Page 3.14

Hello, and welcome to the Sweet Sixteen round of the Science Spring Showdown—ScienceBlogs’ answer to March Madness. (Feeling confused? Catch yourself up on what this is all about, here). The phrase “Mad as a March Hatter” might be apposite. But be that as it may, Page 3.14 is nothing short of delighted to host the penultimate match in the Mortar and Pestle Division. The action happens right here, folks. You are basically sitting in courtside seats. The rivalry goes down on Friday. For now, sit back and enjoy the Pre-Game Hoopla!


This Friday, fans will return to Chemical Arena, where Fossil Fuels and Erlenmeyer Flask go head to head. We’re expecting a combustive match, folks, as these two teams battle towards leadership of the Mortar and Pestle Division. One of them could go on to the finals, to the big, big match in the center of the bracket scorecard thing. This one:


Neither team is strongly favored in this rivalry, and in fact, well, in some ways this is a just-plain-crazy match-up. Pre-game prognosticators are pointing out some things for you to consider going into the main event. Will they help you figure out who will win? Maybe. Will they make you smile? One can only hope. Think about:

  • Longevity. Fossil fuels: they’ve been around, well, for a long time now. We’re talking about a team with a pretty extensive history here. Millions, I mean hundreds of millions of years. Erlenmeyer flask…more of an upstart. Specifically? The year1861; German scientist Richard Erlenmeyer. The ‘Flask is supple and young, but the Fossil Fuels have experience on their side. It’s anybody’s guess the way the advantage goes.
  • Then you’ve got the many versus the one thing. The Fossil Fuels have numbers on their side. There’s coal, playing center, but then you’ve also got natural gas as point guard, and fuel oil, on forward. Erlenmeyer Flask–well, there, you’re just talking about an Erlenmeyer Flask. Single. Unitary. Formidable, yes. But not a whole lot of intra-team dynamic.
  • Contributions to society. Again, it’s a little hard to compare these two teams, hard to get them into the same frame of reference at all. You’ve got some people saying that “[F]ossil [F]uels have made large-scale industrial development possible,” and while that’s probably true, you’ve also got people saying that Fossil Fuels are responsible for the ruination of pretty much everything. You know: causing the greenhouse effect, coating baby birds and sea otters with chemical sludge, providing the impetus for wars. I mean, really, driving geopolitics as we know it. Either way you see Fossil Fuels, then, you’ve got this impression of power and influence. And with Erlenmeyer Flask? Certainly no one lobbing accusations of Messing Everything Up. Then again, no one, not even the staunchest fans, are coming out and saying that life without Erlenmeyer Flask just wouldn’t be life as we know it. Are they? Is anyone saying that?

In conclusion, we’re looking forward to a hell of a game on Friday. May the fans go wild and may the best team win. Feel free to root, jeer, or even Bronx Cheer a little (if you can render that in letters), in the comment space below.