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

December 2009, issue number 2009-12. ISSN 1076-500X.

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Monthly mini update/alert from the Annals of Improbable Research

     This issue is at

     <http://www.improbable.com/airchives/miniair/2009/mini2009-12.htm>

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

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

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2009-12-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2009-11-02 Imminent Events

2009-12-03 The Magazine: Ig

2009-12-04 Horrors Over Trinkaus Sanitizer Discovery

2009-12-05 Challenge: Memorize the Human Genome

2009-12-06 Ig Video, at Last

2009-12-08 Please Stop. I'm Bored. In a Cup.

2009-12-08 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Santa Disappoints, Again

2009-12-09 Plasma Blobs Poet

2009-12-10 Mad Honey Sex Competition

2009-12-11 AIRhead Project 2000 — Ten Years Later

2009-12-12 MORE IMPROBABLE: Dances, Whistles, Rat-Catchers

2009-12-13 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Buttons, Fear, and Love

2009-12-14 Improbable Research Events

2009-12-15 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2009-12-16 -- Our Address (*)

2009-12-17 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2009-12-18 -- 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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2009-11-02 Imminent Events

 

     AAAS, San Diego           Feb 2010

 

     UK Tour                        Mar 2010

     If your institution would like to host a UK show,

     please get in touch with us ASAP!

     DETAILS: <http://bit.ly/8lKeHd>

 

     Complete events schedule: <http://bit.ly/6SGDcA>

 

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2009-12-03 The Magazine: Ig

 

The next issue (vol. 15, no. 6) of the Annals of Improbable

Research is the special Ig Nobel issue, chock full o' photos and

info. It will emerge late this month.

 

Many back issues are online at

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

 

GIVE THE GIFT OF IMPROBABLE RESEARCH:

a subscription to the magazine (six issues a year!) creates

a moving experience for anyone who like to read in the loo.

<http://improbable.com/subscribe>

 

 

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2009-12-04 Horrors Over Trinkaus Sanitizer Discovery

 

An outfit called GOJO, which says it is the inventor of Purell

hand sanitizer, rings alarm bells with its announcement that

"hand hygiene compliance is a critical safety issue that's vital

for accreditation, reputation and financial health."

<http://bit.ly/7HVCSq>

 

That warning renders John Trinkaus's discovery all the more

disturbing. As reported here last month, Professor Trinkaus, an

Ig Nobel Prize winner who is easily annoyed, examined the hand-

sanitizing behavior of patients and medical professionals who

entered a New York-area medical building.

 

His study is about to appear in AIR 16:6.

See a preprint (PDF) at <http://bit.ly/51IHNl>

 

 

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2009-12-05 Challenge: Memorize the Human Genome

 

Biologists, rise to the challenge! You count, too!

 

The publication of the human genome makes it possible for

biologists to breast-beatingly compete with mathematicians.

 

Loads of people vie to memorize the most digits of the number pi

(the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter). Several

people boast of reciting, from memory, in the correct order, tens

upon thousands of digits. For a list of record-claimers, see

<http://bit.ly/74GUgK>.

 

Biologists, arise! Pi is of infinite length, true, but the human

genome has about three billion base pairs. It will be a while

before the pi spouters reach that neighborhood.

 

And true, one person's genome is a little different from

another's, but that's just a technicality.

(One way to the problem: Specify that genome pioneer Craig

Ventor's genome is the only one that counts. No one else's genome

is the subject of a tribute song. See <http://bit.ly/6HMuA5>.)

 

This wonderfully pointless exercise — reciting the human base

pairs, from memory — can delight persons of a certain personality

type. Acclaim is something they count on.

 

 

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2009-12-06 Ig Video, at Last

 

After several exciting false starts, video of the 2009 Ig Nobel

Prize ceremony is now online, in four parts:

 

Part 1: Pre-show Risk Cabaret Concert by The Penny-wise Guys, and

the very, very beginning of the ceremony.

 

Part 2: Lots of introductions. Several past winners return.

Benoit Mandelbrot's keynote address.

 

Part 3: Awarding of several prizes. First two acts of the mini-

opera. The 24/7 Lectures.

 

Part 4: [which will appear after we solve one last glitch]:

Awarding of the rest of the prizes. Win-a-Date contest. Thrilling

conclusion of the mini-opera.

 

See part 1 (and links to the others) at

<http://vimeo.com/7911519/>

 

 

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2009-12-07 Please Stop. I'm Bored. In a Cup.

By popular request, in honor of Miss Sweety Poo, we have created

a "Please stop / I'm bored" mug: <http://bit.ly/6HitLl>

 

 

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2009-12-08 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Santa Disappoints, Again

 

This month's specially selected study is:

 

"Visiting Santa: A Supplemental View," John Trinkaus,

Psychological Reports, vol. 103, no. 3, December 2008, pp. 691-4.

<http://bit.ly/4Cwl9X> The 2003 Ig Nobel literature Prize winner

gives yet another in his series of studies on this topic:

 

"Four recent informal successive yearly enquiries of the emotions

of 1,050 children (total) immediately before their visit with

Santa Claus at a shopping mall suggested that about 80% displayed

facial expressions, judged by an observer, as indicating

indifference. To investigate possible change in emotions of

children immediately after their visit with Santa, this study was

conducted in 2007. Of the 280 exiting children observed, about

60% appeared to be indifferent."

