35 science jokes that are so cringe-worthy they might make a scientist groan

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REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Scientists take their world- and life-changing work very seriously.

Whether it’s charting the possible consequences of climate change, helping predict when we might die, or keeping tabs on nuclear weapons stockpiles, their work can take on a huge gravitas.

But we all need to unwind, and sometimes nothing feels better than the rush endorphins from laughing at a good joke. (Laughter comes with some surprising and impressive health benefits too.)

We’ve scoured the internet and called on our readers to help us round up some of the best, worst, and cheesiest science jokes and puns around.

Here are some of our favorites – plus an explanation in case you don’t get the joke. (Warning: It’s possible only scientists will find these amusing.)

Kelly Dickerson previously rounded up a bunch of these jokes, and we’re re-posting them here.


I was going to become a polymer scientist, but didn’t because I thought the work would be too repetitive.

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Shutterstock

Explanation: The word “polymer” describes any material with more two types of repeating chemical units, usually in the form of a long chain. Examples include materials such as DNA (your genetic code), nylon, polyethylene terephthalate (or PETE, used in plastic bottles), pectin (in fruit), wool, cellulose (in wood), and silk.

Source: Brett Glass/@brettglass


Q: Did you hear oxygen went on a date with potassium? A: It went OK.

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flickr/Anthony Quintano

Explanation: The atomic symbol for oxygen and potassium are “O” and “K,” respectively. They get together they spell OK.

Source: Inorganic Ventures


If the Silver Surfer and Iron Man team up, they’d be alloys.

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Marvel

Explanation: In chemistry, an alloy is a mixture of metals. Silver and Iron are both metals, so if these guys teamed up they wouldn’t just beallies, they would bealloystoo.

Source: Inorganic Ventures


The optimist sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The chemist sees the glass completely full, half with liquid and half with air.

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Flickr / Paul Thompson

Explanation: The glass is always completely full of something, be it a solid, liquid, or gas – unless the entire thing is in a vacuum and all the atoms are removed.

Source: Inorganic Ventures


If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.

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REUTERS

Explanation: This is a play on the phrase “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

But in chemistry a solution is a completely dissolved mixture of two or more compounds, and a precipitate is a a solid that sometimes forms from a chemical reaction in a liquid solution. The solid precipitate falls out of solution, and collects in the bottom of the vial.

So a precipitate is definitely not part of the solution.

Source: Jokes4Us.com


Q: What did the thermometer say to the graduated cylinder? A: “You May have graduated, but I’ve got many degrees.”

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Shutterstock

Explanation: A common laboratory measuring device is a graduated cylinder, which successively marks off an increasing volume. Thermometers, meanwhile, denote temperature in degrees.

Source: Michele Banks/@artlogica


A photon checks into a hotel and is asked if he needs any help with his luggage. He says, “No, I’m traveling light.”

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Facebook Developers/YouTube

Explanation: OK, this is more of a physics joke. A photon is a packet of light and has zero mass. Not only is it literally traveling light (the illuminating kind), it’s also traveling light (as in not heavy).

Source: Chemistry World Blog


Organic chemistry is difficult. Those who study it have alkynes of trouble.

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Business Insider

Explanation: An alkyne is a common type of carbon compound with one carbon-to-carbon triple bond. They are frequently used and studied in organic chemistry. It’s pronounced like “al kine.” So, alkynes of trouble sounds like all kinds of trouble.

Source: Jokes4Us


Did you just mutate for a stop codon? Because you’re talking nonsense!

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The genome-editing enzyme known as CAS9 at work on a strand of DNA.
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Nishimasu et al, 2014

Explanation:A stop codon is a nucleotide in messenger RNA that signals the stop of a translation – the process that cells use to make proteins.

Source: Letters From Bat Country


Q: How did the English major define microtome on his biology exam? A: An itsy bitsy book.

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Image courtesy of Amunts, Zilles, Evans et al

Explanation: Tome means book, so a micro-tome would be a small book, but to a biologist, a microtome is an instrument used to cut tissue into thin slices.

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: What did Gregor Mendel say when he founded genetics? A: Woopea!

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Flickr / e.c.johnson

Explanation: Gregor Mendel’s genetics experiments were done with pea plants.

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: Did you hear about the man who got cooled to absolute zero? A: He’s 0K now.

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John Lewis

Explanation: “0K” here actually stands for zero Kelvin. Kelvin is a temperature scale in which zero is the coldest possible temperature, referred to as absolute zero, where molecules cease to move. A person wouldn’t actually be OK if cooled to absolute zero.

Source: Jokes4Us


I wish I was adenine, then I could get paired with U.

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Ho New/Reuters

Explanation: In RNA, adenine (A) forms a “base pair” with uracil (U).

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: Anyone know any jokes about sodium? A: Na

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LoggaWiggler/Pixabay

Explanation: The symbol for sodium on the periodic table is “Na,” which when said as a word is pronounced like nah, another way to say no.

Source: Jokes4Us


Did you hear the one about the recycling triplets? Their names are Polly, Ethel, and Ian.

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The 5 Gyres Institute

Explanation: Polyethylene is the most common type of plastic.

Source: Jokes4Us


Two chemists go into a bar. The first one says “I think I’ll have an H2O.” The second one says “I think I’ll have an H2O too” — and he died.

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Wikimedia Commons

Explanation: H20 is the molecular formula for water. But H2O2 is the molecular formula for hydrogen peroxide, which will kill you if you drink it.

Source: Inorganic Ventures


A couple of biologists had twins. They named one Jessica and the other Control.

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“Twins”

Explanation: Scientists must always use a control group or condition – which they don’t experiment on and just leave “as-is” – when conducting an experiment.

