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

Issue number 2007-01

January 2007

ISSN 1076-500X

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

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A free newsletter of tidbits too tiny to fit in

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

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2007-01-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2007-01-02 Imminent Event

2007-01-03 What's New in the Magazine

2007-01-04 Pasta Optimization

2007-01-05 Professor-Professor Quintet

2007-01-06 Professor-Professor Documentation Challenge

2007-01-07 In Re the Tongue

2007-01-08 Kidney Calculus Link Poet

2007-01-09 The Metrically Perfect Professor

2007-01-10 Exhibitionists' Progress Competition

2007-01-11 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: RSVP (Ball State Stimulus)

2007-01-12 BLOGLIGHTS: Roller Coaster, Mousy Flavor, Awkwardness

2007-01-13 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Brain/Cocaine and Vicious Walks

2007-01-14 Improbable Research Events

 

2007-01-15 How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2007-01-16 Our Address (*)

2007-01-17 Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2007-01-18 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

 

 

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2007-01-02 Imminent Event

 

San Francisco, Hilton Hotel on O'Farrell St.

Feb 16, 2007. Friday, 8 pm

 

Improbable Research show at the American Association for the

Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, San Francisco.

Featuring Marc Abrahams, Ig Nobel Prize winners Ivan Schwab and

Phil Zimbardo; Yoram Bauman; Leslie Lamport and Ellen Gilkerson;

Jeff Van Bueren; Scott Sandford; and Doug Zongker.

Free and open to the general public.

 

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

 

 

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2007-01-03 What's New in the Magazine

 

The Jan/Feb issue (vol. 13, no. 1) of the Annals of Improbable

Research will be the special Pepsi, Coke & Coli issue. It will be

emerging from the printers some time in the next few weeks.

 

To subscribe (6 paper issues per year) go to

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

or see Section 2007-01-15, below.

 

As we would be quick to agree if someone were to suggest it, a

subscription would make an improbable gift.

 

 

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2007-01-04 Pasta Optimization

 

What is the proper way to cook pasta?

 

If you (as a researcher) know, and can express it in 50 words or

fewer, please do so. Send your perfectly cooked data to:

 

(Thanks to Ig Nobel Prize winner Ben [herrings-communicate-by-

farting] Wilson for suggesting this.)

 

      PROJECT OPTIMAL PASTA

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

 

 

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2007-01-05 Professor-Professor Quintet

 

The registry of professor-professors has five new entries.

 

CHEN CHEN

Honorary Associate Professor of Physiology

Monash University

Clayton, Victoria, Australia

(Thanks to INVESTIGATOR COLIN CLYNE for bringing this professor-

professor to our attention.)

<http://www.phimr.monash.edu.au/cellbiol.html>

 

DAVID J. DAVID

Professor and Executive Chairman

Australian Craniofacial Institute

North Adelaide, Australia

(Thanks to INVESTIGATOR NGA LUC for bringing this professor-

professor to our attention.)

<http://www.craniofacial.com.au/icfs/home/board.html>

 

KARIM H. KARIM

Associate Professor

School of Journalism and Communication

Carleton University

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

(Thanks to INVESTIGATOR BOB JONKMAN for bringing this professor-

professor to our attention.)

<http://www.carleton.ca/sjc/facultystaff/karim.html>

 

KARIM S. KARIM

Assistant Professor

School of Engineering Science

Simon Fraser University

Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

(Thanks to INVESTIGATOR BOB JONKMAN for bringing this professor-

professor to our attention.)

<http://www.ensc.sfu.ca/people/faculty/karim.html>

 

RAMSEY ERIC RAMSEY

Associate Professor

Faculty Director

Barrett Honors College

Arizona State University

Tempe, Arizona, USA

(Thanks to INVESTIGATOR ROY GATHERCOAL for bringing this

professor-professor to our attention.)

<http://www.west.asu.edu/chs/cmaster/Profiles/ramsey.htm>

 

The complete list (as we have it so far) of professor-professors,

with links, is at <http://improbable.com/2006/02/09/prof-profs/>

 

 

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2007-01-06 Professor-Professor Documentation Challenge

 

Investigator Ken Russell writes about a self-made professor-

professor:

 

             * * *

 

There is a celebrated equation for the rate of phase

transformations in solids that bears the name, Avrami. Avrami

wrote several papers in this area, of which the later bear the

name, M. A. Melvin, with the notation, formerly M. Avrami. I

figured that Avrami may have been a woman who got married to a

man named Melvin and decided to take his name. Wrong! Avrami was

a male Palestinian who became an American citizen and wanted to

sound more American. He changed his name from Melvin Avrami to

Melvin Avrami Melvin, giving the world another Professor

Professor.

 

             * * *

 

Melvin Melvin will enter the registry of the professor professors

when and if someone can supply us with a URL that helps document

his existence.

 

If you can supply such, please send it to:

 

      PROF PROF MELVIN MELVIN BIOGRAPHY

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

 

 

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2007-01-07 In Re the Tongue

 

Investigator B. Mango writes:

 

             * * *

 

I loved Pringles as a child, not because of the taste, but

because you could put them right down on your tongue. You can put

any food on your tongue, of course, but none lay neater or more

fittingly on the human tongue than a Pringle. A single chip would

lay there like a duvet until gently dissolving. Milano cookies

(another childhood favorite) also had that tongue-fit thing going

on. Are there other foods that lay particularly nicely on the

tongue, and does this contribute to their pleasure factor? Would

ordinary foods (crackers, pizza, cheese) be more enjoyable if

they were cut into servings the size and shape of the human

tongue?

