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

August 2009, Issue number 2009-08. ISSN 1076-500X.

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Free monthly update/alert from the Annals of Improbable Research

        This issue is at

        <http://www.improbable.com/airchives/miniair/2009/mini2009-08.htm>

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

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

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2009-08-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2009-08-02 Imminent Events

2009-08-03 In the Magazine: Instructions & Executions

2009-08-04 MRI Coitus Video

2009-08-05 Professor Mona Lisa

2009-08-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Zippier Unzipping

2009-08-07 Ig Nobel Tickets, and Call for Delegations

2009-08-08 Directory of Cute and Disgusting Animal Cousins

2009-08-09 Goose Down Train Track Poet

2009-08-10 President's Left Eyebrow Competition

2009-08-11 MORE IMPROBABLE: Actuaries, Cat, Aussie Car Crashes

2009-08-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Waffle and IPod

2009-08-13 Improbable Research Events

2009-08-14 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2009-08-15 -- Our Address (*)

2009-08-16 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2009-08-17 -- 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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2009-08-02 Imminent Events

 

        Oct 1, Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard, and webcast

 

        Oct 3, Ig Informal Lectures at MIT

 

See section 2009-08-13 below for full schedule.

 

 

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2009-08-03 In the Magazine: Instructions & Executions

 

The new issue (vol. 15, no. 4) of the Annals of Improbable

Research will is the special Instructions & Executions issue.

Highlights include:

 

<> "The Ancient and Modern Ecology of Execution," by Simcha Lev-

Yadun: "Here I discuss global ecology, from the point of view of

the changing methods of executions."

 

<> "Snippets of Instruction" (Bits of regulated wisdom from many

fields)

 

... and more.

 

It's online at

<http://improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume15/v15i4/v15i4.html>.

 

Many back issues, including the super-exciting special Accounting

issue, are online at <http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>.

Subscribe to the paper version, or to the nifty PDF version, or

read the free mostly-nifty PDF version.

 

 

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2009-08-04 MRI Coitus Video

 

Dr. Pek Van Andel, who won an Ig Nobel Prize for making the first

MRI images of a couple's sex organs while those organs were in

use, also made a video of the phenomenon.

 

The new episode (#119, "MRI Sex") of the Improbable Research TV

series is, more or less, the world premiere of that video:

 

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVAdCKaU3vY>

 

Since we put the video online a few days ago, more than 300,000

people have watched it. Some, unaccustomed to seeing this kind of

thing, seem a bit surprised at the details.

 

 

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2009-08-05 Professor Mona Lisa

 

Who will paint the portrait of Mona Lisa?

 

Investigator David Schultz alerts us to the existence of

Professor Mona Lisa:

 

        Dr. Mona Lisa

        Asst. Professor

        Dept. of Earth Sciences

        Quaid-E-Azam University

        Islamabad, Pakistan

        <http://www.qau.edu.pk/profile.php?id=5KutE>

 

Her portrait is, as far as we know, yet unpainted.

Professor Mona Lisa was a key organizer of last month's 5-day

workshop on "Seismicity, Seismotectonics and Seismic Hazard of NW

Himalayas, Pakistan"

<http://www.pkireliance.org.pk/docs/ssne/ssne.pdf>.

 

 

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2009-08-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Zippier Unzipping

 

This month's specially selected study:

 

"Comparing 2 Methods of Emergent Zipper Release," N. Inoue, S.C.

Crook and L.G. Yamamoto, American journal of Emergency Medicine,

vol. 23, no. 4, July 2005, pp. 480-2. (http://tinyurl.com/lp2pvb)

The authors, at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of

Medicine, report:

 

"Subjects were provided with zippers and were taught 2 methods of

emergent zipper release using a standard method (cutting the

median bar of the actuator) and an alternate method (cutting the

closed teeth of the zipper). The elapsed times to successful

zipper release for both methods were measured.

CONCLUSION: The alternate method of zipper release is faster and

easier than the standard method of zipper release; however, the

optimal procedure is also dependent on the location of the

entrapped tissue relative to the zipper actuator and the type of

zipper."

 

 

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2009-08-07 Ig Nobel Tickets, and Call for Delegations

 

TICKETS:

Tickets for the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony are now on sale:

        ONLINE: <http://boxoffice.harvard.edu/>

        PHONE: (+1) 617-496-2222

        CORPOREALLY: Holyoke Center, Harvard Square

 

DELEGATIONS:

If you attend as a group of five or more people, you can be

recognized as an official delegation. Delegation names may

celebrate this year's theme ("RISK") or almost anything else.

<http://improbable.com/ig/2009/#delegations>

 

WEBCAST PARTIES:

The Chemical Heritage Foundation <http://www.chemheritage.org/>

is organizing party in Philadelphia — all welcome! — to watch the

ceremony webcast on Thursday night, October 1. If your

organization plans to host a party in another city, please get in

touch with us so we can help spread the word.

