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

October 2008, Issue number 2008-10. 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/mini2008-10.htm>

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

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

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2008-10-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2008-10-02 Imminent Events

2008-10-03 What's New in the Magazine

2008-10-04 Announcing the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize winners

2008-10-05 Special Ig Presentation in Genoa October 24

2008-10-06 Most-Absurd-Drug-Name Compendium — Selection #3

2008-10-07 Tongue Scraper Side-Effect Limerick Poet

2008-10-08 Delicious Guinea Pigs Competition

2008-10-09 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Draculaic Disorders

2008-10-10 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: Oddington, Genius, Ghoul

2008-10-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Almond/Dracula, Supersymmetry/Ghosts

2008-10-13 Improbable Research Events

2008-10-14 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2008-10-15 -- Our Address (*)

2008-10-16 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2008-10-17 -- 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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2008-10-02 Imminent Events

 

      Dayton, Ohio, USA                              OCT 10

             See <http://www.afit.edu/en/OSAPS08/>

      Genoa Science Festival, Italy              OCT 24

             See section 2008-10-05 below

      Tepic, Mexico                            NOV 12

 

 

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2008-10-03 What's New in the Magazine

 

The September/October 2008 issue (vol. 14, no. 5) is the special

Dots and Spots issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

Highlights include:

 

<> "How Big, How Small," by Ernest Ersatz. A quick look at a

small sample of the voluminous research on size.

 

<> "Tidman and the Masquerades," by Nan Swift. Dr. Michael J.

Tidman of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh NHS Trust asks

questions that have never been asked, at least so overtly and

with such precise language. We consider examples such as:

"Pemphigoid Excorie: A Further Variant of Bullous Pemphigoid?"

 

<> "PubMed Goes to the Movies (Part 1)" by Robert Pyatt. This is

a comparison of classic films and science articles that share the

same name. Why see the film when you can read the study?

 

Subscribers can peruse everything on paper whilst on the toilet.

Everyone can read it, though in less luxury,

online at <http://tinyurl.com/534yk4>

Many back issues are online, too, at

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

 

 

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2008-10-04 Announcing the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize winners

 

On October 2, this year's ten Ig Nobel Prize winners were

announced. Each was honored for having done something that first

makes people LAUGH, then makes them THINK.

 

LINKS FOR EACH WINNER: <http://improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2008>

DETAILS ABOUT THE CEREMONY: <http://improbable.com/ig/2008/>.

VIDEO OF THE CEREMONY: <http://improbable.com/ig/2008/webcast/>

      [video will be posted very soon]

 

The winners:

 

NUTRITION PRIZE. Massimiliano Zampini of the University of

Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for

electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the

person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than

it really is.

REFERENCE: "The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived

Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips," Massimiliano Zampini

and Charles Spence, Journal of Sensory Studies, vol. 19, October

2004, pp. 347-63.

 

PEACE PRIZE. The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human

Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting

the legal principle that plants have dignity.

REFERENCE: "The Dignity of Living Beings With Regard to Plants.

Moral Consideration of Plants for Their Own Sake"

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Urs Thurnherr, member of the

committee.

 

ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE. Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and Jos Carlos

Marcelino of Universidade de So Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how

the course of history, or at least the contents of an

archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a

live armadillo.

REFERENCE: "The Role of Armadillos in the Movement of

Archaeological Materials: An Experimental Approach," Astolfo G.

Mello Araujo and Jos Carlos Marcelino, Geoarchaeology, vol. 18,

no. 4, April 2003, pp. 433-60.

 

BIOLOGY PRIZE. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and

Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France

for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher

than the fleas that live on a cat.

REFERENCE: "A Comparison of Jump Performances of the Dog Flea,

Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis, 1826) and the Cat Flea,

Ctenocephalides felis felis (Bouche, 1835)," M.C. Cadiergues, C.

Joubert, and M. Franc, Veterinary Parasitology, vol. 92, no. 3,

October 1, 2000, pp. 239-41.

 

MEDICINE PRIZE. Dan Ariely of Duke University (USA), Rebecca L.

Waber of MIT (USA), Baba Shiv of Stanford University (USA), and

Ziv Carmon of INSEAD (Singapore) for demonstrating that high-

priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake

medicine.

REFERENCE: "Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic

Efficacy," Rebecca L. Waber; Baba Shiv; Ziv Carmon; Dan Ariely,

Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 2008; 299:

1016-1017.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dan Ariely

 

COGNITIVE SCIENCE PRIZE. Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido

University, Japan, Hiroyasu Yamada of Nagoya, Japan, Ryo

Kobayashi of Hiroshima University, Atsushi Tero of Presto JST,

Akio Ishiguro of Tohoku University, and got Tth of the

University of Szeged, Hungary, for discovering that slime molds

can solve puzzles.

