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

April 2009, Issue number 2009-04. ISSN 1076-500X.

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A free online supplement to the Annals of Improbable Research

      This issue is at

      <http://www.improbable.com/airchives/miniair/2009/mini2009-04.htm>

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

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

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2009-04-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2009-04-02 Imminent Events

2009-04-03 In the Magazine: Zombies & Bagels at Last!

2009-04-04 Needle Lost Outside a Haystack

2009-04-05 Fish farts, Smelly Feet, Sword-Swallowing, and Ducks

2009-04-06 Coca-Cola Contraception, Fingernails, Studmuffins

2009-04-07 Officially Extremely Surprising Report

2009-04-08 Double-Wet Poet

2009-04-09 Bored Piles Competition

2009-04-10 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Meteorites on Automobiles

2009-04-11 OTHER IMPROBABILITIES: Swear Words, Angry Public

2009-04-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Sex, Violence & Angry Prosody

2009-04-13 Improbable Research Events

2009-04-14 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2009-04-15 -- Our Address (*)

2009-04-16 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2009-04-17 -- How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

      Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

 

      mini-AIR is

      but a wee monthly *supplement*

      to the bi-monthly magazine Annals of Improbable Research

 

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2009-04-02 Imminent Events

 

 

Apr 22-25, Ig Nobel Denmark Tour

 

May 2, Cambridge Science Festival, Massachusetts

 

May 4 & 6, Pittsburgh

 

      Full schedule & details at

      <http://tinyurl.com/k87xs>

 

 

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2009-04-03 In the Magazine: Zombies & Bagels at Last!

 

After a spooky, bagel-free delay, the special Mummies, Zombies

and Bagels issue (vol. 15, no. 1) of the Annals of Improbable

Research is now online, at

<http://improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume15/v15i1/v15i1.html>

 

Download a free low-res PDF, or get a spiffy hi-res PDF, or

subscribe to the traditional comfy paper edition.

 

The special Navel Lint issue (vol. 15, no. 2) is now at the

printers. It will emerge a few weeks from now, perhaps covered

with lint, perhaps not.

 

Many back issues are online at

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

 

 

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2009-04-04 Needle Lost Outside a Haystack

 

Investigators Betty and Chuck Heldren alert us to a monograph

about vanished steel:

 

"Loss of a Sewing Needle in the Tongue During Attempted Tongue

Piercing: Report of a Case," Terrence R. Nedbalski, Daniel M.

Laskin, Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, vol. 64, no.

1, January 2006, pp. 135-7.

 

In addition to the (presumably) obvious lesson about the

intricacies of self-piercing (for that is the practice that led

to the loss of this particular needle), the study imparts

knowledge from a broad sampling of the medical literature. Drs.

Nedbalski and Laskin, at the Virginia Commonwealth University

School of Dentistry, distill this into 41 words:

 

"Piercing of the ear in areas other than the traditional earlobe

(e.g., the auricle) has also caused perichondritis as well as

perichondral abscesses. Both nasal and eyebrow piercing have been

reported to produce chronic granulomatous lesions that have

required surgical removal."

 

 

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2009-04-05 Fish Farts, Smelly Feet, Sword-Swallowing, and Ducks

 

The first Ig Nobel tour of Denmark will include shows in Aarhus

(Apr 22), Odense (Apr 23 and also Apr 25), and Copenhagen (Apr

24).

 

The tour will feature Ig Nobel Prize winners who were honored for

their discoveries that:

(a) herrings communicate by farting

(b) mallard ducks engage in homosexual necrophilia

(c) mosquitoes swoon for limburger cheese and smelly feet

(d) sword-swallowing has medical side effects

 

INFO in Danish: <http://forsk.dk/search?SearchableText=IG>

INFO in English:

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

 

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2009-04-06 Coca-Cola Contraception, Fingernails, Studmuffins

 

The very first Improbable Research Cabaret will happen on

Saturday afternoon, May 2, at The Cambridge (Massachusetts)

Science Festival.

 

The afternoon will feature Ig Nobel Prize winners who were

honored for their discoveries that:

(a) Coca-Cola is and is not an effective spermicide

(b) Humans detest the sound of fingernails on a blackboard

 

There will also be performances by Julia Lunetta of songs from Ig

Nobel mini-operas, and a talk by Studmuffins of Science Calendar

creator Karen Hopkin, and chemical performances by the Performing

Chemists — all to be illuminated by one or more Human Spotlights.

New Scientist magazine is collaborating in this, too.

 

This event will be doing double duty — It's a festival event, and

also a fundraiser for the Central Square Theater. Tickets include

post-performance reception with Cabaret scientists.

 

Details: <http://tinyurl.com/clg86m>

 

To reserve tickets: phone KC Forcier at 617.576.9278 x 208, or

email her at <[email protected]>.

