PLEASE FORWARD/POST AS APPROPRIATE

================================================================

The mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR")

Issue number 2006-08

August 2006

ISSN 1076-500X

Key words: improbable research, science humor, Ig Nobel, AIR, the

----------------------------------------------------------------

A free newsletter of tidbits too tiny to fit in

the bi-monthly paper magazine

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

================================================================

 

-----------------------------

2006-08-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2006-08-02 mini tech stuff

2006-08-03 What's New in the Magazine

2006-08-04 Song-Lodging Psychology Experiment

2006-08-05 Alpbach Corpse Correction

2006-08-06 Frank and the Tree

2006-08-07 Cannibalism Can Lead to Car Crashes

2006-08-08 Experts: Enron is the Best

2006-08-09 Ig Nobel, with Fractals

2006-08-10 Trekian Diatom Fizzle

2006-08-11 Lab Rat Terriers

2006-08-12 Beard Breather Advisory Limerick Competition

2006-08-13 Hair in New Abundance

2006-08-14 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Men are Smarter Than Women

2006-08-15 BLOGLIGHTS: Plagiarism, rats, the

2006-08-16 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Rhino, Intelligence, Tic-Tac

2006-08-17 Improbable Research Events

 

2006-08-18 How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2006-08-19 Our Address (*)

2006-08-20 Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2006-08-21 How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

        Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

 

        mini-AIR is

        a free monthly *e-supplement* to the print magazine

        Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-02 mini tech stuff

 

        This August issue of mini-AIR came out late

        because we've been switching to new list distribution

        software. Good luck to us all. The new subscribe/unsubscribe

        info is at the bottom of this issue.

 

        Ps. We hope (but doubt) that you enjoyed the small,

        unintended email that may have preceded this one.

        Sorry about that.

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-03 What's New in the Magazine

 

The July/Aug issue (vol. 12, no. 4) of the Annals of Improbable

Research is the special THE issue.

 

The table of contents is online at:

        <http://tinyurl.com/nafch>

 

Highlights include:

 

<> "Stock Market Behavior Predicted by Rat Neurons," Timothy

Marzullo, Edward Rantze and Gregory Gage.

<> "Kulicke, Kulicke, Kulicke, Kulicke...," by Nan Swift. Presents

evidence that Prof. Dr.-Ing. Werner-Michael Kulicke of the

Institut fr Technische und Makromolekulare Chemie at the

University of Hamburg, Germany, may be the king of citing oneself

in one's own academic publications.

<> "The The Research Review," compiled by Alice Shirrell Kaswell.

<> "An/The/An Index of Confusion," by Philip O'Leary.

<> "NA and Missing Library Books," by Joyce Flynn.

<> "Where The," by Marc Abrahams.

 

and much more. Most of the articles mentioned above are also

posted on our web site.

 

To subscribe (6 paper issues per year) go to

<http://improbable.com/subscribe/>

or see Section 2006-08-18, below.

 

        ***   Thanks to everyone who suggested we make it

               easier to subscribe online.

               Finally, we have: <http://improbable.com/subscribe/>

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-04 Song-Lodging Psychology Experiment

 

How long does it take to lodge a tune in one's mind? Please

participate in this small research project, which concerns that

very question.

 

TEST MATERIAL: The Appalachian State University song.

The song (with a related video accompaniment) is at:

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVENWl8uBeg>

 

PROCEDURE: Listen to the song. Then see if you can sing the tune

from memory. If you cannot reliably repeat the tune, listen again.

Repeat this process as many times as necessary.

 

THE QUESTION: How many times did you have to listen to the song

before it lodged in your memory?

