Gorton's Law


Over at the World’s Fair

Anyway, this meme asks that you come up with your own scientific eponym. What’s that exactly? Well, first read this excellent primer by Samuel Arbesman, which basically provides a step by step description of how to do this effectively. Then have a go at your own blog. If all goes well, I’d like to create a page at the Science Creative Quarterly, that collects (and links to) the good ones.

The credit for this scientific eponym goes completely to Jason Robertshaw at Cephalopodcast, the formalization is mine.

Gorton’s Measure states that the time for someone to ask “Can you eat?” when discussing a marine species is directly proportional to the rareness, strangeness, and repulsiveness of the species.


where theta=time for someone to ask “Can you eat?”
t=total people in room
alpha=species’ rareness
sigma=species’ strangeness
delta=species’ repulsiveness

This is related to Gorton’s Constant (Gamma) that states that the question “How well does it go with lemon and butter?” will occur at a very high percentage approaching infinity despite relative changes in audience size (n).


Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

4 Replies to “Gorton's Law”

  1. This novel research begs further study, such as the question “Can your batter and fry it?”. The coefficient of battering, β, is a function of the number of individuals in the audience, n, and the proportion of any audience that eat healthy foods, Ph, such that β ∝ n x (1-Ph) x θ. This is the probability of this question coming up in a random audience. In an audience composed of people from southern or rural areas, the proportion is raised to the (mn) power, where m is the number of southern or rural individuals and n is still the total number of audience members.

  2. I thought scienceblogs would be up on the html tags.

    The coefficient of battering is (beta), (beta) is proportional to n(Ph)(theta).

  3. Maybe this will allow us to make new inroads towards solving the classic question: “And do you want fries (chips) with that?”

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