Hey Maths! (Beatles studies)

June 24th, 2016

Improbable recently drew attention to ‘Why the Beatles Succeeded but Broke Up: the Math(s)’, now we turn instead to mathematical considerations of the band’s music (rather than of the band itself). In particular, a paper in a Special Beatles Studies issue of the journal Volume !, 2016/1 (12:2) entitled ‘Hey Maths! Modèles formels et computationnels au service des Beatles‪’

“[…] proposes some thoughts on formal and computational models in and for popular music by focusing on Beatles songs.”

The article can be read in full (for 5€) by clicking the link above. Alternatively, another publication also entitled ‘Hey Maths ! Modèles formels et computationnels au service des Beatles’ (by the lead author Dr. Moreno Andreatta ) may be read free of charge:

Beatles-MathsNote: The diagram above shows part of a spacial calculus representation depicting ‘Transformations stylistiques sur les Beatles’.

Question [optional]: Explain the significance of the topographically re-mapped fish.
Also don’t miss: ‘Les chansons des Beatles dans l’horloge moléculaire’

The facial of technology: If it’s super-complicated, it’s impressive!

June 23rd, 2016

[WARNING: What you are about to read is super-complicated.]

The most complicated technology is the most impressive technology! That idea fuels some of technology’s most impressive investment and marketing campaigns. You can see it in action, and judge its worth, when you look at Faceception.

What is Faception? Faception is a company. Faception is a technology. Faception is an exciting investment opportunity. Faception says its machine can detect a person’s personality by looking at that person’s face. The Faception web site explains:

We reveal personality from facial images at scale to revolutionize how companies, organizations and even robots understand people and dramatically improve public safety, communications, decision-making, and experiences.

Faception has an impressive “Theory Behind the Technology”. That theory is based on complicated logic that’s based on complicated interpretations of complicated research observations.

You may find that Faception’s complicated logic that’s based on complicated interpretations of complicated research observations is the very most impressive thing about Faception. Here’s Faception’s explanation of The Theory Behind the Technology:

FaceptionFaceThe face can be used to predict a person’s personality and behavior. This claim relies on a combination of two known research observations:

1. According to Social and Life Science research personalities are affected by genes.

2. Our face is a reflection of our DNA

While these type of affirmations are quite recent, in Chinese history, there have been people that have studied the “mapping of the face” for thousands of years

If all this does not impress you, there is something wrong.

BONUS: Here’s video of the company’s founder making a “pitch” for investors. Prepare to be impressed:


(Thanks to Andy Aaron for bringing this to our attention.)

The most attractive navel position – where is it exactly?

June 23rd, 2016

“The aim of this study is to analyze the navel position and shape of the worldwide top model/celebrities recognized as top 2013 bikini models to determine references for ideal navel shape and positioning and to find potential clinical translation.”

– explain authors Giuseppe Visconti, Emiliano Visconti, Lorenzo Bonomo and Marzia Salgarello regarding their 2015 navel-based research paper for the journal Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.


Their study comprised three parts,

○ A quantitative study of the navel surface anatomy in 81 top 2013 bikini models by analyzing four proportions:

○ An analysis of navel shapes in 81 top 2013 bikini models was recorded and classified based on previous study of Craig SB et al.

○ An on-line survey via facebook.com made of seven multiple-choice questions, involving 1,682 invited people unaware of our concepts in navel aesthetic. [see photo]


The most attractive navel position is located at the xiphoid–umbilicus : umbilicus-abdominal crease golden ratio. Bony landmarks seem to be not reliable as references for proper navel positioning. The use of the Fibonacci (golden mean) caliper intraoperatively might aid in proper positioning of the navel in abdominoplasty.” [our hyperlinks]

As mentioned above, the team not only examined the ‘most attractive position’ but also the general morphology of the navel :

“The vertical oval shape, the presence of superior hooding, and the absence of protrusion are the main features that make a navel attractive for human eyes, confirming conclusions from other navel shape studies.”

See: Concepts in Navel Aesthetic: A Comprehensive Surface Anatomy Analysis, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, February 2015, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 43-50

Also see: In search of the “beautiful” umbilicus and Divine Proportions in male nipple re-positioning.

Magnetic alignment in warthogs (not just dogs, fish, and deer)

June 22nd, 2016

The team that documented magnetic alignment in dogs (a feat for which the researchers won an Ig Nobel Prize), fish in a barrel, and deer, have now done it for warthogs. Their new study is

Magnetic alignment in warthogs Phacochoerus africanus and wild boars Sus scrofa,” Jaroslav Červený, Hynek Burda, Miloš Ježek, Tomáš Kušta, Václav Husinec, Petra Nováková, Vlastimil Hart, Veronika Hartová, Sabine Begall, and E. Pascal Malkemper, Mammal Review, epub June 19, 2016.

“Magnetic alignment (MA) results from the preference of animals to align themselves along the field lines of the geomagnetic field, a behavioural expression of a magnetic sense. MA is well documented for ruminants and might demonstrate a general magnetic sensory ability among artiodactyls. We measured body-axis alignment in 1614 foraging or resting wild boars Sus scrofa, 1849 wild boar beds, and 1347 warthogs Phacochoerus africanus, and found a highly significant north–south preference.”

Conor Gearin, writing in New Scientist magazine, interviews a team member, The interview carries the headline “Electric fields could help us wage war on destructive feral pigs“:


Which way does a pig point? The answer, it turns out, is north – or south.

Many organisms ranging from birds and bees to bacteria are known to have a magnetic sense that helps them navigate. But now it seems swine sense Earth’s magnetic field too – a finding that could help us win the fight against out-of-control feral pigs.

Pascal Malkemper at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, and his colleagues made this discovery by observing more than 1600 wild boar in the Czech Republic, and more than 1300 warthogs in six African nations. Estimating the direction each animal was pointing in, the biologists found that, on average, they lined up closely with the north-south axis.

And it’s not just how they stand – they also found that wild boar beds face north or south, with a ridge at one end for it to rest its head. Altogether, the team suggests this shows these swine species have a strong sense of Earth’s magnetic fields….

“The fact that the animals align with the field lines suggests that they have a magnetic compass which they might use to navigate,” says Malkemper. Wild pigs can migrate over 50 kilometres between grazing areas. Perhaps a magnetic map of the landscape helps them find their way, he says.

Eat Powdered Mummies for Good Health [podcast 69]

June 22nd, 2016

Nowadays, powdered mummy may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for many years it was just what the doctor ordered, as you will hear in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

SUBSCRIBE on Play.it, iTunes, or Spotify to get a new episode every week, free.

This week, Marc Abrahams  — with dramatic readings by Daniel Rosenberg — tells about:

The mysterious John Schedler or the shadowy Bruce Petschek perhaps did the sound engineering this week.

The Improbable Research podcast is all about research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK — real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere —research that may be good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless. CBS distributes it, on the CBS Play.it web site, and on iTunes and Spotify).