 

REPORT: Please send your data (keep non-numerical comments, if

any, to a minimum)  to:

 

        SONG-LODGING PSYCHOLOGY EXPERIMENT

        c/o (marca AT chem2.harvard.edu>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-05 Alpbach Corpse Correction

 

We committed a horrendous double-error in July's mini-AIR, which

said:

 

"ATOM & EVE," with FRANK and DIANE

 

        A new version of the mini-opera "Atom & Eve" will be

        the highlight of a webcast from Austria on Friday,

        August 25. It's the featured Friday evening event at

        the 2006 Alpbach Technology Forum, in the little

        mountain town where Wehrner Heisenberg is buried.

 

As Investigator Karl Arlamovsky and others diplomatically reminded

us, Erwin Schroedinger -- but not Heisenberg -- is buried in

Alpbach. And for completeness: Heisenberg's first name is spelled

"Werner."

 

The Atom & Eve event did happen.

A recorded version of the webcast is online:

<http://tinyurl.com/r4mou>

 

The performers:

        Atom: Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek

        Eve: Professor/soprano Diane Shooman

        Pianist: Paul Lugger

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-06 Frank and the Tree

 

Opera singer / physicist Frank Wilczek (see previous item) lost

his car to the interaction of a tree with a freak sudden

weatherburst. A photo taken shortly thereafter tells the tale:

 

<http://tinyurl.com/qz4pq>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-07 Cannibalism Can Lead to Car Crashes

 

Investigator Sharon A McKinley spotted a notable passage in a

study mentioned in mini-AIR 2006-6 and 2006-07:

 

        "Cannibalism has previously been described in

        this species, as in other omnivores, and can lead to

        dangerously slick driving conditions for automobiles

        as Mormon crickets stop to eat crushed conspecifics on

        roadways and get run over themselves."

 

The study itself is still online at

<http://tinyurl.com/gwmng>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-08 Experts: Enron is the Best

 

Investigator Daniel Lichtblau spotted a notable item in a study

mentioned in mini-AIR 2006-07. He writes:

 

        "Gotta love an article that cites Enron for best practice."

 

The study's title features the phrase "A Whole New Way to Think

About Business." The authors, Eric Bonabeau and Christopher Meyer,

were at the time (2001) affiliated with Cap Gemini, the esteemed

consulting firm. The study is still online at

<http://tinyurl.com/kwydw>.

 

Investigator Bonabeau is now Chief Executive Officer and Chief

Scientific Officer of a company called Icosystem. Read about him

at <http://tinyurl.com/rhmkd>.

 

Christopher Meyer is Chief Executive of a company called Monitor

Networks. read about him at <http://tinyurl.com/ot4wa>.

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-09 Ig Nobel, with Fractals

 

Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractals, will deliver one of the

24/7 Lectures at this year's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on Thursday

night, October 5, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. The other 24/7

Lecturers will be announced in September.

 

This year's new Ig Nobel Prize winners will, of course, be

revealed at the ceremony. And much else will transpire.

 

IG GENERAL INFO: <http://improbable.com/ig/>

 

TICKETS:

        Harvard Box Office ONLINE: <http://tinyurl.com/jem2k>

        TELEPHONE: (+1) 617-496-2222

 

DELEGATIONS:

If you are coming with a group of five or more people, you can

register as an official audience delegation. FIRST get your

tickets from the Harvard box office, and THEN register your

delegation with Louise Sacco, the Grand Panjandrum of the

Delegations, at 781-444-6757, <lsacco AT rcn.com>.

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-10 Trekian Diatom Fizzle

 

The combination of Star Trek and nanotechnology may be too potent for

poets to handle.

 

The judges have declared that there is no winner for last month's

limerick competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the

following study:

 

        "Star Trek Replicators and Diatom Nanotechnology,"

        R.W. Drum and R. Gordon, Trends in Biotechnology,

        vol. 21, no. 8, August 2003, pp. 325-8. 

        [The entire report is at <http://tinyurl.com/pestd>]

 

Limerick Laureate Martin Eiger formulated his view of the study:

 

Breeding algae delivers a perk

For construction and other such work.

   And who knows ... who can tell ...

