The abstract is the part of the paper that usually summarizes what is then explained in detail in the paper. It allows others who are not experts in the respective fields to get an idea of what’s going on as the abstract is simple and concise. What could be simpler than the word “yes”?
A pair of seismologists writing for the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America did something that is still shocking and amusing to every science nerd today. In 1974, they wrote a paper, “Is The Sequence Of Earthquakes, With Aftershocks Removed, Poissonian?”. What would you expect the abstract of such a paper to be? It could briefly outline the processes and experiments they conducted to justify their claim but no, or rather yes. Their abstract contained the three alphabets “Yes” and that was the end of it.
The abstract resurfaced on Twitter as inventor and science-tweeter, Cliff Pickover, posted it. Surprisingly, the abstract by J.K. Gardner and L. Knopoff does the job pretty well. It explains the results of their whole paper. Maybe there are other papers out there somewhere with even shorter abstracts like “no” but they have yet to be found.
In November 2015, Pickover did share a paper with a longer one. The Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical ran a paper in 2011 with the title “Can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement?” It had the words “Probably not”.
The shortest-known Abstract for a serious scientific paper: only 2 words, at bottom. pic.twitter.com/0WIIx3e0Ib
— Cliff Pickover (@pickover) November 21, 2015