REFERENCE: "Intelligence: Maze-Solving by an Amoeboid Organism,"

Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, and gota Tth, Nature, vol.

407, September 2000, p. 470.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Ryo Kobayashi,

Atsushi Tero

 

ECONOMICS PRIZE. Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan

of the University of New Mexico, USA, for discovering that

professional lap dancers earn higher tips when they are

ovulating.

REFERENCE: "Ovulatory Cycle Effects on Tip Earnings by Lap

Dancers: Economic Evidence for Human Estrus?" Geoffrey Miller,

Joshua M. Tybur, Brent D. Jordan, Evolution and Human Behavior,

vol. 28, 2007, pp. 375-81.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Geoffrey Miller and Brent Jordan

 

PHYSICS PRIZE. Dorian Raymer of the Ocean Observatories

Initiative at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, and

Douglas Smith of the University of California, San Diego, USA,

for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost

anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots.

REFERENCE: "Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String," Dorian

M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith, Proceedings of the National

Academy of Sciences, vol. 104, no. 42, October 16, 2007, pp.

16432-7.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dorian Raymer

 

CHEMISTRY PRIZE. Sharee A. Umpierre of the University of Puerto

Rico, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England

(USA), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston University School of

Medicine and Harvard Medical School (USA), for discovering that

Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to Chuang-Ye Hong of

Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N.

Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that it is not.

REFERENCE: "Effect of 'Coke' on Sperm Motility," Sharee A.

Umpierre, Joseph A. Hill, and Deborah J. Anderson, New England

Journal of Medicine, 1985, vol. 313, no. 21, p. 1351.

REFERENCE: "The Spermicidal Potency of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola,"

C.Y. Hong, C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang, Human Toxicology,

vol. 6, no. 5, September 1987, pp. 395-6. [NOTE: THE JOURNAL

LATER CHANGED ITS NAME. NOW CALLED "Human & experimental

toxicology"]

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Deborah Anderson, and C.Y. Hong's

daughter Wan Hong

 

LITERATURE PRIZE. David Sims of Cass Business School. London, UK,

for his lovingly written study "You Bastard: A Narrative

Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within

Organizations."

REFERENCE: "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the

Experience of Indignation within Organizations," David Sims,

Organization Studies, vol. 26, no. 11, 2005, pp. 1625-40.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: David Sims

 

Nobel Laureate William Lipscomb (Chemistry, 1976) was given away

in the Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest.

 

Benoit Mandelbrot, inventor of the mathematical concept of

fractals, was given away in the Win-a-Date-With-Benoit-Mandelbrot

Contest.

 

 

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2008-10-05 Special Ig Presentation in Genoa October 24

 

Two Ig-winning teams will receive their Ig Nobel Prizes at a

special special ceremony at the Genoa Science Festival, on

October 24, 2008, at 9:00 pm in the Palazzo Ducale. Both teams

were unable to travel to the Ig Nobel Ceremony at Harvard last

week.

 

2008 Ig Nobel Nutrition Prize winner Massimiliano Zampini will

receive his (and Charles Spence's) Ig Nobel Prize for their

potato-chip-sound-modification work).

 

2008 Ig Nobel Biology Prize winners Marie-Christine Cadiergues,

Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc will receive their Ig Nobel

Prize (for their comparative-flea-jump work).

 

2007 Ig Nobel Medicine Prize winners Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer

will then explain and demonstrate their prize-winning study

"Swordswallowing and Its Side Effects."

 

The event is open to the public.

 

Details: <http://tinyurl.com/3hktxw>

 

 

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2008-10-06 Most-Absurd-Drug-Name Compendium — Selection #3

 

Still further submissions for the Most-Absurd-Drug-Name

Compendium:

 

Adalimumab

http://www.humira.com/

Submitted by investigator John Livesey

 

Zafirlukast

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/medmaster/a697007.html

Submitted by investigator Jolinda Smith

 

Axit

http://www.flexyx.com/A/Axit.html

Submitted by investigator Penny Sheehan

 

More next month.

 

 

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2008-10-07 Tongue Scraper Side-Effect Limerick Poet

 

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

chosen a winner for last month's Tongue Scraper Side-Effect Limerick

Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study

"Endocarditis after Use of Tongue Scraper," A.M. Redmond, C.

Meiklejohn, T.J. Kidd, R. Horvath, and C. Coulter, Emerging Infectious

Diseases, vol. 13, no. 9, September 1, 2007, pp. 1440-1.

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR Joanne Leary. Her limerick:

 

Having bad breath is a curse

But endocarditis is worse

A tongue scraper's action

May give satisfaction

But lead to a ride in a hearse.

