The (new) April Fools Peer Review Process

Astronomy has a great tradition of April Fools day papers. Scientists in the field with a sense of humor and some extra time often think of a silly science experiment and then post it to the official preprint archive for the 1st of April. These papers are meant to be a lighthearted send up of the field, using current techniques on unusual subject matter, poking fun at aspects of the field, or just an excuse to have a laugh. They are not intended to be taken seriously, and there is no peer review process. 

Until now.
To add a little more fun to this year, and to highlight all the great work that has gone into each paper, here are our reviewer comments on the 14 April fools days papers in 2022


Author: Dr. Michael B. Lund

First author affiliation: Caltech / IPAC-NExScI

Title: Transmogrifiers: Bright of the Exomoon

Dear Dr. Lund,

With the exciting advent of exomoon astronomy, we have an unprecedented opportunity to address some of the yet-unanswered fundamental mysteries of the cosmos, as you have done in this as-of-now-foundational paper investigating which exoplanets may host exomoons capable of reflecting sufficient lunar light to sustain a thriving werewolf population.

Reviewer #1: This excellent paper diligently filters through over 5000 confirmed exoplanets for possible exomoons capable of transforming earth-like werewolves. The proposal for WFIRST (Werewolves From Infrared Radiation and Spectral-typing Telescope) admirably endeavors to investigate how the werewolves native to M-dwarf planets might differ biologically from those plaguing us here on Earth. 

Reviewer #2: While the author proceeds with a thorough analysis of the possible range of exomoon fluxes for werewolf habitability and merits publication, you only briefly mention the possible impact of, as you put it, other “exocryptozoological” entities. One might infer that planets well adapted to exovampires might be less desirable for werewolves, considering their legendary and often ill-fated rivalries. 


Authors: Kyle A. Corcoran and Ellorie M. Corcoran

First author affiliation: University of Virginia, Department of Astronomy, Charlottesville, VA

Title: “My Rhodopsin!”: Why Adding Dark Mode to Journals Could Make Us All Better Astronomers

Dear Dr Corcoran,

This comprehensive introduction to dark mode for journal articles and iPoster design also explains how its use can reduce eye strain, device battery and screen lifespan, and can preserve dark vision on those late observing runs.

Reviewer #1: A much needed and well implemented approach, with ready-to-go LaTex formatting files as well as plot and poster templates. My eyes hurt while reading the rest of these articles!

Reviewer #2: The so-called dark mode or DM (a convenient and unambiguous acronym) certainly looks “modern”, and comes with an aesthetically pleasing color palette suggestion, but is not particularly inclusive for the contingent of astronomers who prefer staring directly into the sun for 8 hours a day.


Authors: Gagandeep S. Anand, Zachary R. Claytor, and Ryan Dungee

First author affiliation: Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD

Title:Worry No More, The Hubble Tension is Relieved: A Truly Direct Measurement of the Hubble Constant from Mooniversal Expansion

Dear Dr Anand,

Figure 1 from this paper – Values for H0 from various experiments, including the potentially coincidental one from this paper.

The determination of expansion rate of the universe, H0, has been an ongoing struggle, causing tension between the different measurements between techniques. We appreciate this work attempting to find a new value with a novel technique by looking at the recession velocity of the moon, something that admittedly should have little bearing on the wider universe.

Reviewer #1: Initially I was not convinced in any way that one planet’s moon should be associated with universe’s expansion rate, until I saw Figure 1. The value you get for H0 is strikingly similar to those from other methods. More work could be done to prove it is not a coincidence.

Reviewer #2: I’m still not convinced, it’s definitely a coincidence.


Author: Eve Armstrong

First author affiliation: New York Institute of Technology

Title:The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf Case studies of peer review

Dear Dr Armstrong,

This work presents a meta analysis of the review process by analyzing 3 new works in the pig-literature that were reviewed by the same rapacious referee. Each case study presents the methodology of the authors, and the response by the reviewer.

Reviewer #1: The case studies are well selected, showing a range of analyses that are illuminating to the reader. We especially appreciate the discussion section that describes their pig authors’ attempts to publish without perishing.

Reviewer #2: I find the author conveys a characterization of the wolf beyond what is necessary, to the point of being disrespectful and dishonest. The brief discussion paragraph that questions the use of “bad” is insufficient and bordering on negligence, even if certain second reviewers could be said to have similar characteristics as said wolf.


Author: Henri M.J. Boffin

First author affiliation: Extraterrestrial Institute for the Advancement of Earth, [address redacted]

Title: Follow the Index: A new proposal

Dear Dr. Boffin,

This paper addresses the uselessness of the h-index, a common metric for quantifying a researcher’s career as a single number, and suggests a replacement: the b-index (b is for better).

