Sep 272016
free money falling from the sky

Look, it seems amazing, but there is an actual way to get free money from science. It will take a little bit of effort, but not nearly as much effort as killing your rich uncle and making it look like a natural death. By following my simple guide you’ll be a cool $60k better off – imagine all the shit that you could convince yourself you need with that amount of money!

Let’s start.

First, you’ll need to find a field of science that you feel like you can lie about being passionate about. If you choose something about kids with cancer, or cute animals who aren’t very good at fucking, it’ll be much easier to convince your family that you’ve just given up three years of your life to make the world a better place.

Next, find an academic supervisor who is in the field of study that you have chosen. This choice is going to be the first crucial decision you need to make. The perfect primary supervisor is someone who has the right combination of just wanting to be loved and someone who makes you/people feel uncomfortable – think racist grandparent with an MDMA addiction. This person should regularly say outrageous things like “who’s the brown one in the lab?” and “I thought it was the little Indian fella…”.

This is now were you earn your money – don’t worry it’s as easy as Facebook stalking someone. Collect as much information about this person as humanly possible. You need to find something from their past that they are ashamed of. Something dark. Something they’ll want to keep secret. Because you chose the best “gurning granddad” in the last step, this will be very easy. Everyone has a dark secret, mine is that my first ever music purchase was the Spice Girls – I spent the next few years of my life throwing the peace symbol around and the saying “girl power”, creating the perfect virginity force field.

Once you have found their dark secret. We are ready for the next step.

Approach your prospective PhD supervisor and say that you want to work for them. Use buzz words/phrases that no self respecting PhD supervisor could ignore. Examples include “I live to work” and “I can’t remember the last time I took a day off” and “papers” – you’ll have their undivided attention and the contract will be winging its way to you in no time at all. Sign the contract and ignore all of its contents – it doesn’t apply to you anyway.

Start your PhD. Do it for six months. Don’t worry, nothing will be expected of you, print off some peer-reviewed papers and scatter them all around your desk. Nothing says “I’m busy doing science” like a literature review and coffee stained teeth.

Here comes the fun part: after six months, stop turning up to the lab/office. Do not answer emails. Your goal is to be out of contact long enough that the glassware in the lab – the stuff with your name on it – has collected a thick layer of dust. Because science is so slow, it’ll take about three months before people actually realise that you aren’t there – this is the benefit of the new concept of “hot desks” in wanky open planned offices.

At this point your supervisor will be really mad. Answer their calls and to reveal what you know about them – that in 1986 they smoked crack, put all of their fingers in their friends bum, individually, and set a man on fire. Your supervisor will quickly back off and you shall continue to receive your PhD scholarship whilst traveling around Europe and posting the pictures on Facebook. Be sure to drop secret hints to your supervisor in the photos that you post: medical picture of a finger in a bum

Enjoy your ~$60k and spend it wisely. It’ll only last for three years (the length of a PhD scholarship) and you won’t actually get a PhD at the end. Apparently, quitting isn’t such a bad thing anyway!

Support Andy Matter and feel good without having to clean yourself up.

$1 $5 $10 $??
Sep 202016
Red Dice being thrown

More and more scientists are becoming disenfranchised about the prospect of a long and rewarding academic career. It’s harder than ever to secure an academic position. Even academics are becoming annoyed with the prospect of staying in an academic career –  presumably because they looked in the mirror and saw what the physical effects of “success” looked like. I’ve always thought that at the beginning of a science degree academics should line up at the front of the lecture theater so the graduates can see what success really looks like. To me, it kind of looks like heart attack drizzled in sadness with a side of future knee problems.

A 2010 study from the tea sipping, pomp-loving Royal Society in the UK investigated the career prospects for PhD’s. After finishing scones with The Queen and listening to Prince Phillip’s racist jokes, they found that only 0.45 % of PhD graduates ended up with a permanent academic position.

percentage breakdown of career pathways from PhD

The most “why the fuck did I do this” moment for me came when I found out that 53% of the graduates found a career outside of science. “Fuck me” because science is hard, and even though there’s a bunch of transferable skills that get picked up along the way, lot’s of people (who probably like doing science, because that’s why they did it) end up sat in little grey cubical’s pretending they enjoy instant coffee.

Don’t be sad, just because you are very, very unlikely to find an academic position it doesn’t mean that life hasn’t got more probable surprises in store for you. Here are some fun things are are more likely to happen to you:

Getting cancer

There is a 1 in 2 (50 %) chance for men and about a 1 in 3 (33 %) chance for women

You may find out you’re a descendant of someone more interesting than you


About 75 % of people are likely to have hemorrhoids at some point in their life.

Being underweight

In Australia between 2010 – 2012,  1.7% of people were considered underweight and, based on the number of chins per capita being greater than 1, this value is likely to only be getting smaller.

Becoming a millionaire with your own business.

Our fat cat mates over at Barclays recon that 1 in 200 (0.5%) of businesses end up making 1 million in their first year.

So, there you have it: start a business and remember to eat lots of fibre. No-one will want to do business with someone who scratches their arse and shuffles in their chair too much. Also, a moment of reflection for hungry, permanent academics with spin-off companies and cancerous hemorrhoids who are related to Genghis Khan – they’re the ones that have been truly blessed!

Support Andy Matter and feel good without having to clean yourself up.

It’ll help with running costs and combating sobriety.

