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

November 2008, Issue number 2008-11. 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/mini2008-11.htm>

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

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

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2008-11-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2008-11-02 Imminent Events

2008-11-03 What's New in the Magazine

2008-11-04 Random Question

2008-11-05 Salute to Smets

2008-11-06 Most-Absurd-Drug-Names — Selection #4

2008-11-07 Delicious-Guinea-Pigs Substitute

2008-11-08 That-Which-Lurketh-Between Competition

2008-11-09 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: No Rest for the Healthy

2008-11-10 TV Disturbs Them

2008-11-11 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: Inertia, Blowholes, Punk

2008-11-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Hell and van Loon

2008-11-13 Improbable Research Events

2008-11-14 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2008-11-15 -- Our Address (*)

2008-11-16 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2008-11-17 -- 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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2008-11-02 Imminent Events

 

      SCIENCE FRIDAY IG NOBEL BROADCAST         NOV 28

      A specially edited recording of

      the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony.

      Listen on the radio or on the net:

      <http://www.sciencefriday.com/about/listen/>

 

 

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2008-11-03 What's New in the Magazine

 

The November/December 2008 issue (vol. 14, no. 6) is the special

Ig Nobel issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

It's at the printer now, and will emerge soon.

 

Highlights include:

 

<> Many, many photos of the winners and the ceremony.

<> The complete acceptance speeches.

<> Libretto of the mini-opera "Redundancy, Again", and photos of

the premiere performance.

<> And much more.

 

Many back issues are online at

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

 

 

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2008-11-04 Random Question

 

Question A:  What is your favorite random number?

 

Please write the number on a piece of paper.

 

Fold the paper lengthwise.

Now fold it again.

Now fold it again.

Now fold it again.

 

Put the paper your pocket.

 

Obtain a second piece of paper.

On it, write the answer to this question:

What is wrong with Question A?

 

Put the second paper your pocket, but do not fold it.

 

Please await further instructions.

 

 

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2008-11-05 Salute to Smets

 

If you believe in something, but you're not sure how (let alone

how much) to count on your belief, Philippe Smets, of the

Université Libre de Bruxelles, is your man.

 

Professor Smets wrote "Quantifying Beliefs by Belief Functions:

An Axiomatic Justification," P. Smets, Proceedings of the 13th

International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence,

IJCAI'93, 1993, pp. 598-603.

 

And Professor Smets coined the word "pignistic," which has

allowed a generation of party-goers (especially party-goers who

go to parties planned to promote the propagation of the phrase

"pignistic probabilities") the pleasure of proposing that other

people proclaim these phrases:

 

"THE NECESSITY OF THE PIGNISTIC TRANSFORMATION"

"THE GENERALIZED PIGNISTIC TRANSFORMATION"

 

The phrases come from these two studies:

 

      "Decision Making in the TBM: The Necessity of

      the Pignistic Transformation," Philippe Smets,

      International Journal of Approximate Reasoning,

      vol. 38, no. 2, February 2005,pp. 133-47.

 

      "The Generalized Pignistic Transformation," Jean Dezert,

       Florentin Smarandache and Milan Daniel, Proceedings of

      the Seventh International Conference on Information Fusion,

      International Society for Information Fusion,

      Stockholm, Sweden, 2004, pp. 384-91.

 

Peruse these and other papers at <http://tinyurl.com/665phw>

 

 

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2008-11-06 Most-Absurd-Drug-Names — Selection #4

 

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

Compendium:

 

Propain

http://www.propainmigraine.com/index.html

Submitted by investigator Frank Wales

 

Dextropropoxifeno

http://www.chemindustry.com/chemicals/781106.html

Submitted by investigator DrC. Adolfo L. Méndez Berhondo

 

More next month, maybe.

 

 

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2008-11-07 Delicious-Guinea-Pigs Substitute

 

The judges, themselves sated on Guinea pig, declare that there is

no winner for last month's Delicious Guinea Pigs Limerick

Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study

"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>.

