Poetry by numbers all adds up

July 21, 2006

Ever wondered how bosses - vice-chancellors or company directors - can measure scientific research?

Peep's has found the answer in a humorous poem written in the middle of the 20th century by Ned Landon, a boss at General Electric:

I multiply your products by the words
I can't pronounce,
And weigh your published papers to the nearest half an ounce;
I add a healthy bonus for research that's really pure,
(And if it's also useful, your job will be
secure).

I integrate your patent-rate upon a
monthly basis,
And I figure what your place in the race to conquer space is;
Your scientific stature I weigh upon some
scales,
Whose final calibration is the company's
net-to-sales.

And so I create numbers where there were
none before;
And thus have facts and figures and
formulae galore -
And these volumes of statistics make the
whole thing very clear;
Our research should cost exactly what
we've budgeted this year!

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