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

July 2008, Issue number 2008-07. ISSN 1076-500X.

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A free newsletter of tidbits too tiny to fit in

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

     This issue at

     <http://www.improbable.com/airchives/miniair/2008/mini2008-07.htm>

     Archive at <http://improbable.com/airchives/miniair/>

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

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2008-07-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2008-07-02 Imminent Events

2008-07-03 What's New in the Magazine

2008-07-04 Most Absurd Drug Name

2008-07-05 Bald Scientists' Limbo: Still Languishing

2008-07-06 Too Much Where

2008-07-07 Ig Nobel Tickets -- and Call for Delegations

2008-07-08 Greek Hip Joint Poet

2008-07-09 Pastanticipation

2008-07-10 Piero's Preliminary Pasta Procedure

2008-07-11 Cheek / Tongue / Crisp Bread Limerick Competition

2008-07-12 Blyth on Hair

2008-07-13 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Monkeys *Can* be Forced (Pot)

2008-07-14 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: Flea, Binge, Clown

2008-07-15 Bookkeeper?

2008-07-16 Feline Reactions

2008-07-17 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Hamsters and Mah-Jong

2008-07-18 Improbable Research Events

2008-07-19 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2008-07-20 -- Our Address (*)

2008-07-21 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2008-07-22 -- 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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2008-07-02 Imminent Events

 

     Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony Tickets Go On Sale - AUGUST 1

 

     Alpbach Technology Forum  AUGUST 23

 

 

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2008-07-03 What's New in the Magazine

 

The July/August 2008 issue (vol. 14, no. 4) is the special

Colorful Research issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

Highlights include:

 

<> "Alchemy's Shower of Gold,"

by Neil Gussman. Paintings of alchemists show them holding up

flasks. The contents of those flasks are almost always golden in

color. That's because alchemists were obsessed with urine. the

author illusrates his thesis with classic paintings.

<http://improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume14/v14i4/v14i4.html#Alchemy>

 

<> "Color Preference in the Insane,"

by Alice Shirell Kaswell. An exploration of the Siegfried E.

Katz's classic 1931 comprehensive study "Color Preference in the

Insane," with excerpts from the work itself.

<http://improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume14/v14i4/v14i4.html#InsaneColor>

 

<> "Colorful Research Review,"

compiled by Dirk Manley. Manley digs up or into eyes, blouses,

and other colored objects.

<http://improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume14/v14i4/v14i4.html#ColorResearch>

 

The issue is online at <http://tinyurl.com/5bkaj9>

Many back issues are online, too, at

<http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>

 

 

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2008-07-04 Most Absurd Drug Name

 

Please help us identify the most absurd drug name.

The two leading candidates are:

 

     Gefitinib

and

     Stalevo

 

If you know of a genuine drug whose name clearly surpasses them

in absurdity, please send that name to:

 

     ABSURD DRUG NAME COMPENDIUM

     c/o <marca AT chem2.harvard.edu>

 

 

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2008-07-05 Bald Scientists' Limbo: Still Languishing

 

Life remains unfair for the bald scientists who have been

clamoring for their own, un-hairy equivalent of the Luxuriant

Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS).

 

Voters gave a massive, hairy thumbs-down to the two names

suggested last month. Instead, they ringingly endorsed the third

option: "We still need to find a good name."

 

Some voters suggested alternative names. Here are some of the

less unpalatable:

 

(from Judith Stein and Barry Clark:) Luxuriant Gleaming Head Club

(from Jeff Younker:) No-Hair Club for Scientists

(from Felix Finch:) Bald Scientists Luxuriant Head Club (BS LHC)

 

We will revisit the question when tempers have calmed or

imaginations soared.

 

 

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2008-07-06 Too Much Where

 

Investigator Jim Cowdery asks, "I wonder if your network of

scientists includes someone who can comment on this."

 

          * * *

 

"The most frequently spoken sentence on my commuter train, by

far, is

          "I'm on the train."

 

That sentence, verbatim, must be uttered thousands of times a

day—perhaps millions if you count all languages. It belongs to a

class of sentences that I call self-locators; they formerly were

spoken relatively rarely, over land lines and in certain types of

broadcasting, but their frequency has grown dramatically with the

proliferation of cell phones. Examples are everywhere:

 

          "I'm in the bread aisle"

          "I'm walking up Fifth Avenue"

 

Before the advent of mass communication, such sentences appeared

largely in correspondence (e.g., "I'm sitting on the porch"), and

the writer was not presumed to be in the same place when the

letter was read.

I have two question:

 

1) Are there other sentence categories that have risen to

prominence due to technological developments? and

 

2) Are there good studies about this sort of thing?