   Replication as well?

Someone ought to go tell Captain Kirk!

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-11 Lab Rat Terriers

 

What breed of dog is most popular with scientists? The answer

should be: Lab Rat Terriers. A lab rat terrier is the result of

mating (a) a labrador retriever with (b) a rat terrier.

 

If you own a lab rat terrier, we invite you to join the

Association of Lab Rat Terrier Fanciers (ALRTF).

 

For info, see

<http://improbable.com/2006/08/13/lab-rat-terriers/>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-12 Beard Breather Advisory Limerick Competition

 

Diatoms are/is the subject of this month's limerick competition.

To enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the nature

of this report:

 

        "Respirator Evaluation for Carbon Setters with Beards,"

        G.S. Fergin, American Industrial Hygiene Association

        Journal, vol. 45, no. 8, August 1984, pp. 533-7.

        The author reports that:

       

        "Studies of several types of disposable respirators

        were carried out.... There was no significant difference

        in respirator performance for employees

        with or without beards."

 

RULES: Please make sure your rhymes actually do, and that your

poem adheres to classic limerick form.

 

PRIZE: The winning poet will receive a (if we manage to send it to

the correct address) a free, and possibly carbon-containing, issue

of the Annals of Improbable Research. Send entries (one entry per

entrant) to:

 

        BEARD BREATHER LIMERICK COMPETITION

        c/o <marca AT chem2.harvard.edu>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-13 Hair in New Abundance

 

There are new members in the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for

Scientists (LFHCfS). Admire them at

<http://improbable.com/category/lfhcfs-hair-club>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-14 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Men are Smarter Than Women

 

Each month we select for your special attention a research report

that seems particularly worth a close read. This month's pick:

 

        "Sex Differences in Means and Variability on the

        Progressive Matrices in University Students:

        A Meta-Analysis", Paul Irwing and Richard Lynn,

        British Journal of Psychology, vol. 96, no. 4,

        November 2005, pp. 505-24. The authors write that:

       

        "A meta-analysis is presented of 22 studies of sex

        differences in university students... The results

        disconfirm the frequent assertion that there is no sex

        difference in the mean but that males have greater

        variability. To the contrary, the results showed that

        males obtained a higher mean than females by ...

        the equivalent of 3.3 [to] 5.0 IQ conventional points."

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-15 BLOGLIGHTS: Plagiarism, rats, the

 

Here are some recent topics in our blog:

 

<> Mechanically engineered plagiarism

<> Negotiating, with rats

<> The story of the Doctorate Rabbit

<> A practical use for sudoku

<> Preferred arrangement (secretary)

<> Possible Ig winner nabbed in Nigeria

 

and some from the newspaper column in The Guardian:

 

<> Rear admirable

<> The

 

        ... and many others

 

Read the blog (and the columns) at <http://www.improbable.com>

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-16 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Rhino, Intelligence, Tic-Tac

 

SEEDS OF A COLLECTION: ONE-HORNED RHINOCEROS

"Methods of Semen Collection in an Ambulatory Greater One-Horned

Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)," N.E. Schaffer, B. Beehler,

R.S. Jeyendran, and B. Balke, Zoo Biology, vol. 9, no. 3, 1990,

pp. 211-21.

 

FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE: ZERO

"The Predictive Power of Zero Intelligence in Financial Markets,"

J. Doyne Farmer, Paolo Patelli, and Ilija I. Zovko, Proceedings of

the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 102, 2005, pp. 2254-9.

(Thanks to Kristine Danowski for bringing this to our attention.)

 

LE TIC-TAC DU SABLIER

"Le Tic-Tac du Sablier," D. Bideau, A. Madani and A. Hansen,

Recherche,  vol. 261, January 1994, pp. 92-3.

 

 

------------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-17 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and updates see

<http://improbable.com/improbable-research-shows/complete-schedule>

 

ALPBACH TECH FORUM, ALPBACH, AUSTRIA     -- AUG 25, 2006

Performance of the mini-Opera "Atom & Eve," webcast live.