 

MORE DETAILS:

In addition to the new winners, several past winners will attend

the ceremony:

 

Deborah Anderson (effectiveness of Coca-Cola as a spermicide)

Don Featherstone (creation of the plastic pink flamingo)

Francis Fesmire (digital rectal massage cures intractable

hiccups)

Dan Meyer (swordswallowing and its side effects)

Kees Moeliker (homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck)

 

All of them, especially Dr. Francis Fesmire, will be happy to

shake your hand.

 

CEREMONY DETAILS: <http://improbable.com/ig/2009/>

 

 

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2009-08-08 Directory of Cute and Disgusting Animal Cousins

 

One seems cute, the other disgusting.

 

There are pairs of closely-related animals where one is widely

seen as being cute, the other as disgusting.

Here are two such pairs:

 

        1. Doves and pigeons

 

        2. Squirrels and rats

 

Please help us compile a more comprehensive list. If you know of

another representative pair, please send the names to:

 

        CUTE/DISGUSTING ANIMAL COUSINS COLLECTION

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

 

 

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2009-08-09 Goose Down Train Track Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner in the Goose Down Train Track

Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the

study "From Red Cells to Snowboarding: A New Concept for a Train

Track," Qianhong Wu, Yiannis Andreopoulos, and Sheldon Weinbaum,

Physical Review Letters, vol. 93, no. 194501, November 5, 2004.

<http://tinyurl.com/lvkh57>

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR TONY VILA, who wrote:

 

I asked, "Wu, should I make the tracks wider

So my train can move more like a glider?

Or is narrow the way?

Weinbaum, what do you say?"

And they look up and both reply, "Eider."

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

From engines of trains to cabooses,

There's friction that movement produces.

It's less, though, they find,

When tracks are designed

Based on the feathers of gooses.

 

 

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2009-08-10 President's Left Eyebrow Competition

 

Roosevelt's left eyebrow is the subject of this month's limerick

competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that

illuminates the nature of this report:

 

"An Inquiry into the Nature of the Pigmented Lesion Above

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Left Eyebrow," A.B. Ackerman and S.

Lomazow, Archives of Dermatology, vol. 144, no. 4, April 2008,

pp. 529-32. (http://tinyurl.com/lb9t4y)

 

The authors, at the Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology in New

York City, report:

 

"Little note was taken when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was alive

and since his death of the pigmented lesion above his left

eyebrow that fulfilled clinical criteria for melanoma.

CONCLUSIONS: The failure of observers of Roosevelt, especially

his physicians, to comment on his riveting facial lesion and to

identify it as a probable melanoma speaks volumes about how

flawed were clinical criteria for diagnosis of flat and slightly

raised lesions of melanoma in the 1930s and 1940s."

 

 

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 arched, high-res PDF issue

of the Annals of Improbable Research. Send entries (one entry per

entrant) to:

 

        PRESIDENT'S LEFT EYEBROW LIMERICK COMPETITION

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

 

 

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2009-08-11 MORE IMPROBABLE: Actuaries, Cat, Aussie Car Crashes

 

BLOG <http://improbable.com/>

<> Actuaries, actually and stochastically

<> Schoenberg's cat

<> Fire hose engagement ring

<> News horror: the WJW Fox cardboard bear

<> Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2008

And many more...

 

NEWSPAPER <http://tinyurl.com/6o348d>

<> Mental Secrets of Forget-You-Not Waiters

<> Why Australians love car crashes

<> Having toothache was no picnic in old Paris

<> Hair length in Florida theme parks

 

 

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2009-08-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Waffle and IPod

 

AN ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF THE WAFFLE

"An Economic Analysis of the Waffle," E.A. DeVuyst, D.A.

Bangsund, and F.L. Leistritz, 2009. Journal of Soil and Water

Conservation, vol. 64, no. 1, 2009, pp. 7-16. (Thanks to Tom Gill

for bringing this to our attention.)

 

EXCITEMENT OF DRIVING WITH AN IPOD

"The Effects of Practice with MP3 Players on Driving

Performance," S.L. Chisholm, J.K. Caird and J. Lockhart,

Accident; Analysis and Prevention, vol. 40, no. 2, March 2008,

pp. 704-13. (http://tinyurl.com/mvk4as) The authors, at the

University of Calgary, report:

 

"Nineteen younger drivers participated... Drivers encountered a

number of critical events on the roadways while interacting with

an iPod including a pedestrian entering the roadway, a vehicle

pullout, and a lead vehicle braking.... Difficult iPod

interactions significantly increased the amount of visual

attention directed into the vehicle above that of the baseline

condition. With practice, slowed responses to driving hazards

while interacting with the iPod declined somewhat, but a

decrement still remained relative to the baseline condition."

 

 

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2009-08-13 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony                        — Oct 1, 2009

 

Ig Informal Lectures,                            — Oct 3, 2009

 

Parisscience Festival, Paris, France     — Oct 10, 2009

 

Genoa Science Festival, Genoa, Italy     — Oct 24, 2009

 

 

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2009-08-14 -- 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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2009-08-15 -- 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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2009-08-16 -- 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 2009, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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2009-08-17 -- How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

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

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