          * * *

 

 

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2008-07-07 Ig Nobel Tickets -- and Call for Delegations

 

Tickets for the 18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony go on

sale Friday, August 1, at the Harvard Box Office and online:

<http://140.247.118.196/tickets/details.cfm?EVENT_ID=7995>

 

The theme this year is REDUNDANCY.

 

To register a theme delegation (on a theme related to REDUNDANCY

or on a theme not related to REDUNDANCY, obtain your tickets and

then register with Louise Sacco, the Grand Panjandrum of the

Delegations before Sept 24. INFO:

<http://improbable.com/ig/2008/#tickets>.

 

The ceremony page is at <http://improbable.com/ig/2008/>.

It will slowly, redundantly fill with info between now and

October 2, the date of the ceremony.

 

 

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2008-07-08 Greek Hip Joint Poet

 

The judges, flexing their whims and their hips, have chosen a

winner for last month's Greek Hip Joint Limerick Competition,

which asked for a limerick to honor the study "Sexual Dimorphism

of the Hip Joint in Greeks," Christos Papaloucas, Aliki Fiska and

Thespis Demetriou, Forensic Science International, vol. 179, no.

1, July 18, 2008, Pages 83.e1-83.e3.

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR DOROTHY BONDELEVITCH. Her limerick:

The Greeks were not caught unawares.

You know they knew hips come in pairs.

   But those of one sex

   Aren't quite as convex —

They're useless as unisex spares.

 

And here's an offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

Greeks measure the size of Greek hips.

The size of Greek men's hips eclipse

   Greek women's hips' size,

   But Greek gals beat Greek guys,

In size, for one metric. It flips.

 

 

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2008-07-09 Pastanticipation

 

Pasta progress is just around the corner, maybe.

 

Our PROJECT OPTIMAL PASTA — to determine the optimal way to cook

pasta — was put on hold last year thanks to investigator Umberto

Salla's warning that "The International Standards Organization

has not yet finished developing its standard." Without it, "no

judgment about pasta preparation can itself be judged to be

valid."

 

The proposed standard has now "obtained substantial support

within the appropriate ISO technical committee" and has been

"submitted to the ISO member bodies for voting" by July 23, 2008.

 

     ISO/FDIS 7304-2

     "Alimentary pasta produced from durum wheat semolina –

     Estimation of cooking quality by sensory analysis –

     Part 2: Routine method"

 

For details see:

<http://www.sutn.gov.sk/get_file.php?id=639&type=text>

 

A copy of the preliminary version of the new standard can be

purchased from the ISO's web site, at

<http://tinyurl.com/36tp3w>.

 

 

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2008-07-10 Piero's Preliminary Pasta Procedure

 

Hunger for the standard, and hunger in itself, demand at least

one recipe. Here, from Italy, is a pert, 46-word specification

from Italian chemist and rock star and LFHCfS 2002/3 Man of the

Year Piero Paraidino:

 

"To 3 L of already boiling water containing 2 tablespoons of NaCl

add 250 g of raw Italian pasta. Boil the mixture for 9 minutes,

then recover the solid by filtration. Add 20 cl of extravirgin

olive oil and a previously warmed dressing of your choice."

 

 

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2008-07-11 Cheek / Tongue / Crisp Bread Limerick Competition

 

Crisp bread, so inspirational to so many (see the May issue of

mini-AIR), plays a supporting role in this month's limerick

competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that

illuminates the nature of this report:

 

               * * *

"Cheek and Tongue Pressures in the Molar Areas and the

Atmospheric Pressure in the Palatal Vault in Young Adults," U.

Thčer, R. Sieber  and B. Ingervall,  European Journal of

Orthodontics, vol. 21, no. 3, June 1999, pp. 299-309.

<http://tinyurl.com/5nvmxy> The authors, at the University of

Bern, Switzerland, report that their measurements were made

"during two acts of eating one piece of Swedish crisp bread."

               * * *

 

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

poem is in classic, trips-off-the-tongue limerick form.

 

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

the correct address) a free, possibly crispy issue of the Annals

of Improbable Research. Send entries (one entry per entrant) to:

 

     CHEEK/TONGUE/CRISP BREAD LIMERICK COMPETITION

     c/o <marca AT chem2.harvard.edu>

 

 

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2008-07-12 Blyth on Hair

 

Investigator Carl D. Blyth, Sr. writes:

 

          * * *

"Although I am not a scientist with LFH, I do remember that one

of the basics for an inquiring mind is to be observant. In my 70

years of life, being observant has been a staple for my everyday

life.