 

MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SOC (BERKSHIRES)  -- TUE, SEP 17, 2006

 

EMBEDDED SYSTEMS CONF., BOSTON, MA        -- TUE, SEP 26, 2006

 

2006 IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY                  -- THU, OCT 5, 2006

Sanders Theatre, Harvard University

 

IG INFORMAL LECTURES                              -- SAT, OCT 7, 2006

MIT, in the afternoon

 

UNIV. OF ILLINOIS, BECKMAN INSTITUTE     -- WED, OCT. 25

 

ASSOC OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY BIOLOGICAL EDUCATORS (ACUBE),

MILLIKIN UNIVERSITY, DECATUR, ILLINOIS  -- THU, OCT 26, 2006

 

BIOCAP CANADA CONFERENCE, OTTAWA           -- TUE, OCT 31, 2006

 

AAAS ANNUAL MEETING, SAN FRANCISCO        -- FEB, 2007

 

SIEMENS "GET INSIDE" EVENT, LONDON        -- FRI, MAR 2, 2007

 

2007 IG NOBEL TOUR OF THE UK                 -- MAR, 2007

 

2007 IMPROBABLE RESEARCH EUROPEAN TOUR  -- MAY/JUNE 2007

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

--------------------------------------------------------------

--------------------------------------------------------------

2006-08-18 How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

 

The Annals of Improbable Research is a paper magazine. (It's not

just the little bits of overflow material you've been reading in

this newsletter). Subscribe at <http://improbable.com/subscribe/>

or send in this form:

................................................................

Name:

Address:

Address:

City and State:                             

Zip or postal code:

Country

Phone:              FAX:                 E-mail:

.........................................................

SUBSCRIPTIONS (6 issues per year):       

USA                  1 yr/$33           2 yrs/$60

Canada/Mexico   1 yr/$39 US     2 yrs/$65 US

Overseas           1 yr/$49 US     2 yrs/$90 US

.........................................................

BACK ISSUES are available, too:

First issue: $9 USA, $11 Canada/Mex, $17 overseas Add'l issues

purchased at same time: $7 each

.........................................................

Send payment (US bank check, or international money order, or

Visa, Mastercard or Discover info) to:

        Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

        PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA

        617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927 <air AT improbable.com>

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

2006-08-19 Our Address (*)

 

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA

617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927

 

EDITORIAL: marca AT chem2.harvard.edu

SUBSCRIPTIONS: air AT improbable.com

WEB SITE: <http://www.improbable.com>

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

2006-08-21 Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

 

Please distribute copies of mini-AIR (or excerpts!) wherever

appropriate. The only limitations are: A) Please indicate that the

material comes from mini-AIR. B) You may NOT distribute mini-AIR

for commercial purposes.

 

        ------------- mini-AIRheads -------------

EDITOR: Marc Abrahams

MINI-PROOFREADER AND PICKER OF NITS (before we introduce the last

few at the last moment): Wendy Mattson

WWW EDITOR/GLOBAL VILLAGE IDIOT: Amy Gorin

COMMUTATIVE EDITOR: Stanley Eigen

ASSOCIATIVE EDITOR: Mark Dionne

PSYCHOLOGY EDITOR: Robin Abrahams

CO-CONSPIRATORS: Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Gary Dryfoos, Ernest

Ersatz, S. Drew

MAITRE DE COMPUTATION: Jerry Lotto

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, Sheldon

Glashow, William Lipscomb, Richard Roberts

 

(c) copyright 2006, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

2006-08-21 How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

What you are reading right now is mini-AIR. Mini-AIR is a (free!)

tiny monthly *supplement* to the bi-monthly print magazine.

               ----------------------------

To subscribe or unsubscribe, please visit

<http://chem.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/mini-air>

============================================================