The smell of macaroni [part 3]

August 22nd, 2014

A_MacaroniWhile vision did play an important role in the understanding of both the macaroni as a phenomenon and the pleasure garden as a space, to focus on vision, to the exclusion of other senses and embodiment, is to miss an important means of understanding both macaronis and pleasure gardens. We must understand the pleasure gardens and macaronis as multi-sensory. In particular, I show that olfaction was a crucial means of understanding the macaroni’s place within the pleasure gardens. Pleasure gardens were a place of sensory pleasures and dangers where one was expected to, and attempted to, cultivate one’s senses in particular ways. Macaronis were frequently described in terms of their perfumes and essences, and yet none of the extensive work on macaronis has interrogated this.”

The Macaroni’s ‘Ambrosial Essences’: Perfume, Identity and Public Space in Eighteenth-Century England. TULLETT, W. (2014), is awaiting publication in the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Further info: on Macaroni here at Wikipedia.

Note: “The place or exact nature of the ‘Macaroni Club’, which Horace Walpole first described in February 1764, has been the subject of much speculation but has yielded no firm evidence or answers.”

Also see: Heidegger meets Macaroni in New York State (which came first, the macaroni or the hole?)

Previous article: The smell of macaroni [part 2]

This concludes our short series on the smell of macaroni.

Teaser for the 24th first annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony

August 21st, 2014

Al Crockett and Daniel Rosenberg (Al is in back of the camera, you see Daniel in front of it here) made this brief food-related teaser for the 24th first annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. The theme of this year’s ceremony (though not necessarily of the things that will win prizes) is FOOD.

The ceremony will happen on Thursday evening, September 18, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre.

It will, as usual, be webcast live. (Tickets to physically attend the ceremony in Sanders Theatre have been sold out for a while now.)

Perhaps you would like to organize a webcast-watching party?

BONUS: Daniel and Al’s teasers for previous Ig Nobel ceremonies

Cessation of Rumination. Say: “I? Aye!”

August 21st, 2014

One needn’t ruminate more than one wants or need to, suggests this study:

The Cessation of Rumination Through Self-Affirmation,” Sander L. Koole, Karianne Smeets, Ad van Knippenberg, and Ap Dijksterhuis, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999, Vol. 77, No. 1, 111-25. The authors affirm that they are at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Students’ backpack shoulder-slinging: Asymmetry effects

August 20th, 2014

Should you take sides on the debate about whether children should or should not carry their backpacks on (or mostly on) just one shoulder? This study adds fuel to one or another side of the debate:

justynaEffects of Carrying a Backpack in an Asymmetrical Manner on the Asymmetries of the Trunk and Parameters Defining Lateral Flexion of the Spine,” Justyna Drzał-Grabiec [pictured here], Sławomir Snela, Maciej Rachwał, Justyna Podgórska, Justyna Rykała, Human Factors, epub August 8, 2014. (Thanks to investigator Neil Martin for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Rzeszow University, Rzeszow, Poland, report:

The aim of this study was to examine changes in the body posture parameters defining asymmetry of the trunk and lateral flexion of the spine in children while carrying a backpack weighing 10% of a child’s weight…

Results: Trunk inclination shifted significantly in the opposite direction to the shoulder the backpack was carried on, and an increase in shoulder asymmetry was also found. We also observed a more pronounced right-side lateral flexion of the spine when the backpack was carried on the right shoulder and an analogous relationship for the left side.

Conclusion: The results of this study show that carrying a backpack in an asymmetrical manner negatively affects spine, even if the backpack weight constitutes 10% of the child’s weight, which has been previously recommended as a safe load for a child’s shoulders.

Here is a video of an older student carrying a backpack on one shoulder:

“… yet the world it describes is a mess”

August 20th, 2014

Physics may aim for simplicity, yet the world it  describes is a mess.”

That’s the start of John Cartwright’s article, “Roll Over, Bolzmann,” in the magazine Physics World. It tells the story of Tsallis entropy:

BoltzmannOur definition of entropy is expressed by one of the most famous formulae in physics, and dates back over a century to the work of the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann [pictured here] and the American chemist J Willard Gibbs. For more than 20 years, however, the Greek-born physicist Constantino Tsallis, who is based at the Brazilian Centre for Physics Research (CBPF) in Rio de Janeiro, has been arguing that entropy is in need of some refinement. The situation, according to Tsallis, is rather like Newtonian mechanics – a theory that works perfectly until speeds approach that of light, at which point Einstein’s special theory of relativity must take over. Likewise, says Tsallis, entropy – as defined by Boltzmann and Gibbs – works perfectly, but only within certain limits….

(Thanks to Ig Nobel Prize winner Andrea Rapisarda for bringing this to our attention.)