 

 

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2009-04-07 Officially Extremely Surprising Report

 

The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate quirkiness. One of the quirkiest

reports about the Ig — the report includes giggling actors

playing the roles of Ig Nobel winners and ceremony organizers, in

addition to film clips of the real individuals — was broadcast

recently on the Korean television program 'Extreme Surprise.'

Watch it at: <http://tinyurl.com/dx628o>

 

 

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2009-04-08 Double-Wet Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner in the Doubly-Labeled Water

Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the

book Doubly Labelled Water: Theory and Practice, John R.

Speakman, Springer (publisher), 1997, ISBN 0412637804.

<http://tinyurl.com/ak9r28>

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR NAN SWIFT, who wrote:

 

In case they should ask in a quiz:

It's water. It's water. It is.

To label it twice

Is two times as nice

(And nicer still, if it's got fizz!)

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

Labeling water is nice.

This device, though, won't always suffice.

We therefore suggest,

For results that are best,

Use water, but label it twice.

 

 

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2009-04-09 Bored Piles Competition

 

Bored piles is/are the subject of this month's limerick

competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that

illuminates the nature of this report, which was unearthed by

investigator Tom Gill:

 

"Test Study on the Characteristics of Mudcakes and in Situ Soils

Around Bored Piles," _Zhong-Miao Zhang, Jun Yu, Guang-Xing Zhang,

and Xin-Min Zhou, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, vol. 46, no. 3,

March 2009, pp. 241-255. <http://tinyurl.com/c76nmf>

 

RULES: Please make sure that: (1) your rhymes actually do; and

(2) your poem is in classic, trills-off-the-tongue limerick form.

 

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

the correct address) a free, possibly mud-caked, high-res PDF

issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. Send entries (one

entry per entrant) to:

 

      BORED PILES LIMERICK COMPETITION

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

 

 

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2009-04-10 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Meteorites on Automobiles

 

This month's specially selected study describes the likelihood of

meetups. The paper is:

 

"The Expected Frequency of Collisions of Small Meteorites with

Cars and Aircraft," A. Poveda, Planetary and Space Science, vol.

47, no. 5, May 11th, 1999, pp. 715-9. <http://tinyurl.com/c8t7dg>

(Thanks to Rocio Ortiz-Espitia for bringing this to our

attention.) The authors, at Ciudad Universitaria, Mˇxico, report:

 

"The expected frequency of collisions of a car with a meteorite

larger than 10 cm in diameter turns out to be one impact every 16

years."

 

 

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2009-04-11 OTHER IMPROBABILITIES: Swear Words, Angry Public

 

Improbable TV Collections

      <http://improbable.com/tv/>

Collection #117, "Swear Words," looks at the lengthiest — and

most adventure-packed — spoken oath commonly required of

witnesses in a formal legal trial

 

Blog Items:

      <http://improbable.com/>

<> Dealing With an Angry Public

<> Troy on the march

<> Ingesting — Knowledge

<> Damm for (or against) the defense

<> Sweden, shoes, floors, and the brain

And many more...

 

Newspaper Columns:

      <http://tinyurl.com/6o348d>

<> The Limerick laureate

<> Beware: studying can make you ill

<> A stiff test for the history books

<> Pirates and other economists

<> Smelly chemicals in your mouth

<> Going to great lengths for swear words

 

New Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists Members:

      <http://tinyurl.com/25lmfb>

<> Kris Coward

<> Michael A. Cohn

<> Adina Welander

 

 

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2009-04-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Sex, Violence & Angry Prosody

 

SEX AND VIOLENCE IN HERMAPHRODITES

"Sex and Violence in Hermaphrodites," N.K. Michiels and L.J.

Newman, Nature, vol. 391, no. 6668, 1998, p. 647.

<http://tinyurl.com/dmvera> (Thanks to Joni Johnson for bringing

this to our attention.)

 

ANGRY PROSODY IN MEANINGLESS SPEECH

"The Voices of Wrath: Brain Responses to Angry Prosody in

Meaningless Speech," D. Grandjean, et al., Nature Neuroscience,

vol. 8, no. 2, 2005, pp. 145-6.

<http://labnic.unige.ch/nic/papers/EmoAttVoices_NN2005.pdf>

 

 

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2009-04-13 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

Ig Nobel Tour of Denmark              — Apr 22-25, 2009

 

Cambridge (MA) Science Festival            — May 2, 2009

 

CSE, Pittsburgh, PA                     — May 4, 2009

 

Carnegie Mellon U, Pittsburgh              — May 6, 2009

 

 

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2009-04-14 -- 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

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

 

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2009-04-15 -- 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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2009-04-16 -- 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 2009, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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2009-04-17 -- 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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