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

August 2008, Issue number 2008-08. 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/mini2008-08.htm>

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

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

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2008-08-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2008-08-02 Imminent Events

2008-08-03 What's New in the Magazine

2008-08-04 Most-Absurd-Drug-Name Compendium — Selection #1

2008-08-05 Ig Nobel Tickets -- and Call for Delegations

2008-08-06 Presidential Election Statistical Winner: Obama

2008-08-07 Scientist Wrestlers

2008-08-08 Cheek/Tongue/Bread Poet

2008-08-09 Regge Pole Limerick Competition

2008-08-10 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Bacteria and the Burnt Pancake

2008-08-11 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: The Cox-Zucker Machine

2008-08-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Bikinis and Sneeze Raccoon Eyes

2008-08-13 Improbable Research Events

2008-08-14 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2008-08-15 -- Our Address (*)

2008-08-16 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2008-08-17 -- 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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2008-08-02 Imminent Events

 

      Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony OCTOBER 2

      Ig Informal Lectures             OCTOBER 4

 

      Details in section 2008-08-05, below

 

 

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2008-08-03 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:

 

<> "An Impartial Price Survey of Various Household Liquids as

Compared to a Gallon of Gasoline," by B.P. Petrol. The author

visited his local grocery store and recorded the prices and

respective volumes of 22 off-the-shelf fluids. Thenhe computed

the price per gallon of each item, and arranged them in ascending

order by cost, from Coca-Cola ($3.58 per gallon) to Wite-Out

Correction Fluid ($400.46 per gallon).

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

 

<> "Forensic Adventures: Birthday Boy," by Alice Shirrell

Kaswell. Absurdity can be difficult to measure. But, say the

authors of a new study called "Accidental Death in Autoerotic

Maneuvers," published in the American Journal of Forensic

Medicine and Pathology, the incidence of "such practices are

underestimated and are only the tip of the iceberg." The study

describes and shows photos of a most colorful case.

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

 

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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2008-08-04 Most-Absurd-Drug-Name Compendium — Selection #1

 

Submissions poured in for our Most-Absurd-Drug-Name Compendium.

Here are a few notables:

 

Gemtuzumab

http://www.drugs.com/cons/gemtuzumab-ozogamicin.html

Submitted by investigator Jolinda Smith

 

Abilify

http://www.abilify.com

Submitted by investigator Margaret D Lattimore, who says:

"It's also the most absurd new verb. Me to my students in a conference:

'Let me abilify you to finish that paper.'"

 

Abciximab

http://www.drugs.com/cons/abciximab.html

Submitted by investigator Shimon Lecht

 

A certain percentage of entries fell into a category we will call

COUNTER-PRODUCTIVELY NAMED DRUGS (NOTE: These are probably distinct

from the category called OVER-THE-COUNTER PRODUCTIVELY NAMED DRUGS):

 

AcipHex

http://www.aciphex.com/

Submitted by investigator Robert Bendesky, who says:

"My wife was in the kitchen when a TV advertisement for this product

aired. She said, 'Did I just hear a drug called Ass Effects? Didn't

they have one English-speaking person in their focus group?'

 

Acitac

http://www.nepalibazar.com/pharma/industries/gd.htm

Submitted by investigator Elizabeth Palmberg, who says:

"I actually knew someone who was working for the consulting company

that named this drug, and he protested the idea, pointing out that, if

you say it out loud, it sounds like someone's derriere is being

attacked."

 

More next month.

 

 

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2008-08-05 Ig Nobel Tickets -- and Call for Delegations

 

Tickets for the 18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony are

available at the Harvard Box Office and online:

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

 

The theme this year is REDUNDANCY.

 

Paul & Storm will do a special pre-ceremony mini-concert, which

will be included in the live webcast of the ceremony.

 

DELEGATONS: To register a theme delegation: first obtain your

tickets, then register before Sept 24.

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

 

CEREMONY: Thursday, Oct. 2, 7:30 pm Boston time

INFORMAL LECTURES: Saturday, Oct. 4, 1:00 pm

INFO: <http://improbable.com/ig/2008/>.

 

 

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2008-08-06 Presidential Election Statistical Winner: Obama

 

Who will win the 2008 U.S. presidential election? Our statistical

election result predictor -- which is guaranteed to correctly

predict the winner (at least if it is applied retroactively to

the election data) says that Barak Obama will win the election.

