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

October 2010, issue number 2010-10. 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/2010/mini2010-10.htm>

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

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

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2010-10-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2010-10-02 Imminent Events

2010-10-03 The Magazine: Skunk and Canyon Issue

2010-10-04 The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

2010-10-05 Ig Details

2010-10-06 The Double-Triumph of Andre Geim

2010-10-07 Ig in the UK

2010-10-08 First Look at Dr. Bodnar's New Invention

2010-10-09 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Noise-Making Amongst the Elderly

2010-10-10 Xenoturbella Acoelomorph Competition

2010-10-11 MORE IMPROBABLE: Is Eating People Wrong?

2010-10-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Musical Fork in the Road

2010-10-13 Improbable Research Events

2010-10-14 -- How to Subscribe to the Magazine (*)

2010-10-15 -- Our Address (*)

2010-10-16 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2010-10-17 -- 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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2010-10-02 Imminent Events

 

US Sci & Eng Fest, Washington, DC              SAT, Oct 23

 

W00tstock, Boston, MA                                SUN, Oct 31

 

Soil Science Soc et al., Long Beach, CA     WED, Nov 3

 

NASW, New Haven, CT                                   FRI, Nov 5

 

Raytheon, Waltham, MA                                WED, Nov 10

 

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

 

 

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2010-10-03 The Magazine: Skunk and Canyon Issue

 

The special Skunk and Canyon issue of the magazine is still ambling its way, fragrantly and deeply, to the printer, thence to make its way to subscribers.

 

Read back issues (including last year's Ig Nobel special issue) online, and/or subscribe to the fully tangible paper version, at: <http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>.

 

 

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2010-10-04 The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

 

Here are 2010 Ig Nobel Prize winners. They were introduced and honored at the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, on September 30. Two days later they gave free public talks at the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT.

 

ENGINEERING PRIZE: Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London, UK, and Diane Gendron of Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Baja California Sur, Mexico, for perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter.

REFERENCE: "A Novel Non-Invasive Tool for Disease Surveillance of Free-Ranging Whales and Its Relevance to Conservation Programs," Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse, Agnes Rocha-Gosselin and Diane Gendron, Animal Conservation, vol. 13, no. 2, April 2010, pp. 217-25.

 

MEDICINE PRIZE: Simon Rietveld of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Ilja van Beest of Tilburg University, The Netherlands, for discovering that symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller-coaster ride.

REFERENCE: "Rollercoaster Asthma: When Positive Emotional Stress Interferes with Dyspnea Perception," Simon Rietveld and Ilja van Beest, Behaviour Research and Therapy, vol. 45, 2006, pp. 977–87.

 

TRANSPORTATION PLANNING PRIZE: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi of Japan, and Dan Bebber, Mark Fricker of the UK, for using slime mold to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks.

REFERENCE: "Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design," Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Dan P. Bebber, Mark D. Fricker, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi, Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Science, Vol. 327. no. 5964, January 22, 2010, pp. 439-42.

[NOTE: THE FOLLOWING ARE CO-WINNERS BOTH THIS YEAR AND IN 2008 when they were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for demonstrating that slime molds can solve puzzles: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero]

 

PHYSICS PRIZE: Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest of the University of Otago, New Zealand, for demonstrating that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes.

REFERENCE: "Preventing Winter Falls: A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Novel Intervention," Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest, New Zealand Medical Journal. vol. 122, no, 1298, July 3, 2009, pp. 31-8.

 

PEACE PRIZE: Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston of Keele University, UK, for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain.

REFERENCE: "Swearing as a Response to Pain," Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston, Neuroreport, vol. 20 , no. 12, 2009, pp. 1056-60.

 

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: Manuel Barbeito, Charles Mathews, and Larry Taylor of the Industrial Health and Safety Office, Fort Detrick, Maryland, USA, for determining by experiment that microbes cling to bearded scientists.

REFERENCE: "Microbiological Laboratory Hazard of Bearded Men," Manuel S. Barbeito, Charles T. Mathews, and Larry A. Taylor, Applied Microbiology, vol. 15, no. 4, July 1967, pp. 899–906.

 

ECONOMICS PRIZE: The executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Magnetar for creating and promoting new ways to invest money — ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.

 

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Eric Adams of MIT, Scott Socolofsky of Texas A&M University, Stephen Masutani of the University of Hawaii, and BP [British Petroleum], for disproving the old belief that oil and water don't mix.

REFERENCE: "Review of Deep Oil Spill Modeling Activity Supported by the Deep Spill JIP and Offshore Operator’s Committee. Final Report," Eric Adams and Scott Socolofsky, 2005.

 

MANAGEMENT PRIZE: Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.

REFERENCE: “The Peter Principle Revisited: A Computational Study,” Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo, Physica A, vol. 389, no. 3, February 2010, pp. 467-72.

 

BIOLOGY PRIZE: Libiao Zhang, Min Tan, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, and Shuyi Zhang of China, and Gareth Jones of the University of Bristol, UK, for scientifically documenting fellatio in fruit bats.

REFERENCE: "Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time," Min Tan, Gareth Jones, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, Shuyi Zhang and Libiao Zhang, PLoS ONE, vol. 4, no. 10, e7595.

 

 

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2010-10-05 Ig Details

 

Also see....