 

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

 

A tongue scraper's shown to produce

Endocarditis. Its use

To treat halitosis

Gave this diagnosis.

Bacteria now on the loose!

 

 

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2008-10-08 Delicious Guinea Pigs Competition

 

Delicious guinea pigs 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:

 

                   * * *

 

"Delicious Guinea Pigs: Seasonality Studies and the Use of Fat in

the Pre-Columbian Andean Diet," Silvana A. Rosenfeld, Quaternary

International, vol. 180, no. 1, March 2008, pp. 127-34.

<http://tinyurl.com/4ohdgr>. The author, at Stanford University,

explains:

 

"Guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) may have been incorporated in the

Andean diet because they represented an additional source of fat,

especially when carbohydrates were short in supply."

 

                   * * *

 

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 delicious issue of the

Annals of Improbable Research. Send entries (one entry per

entrant) to:

 

      DELICIOUS GUINEA PIGS LIMERICK COMPETITION

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

 

 

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2008-10-09 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Draculaic Disorders

 

This month's specially selected study is:

 

"Dracula. Disorders of the Self and Borderline Personality

Organization," J.M. Raines, L.C. Raines and M. Singer,

Psychiatric Clinics of North America, vol. 17, no. 4, December

1994, pp. 811-26. <http://tinyurl.com/4sc5xk>. (Thanks to Gunther

Rabbe for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the

Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, report:

 

"It has been proposed that Bram Stoker's novel Dracula can best

be understood as a dramatic, hyperbolic, and fantastic expression

of themes consistent with contemporary psychoanalytic conceptions

of borderline personality disorder organization.... Excerpts from

the novel can be used to support the conceptualization of recent

contributions to object relations theory and the understanding of

borderline personality organization. It is uncanny how consistent

Dracula's characteristics are to the generally seen complaints of

patients suffering from this disorder."

 

 

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2008-10-10 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: Oddington, Genius, Ghoul

 

Improbable TV collections:

      <http://improbable.com/tv/>

<> Cake, wrap, calculate

 

Blog items:

      <http://improbable.com/>

<> When Dan met Francis at the Ig

<> When Deborah Met Salma

<> Levitated and stirred, not shaken

<> An Ig winner visits upper Oddington

 

Newspaper columns:

      <http://tinyurl.com/6o348d>

<> The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush

<> The Ghoulish State of Necrophilia Law

<> The FBI's EZ pocket guide to WMDs

<> Breakthrough: Beyond the paperless office

 

New Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists Members:

      <http://tinyurl.com/25lmfb>

 

 

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2008-10-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Almond/Dracula, Supersymmetry/Ghosts

 

ALMOND ON DRACULA

"Monstrous Infants and Vampyric Mothers in Bram Stoker's

'Dracula'", B.R. Almond, International Journal of Psycho-

Analysis, vol. 88, no. 1, February 2007, pp. 219-35.

<http://tinyurl.com/4g8sdw>. The author reports:

 

"Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' continues to fascinate and horrify

audiences, inviting a psychoanalytic explanation. While previous

interpretations have emphasized oedipal dynamics and perverse

sexuality, this paper proposes that early developmental issues

are central. Vampires and the state of being 'undead' are

representations of intense oral needs, experienced in a context

of passivity and helplessness.... Implicit in the Dracula story

are ideas of intrusively experienced 'monstrous' babies and

intrusively controlling 'vampyric mothers.'"

 

SUPERSYMMETRY VERSUS GHOSTS

"Supersymmetry versus Ghosts" D. Robert and A.V. Smilga, Journal

of Mathematical Physics vol. 49, 042104, 2008.

<http://arxiv.org/pdf/math-ph/0611023v3>. (Thanks to Tom Roberts

for bringing this to our attention.) The paper elucidates, among

other topics, all of the following: ghost of malignant variety;

the ghost-killing mechanism; ghost-ridden; benign ghosts; and the

idea of getting rid of ghosts by rotation in the complex plane.

 

 

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2008-10-13 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY, DAYTON, OHIO -- OCT 10, 2008

<http://www.afit.edu/en/OSAPS08/>

 

GENOA SCIENCE FESTIVAL, ITALY              -- OCT 24, 2008

<http://www.festivalscienza.it/it/programma/evento.php?id=769>

 

CONGRESO NACIONAL DE DIVULGACION DE LA CIANCIA Y

LA TECNICA NAYARIT, TEPIC, MEXICO         -- NOV 12, 2008

 

 

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2008-10-14 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

 

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

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2008-10-15 -- 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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2008-10-16 -- 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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2008-10-17 -- How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

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