 

But... the judges do declare an honorary winner — INVESTIGATOR

CHIP VERES, who writes:

 

"I tried unsuccessfully to read the article 'Delicious guinea

pigs: Seasonality studies and the use of fat in the pre-Columbian

Andean diet'. And I reply:

 

      Guinea Pigs are nifty

      But not very thrifty

      To read I must pay

      Thirty-one fifty"

 

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

 

This paper explains to us why it

Is safe to skip carbs in your diet.

   Do not eat a rat,

   Cat or bat for your fat,

But a guinea pig. Go ahead, try it!

 

 

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2008-11-08 That-Which-Lurketh-Between Competition

 

Toe web bacilli are the subject of this month's limerick

competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that

illuminates the nature of this report:

 

      "Toewebs as a Source of Gram-Negative Bacilli,"

      W.C. Noble, et al., Journal of Hospital Infection, vol. 8,

      November 1986, pp. 248-56.  <http://tinyurl.com/6a4pdy>

 

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:

 

      THAT-WHICH-LURKETH-BETWEEN LIMERICK COMPETITION

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

 

 

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2008-11-09 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: No Rest for the Healthy

 

This month's specially selected study is:

 

"The Well-Made Bed: An Unappreciated Public Health Risk," Robert

Patterson and Christopher Stewart-Patterson, Canadian Medical

Association Journal, vol. 165, no. 12,  December 11, 2001, pp.

1591-2. (Thanks to Francis Turner for bringing this to our

attention.) <http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/reprint/165/12/1591.pdf>

Dr. Patterson is a general surgeon at Uintah Basin Medical

Center, Roosevelt, Utah. Dr. Stewart-Patterson is a general

practitioner in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

 

 

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2008-11-10 TV Disturbs Them

 

Although our new TV series is getting good reviews, the

dissenters can be most fun to read. The copies on New Scientist's

YouTube channel, especially, have drawn some dismissive comments

(though the viewers there overall rated the videos four-to-five

stars out of five):

 

      <http://tinyurl.com/6687dj>:

 

             "yo, that was so random"

 

             "worst video created"

 

The newest video features snippets of The Great Inertial Debate

that was held in London. See it at

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEJ-VKa9KYs>.

 

See all 12 of episodes (that we're release so far) at

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

 

 

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2008-11-11 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: Inertia, Blowholes, Punk

 

Improbable TV collections:

      <http://improbable.com/tv/>

<> "Inertia Debates"

<> "Burnt food, slipping socks"

<> "Subliminal, subliminal, shrew no chew"

 

Blog items:

      <http://improbable.com/>

<> Is Obama the Antichrist?

<> Statistician Prince and the mistress-money survey

<> Sounds from, if not like, teeth

<> "Helicopters Collect Whale Snot from Blowholes"

 

Newspaper columns:

      <http://tinyurl.com/6o348d>

<> When punks grow old

<> How Woody the living hammer hit the spot

<> (L)Ode Upon a Creaking Chair

 

New Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists Members:

      <http://tinyurl.com/25lmfb>

 

 

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2008-11-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Hell and van Loon

 

HELL ON THE HECK REACTION

"Palladium/Magnesium-Lanthanum Mixed Oxide Catalyst in the Heck

Reaction," Agnieszka Cwik, Zoltán Hell, and Franćois Figueras,

Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis, vol. 348, nos. 4-5, 2006, pp.

523-30.

 

VAN LOON: HOW HIGH THE BIRD

"A Comparative Analysis of the Influence of Weather on the Flight

Altitudes of Birds," Judy Shamoun-Baranes, Emiel van Loon, Hans

van Gasteren, Jelmer van Belle, Willem Bouten and Luit Buurma,

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 877, 2006,

pp. 47-61. (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our

attention.)

 

 

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2008-11-13 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

"Science Friday" Ig Nobel radio special        — Nov 28, 2008

 

AAAS Meeting, Chicago                               — Feb 13, 2009

 

Ig Nobel Tour of the UK                      — Mar 6-15, 2009

 

SciFest Africa, Grahamstown, South Africa     — Mar 25-26 2009

 

 

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2008-11-14 -- 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

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2008-11-15 -- 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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2008-11-16 -- 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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2008-11-17 -- 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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