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: Why can you never trust atoms? A: They make up everything!

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Christine Daniloff/MIT and Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT

Explanation: Atoms are the smallest pieces of matter, they make up all of the elements and molecules and proteins and everything else on Earth.

They also literallymake upeverything we see, but in the joke they are suggesting that the atoms lie so don’t trust them.

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: What element is a girl’s future best friend? A: Carbon.

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REUTERS/Olivia Harris

Explanation: “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” is a well-known saying. Diamonds are created from carbon under extreme pressurize and over time, so carbon will eventually become “a girl’s best friend” – hence her “future best friend.”

Source: Inorganic Ventures


Q: How often do you like to hear jokes about elements. A: Periodically.

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Flickr/2Wheelin’

Explanation: The fundamental chemicals of the universe, called the elements, are arranged in a table that helps group and predict their periodic behaviors and properties.

Source: Michele Banks/@artlogica


I had to make these bad chemistry jokes because all the good ones Argon.

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Flickr/Desintys Agent

Explanation: Argon is an element on the periodic table. When you say it out loud it sounds like you are saying “are gone.”

Source: Chemistry World Blog


Biology is the only science in which multiplication is the same thing as division.

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University of Pennsylvania via Microbe World / Flickr

Explanation: In biology, cellsmultiplyin number when one celldividesinto two.

Source: Jokes4Us


The name’s Bond. Ionic Bond. Taken, not shared.

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Sony / MGM screencap

Explanation: We all know James Bond’s famous drink order: Shaken, not stirred. But an ionic bond is formed between two atoms when electrons aretakenfrom one atom by the other, unlike a covalent bond where the atomssharetheir electrons. And, taken rhymes with shaken.

Source: Jokes4Us


“Me vs. the guy my electron tells me not to worry about.”

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Michele Banks/Twitter

Explanation: This is a riff on how easily a person can fall for another person they’re attracted to – a classic battle of the brain vs. the heart.

On the left is francium (Fr), which has a single valence (or outer) electron. On the right is fluorine (F), which is has seven of eight maximum valence electrons. Fluorine is very reactive for this reason- it’s looking to bond with any spare electron it can – and atoms with single outer electrons are most likely to be “stolen,” especially an atom like francium.

Francium is also very unstable, which gives the joke extra meaning.

Source: Michele Banks/@artlogica


Q: Why are chemists great for solving problems? A: They have all the solutions.

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Exploratorium

Explanation: In chemistry a solution is the proper name for a mixture where one substance is completely dissolved in another – like sugar or salt in water. Solutions are also the answers to problems.

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: What do chemists call a benzene ring with iron atoms replacing the carbon atoms? A: A ferrous wheel.

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Wikipedia/Jynto

Explanation: A benzene ring is a hexagon-shaped ring made out of hydrogen and carbon atoms – so it basically resembles a wheel. “Ferrous” is used an adjective to describe something with iron in it, so a wheel of iron is a Ferrous wheel, which sounds similar to Ferris wheel, the carnival ride.

Source: Jupiter Scientific


What did the male stamen say to the female pistil? A: I like your “style.”

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guillermo_andre/Flickr

Explanation: The stamen and pistil are the male and female parts of a flower. The style is the name of one of the structures of the pistil.

Source: Jokes4Us


Did you hear about the famous microbiologist who visited 30 different countries and spoke 6 languages? He was a man of many cultures.

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iStock

Explanation: In microbiology, a “culture” is a colony of microorganisms grown in a lab.

Source: Jokes4Us


A fellow accidentally ingested some alpha-L-glucose and discovered that he had no ill effect. Apparently he was ambidextrose.

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Flickr via iluvcocacola

Explanation: Alpha-L-glucose is a low-calorie sweetener substitute for regular D-glucose. Dextrose is another word for glucose. So instead of being ambidextrous, the fellow is ambidextrose – meaning he can tolerate either kind of sugar.

Source: Jokes4Us


You’re so hot, you denature my proteins.

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Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Explanation: Proteins denature – lose their shape and structure – when things get hot. Attractive people are frequently referred to as “hot” – in this case, so hot they could denature proteins.

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: What is the fastest way to determine the sex of a chromosome? A: Pull down its genes!

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Illustration by Lucy Reading-Ikkanda

Explanation: Chromosomes in a cell carry genes – including those that determine an individual’s sex, specifically held on the visually distinct X and Y chromosomes. Two Xs and you are female, one Y and you are male. By isolating and analyzing a cell’s chromosomes, scientists are able to determine the sex of that organism.

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: What do you call the leader of a biology gang? A: The nucleus

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A human melanoma cell line.
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Shutterstock

Explanation: The nucleus is essentially the control center of a cell, which dictates what the rest of the cell does.

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: What did the conservative biologist say? A: The only cleavage I want to see is at the cellular level.

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Shutterstock / Lukiyanova Natalia / frenta

Explanation: Cleavage is the name of the indentation in a cell’s surface created when it is about to divide. To the rest of the world cleavage is when women wear clothing that shows off the top of their chest, and conservative clothing usually covers the chest.

Source: Jokes4Us


Q: Y’all want to hear a Potassium joke? A: K

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Thomson Reuters

Explanation: The symbol for Potassium on the periodic table is “K.”

Source: Jokes4Us


14. Baby, I wish I were DNA helicase so I could unzip your genes.

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John Goode/Flickr

Explanation: DNA helicase is an enzyme thatunzipsa strand of DNA down the middle. Your genes are made of DNA strands. Genes sounds a lot like jeans – an item of clothing that is typically undone with a zipper.

Source: Jokes4Us