 

WINNERS DETAIL

<http://improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2010>

 

VIDEO OF THE CEREMONY

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIKnFZhCr2k>

 

CEREMONY DETAIL

<http://improbable.com/ig/2010/>

 

CEREMONY PARTICIPANTS

<http://improbable.com/ig/2010/ignitaries/index.html>

 

"THE BACTERIAL OPERA" CAST

<http://improbable.com/ig/2010/ignitaries/index.html>

 

OPERA BACKGROUND:

<http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2010/10/12/how-why-to-write-a-bacterial-opera-for-the-ig-nobel-awards/>

 

LOTS OF FUN PRESS COVERAGE:

<http://improbable.com/airchives/press/>

 

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2010-10-06 The Double-Triumph of Andre Geim

 

Congratulations to Andre Geim, new Nobel Prize winner in physics. He becomes the first to win, as an individual, both a Nobel Prize (this year, together with Konstantin Novoselov, for experiments with the substance graphene) and an Ig Nobel Prize (in the year 2000, shared with Sir Michael Berry, for using magnets to levitate a frog).

 

For details see:

<http://improbable.com/2010/10/05/geim-becomes-first-nobel-ig-nobel-winner/>

and

<http://improbable.com/2010/10/05/nobel-interviews-geim-about-his-ig-nobel/>

 

 

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2010-10-07 Ig in the UK

 

This was an extraordinary year for the UK, even by its usual high standards. Four of the six new Ig Nobel prizes were awarded to individuals or teams based or partly based in the UK.

 

Some (perhaps all) of these new British winners, and many other Ig winners, will take part in next March's 9th annual Ig Nobel Tour of the UK. The tour is a highlight of National Science & Engineering Week.

 

If your institution would like to host an event, please get in touch with us: <[email protected]>

 

 

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2010-10-08 First Look at Dr. Bodnar's New Invention

 

Darren Garrick of the Boston Herald became the first reporter to show, and describe in detail, Dr. Elena Bodnar's new invention — a male counterpart to her 2009 Ig Nobel Prize-winning brassiere that in an emergency can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks. Garrick attended the press conference at MIT on September 28, asking lots of questions and taking many photos.

 

See his report at:

<http://news.bostonherald.com/blogs/news/working_stiff/?p=549&srvc=home&position=recent>

 

 

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2010-10-09 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Noise-Making Amongst the Elderly

 

This month's hand-selected research gem is:

 

"Noise-Making Amongst the Elderly in Long Term Care,"

David Patrick Ryan, Susan M. M. Tainsh, Vita Kolodny, Bonnie L. Lendrum and Rory H. Fisher, The Gerontologist, vol. 28, no. 3, 1988, pp. 369-371. <http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/content/28/3/369.short> The authors report:

 

"Nurses in two long-term care facilities indicated that about 30% of residents presented noise-making behavior. From their descriptions, a typology of noise-making was identified: purposeless and perseverative noise-making, noise-making in response to the environment, noise-making to elicit a response from the environment, 'chatterbox' noise-making, noise-making in the context of deafness, and other noise-making. The clinical value of this typology is discussed."

 

 

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2010-10-10 Xenoturbella Acoelomorph Competition

 

Acoelomorphs, wee little wormlike beasties, inspire this month's limerick competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the nature of this report:

 

"After All: Xenoturbella is an Acoelomorph!" Claus Nielsen, Evolution & Development, vol. 12, no. 3, May/June 2010, pp. 241-43. The author is at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

<http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123429815/abstract>

 

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 acoelomorph-free, hi-res PDF issue of the Annals

 

of Improbable Research. Send your limerick to:

 

         XENOTURBELLA ACOELOMORPH LIMERICK COMPETITION

         c/o <[email protected]>

 

 

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2010-10-11 MORE IMPROBABLE: Is Eating People Wrong?

 

Things you may or may not have missed:

 

Newest Members of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS), etc:

<http://improbable.com/category/lfhcfs-hair-club/>

 

BLOG <http://improbable.com/>

<> "Is Eating People Wrong?"

<> Daft Celebration

<> On the anonymity of research subjects

<> "The Elements", Lehrerized & Grayed in Japanese

And many more...

 

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

<> History's Greatest Mathematicians/Hairdressers Collaboration

<> Human Oscillation Savored & Explained

 

         twitter: ImprobResearch

         facebook: "Improbable Research"

 

 

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2010-10-12 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Musical Fork in the Road

 

"Jazz and Substance Abuse: Road to Creative Genius or Pathway to Premature Death," G.H. Tolson, and M.J. Cuyjet, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, vol. 30, 2007, pp. 530-8. The authors, at the University of Louisville [Kentucky] School of Music, conclude that it may be a pathway to premature death.

 

 

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2010-10-13 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

US Sci & Eng Fest, Washington, DC              — Oct 23, 2010

 

w00tstock, Boston, MA                          - Oct 31, 2010

 

Agronomy, Crops, and Soil Science Societies

International Annual Meetings, Long Beach, CA  — Nov 3, 2010

 

NASW 75th Anniv. Meeting, New Haven          — Nov 5, 2010

 

Raytheon Employees Assn., Waltham, MA        — Nov 10, 2010

 

AAAS, Washington, DC                         — Feb 2011

 

UK Tour                                      — Mar 2011

 

Scandinavia Tour                             — Apr 2011

 

NIH NICHD Retreat, Warrenton, VA             — May 17, 2011

 

Cairo, Egypt                                 — Jun 2011

 

HUPO, Geneva, Switzerland                    — Sep 4, 2011

 

 

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2010-10-14 -- How to Subscribe to the Magazine (*)

 

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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2010-10-15 -- 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>

Blog: www.improbable.com

Twitter: ImprobResearch

 

 

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2010-10-16 -- 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

CO-CONSPIRATORS: Kees Moeliker, 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 2010, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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2010-10-17 -- 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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To subscribe or unsubscribe, please visit <http://chem.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/mini-air>

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