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

Issue number 2007-06

June 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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2007-06-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2007-06-02 Imminent Events

2007-06-03 What's New in the Magazine

2007-06-04 Peanut Butter Research (1)

2007-06-05 Peanut Butter Research (2)

2007-06-06 Classification Classification Problem

2007-06-07 Video Poker for the Master

2007-06-08 Rhomboid Intramembrane Protease Poets

2007-06-09 Ant Crowding Competition

2007-06-10 The Secret to Success

2007-06-11 Newest Hairy Scientists & Professor-Professors

2007-06-12 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Waffles and Age

2007-06-13 BLOGLIGHTS: Morals, Doppelgangers, Secrets, Deception

2007-06-14 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Bulb Interpretation, Steps, Fat

2007-06-15 Improbable Research Events

2007-06-16 How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2007-06-17 Our Address (*)

2007-06-18 Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2007-06-19 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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2007-06-02 Imminent Events

 

AUSTRALIA:

The Improbable Australia tour will happen the last two weeks of

August, with events in Tasmania and possibly also in Sydney.

Details will be posted soon at

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

 

 

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2007-06-03 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:

 

<> "Voracek's Variety," by Alice Shirell Kaswell.

ABSTRACT: Martin Voracek published more than 100 studies. Here is a

sampling of Dr. Voracek's published research on a variety of topics.

 

<> TITLE: "Tips from a Master," by Alice Shirell Kaswell.

ABSTRACT: Suicidologist David Lester (of The Richard Stockton College

of New Jersey), author of almost 2000 academic reports, wrote a letter

to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is summarized here. The

letter disparages academics who do not accomplish as much as Professor

Lester does. Professor Lester explains how he avoids wasting his own

time and how he enjoys the finer aspects of life.

 

TITLE: "Boys Will Be Boys," 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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2007-06-04 Peanut Butter Research (1)

 

Here is another in our series of meaningfully meaningless micro-

studies.

 

SUBJECT: The popularity of conserves for scientific research

AUTHORS: John Bell, Irenka Suto and Rita Nadas -- University of

Cambridge

AIM: To identify which fruit conserve is most popular with

researchers _

METHODOLOGY: The name of a range of conserves was typed in to

Google scholar and the number of hits was recorded.

RESULTS: The number of hits in descending order were:

 

23,400 -- Peanut Butter

21,000 -- Chocolate Spread

03,610 -- Marmalade

02,660 -- Strawberry Jam

02,330 -- Plum Jam

01,320 -- Raspberry Jam

00,381 -- Blackcurrant Jam

00,304 -- Gooseberry Jam

 

CONCLUSION: Researchers write most about peanut butter. Further

research is needed into the social and environmental impacts of

this study.

DISCLAIMER: No toast was consumed in the conduct of this

research.

 

 

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2007-06-05 Peanut Butter Research (2)

 

A team from the University of Edinburgh converts peanut butter

into diamonds. They are mounting an exhibit at the Royal Society

in London. Details are, directly or indirectly, at

<http://tinyurl.com/25xxq9>.

 

 

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2007-06-06 Classification Classification Problem

 

Following the micro-wave of (two) complaints about the professor-

professor project (see last month's mini-AIR), INVESTIGATOR

SHANKAR UNNI writes :

   ***

Since everyone seems to be tiring of "Professor Professors", how about

going the other way -- looking for single-named professors. Depending

on how you choose to look at it, the single name could be considered

either a first name or a last name, or both.

 

Here's a start: Prof. Arvind. Just Arvind.

His home page is at http://csg.csail.mit.edu/Users/arvind/

 

   ***

And so there's a decision-and-a-half to be made. Ought single-named

professors be classed as professor-professors? If so, should we give a

special name to this sub-specialty?

 

If you have a strong opinion, please vote for one of these:

 

(A) mono-professor

(B) uni-professor

(C) just plain professor-professor

 

Send ballots to:

 

NAME SINGLE-NAMED PROFESSORS

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

 

 

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2007-06-07 Video Poker for the Master

 

After hundreds of hours of research, Todd Mateer determined that

if you quit your job to play video poker full-time in South

Carolina, you won't do too well. For this work, Mateer was

awarded a master's degree from Clemson University in 1999.

 

Details are trumpeted in a press release at

<http://tinyurl.com/ysxlk4>. An early version of the study is at

<http://tinyurl.com/18r>.