 

 

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2009-12-09 Plasma Blobs Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner in the Colliding Plasma Blobs

Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the

study "Cusp Compression of Colliding Plasma Blobs," T. K. Allen,

K. Doble, T. J. L. Jones, R. M. Payne, and I. J. Spalding,

Physics of Fluids, vol. 9, July 1966, pp. 1394-.

<http://bit.ly/5MXKRT>

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR DANIEL STERMAN, who wrote:

 

"Two plasmas do one plasma yield

When compressed by a rising cusp field.

But the hole they contain

We cannot yet explain,"

Messrs Allen and Doble revealed.

 

Commendation goes to INVESTIGATOR STEVEN HALL, who says:

 

That Spalding, Payne, Jones, Allen, Doble

Discovered a squeezed plasma blob 'll

Give quite a surprise,

Because the hole size

Is fixed by the charge or shield wobble.

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

What happens when plasmas collide?

A new plasma blob is espied.

The data suggest

It's hot and compressed.

This paper explains what's inside.

 

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2009-12-10 Mad Honey Sex Competition

 

Mad honey sex inspires this month's limerick competition. To

enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the nature

of this report (suggested by investigator Sally Shelton):

 

"Mad Honey Sex: Therapeutic Misadventures From an Ancient

Biological Weapon," Ahmet Demircan, Ayfer Kele_, Fikret Bildik,

Gülbin Aygencel, N.Özgür Do_an, Hernán F. Gómez, Annals of

Emergency Medicine, 2009. <http://bit.ly/7OgfWn> The authors,

some in Turkey, some in the US, report:

 

"'Mad honey' poisoning occurs from ingestion of honey produced

from grayanotoxin-containing nectar, often in the setting of use

as an alternative medicine. This study is designed to assess the

clinical effects, demographics, and rationale behind self-induced

mad honey poisoning.... We identified 21 cases. Patients were

overwhelmingly men. Local beekeepers ranked sexual performance

enhancement as the most common reason for therapeutic mad honey

consumption in men aged 41 through 60 years. Symptoms began 1.0

hour after ingestion and included dizziness, nausea, vomiting,

and syncope."

 

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, honey-free, high-res PDF issue of

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

entrant) to:

 

     MAD HONEY SEX LIMERICK COMPETITION

     c/o <marca AT chem2.harvard.edu>

 

 

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2009-12-11 AIRhead Project 2000 — Ten Years Later

 

Ten years ago, people quivered as the year 2000 approached. Let's

look back, perhaps fondly, at Project AIRhead 2000. Announced in

the June 1994 issue of mini-AIR, the project celebrated every

item, project or concept that had the number 2000 tacked onto its

name in giddy anticipation of the coming millennium

 

See the first of these tributes, celebrating the "Biomek 2000

Laboratory Automation Workstation", and "Lever 2000 soap", and

"2000 Flushes automatic toilet bowl cleaner", at

<http://bit.ly/6YSXzK>

 

If you have a special, special favorite, sent it in and we will,

maybe, commemorate it.

 

 

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2009-12-12 MORE IMPROBABLE: Dances, Whistles, Rat-Catchers

 

BLOG <http://improbable.com/>

<> Lap dance research officer sought

<> Lamentable deer-whistle findings

<> Uranium on the cheap

And many more...

 

NEWSPAPER <http://improbable.com/category/newspaper-column>

<> Early strokes of genius

<> The rat-catcher's art

 

 

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2009-12-13 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Buttons, Fear, and Love

 

FASCINATING FASTENER FEAR

"Case Study: Disgust and a Specific Phobia of Buttons," Lissette

M. Saavedra and Wendy K. Silverman, Journal of the American

Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, vol. 41, no .11,

2002, pp. 1376-9 . <http://bit.ly/6Ls6Px> (Thanks to Susanne

Elvidge for bringing this to our attention.)

 

BIG LOVE WAVES

"Large-Amplitude Love Waves," E. Rodrigues Ferreira, Ph.

Boulanger and M. Destrade, Quarterly Journal of Mechanics and

Applied Mathematics, vol. 61, no. 3, 2008, pp. 353-71.

<http://bit.ly/5QldQV> (Thanks to Stig Wedel for bringing this to

our attention.) The authors are at Université Libre de Bruxelles,

Belgium and at Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.

 

 

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2009-12-14 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

AAAS, San Diego                     — Feb 2010

 

UK Tour                                  — Mar 2010

 

UKSG, Edinburgh                     — Apr 14, 2010

 

Edinburgh Science Festival               — Apr 17, 2010

 

Ig Nobel European Tour                   — Apr 2010

 

Ig Nobel Prize ceremony                  — Sep 30, 2010

 

Ig Informal Lectures                — Oct 2, 2010

 

 

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2009-12-15 -- 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).

 

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

<http://improbable.com/subscribe/> or send in this form:

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Send payment (US bank check, or international money order, or

Visa, Mastercard or Discover info) to:

     Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

     PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA

     617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927 <air AT improbable.com>

 

 

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2009-12-16 -- 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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2009-12-17 -- 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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2009-12-18 -- 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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