bro.”
Steak-Umm followed by explaining “Science itself isn’t ‘true’ it’s a constantly refining process used to uncover truths based in material reality and that process is still full of misteaks. neil just posts ridiculous sound bites like this for clout.”
The weirdest thing about this conflict (other than everything) is that Steak-Umm is right. Maybe not about Tyson’s motivation, but about his argument. Perhaps Tyson’s lack of response indicates a sheepish acknowledgment of his epistemological mistake, or maybe he doesn’t get into flame-wars with junk food marketing accounts, but I hope a series of debates are being prepared behind-the-scenes, and I hope whoever runs Steak-Umm’s social media gets a raise for its brilliant alternative marketing prowess. I want a cheesesteak now.
This week in science, part two: Scientist tastes Mars
Texas PhD student Kyle Morgenstein recently showed off a cool rock from another world on Twitter, sending out a sexy picture of the mineral with the caption, “This rock is 3.5 billion years old. This rock is from Mars.”
Twitter commenters, of course, immediately demanded that Kyle lick it. At first, he demurred, tweeting, “I refuse to contaminate it, I haven’t even touched it! It stays in a temp + humidity controlled plastic mini show case most of the time lol.”
But after a billion people tweeted “Lick the space rock, Kyle,” a Change.org petition was started, and #lickthespacerockkyle started trending, Kyle gave in to popular demand.
On a video, the exasperated scientist said, “Fine. Y’all win. You want to see me lick the rock so badly… I’ll lick the Mars rock.”
The verdict? “It needs salt,” Morgenstein said. The space rock, which travelled 177 million miles to earth in a meteorite, had no comment.
This week in science part three: DNA test nightmare
The rise of at-home DNA test kits has allowed thousands of people to learn about their ancestry, understand their genetic health history, and find out their relatives are notorious serial killers. But it’s not all good. A DNA kit ended TikTok user @mattilathehun’s relationship.
She didn’t know her biological father and was concerned about her how her genes might affect her health, so her boyfriend bought her a DNA kit for her birthday. The tests were on sale, so her boyfriend picked one up for himself, too. This turned out to be a bad idea. When the results came back, the young couple learned that they were cousins. Not first cousins, but cousin-enough to be concerning.
Because they are not part of the British royal family, the couple decided to end their relationship instead of using it to join their fiefdoms and consolidate political power. @mattilathehun also pulled her TikTok down, apparently because commenters get a little wild when you go viral for accidentally dating your cousin.
Viral video of the week: Lexi Rivera and Andrew Davila face a lie detector
I didn’t know who Lexi Rivera and Andrew Davila were before looking them up either, but young people like them enough that the pair taking a lie detector test is one of the top trending videos on YouTube this week.
The two Gen-Z influencers have millions of followers between them on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and BligBlag (I made that one up), and are apparently interesting enough that their fans want to use a truth-machine to probe deeply into their minds. (What are you hiding, Andrew Davila?)
While I could understand using a lie detector to yell horrifying questions at a celebrity who is locked in a cage in a dingy basement, this video is not like that. The interview is good-natured, the questions are banal (“Do you think Lexi is attractive?” is about as racy as this gets), and everyone seems to be having a good time.
It’s too wholesome for me to understand, but I’m not here to judge. I’m just telling you what the YouTube kids are watching. Apparently, lie detector videos are a growing thing, with “I guess they’re famous or something” personages like James Charles, and Brent Rivera and Pierson Wodzynski strapping on a machine and telling the truth.