 

(Thanks to investigator Charles Bergquist for bringing this to

our attention.)

 

 

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2007-06-08 Rhomboid Intramembrane Protease Poets

 

The judges have chosen a winner for last month's Rhomboid

Intramembrane Protease Limerick Competition, which asked for a

limerick to honor the following study:

 

"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.

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR LEILA HADJ-CHIKH, who limerickisized

thus:

 

A rhomboidal enzyme can stall

When working a membranous wall.

   The protease waits

   At helical gates,

And then there's no problem at all!

 

And here is the latest from Limerick Laureate MARTIN EIGER:

 

Hydrolysis happens, but how's it

The cellular membrane allows it?

  There's a serine, recessed.

  Hey, who would have guessed?

This paper explains it.  Go browse it.

 

 

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2007-06-09 Ant Crowding Competition

 

Ant Crowding is the subject of this month's limerick competition.

To enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the

nature of this report:

 

"Optimal Traffic Organization in Ants

Under Crowded Conditions,"

A. Dussutour, V. Fourcassié, D. Helbing and

J.-L. Deneubourg, Nature, 2004, vol. 428, pp. 70-3.

 

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:

 

ANT CROWDING COMPETITION

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

 

 

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2007-06-10 The Secret to Success

 

What is the secret to success? The current issue of the journal

BJU International includes a special section that might, just

might, give the key:

 

"Overactive Bladder: The Path to Successful Outcomes,"

BJU International, vol. 99 no. s3, June 2007, pp. 1-16.

The study is online at <http://tinyurl.com/2jbv29>.

 

 

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2007-06-11 Newest Hairy Scientists & Professor-Professors

 

New members of The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists

(LFHCfS):

 

Heather Jordan

 

See them and the other members at:

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

 

New additions to the ranks of the professor-professors:

 

Daoud S. Daoud -- Eastern Mediterranean University, Turkey

Francisco Carlos de Francisco -- Universidade Estadual

    Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho

Karam Karam -- American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Solomon S. Solomon -- University of Tennessee, USA

Villadsen Villadsen -- Copenhagen Business School

 

See them and the full list at:

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

 

 

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2007-06-12 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Waffles and Age

 

Each month we select for your special attention a research report

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

 

"Differences in Perception of Sweet and

Savoury Waffles Between Elderly and Young Subjects,"

S. Kremer, J. Mojet and J.H.A. Kroeze,  Food Quality

and Preference, January 2007, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 106-16.

The authors report that:

 

"The observed texture flavour interaction effect

was not different for the elderly and young...

[but] the young were more efficient in chewing."

 

 

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2007-06-13 BLOGLIGHTS: Morals, Doppelgangers, Secrets, Deception

 

Here are some recent topics in our blog:

 

<> Hungarians' high moral standards

<> The physicist who takes on toilet paper

<> Bored of wrestlers, back into birds

<> Round and round (attachments)

<> National leaders and their doppelgangers

<> Hazarding about Freud's posing

 

and some from the newspaper column in The Guardian:

 

<> Wrestling with a bad metaphor

<> Linnaeus and the lost secrets of Lapland

<> The Global Deception Research Team

 

... and others

 

Read the blog

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

 

 

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2007-06-14 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Bulb Interpretation, Steps, Fat

 

EXAMINED AUTOMOTIVE LIGHT BULBS, INTERPRETED

"Interpretation of Automotive Light Bulb Examination Results: An

Intriguing Case," Eric Stauffer, Journal of Forensic Sciences,

2006.

 

TURD TRODDING

"Miocene Mammalian Footprints in Coprolites from Lisbon,

Portugal," Miguel Telles Antunes, Ausenda C. Balbino and Léonard

Ginsburg, Annales de Paléontologie, vol. 92, no. 1, January-March

2006, pp. 13-30. (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our

attention.)

 

INTERSPECIES EXCHANGE

"Enhancing the Survival of Aspirated Human Fat Injected Into Nude

Mice," Y. Ullman, M. Hyams, Y. Ramon, D. Beach, I.J. Peled, and

E.S. Lindenbaum, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 101,

no. 7, June 1998, pp. 1940-4. (Thanks to Wendy Cooper for

bringing this to our attention.)

 

 

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2007-06-15 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

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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2007-06-16 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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2007-06-17 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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2007-06-18 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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2007-06-19 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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