LOG#170. The shortest papers ever: the list.


Hi, everyone.

In this short post I am going to discuss some of the shortest papers ever written all over the world!!!!! This idea came to my mind due to a post by @seanmcarroll on twitter and other social networks…

Shortest papers on mathematics…? I know the following two papers (one quoted by Sean, the next one I have discussed it here):

1. Counterexample to Euler’s Conjecture of sums of like powers.

2. Moonshine and the meaning of life.

The texts are given below. Firstly:

Thshortest-math-paperThe second one is this one: http://arxiv.org/abs/1408.2083 Its title said it all: Moonshine and the Meaning of Life. I talked about it in this post http://www.thespectrumofriemannium.com/2014/08/13/log154-moonshine-and-42-the-paper/

In pictures, it can be shown here:

moonshineShortPaper1A FinalmoonshineShortPaper1BFinally, my next example is a old example from physics. And it is also related to some of my old posts here http://www.thespectrumofriemannium.com/2012/12/28/log069-cpn-spheres-1836/

Here you are the shortest paper on Physics I do know:

3. The ratio of proton and electron masses.

Lenz-mpme-valueAnother one about Mathematics appeared in THE MATHEMATICAL ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, Monthly 121…

4. A refinement of a Theorem of J.E. Littlewood

littlewoodPaperThe shortests abstract? Maybe this one:

5. Can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement?

URL: http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1110/1110.2832.pdf

Title: Can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement?

Authors: M V Berry, N Brunner, S Popescu & P Shukla.

Published: November 11 2011, J.Phys.A 44 492001

Abstract: Probably not.

Caption: probablyNot

I also found here this:

In 1974, clinical psychologist Dennis Upper found himself stricken with writer’s block. Though pen was to paper, no words would flow. He decided to solve his problem with a scientific experiment. Yet, as is frequently the case in science, his experiment didn’t work as intended, and that’s putting it euphemistically. Despite the failure, his work, “The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of “writer’s block,” was published in the prestigious Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis. It is reproduced in its entirety below:


Despite the paper’s glaring brevity, Upper’s reviewer hailed its brilliance:

I have studied this manuscript very carefully with lemon juice and X-rays and have not detected a single flaw in either design or writing style. I suggest it be published without revision. Clearly it is the most concise manuscript I have ever seen-yet it contains sufficient detail to allow other investigators to replicate Dr. Upper’s failure. In comparison with the other manuscripts I get from you containing all that complicated detail, this one was a pleasure to examine. Surely we can find a place for this paper in the Journal-perhaps on the edge of a blank page.


Do you know any other short paper about Physics, Chemistry, Medicine or Mathematics that deserve to be in this list?

Let me know, if you pass my spam-filter, Trivial Pursuit alike, questionnaire… XD…


 P.S.: A shortest abstract was communicated to me after writing this post, you can see it here: http://inspirehep.net/record/110443

Some screenshots

4Quarks1BIt seems that the referees made Montonen and Roos to add some words to the abstract, so the final published version has something else that the above Ulysses famous word…

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LOG#170. The shortest papers ever: the list. — 8 Comments

    • You are the FIRST one who has commented here after I created my spam-bot test to erase spamers and trolls… Just curious, which question did you solve to post?

  1. There is the famous economics paper :
    “Can financial innovation help to explain the reduced volatility of economic activity ?” by Karen Dynan and others, published in the Journal of Monetary economics in 2006, of which the abstract is probably the shortest there will ever be : “No.”

    • Congratulations, being number 6 to pass my spam-bot test! I did not know that paper. Not strange, since I am a physicist, not an economist…Thank you for your contribution!

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