Reviewer #1: You have not only contributed to the admirable passtime of ridiculing the h-index, but propose an improved metric to measure academic productivity which would be sufficiently complicated and arduous for academics to drive us to actually read CVs and not treat people as a single number. Hats off!

Reviewer #2: A fine suggestion to improve hiring and grant allocation practices, though you should probably cite my papers… I mean, these papers… ahem. 


Authors: Jules Fowler and R Deno Stelter

First author affiliation: University of California, Santa Cruz

Title: Wavefront Sensing and Control with the Many Headed Hydra Model Basis

Dear Dr. Fowler and Dr. Stelter,

The authors present a novel way to account for turbulence in adaptive optic telescopes. While this is normally done with mathematical models, they create a model of the turbulence out of combinations of scientists’ headshots. This is attempted with 16 different heads.

Reviewer #1: The effectiveness of this model appears to be shockingly good, with the best model only having a 1% error!

Reviewer #2: The appendix of the 16 different head based models was initially disturbing, but then suddenly mesmerizing. The pixelated images rotated and scaled near infinatum invaded my subconscious and I suffered a restless night of dreams decomposed into thousands of smiling scientists. I will never sleep well again. I suggest a disclaimer at the top of the appendix.


Authors:  Sergio Best, Fernanda Correa , and Juan Ignacio Espinoza

First author affiliation: Instituto de Astrofísica, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Title: Parking lot planet, for the amusement park planet next door

Dear Dr. Best,

This paper explores the conditions for star systems ideal for hosting dedicated amusement park planets with suitable proximity to parking lot planets. Now at last, interstellar vacationers can ask the age-old question “are we there yet?” without having to also ask “how long will it take us to find parking?”.  

Reviewer #1: Your analysis testing what types of systems allow for rapid and convenient transit between the leisure planet and the parking planet is extremely important, since nobody wants to wait the better part of a year for their shuttle back to the parking facility…

Reviewer #2: Your work wisely considers whether suitable planets exist in the “really habitable zone”, with typical surface temperatures ideal for beverages. You also mention that tidally locked planets may have opportunities for cheap tanning salons on the day side, a boon to be sure, but it’s unclear how to best utilize the night-side of the planet. Year-round haunted house attractions?


Author: Mark R. Lovell

First author affiliation: Center for Astrophysics and Cosmology, Science Institute, University of Iceland

Title: Could fresh lava be (warm) dark matter?

Dear Dr. Lovell,

This paper presents a promising new candidate for the ever-elusive nature of dark matter: lava, inspired by the intrepid author’s field trip to the site of a recent volcanic eruption a mere 20 miles from their apartment. 

Reviewer #1: An innovative and thought-provoking revolution in the theory of warm dark matter, that allows for the study of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPS) without digging tunnels to the claustrophobic depths of the earth. Let the dark matter come to you, instead! 

Reviewer #2: There seems to be some sort of misunderstanding surrounding the meaning of the term “warm dark matter”. Unfortunately, while frozen lava is, as the author confirms, “matter” that is “dark” and most definitely “warm”, it’s unclear how it might come to suffuse the dim, isolated reaches of the early universe. 


Authors: Christian Eistrup, Lukasz A. Tychoniec, Iris Nijman, Marta Paula Tychoniec, Siroon Bekkering, and Anna Gaca

First author affiliation: IScream Coffee, Leiden, Netherlands

Title: Taurine in Taurus – An Over-Caffeinated Search for Coffee in Space

Dear Dr. Eistrup,

Figure 2 from the paper – showing the striking similarity between latte art and the ALMA observations of HL Tau

The authors conduct a search for the caffeine adjacent molecule taurine in HL Tau. They do so by creating the LATTE experiment and describing in rich detail the coffee making process and its importance to the astronomy community.

Reviewer #1: Figure 2 from the paper is truly striking. The comparison of the simulated latte-art pattern model to actual ALMA observations of HL Tau is a convincing part of the author’s argument for detection.

Reviewer #2: The paper is steeped with the authors’ expertise and experience with coffee. The suggestions in the conclusion for improving department coffee are practical and appreciated. However, while a compelling idea, encouraging academic meetings to book local coffee houses for meetings is presented without any true analysis and could be explored further.


Authors: Door van Flonkelaar,  Bozef Jucko , Gudit Marg , Koah Nubli, Schebastian Sulz

First author affiliation: Center for Theoretical Astrophysics and Cosmology, Institute for Computational Science, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Title: Social Distancing between Particles and Objects in the Universe

Dear Dr. Flonkelaar,

In the midst of the COVID pandemic, these authors consider the range of “social distancing” typical for everything from atoms within a diamond molecule to stars in nuclear star clusters

Reviewer #1: The authors calculate the maximum social distancing possible for humans, if we were to divide up the Earth’s surface area evenly between the 7.9 billion current inhabitants, leaving a comfortable 270 meter maximum radial separation. The suggestion to improve this by providing each human their own personal asteroid is a promising idea.

