A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

Move over Britney, Lady Gaga's in physics now


For years, the Britney Spears Guide to Semiconductor Physics has been floating around the Web intriguing, amusing, educating, troubling, or infuriating different people. Doing one better, pop star Lady Gaga is now immortalized in the name of a published physics paper.

I was skimming through the contents of the latest issue of Physical Review D, as I'm sure most of you also do for fun, when I came across the paper title "Poker face of inelastic dark matter: Prospects at upcoming direct detection experiments," by SLAC and Stanford's Daniele Alves, Mariangela Lisanti, and Jay Wacker

If you're a little monster like me, then you'll understand that reference, and would react to the title in only one possible way. But just to check that I wasn't projecting, having been at Gaga's concert a few weeks ago, I thought I should check in with the authors.

I also recalled that strange things have appeared in scientific papers as the result of bets between physicists. For example, penguin diagrams in particle physics received their name as the result of  bet over a game of darts. Read the full story as told by John Ellis in the sidebar in a symmetry feature.

I emailed Jay a simple note:

So was the title here a result of a bet to include a lady gaga song in it?

And his response tells the story:

Daniele was making fun at me for bopping my head to a Lady Gaga song and made a bet whether the CRESST experiment would see a signal or not in the spring.

Daniele would have to use an image of Lady Gaga an upcoming talk if she lost and if I lost, I would have to immortalize the song forever in the paper title.

The original title was "iDM's Poker Face" but PRD made us change it to that monstrosity.

As a side note, several physicists have confessed that they can't see the paper on his desk without getting the song stuck in their heads for the rest of the day.

Another physicist said that he hadn't heard of Lady Gaga before, but the title led him to watch several music videos on YouTube...for 'research' purposes.

We haven't heard what Lady Gaga herself thinks of being immortalized in this way but I am fairly certain she would respond that people should be who they want to be, and title their physics papers any way they like.

Latest news articles
Sky & Telescope

Astronomers connect the dots between two strange doppelganger galaxies, uncovering what might be a string of galactic pearls created in a cosmic collision 8 billion years ago.

Event Horizon Telescope

The result provides overwhelming evidence that the object is indeed a black hole and yields valuable clues about the workings of such giants, which are thought to reside at the center of most galaxies.

Scientific American

THESAN—the largest, most detailed computer model of the universe’s first billion years yet made—is helping set expectations for observations from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.


Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll discusses the quest for quantum gravity with host Steven Strogatz.