 

             * * *

 

 

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2007-01-08 Kidney Calculus Link Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner for last month's Kidney Calculus

Link Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor

the following study:

 

      "Kidney Calculus Link?" A.G. Fazackerley,

      British Dental Journal, vol. 168, no. 10,

      May 19, 1990, p. 387.

 

The winner is investigator Ed Childers, who wrote:

 

      A lim'rick's self-writing, I think,

      For a fine kidney calculus link

         One thing that I've found:

         Rounded upwards or down,

      If it's black then it's not in the pink.

 

And here is the latest from Limerick Laureate Martin Eiger:

 

      To be keeping your teeth and gums clean'll --

      And brushing out food in between'll --

         Diminish the tartar.

         And what could be smarter?

      The organs you save could be renal.

 

 

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2007-01-09 The Metrically Perfect Professor

 

A distinguished professor of English submitted a kidney calculus

limerick that, in the judges' view, some people would find

awkward at first reading. A voluminous correspondence ensued.

Here's how it ended:

 

             * * *

Our correspondence about limericks was initiated by a technical

scruple on your part: you advised me to drop an awkward extra

syllable from my final line. There is no such syllable; the line

is metrically perfect.

 

When my other daughter submitted a limerick for a different

competition, you sent her exactly the same advice, and once again

you were mistaken. In that case the winning limerick contained

obviously botched lines (and was part of an illegal multiple

submission as well), but you didn't notice.

 

Not all of us presume to offer advice on matters about which we

are completely ignorant -- in your case, versification. If you

can't get someone who understands poetry to judge your

competitions, you should at least refrain from telling the

contestants how to "improve." That's equivalent to my urging you

to get your molecules in better order.

 

That's all from me. Kindly "unsubmit" my poem, as I will

unsubscribe from Mini-AIR.

 

             * * *

 

 

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2007-01-10 Exhibitionists Progress Competition

 

Exhibitionists and their phases is/are the subject of this

month's limerick competition. To enter, compose an original

limerick that illuminates the nature of this report:

 

      "Progressive Phases in the Group Therapy of

      Exhibitionists," J.L. Mathis and M. Collins,

      International Journal of Group Psychotherapy,

      vol. 20, no. 2, April 1970, pp. 163-9.

 

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 exhibitionistic,

issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. Send entries (one

entry per entrant) to:

 

      EXHIBITIONISTS LIMERICK COMPETITION

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

 

 

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2007-01-11 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: RSVP (Ball State Stimulus)

 

Each month we select for your special attention a research report

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

 

"The Effect Of Stimulus Content on Volunteering for Sexual

Interest Research Among College Students," G.A. Gaither, M.

Sellbom and B.P. Meier, Journal of Sex Research, vol. 40, no. 3,

August 2003, pp. 240-8. The authors, who are at Ball State

University, Muncie, Indiana, explain that:

 

"Students completed questionnaires in small groups and were asked

whether they would be willing to volunteer for studies that would

involve viewing and rating five different types of sexually

explicit images (nude men, nude women, heterosexual behavior,

male homosexual behavior, and female homosexual behavior).

Results indicate that men and women differed in the types of

images that they would volunteer to view."

 

 

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2007-01-12 BLOGLIGHTS: Roller Coaster, Mousy Flavor, Awkwardness

 

Here are some recent topics in our blog:

 

<> Psych demonstration: Roller Coaster

<> Further postal experiments

<> Slightly-high-heel injury epidemic

<> Gravity and a spy

<> Eponymy authority figure: English

 

and some from the newspaper column in The Guardian:

 

<> Mousy Off-Flavor: A Review

<> Intellectual Distancing (Aegean and elsewhere)

<> Divine: Professor Tedlock

<> Awkward moments run in the family

 

      ... and many others

 

      Read the blog

      every day at <http://www.improbable.com>

 

 

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2007-01-13 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Brain/Cocaine and Vicious Walks

 

BRAIN (AND COWARD) ON COCAINE

"A Review of the History, Actions, and Legitimate Uses of

Cocaine," P.F. Brain and G.A. Coward, Journal of Substance Abuse,

vol. 1, no. 4, 1989, pp. 431-51.

 

VICIOUS WALKS + WALL

"Vicious Walks With a Wall, Noncolliding Meanders, and Chiral and

Bogoliubov-de Gennes Random Matrices," Makoto Katori, Hideki

Tanemura, Taro Nagao and Naoaki Komatsuda, Physical Review E;

vol. 68, no. 2, August 2003, p.021112/1-021112/16. (Thanks to Tom

Roberts for bringing this to our attention.)

 

LATE-CENTURY UNHAPPINESS WITH LOGIC

"Research Directions in Rewriting Logic," Jos Meseguer, in

Computational Logic, U. Berger and H. Schwichtenberg, editors,

NATO Advanced Study Institute, Marktoberdorf, Germany, July 29 -

August 6, 1997. Springer-Verlag, 1998.

 

 

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2007-01-14 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and updates see

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

 

 

AAAS ANNUAL MEETING, SAN FRANCISCO        -- FRI, FEB 16, 2007

 

TU DELFT, THE NETHERLANDS                   -- MON, FEB 26, 2007

 

LINDEN PONDS, HINGHAM, MA                   -- WED, FEB 28, 2007

 

2007 IG NOBEL TOUR OF THE UK               -- MAR 9-18, 2007

 

APS/AAPT JOINT, U MAINE, ORONO             -- APR 20, 2007

 

2007 IMPROBABLE RESEARCH EUROPEAN TOUR   -- MAY/JUN 2007

 

IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY                      -- OCT 4, 2007

 

IG INFORMAL LECTURES                          -- OCT 6, 2007

 

 

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2007-01-15 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:

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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>

 

 

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2007-01-16 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>

 

 

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2007-01-17 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

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 2007, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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2007-01-18 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>

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