Reviewer #2: While the analysis considers social distancing within a large number of physical systems, ranging many orders of magnitude, it’s not discussed how the accelerating expansion of the universe may actually be helping us with social distancing in the long run… 


Authors: Abigail J. Lee,  Grace E. Chesmore, Kyle A. Rocha, Amanda Farah, Maryum Sayeed, Justin Myles

First author affiliation: Department of Reality TV Engineering, University of Chicago

Title: Predicting Winners of the Reality TV Dating Show The Bachelor Using Machine Learning Algorithms

Dear Dr Lee,

The machine learning approaches implemented here allow the prediction of the winner of ABC’s The Bachelor show, in which 30 contestants vie for roses and ultimately the final selection by a single suitor.

Reviewer #1: While the results aren’t all surprising (It turns out the most likely winner of the Bachelor is a 26 year old white dancer from the Northwest), it’s very interesting that it seems to be statistically worse odds to win the first impression rose! 

Reviewer #2: Not to lean into the “villain” role, but the neural network responsible for the highest accuracy predictions seems much like a black box. In the end, much like the contestants of the show, we are expected to trust that the results are here for the right reasons. 


Authors: John A. Paice and Jack J.C. Watkins

First author affiliation: Department of Physcis and Astronomy, University of Manchester

Title: On the Possibility of Discovering Exoplanet within our Solar System

Dear Dr. Paice and Dr. Watkins,

Your work takes Mamajek’s law, that the rate of exoplanet discovery doubles roughly 39 months, and extends it into a future where the milky way is so full of discovered exoplanets, that one must be discovered within our solar system.

Reviewer #1: It is impressive the accuracy to which you predict when the exoplanet will be found in our solar system, not just to the year, but to the date and time (Friday 9th December 2146, just after 22:36 UTC). I’ll set an alarm.

Reviewer #2: Your prediction that if Mamajek’s law holds, eventually exoplanetters will become so effective at discovering exoplanets, they “should wear blindfolds to prevent them from accidentally discovering exoplanets in their living room” is an important consideration for the field. I suggest eyepatches begin to be incorporated into undergraduate level courses.


Authors: Dr. William J. Roper, Todd L. Cook , Violetta Korbina , Jussi K. Kuusisto , Roisin O’Connor , Stephen D. Riggs , David J. Turner , Reese Wilkinson

First author affiliation: Astronomy Centre, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, UK

Title: COWS all tHE way Down (COWSHED) I: Could cow based planetoids support methane atmospheres?

Dear Dr Roper,

As editors of a prestigious astrophysics journal, we often contemplate the “big questions” of astrophysics, such as “what are the atmospheric properties of a planet made entirely of cows?”. This analysis, of course, extends to cow moons. 

Reviewer #1: The authors’ cow-culations find that cow-based planetoids with methane atmospheres cannot feasibly be maintained at this time due to the rearing area and feeding requirements of the > 1019 cows necessary. I shudder to consider any further implications of this any further. 

Reviewer #2: An excellent foundation upon which one could build a complete theory of bovine planetoids. However, your initial assumption that cows have negligible moomentum is preposterous. 


Authors: Sabina Sagynbayeva, Briley L. Lewis, Graham M. Doskoch, Ali Crisp, Catherine A. Clark, Katya Gozman, Gourav Khullar, Haley Wahl, Jenny K. Calahan, Mark Popinchalk, Samuel Factor, Macy Huston, Pratik Gandhi, Isabella Trierweiler, Suchitra Narayanan, Jonathan Brande, Michael M. Foley, Olivia R. Cooper, Ben Cassese

First Author Affiliation: Astrobites Collaboration and Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA

Title: First Detections of Exop(lan)ets: Observations and and Follow-Ups of the Floofiest Transits on Zoom

Dear Sabina Sagynbayeva,

Pets appearing on Zoom calls often brings joy to those in the meetings. You and your collaborators using the transit method along with other exoplanet detection techniques to understand this phenomenon is a powerful step forward in understanding and characterization of these exopets. 

Reviewer #1: Polling the astronomy community for their Zoom pet experiences provided a powerful data set for understanding the “pup-lation statistics”. The appendices with the collection of pet photos provide context for why this work is so important!

Reviewer #2: I don’t know how I got asked to referee this, I was one of the writers. Regardless, I recommend it for immediate publication.


Astrobite written and edited by Mark Popinchalk and H Perry Hatchfield

Featured image credit: History. com

About Astrobites

This post was written collectively by multiple members of the Astrobites team. Meet the authors of Astrobites.

Discover more from astrobites

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Leave a Reply