How a bicycle balances

September 2nd, 2015

There’s still some physics mystery, for many people, about how a bicycle balances.

Bill Steele wrote about the physics of bicycles balancing themselves, for Cornell University’s Ezra magazine.

Nicole Frýbortová demonstrates, in this video, something about how a human rider balances on a bicycle:

Springtime for Hitler : Lessons for Leadership

September 2nd, 2015

Even though Hitler may have been a megalomaniac drug-addled psychopathic narcissist, the question can still be asked: “What lessons can we learn from his approach to leadership?” Answers are provided by Professor Hershey H. Friedman (Department of Finance and Business Management, School of Business, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York) and Professor Linda Weiser Friedman (Baruch College Zicklin School of Business and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York) in a 2013 SSRN paper which shares its title with the song in the clip above (from Mel Brooks’ 1968 movie The Producers). The paper can be read in its entirety by clicking this link: ‘Springtime for Hitler: Lessons in Leadership’.


Which of the following quotes cited in the paper are from (former) high-ranking blue-chip-corporation execs – and which are Adolf’s?

“Depopulate. Get rid of people. They gum up the works.”

“I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty.”

“I’m doing God’s work.”

“The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.”

[answers: in the paper]

Podcast 27: A look back at the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize winners (PART 2)

September 2nd, 2015

Defecating magnetically aligned dogs, the relative pain suffered while seeing an ugly painting while being shot in the hand with a powerful laser beam, Italy’s addition of prostitution, treating nosebleeds by stuffing cured pork up the nose, reindeer’s reactions to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears, and Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages — all these all turn up in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

Click on the “Venetian blinds” icon — at the lower right corner here — to select whichever week’s episode you want to hear:

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

This week, Marc Abrahams tells about:

The mysterious John Schedler 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, both on the new CBS web site, and on iTunes and Spotify).

Congratulations: The Duck Guy will become the museum director

September 1st, 2015

Congratulations to Kees Moeliker, “the duck guy”, who on December 1 will become director of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam, where he is currently curator. Congratulations also to Jelle Reumer, the museum’s current director, who has become a full professor at Utrecht University.

Kees was awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for biology, for documenting the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck. Kees is also Improbable Research’s European Bureau Chief. Here, in case you have not seen it, is Kees’s TED Talk about the duck:

BONUS: An interview in de Volkskrant.

“Penises of the Animal Kingdom” poster in museum-boosting video

September 1st, 2015

Jim Knowlton’s poster “Penises of the Animal Kingdom”, for which Mr. Knowlton was awarded the 1992 Ig Nobel Prize for art, is featured in this travel video. The video, made by Pommie Travels, is called “Giant Animal Penises: The Phallological Museum, Iceland”: