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

Issue number 2007-05

May 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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2007-05-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2007-05-02 Imminent (and non) Events

2007-05-03 What's New in the Magazine

2007-05-04 Fish is Foul?

2007-05-05 Nix on the Double-Dons

2007-05-06 The Triumphant Return of Theoharis Theoharis

2007-05-07 The Non-Returnable James James

2007-05-08 Pasta Prep Standard

2007-05-09 Russian Ig Book

2007-05-10 Orienteer-Trampling Poets

2007-05-11 Rhomboid Intramembrane Protease Competition

2007-05-12 New Hair Club Member Profusion

2007-05-13 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Opera: Encore from the Stomach

2007-05-14 BLOGLIGHTS: Boring, Chicken, Girth, Death

2007-05-15 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Where/How Toad Egg

2007-05-16 Improbable Research Events

 

2007-05-17 How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2007-05-18 Our Address (*)

2007-05-19 Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2007-05-20 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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2007-05-02 Imminent (and non) Events

 

NETHERLANDS: The 2007 Netherlands Tour was postponed, for arcane

reasons. It has been re-scheduled for May 2008.

 

AUSTRALIA: The 2007 Australia Tour, which was not scheduled to

occur, will occur. There will be events in Tasmania and also

possible in other portions of Australia, all in late August,

2007. Details soon.

 

 

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2007-05-03 What's New in the Magazine

 

The May/June issue (vol. 13, no. 3) of the Annals of Improbable

Research is the special Rivalry issue. Highlights include:

 

<> "A Rivalry is Joined: Lester vs. Voracek" by Alice Shirell Kaswell.

ABSTRACT: Professor David Lester (of The Richard Stockton College of

New Jersey), who has published almost 2000 scholarly reports, many of

them about suicide and most of them brief, now has a young rival. He is

Martin Voracek of the University of Vienna.

 

<> "Lester's Latest, 2005 & 2006," by Alice Shirell Kaswell.

ABSTRACT: Professor David Lester (of The Richard Stockton College of

New Jersey) is one of the world's most productive scholars, if

productivity is measured in the number of academic papers published. In

early 2004, we glanced at his approximately 1500 published studies (see

"Way to Go, David Lester," AIR 10:2). Here we take a look at some of

his several hundred subsequent works.

 

"Boys Will Be Boys" compiled by Katherine Lee.

ABSTRACT: Research by and for adolescent males of all ages and sexes.

TOPICS INCLUDE: homeland security reaches the anus; many means of

obtaining malodors; the economics of strategic virginity loss; flaccus-

bull; underwear-inside views; defecation and tight clothes; mammoth,

sloth dung; swimsuit, sweater and a math test

 

The table of contents is at <http://tinyurl.com/2nkbrf>

 

To subscribe (6 paper issues per year) go to

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

or see info at bottom of this newsletter.

 

 

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2007-05-04 Fish is Foul?

 

Is fish foul? Is the question fair? Researchers seldom approach

these questions directly. Investigator Dan Heck alerts us to one

report that claims to:

 

"Are Fish Organs Really Bad-Tasting?" [article in Japanese], Xing

An Song, Takashi Hirata and Morihiko Sakaguchi, Suisan Shigen no

Senshinteki Yuko Riyoho, 2005, pp. 234-43. The authors, at

Kanmonkai Co., Ltd., Japan, report:

 

"The compounds, umami components, flavors, taste, texture, and

volatile components in organs including ovaries, intestines, and

livers of Seriola quinqueradiata, Paralichthys olivaceus,

Scomberomorus niphonius, and Cyprinus carpio were

studied/reviewed, and compared with that of fish meat in this

article. Some organs, e.g. ovaries and livers in certain fish

showed flavor/taste as good as the fish meat."

 

 

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2007-05-05 Nix on the Double-Dons

 

Numerous (specifically: two) investigators have written to

explain that enough is enough, no one wants to read about

professor-professors, please desist, stop, stop, stop. However,

there is news on the professor-professor front, as the next two

sections explain.

 

 

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2007-05-06 The Triumphant Return of Theoharis Theoharis

 

Unexpectedly, the saga of Theoharis Theoharis continues.

Investigator Cassie Conley writes:

 

     "But there IS a Professor Professor Theoharis Theoharis,

     as found in Athens (where else?):

     <http://graphics.di.uoa.gr/people/cv_theoharis.html>"

 

The saga, when last we left it (in mini-AIR 2007-04), was

apparently at an end. But now, thanks to Investigator Conley,

Professor-Professor Theoharis Theoharis takes his rightful place

in the ranks of the professor-professors:

 

Theoharis Theoharis

Associate Professor

Department of Informatics

University of Athens

Greece

 

 

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2007-05-07 The Non-Returnable James James

 

Investigator Lloyd Wood writes:

 

     * * *

 

Your professor-professor list is missing Doctor Doctor Professor

Professor  James James, an emeritus professor at the Royal

Military College of Science, Cranfield University, and a

consultant engineer.

 

I imagine he's pretty much retired now, so you won't find a

personal web page - but there are papers from the early 70s in

the IEE kicking around the web, along with a textbook or two he

coauthored. (One is: J.R. James, A.J. Race and L.A. Scott,

'Electromagnetic Shielding Degradation Effects in Composite

Material Enclosures', Electronics Letters, Vol 35, No.3 pp. 209-

211, February 1999.)

 

He'd answer the phone just saying "James".

 

     * * *

 

Alas, Professor-Professor James James died in July 2006. An

appreciation is online at

<http://www.iee.org/oncomms/pn/rf/InMemoriam_JRJ.doc>

 

The professor-professors can be admired-admired ensemble at

<http://www.improbable.com/2006/02/09/prof-profs/>

 

 

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2007-05-08 Pasta Prep Standard

 

PROJECT OPTIMAL PASTA is on hold, thanks to a warning sent by

investigator Umberto Salla, who writes:

 

               * * *

 

"You must postpone your project to identify the optimal way to

make pasta. [The project, announced in mini-AIR 2007-01, invited

knowledgeable persons to help us solve the question.] The

International Standards Organization has not yet finished

developing its standard. And until that standard is available, no

judgment about pasta preparation can itself be judged to be

valid. The standard, now under development by the ISO's Technical

Committee TC 34/SC 4, is:

 

     ISO/DIS 7304-2

     Durum wheat semolinas and alimentary pasta -- Estimation of

     cooking quality of spaghetti by sensory analysis

     -- Part 2: Practical method

 

The preliminary documents can be purchased from the ISO's web

site, at <http://tinyurl.com/36tp3w>.

 

Those who wish to contact the committee and tell it to hurry up

can find info at <http://tinyurl.com/2fuax9>.

 

 

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2007-05-09 Russian Ig Book

 

The Russian edition of the first Ig Nobel Prizes book has just

been published. Its ISBN is 5-17-030356-4. The publisher is AST.

See a picture of it (if that will give you a thrill) at

<http://tinyurl.com/2kfos9>.

 

 

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2007-05-10 Orienteer-Trampling Poets

 

The judges have chosen co-winners for last month's Orienteer-

Trampling Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to

honor the following study:

 

     "Trampling by Orienteers on Downed Spruce Logs

     in a Woodland Key Habitat in Northern Sweden,"

     P. Bader, C. Fries, and B.-G. Jonsson,

     Scientific Journal of Orienteering,

     vol. 14, 1998, pp. 4-12.

 

Co-winner LEILA HADJ-CHIKH writes:

A Swede in the spruce slowly slogs,

A compass directing his clogs.

   When finding his way,

   The scientists pray,

He's minding to step over logs.

 

Co-winner RON FOSTER writes:

Wild creatures will live in and breed in

The spruce logs in far northern Sweden.

   But after some beers,

   The orienteers

Will have those logs trampled and peed in.

 

And here is the latest from Limerick Laureate MARTIN EIGER:

 

The evidence given is ample.

A single statistical sample

   Alleviates fears

   That orienteers

Cause damage to logs when they trample.

 

 

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2007-05-11 Rhomboid Intramembrane Protease Competition

 

Rhomboid intramembrane protease implication is the subject of

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

limerick that illuminates the nature of this report. It was

brought to our attention by Investigator Scott Langill:

 

     "Enzymatic Analysis of a Rhomboid Intramembrane Protease

     Implicates Transmembrane Helix 5 as the Lateral Substrate

     Gate," Rosanna P. Baker, Keith Young, Liang Feng,

     Yigong Shi and Sinisa Urban, Proceedings of the National

     Academy of Sciences, vol. 104, no. 20, May 15, 2007,

     pp. 8257-62.

 

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, possibly rhomboid issue of the

Annals of Improbable Research. Send entries (one entry per

entrant) to:

 

     RHOMBOID INTRAMEMBRANE PROTEASE COMPETITION

     c/o <marca AT chem2.harvard.edu>

 

 

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2007-05-12 New Hair Club Member Profusion

 

The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS) has a

bumper crop of new members. View them and their hair at

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

 

 

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2007-05-13 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Opera: Encore from the Stomach

 

Each month we select for your special attention a research report

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

 

"Reflux Symptoms in Professional Opera Choristers," G. Cammarota,

G. Masala, R. Cianci, D. Palli, P. Capaccio, A. Schindler, L.

Cuoco, J. Galli, E. Ierardi, O. Cannizzaro, M. Caselli, M. P.

Dore, B. Bendinelli, and G. Gasbarrini, Gastroenterology, vol.

132, no. 3, March 2007, pp. 890-8. The authors report:

 

"We investigated the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux

symptoms in a series of professional opera choristers in

comparison with a general population sample....

Results: Opera choristers reported a statistically significant

higher prevalence of heartburn, regurgitation, cough, and hoarse

voice than the population sample... Regurgitation appeared to be

associated consistently with the cumulative lifetime duration of

singing activity and with the weekly duration of singing

activity."

 

 

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2007-05-14 BLOGLIGHTS: Boring, Chicken, Girth, Death

 

Here are some recent topics in our blog:

 

<> "How to Write Consistently Boring Scientific Literature"

<> Chicken chicken, continued

<> Five-second, with and without background

<> Bart Knols - Ig winner garners further honor

<> Girth not so large as rumored

<> Death of a birdman

 

and some from the newspaper column in The Guardian:

 

<> Copy Wrongs

<> Gravely Mistaken

<> The Best Way to Waste Time

<> Model behaviour

 

     ... and others

 

     Read the blog

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

 

 

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2007-05-15 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Where/How Toad Egg

 

WHERE AND HOW, WITHOUT THE WHY

"On the Pursuit and Misuse of Useless Information," Anthony

Bastardi and Eldar Shafir, Journal of Personality and Social

Psychology, vol. 75, no. 1, July 1998, pp. 19-32. (Thanks to

Martin Gardiner for bringing this to our attention.)

 

WHEN TOAD-EGG INGESTION GOES BAD

"Life-Threatening Episode After Ingestion of Toad Eggs: A Case

Report With Literature Review," Kuo H.Y., Hsu C.W., Chen J.H., Wu

Y.L., Shen Y.S., Emergency Medicine Journal, vol. 24, no. 3,

March 2007, pp. 215-6.

 

HEART-FELT TALE OF THE MOON

"The Effect of the Gravitation of the Moon on Acute Myocardial

Infarction," Ryotaro Wake, Daiju Fukuda, Minoru Yoshiyama, Kenei

Shimada, and Junichi Yoshikawa, American Journal of Emergency

Medicine, vol. 25, no. 2, February 2007, pp. 256-8.

 

 

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2007-05-16 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

ARES SYSTEMS USER GROUP, BOSTON          -- JUN 28, 2007

 

IMPROBABLE AUSTRALIA TOUR           -- AUG 2007

 

IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY                  -- OCT 4, 2007

 

IG INFORMAL LECTURES                -- OCT 6, 2007

 

FESTIVAL DELLA SCIENZA, GENOA, ITALY     -- OCT 2007

 

NOKIA SIEMENS NETWORKS - GET INSIDE EVENT

               LONDON, UK           -- NOV 23, 2007

 

DFG ANNUAL ASSEMBLY, BERLIN, GERMANY     -- JUL 1, 2008

 

 

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2007-05-17 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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     617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927 <air AT improbable.com>

 

 

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2007-05-18 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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2007-05-19 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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2007-05-20 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.

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