 

"I have noticed that Mike Madden has now joined the LFHfS and has

included proofs to make his case <http://tinyurl.com/5d5auj>.

While I do not know Mr. Madden, I have observed that there has

been a rather surprising development in the twenty-five years of

his LFH.

 

"I wonder why he overlooked the mention of the awful effect of

his scientific studies on the condition and color of his LFH. I

think he might wish to have that examined by another kind of

scientist in the event that something serious might have

developed over the last 25 years."

          * * *

 

 

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2008-07-13 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Monkeys *Can* be Forced (Pot)

 

This month's specially selected study is:

 

"Self-Administration Behavior is Maintained by the Psychoactive

Ingredient of Marijuana in Squirrel Monkeys," Gianluigi Tanda,

Patrik Munzar and Steven R. Goldberg, Nature Neuroscience, vol.

3, 2000, pp. 1073-4. <http://tinyurl.com/5fjlmx> (Thanks to James

Meek for bringing this to our attention.) The authors explain

that:

 

"Many attempts to obtain reliable self-administration behavior by

laboratory animals with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the

psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, have been unsuccessful.

Because self-administration behavior has been demonstrated in

laboratory animals for almost all other psychoactive drugs abused

by humans, as well as for nicotine, the psychoactive ingredient

in tobacco, these studies would seem to indicate that marijuana

has less potential for abuse. Here we show persistent intravenous

self-administration behavior by monkeys for doses of THC lower

than doses used in previous studies, but comparable to doses in

marijuana smoke inhaled by humans."

 

 

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2008-07-14 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: Flea, Binge, Clown

 

Improbable Research TV episodes:

     <http://improbable.com/tv/>

<> The net, the flea, the duck and its lover

<> Jacksonization, bomb bay door, duck

<> Bedding, functions, and nails

<> Cuticles, and two reactions

 

Blog items:

     <http://improbable.com/>

<> Binge drinking occurs where there's binge drinking

<> The moon and the 21st or, er, the 20th

<> Old-fashioned diet is good for pigs

<> A summer visit to Stalin World

<> "Project Grizzly" suit sold

 

Newspaper columns:

     <http://tinyurl.com/6o348d>

<> Corporate tiers of a clown

<> The tasting of the shrew

<> Hellish math in Alabama

<> You bastard

 

New Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists Members:

     <http://tinyurl.com/25lmfb>:

 

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2008-07-15 Bookkeeper?

 

Improbable Research is looking for a cheerful, redundantly good

bookkeeper in the Boston area, for about 5 hours per month. Must

be experienced with Quickboooks. If that's you, please get in

touch with us at <marca AT improbable.com>

 

 

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2008-07-16 Feline Reactions

 

Feline Reactions to Bearded Men, a subject of recurrent interest

to some, is addressed in the newest episode of Improbable

Research TV <http://improbable.com/tv/>

 

 

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2008-07-17 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Hamsters and Mah-Jong

 

THE COOLNESS OF HAMSTERS

"Cool Hamsters Get Sleepy," Tom Deboer, Journal of Thermal

Biology, April 2005, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 173–8. (Thanks to Tom

Gill for bringing this to our attention.) The author is at Leiden

University Medical Center, the Netherlands.

<http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtherbio.2004.08.013>

 

MAH-JONG MALADY

"Mah-Jong Epilepsy: A New Reflex Epilepsy," S.Y. Kwan and M.S.

Su, Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi, vol. 63, no. 4, April 2000, pp. 316-

21. The authors, who are at Taipei Veterans General Hospital,

Taiwan, report that:

 

"Recently, we cared for 12 patients  whose seizures were induced

by playing mah-jong.... [A]voiding playing mah-jong may be

essential in preventing seizures."

 

 

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2008-07-18 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

ALPBACH TECHNOLOGY FORUM, AUSTRIA   -- AUG 23, 2008

 

IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY             -- OCT 2, 2008

 

IG INFORMAL LECTURES           -- OCT 4, 2008

 

AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY, DAYTON, OHIO  OCT 10, 2008

 

GENOA SCIENCE FESTIVAL, ITALY       -- OCT 24, 2008

 

 

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2008-07-19 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

 

The Annals of Improbable Research is a 6-issues-per-year

magazine. (It's bigger and better than the little bits of

overflow material you've been reading in this newsletter). The

online version is at <http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>.

 

To subscribe to the paper-and-ink version, go to

<http://improbable.com/subscribe/> or send in this form:

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

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

 

 

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2008-07-20 -- 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: subscriptions AT improbable.com

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

 

 

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2008-07-21 -- 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

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 2008, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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2008-07-22 -- 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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