Instant karma

An acquaintance at a funding agency emailed me today, asking if I had contact information for a researcher I’d never heard of. I didn’t, obviously, so I Googled the person’s name from the search box on my browser toolbar. The first page of hits on the main Google page were all for an actress (who I’d also never heard of) who has the same name as the researcher in question.

A young and attractive actress.

Undeterred, I initiated my standard response of typing in the researcher’s main field after the name that was still in the search box.

Unfortunately, the researcher’s main field is breast cancer.

The Google Instant hits for “YoungAttractiveActressFirstname Secondname” breast were, um, interesting.

Just another occupational hazard.

(As it turns out, my acquaintance was actually thinking of a researcher with the same surname and first initial as the actress in question, but with a different first name. I did have her contact information, and her Google Instant hits are much more conventional).

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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8 Responses to Instant karma

  1. ricardipus says:

    A friend and former lab-mate’s husband’s name is Michael Jackson. While not exactly an uncommon name, I believe it may have caused him some grief over the years.

    Also, I have another friend and former colleague who once went on a date with a young and attractive actress named YoungAttractiveActressFirstName McAdams. It did not develop into anything, however, and I believe no aspects of her anatomy that may or may not be synonymous with tissues prone to the development of cancer were observed in close detail, except perhaps skin.

    I am now going to nominate myself for “most useless story ever”. Who’ll second me?

  2. rpg says:


    @R’pus: seconded.

  3. Imagine this botanist’s surprise when he googled “holly” only to discover that the internet world thinks holly is a blond who lived with a geriatric publisher.

  4. chall says:

    haha 🙂

    It’s funny sometimes when I google things from work since I don’t know what they are and BAM “THIS IS A FORBIDDEN SITE AND THEREFORE IS BLOCKED” comes up. Who’d known how many odd things people think about?!? 😉

  5. cromercrox says:

    In fits of devilment I have occasionally referred to your favourite weekly professonal science magazine beginning with N, but linking to other journals of record beginning with N whose chief purpose is the appreciation by spotty youths of female secondary sexual characteristics. One of my male colleagues claimed he got into some trouble when opening this link at work, surrounded by female colleagues. I think he was just bragging.

  6. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Ricardipus, it’s most inconsiderate of people with very common names to become extremely famous. For example, I dated a guy in university who had a flatmate called James Brown.

    A short, skinny, strawberry blond, freckled flatmate called James Brown.

    Luckily he was a very good natured person who took all the teasing (e.g. shouts of “YOW! It’s the King of Soul!” every time he walked into the room) with grace and good humour.

    I have automated Google alerts set up for the PIs with whom I work the most closely, so I can catch any blog posts or news articles published about them. Unfortunately, they all share names with frequent news-makers: one PI has the same name as a minor league baseball player in California, another shares a name with a minor league Danish footballer, another search keeps bringing up news articles about a property developer in Arizona, and the other PI has the same name as the mayor of a small town in France.

    Richard, thanks for seconding so I didn’t have to 😀

    Phytophactor, welcome to the blog!

    For me, Holly is 1) the computer from Red Dwarf, 2) my former neighbours’ cat (RIP – she was a lovely friendly kitty who kept me company when I was babysitting), 3) a spiky plant, and 4) a friend of a friend’s latest baby (n=4 and counting).

    In that order.

    Chall, yeah, I’m sure I’d run into many more problems if I was having to search things in another language! I’m bad enough in English!

    I have a funny story about a Swedish friend’s accidentally hilarious and inappropriate name for a kind of snowboard… maybe that deserves its own post some day, if I can live with the search terms it will inevitably attract!

    Cromercrox, I believe I’ve fallen for that sneaky ruse at least once myself!

  7. Bob O'H says:

    A short, skinny, strawberry blond, freckled flatmate called James Brown.

    Aside from short and skinny, that sounds like my PhD advisor. He’s also Scottish, and upon moving to Norfolk decided to take up the bagpipes. Odd fellow.

  8. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    A strawberry blond freckled James Brown on the bagpipes?


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