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Strange BUT Untrue

How to Sort Out All The Substances in the World, If Only You Had The Time Between Work And A Social Life

(or, Telling Stuff from Other Stuff)

In the early days of Pharmacy, it was quickly realised that there were an awful lot of different things around, and also that they were all very untidily scattered around the place. Pharmacists decided that it was their job to help classify all the substances we see around us into groups and so tidy things up a bit. Not surprisingly, this proved to be a difficult job and is by no means finished yet.

Several claims have been made of systems for putting things in groups. A guy called Mendeleev made up a thing called 'The Periodic Table of the Elephants', but since this only worked for telling different elephants apart the idea was later scrapped. Others have devised more comprehensive tables but these all seem to involve splitting things into their individual particles first - and once you've classified any complex thing (such as a tree) in this way, it isn't really a tree anymore, so these are completely useless.

You might begin to despair at this point, thinking: Will the world never be sorted out into the things that make it up? But progress has been made, and here at Strange BUT Untrue we have the very latest list of five tests to be done on an unknown object to help tell it apart from others:

  1. Look at the colour - This is the primary method of classification. Green indicates a Plant-type Squidgy Thing, pink means an Animal-type Squidgy Thing and grey indicates a rock. Air has no colour, so it doesn't really exist, and the same goes for glass which is just frozen air.

  2. Taste - This is useful in telling Deadly Stuff from Tasty Stuff and also Disgusting-Yet-Good-For-You Stuff such as spinach. If your taste buds tingle in pleasure, the item is a Tasty Thing, if they tingle in terror it's a DYGFY Thing, and if you die then it is obviously a Deadly Thing and you shouldn't have tasted it in the first place (tsk, tsk!)

  3. Dropping on your foot - This technique was first discovered by accident, as are many great scientific breakthroughs. Rating the amount of pain you receive (by the severity of the swear words you use) will accurately gauge how hard the object is.

  4. Heaviness - Some lazy scientists like to measure weight using some sort of artificial device such as scales, but this doesn't really give a good picture of just how heavy something is. For full appreciation of weight, you need to strap the item in question to your back and run around until you fall over from exhaustion. The time you are able to stay up gives a very accurate measurement - and you will never look at weight in the same way again!

  5. Labels - Labels can be a very useful way of telling what something is, but beware of lies and people trying to confuse you by using complicated words. In many cases it is just as easy to use tests 1-4 to reclassify something as try to understand what the label is talking about, especially with the complex chemicals used in Pharmacy.

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