$1 $5 $10 $??
Sep 132016
Mr Clever, Mr Men

I love being told I’m clever. It gives me the same sense of accomplishment that I get when I do a poo in the wild and not get it on my legs. Although I am no better than anyone else, when I am told that I am clever it makes me feel better than everyone else and that’s what we all live for.

In science there are a number of pathways to being told you are clever and enjoy the assumed success which accompanies it. The most difficult pathway is trying to get other scientists to call you clever. This is really fucking difficult and that’s because most other scientists have a really good bullshit detector and are also trying to do the same thing.

For this approach to work, you’ll need to have the right combination of luck and opportunity. Much like being able to kiss The Queen on her Prince Edward stained lips. To be called clever by other scientists, you’ll need to publish as many papers as humanly possible as quickly as possible. To maximise the soul crushing effect of comparison, we typically compare a single number so there’s an actual quantifiable amount of how much people are better than you.

The metrics used for comparing academics include the H-index, m-index, h2 index, g-index, c-index, s-index, e-index, I10 and the O-index. H-index is probably the most commonly used and although it seems confusing, just make sure you tell people about the one that makes you look the best.

At some point, after sustaining the minimal effort to scrape by (for long enough that you’ve reached the age where masturbation is a boredom activity) perhaps you’ve come to realise that science is really difficult and you are too scared to just leave to try something else? Well, my friends, it’s time to self-sabotage.

Self-sabotage is the perfect way to appear like “it just wasn’t meant to be” whilst not having the balls to quit and just do something else. Here are 3 quick techniques to help you along your way:

1.The internet is the perfect place to start. When asked about your H-index, tell people that you don’t really care about metrics then go back to your desk and zombie your way though countless hours of YouTubeFacebook and Twitter. It’ll make the time pass really fast and you can always pretend that you were looking at sciencey stuff.

2.Be a dick to everyone. If someone sends an email to you immediately send a pissy reply and be sure to copy in your boss and their boss.

3.Constantly compare yourself to others and their metrics. Become overwhelmed by the amount of work you’ll have to do to match their stats and dwell on it – a lot. So much in fact, it should take hours out of your day and only be interrupted by toilet breaks and sending pissy emails.

These techniques should start to work within about 3 months. If these techniques don’t work, just punch someone in the balls and/or boobs  – that’ll quickly get you on your way to a forced career decision.

Sep 062016
A picture of the best scientist in the world

I have been told that my advice is the best in the office. My office mates have told me that I have improved their lives so much that I should move to another office to help the people there. The best thing about open plan offices is that as soon as you think about advice you can pop your head up over the sad, grey dividers and instantly say it before you get a chance to double guess yourself. You have to say it loud enough so that they can hear it over the headphones they always wear.

Because I am so good at giving advice and everyone is jealous of my career, here are some things that have really helped me over the years:

1.Only take career advice from your academic supervisors

The only way to be successful is to listen in minute detail to what they have to say. These people have been through it all and have the emotional battle scars/alcoholics nose to prove it. Your academic supervisors know exactly what you want to do with your life because it’s exactly the same as what they wanted to do with their life. The key thing to remember about every academic relationship is the more successful they become, the more successful you become – it’s just how the system works. Spend your time helping them and success will follow. Look at their cheeky little faces. How could something so asymmetrically adorable not have your best interests at heart?

2. Spend all 7 days of the week in the lab

How on earth are you meant to get that Nobel Prize if you don’t absolutely dedicate your life to science? It’s time to cut out the people who want to spend anytime with you, at all. These people will drain valuable energy that could otherwise be funneled towards your one true love – research. What’s more important: seeing your new born niece or nephew for the first time or writing a research paper? Well, unless that baby is going to format that graph for you you’d better start writing. The baby won’t even remember you anyway. Wait until it’s lucid (about 13 – 14 years old) then ask it to format your graph for you. If you are reading this, I’m actually mad you are not actively doing science.

3. Sleep your way to the top

The good thing about the push for gender equality in academia is that it’s equally easy for hot young scientists (like me) of either sex (not like me) to sleep their way to the top of the academic pile-on. Listen up, you have to make sure you are alone with your supervisor as often as possible. At each successive encounter your aim is to reduce the distance between you and your supervisor until they have entered you or you have entered them. There are also some steps in the middle but they are less important. The warm rush of feel-good hormones people experience during intimate contact will ensure you are their favorite when it comes to promotion time.

4. Only do the hard experiments

Who the fuck wants to read about boring science? NO-ONE! Get rid of all that preliminary shit and launch into the experiments with “quantum” or “nano” in the name. Preliminary stuff NEVER leads to more interesting stuff. I can’t imagine anyone at the Large Hadron Collider saying “we’ll just warm it up first and do some checks”. They wouldn’t because they’re not losers. If your experiment doesn’t include lasers or expensive equipment you’re doing it all wrong and you should be ashamed of your science, because science is ashamed of you. Hard experiments often require extensive occupational health and safety sheet to be filled out. These are boring and pointless. Do not fill them out. They only matter if something goes wrong and you are clever enough that if something does go wrong you’ll be able to cover it up.

5. Take everything to heart

How are your superiors meant to know you really want this if you’re not crying in their office at least once a day? Didn’t get that grant? Cry. Experiment failed? Cry. Someone asks you to leave their office: cry. This also means if anyone else in the group is successful you definitely CANNOT be happy for them. Draw attention back to yourself by suggesting the only reason they are successful is because they satisfy a quota the university/government has to fill. Top tip: everything is about you.

By following these, and only these rules, you will be sure to have a long and prosperous science career that everyone will be jealous of.

Remember to like the official Andy Matter Facebook page!