 

DETAILS:

<http://improbable.com/2008/08/29/barack-obama-will-win-the-2008-us-presidential-election/>

 

 

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2008-08-07 Scientist Wrestlers

 

What kind of scientists/doctors make the best professional

wrestlers? The question, posed here in 1999, has three more

answers:

 

"I'd imagine large-animal veterinarians." (Carl Witthoft)

 

"Probably a field geologist, because they lug heavy rocks all

over for no apparent reason and so are in the best shape." (Ed

Theriot)

 

"Limnologists/icthyologists. Like geologists, they spend most of

their time out in the field carrying heavy loads. However,

especially when doing fisheries research, their samples are not

inert. Attempting to subdue a 7 kg fish with sharp pointy teeth

and lots of spines gives very good practice for wrestling." (Matt

Clark)

 

 

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2008-08-08 Cheek/Tongue/Bread Poet

 

The judges, their cheeks stuffed with crisp bread and tongue,

have chosen a winner for last month's Cheek/Tongue/Bread Limerick

Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study "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 winner is INVESTIGATOR DANY ADAMS. Her limerick:

 

Chewing crackers can change the physique

Of your jaw, as can words that you speak.

When seeking a chuckle,

Say "lingual" or "buccal."

It's all, as they say, "tongue-in-cheek."

 

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

 

The pressures on teeth, they conclude,

When nothing is swallowed or chewed

Vary more for the teeth

Up above than beneath.

But everything's different with food.

 

 

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2008-08-09 Regge Pole Limerick Competition

 

Regge poles are the subject of this month's limerick competition.

(thanks to investigator Tom Gill for bring it to our attention.)

To enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the

nature of this report:

 

                   * * *

"What Can One Do With Regge Poles?" D. Sokolovski, A.Z. Msezane,

Z. Felfli, S.Yu. Ovchinnikov and J.H. Macek, Nuclear Instruments

and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with

Materials and Atoms, vol. 261, nos. 1-2, August 2007, pp. 133-7.

<http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nimb.2007.04.057>

The authors explain:

 

"We briefly review recent applications of the Regge pole analysis

to light- and heavy-particle collisions. These include

interpretation of resonance structures observed in elastic,

inelastic and reactive angular distributions as well as in total

elastic cross-sections of atom–atom and electron–atom collisions.

Simple models as well as realistic reactive systems are used as

examples.

                   * * *

 

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 inelastic issue of the

Annals of Improbable Research. Send entries (one entry per

entrant) to:

 

      REGGE POLE LIMERICK COMPETITION

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

 

 

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2008-08-10 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Bacteria and the Burnt Pancake

 

This month's specially selected study, partly written by a Poet

(Jeffrey L. Poet) is:

 

"Engineering Bacteria to Solve the Burnt Pancake Problem,"

Karmella A. Haynes, Marian L. Broderick, Adam D. Brown, Trevor L.

Butner, James O. Dickson, Lance Harden, Lane H. Heard, Eric L.

Jessen, Kelly J. Malloy, Brad J. Ogden, Sabriya Rosemond,

Samantha Simpson, Erin Zwack, Malcolm Campbell, Todd T. Eckdahl,

Laurie J. Heyer and Jeffrey L. Poet, Journal of Biological

Engineering, vol. 2, no. 8, 2008. <doi:10.1186/1754-1611-2-8>.

The authors report:

 

"We investigated the possibility of executing DNA-based

computation in living cells by engineering Escherichia coli to

address a classic mathematical puzzle called the Burnt Pancake

Problem (BPP). The BPP is solved by sorting a stack of distinct

objects (pancakes) into proper order and orientation using the

minimum number of manipulations. Each manipulation reverses the

order and orientation of one or more adjacent objects in the

stack. We have designed a system that uses site-specific DNA

recombination to mediate inversions of genetic elements that

represent pancakes within plasmid DNA."

 

 

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2008-08-11 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: The Cox-Zucker Machine

 

Improbable Research TV episodes:

      <http://improbable.com/tv/>

<> Tea, a resume, chairs

<> Shot, history

 

Blog items:

      <http://improbable.com/>

<> The Cox-Zucker machine

<> A Rube Goldberg approach to tanning

<> Disentangling a fishy, confused mess

<> Small bellows to mimic big animals

<> "No one wants a funny banker"

 

Newspaper columns:

      <http://tinyurl.com/6o348d>

<> They know why socks slip

<> Why teenagers get right up your nose

<> Is your breakfast a sad and soggy affair?

<> It's not just crickets toads are waving at

 

New Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists Members:

      <http://tinyurl.com/25lmfb>:

 

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2008-08-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Bikinis and Sneeze Raccoon Eyes

 

BIKINIS INSTIGATE GENERALIZED IMPATIENCE

"Bikinis Instigate Generalized Impatience in Intertemporal

Choice," Bram Van den Bergh, Siegfried Dewitte and Luk Warlop,

Journal of Consumer Research, June 2008, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 85-

97. (Thanks to Jane Hill for bringing this to our attention.) The

authors are at the the K.U.Leuven in Leuven, Belgium.

 

SNEEZE-INDUCED RACCOON

"Raccoon Eyes Following Vigorous Sneezing," B.V. Maramattom,

Neurocritical Care, vol. 4, no. 2, 2006, pp. 151-2.

 

 

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2008-08-13 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

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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2008-08-14 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

 

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

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

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2008-08-15 -- 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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2008-08-16 -- 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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2008-08-17 -- How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

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

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