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

November 2010, issue number 2010-11. 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/mini2010-11.htm>

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

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

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2010-11-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2010-11-02 Imminent Event

2010-11-03 The Magazine: Ig Nobel Issue in Prep

2010-11-04 Tea Survey: The Agony of the Leaves

2010-11-05 The Date of the Next Ig

2010-11-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Blue Alert — Dyed But Not Dead

2010-11-07 Accuracy-of-100.4% Competition

2010-11-08 Xenoturbella Acoelomorph Poet

2010-11-09 Improbable Host: You?

2010-11-10 MORE IMPROBABLE: 28 Hours of Piano Playing Nonstop

2010-11-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Coefficient of Obliviousness

2010-11-12 Improbable Research Events

2010-11-13 -- How to Subscribe to the Magazine (*)

2010-11-14 -- Our Address (*)

2010-11-15 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2010-11-16 -- 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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2010-11-02 Imminent Event

 

Stockholm, Sweden                   December 10, 2011

 

Andre Geim, who in 2000 was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in physics for using magnets to levitate a frog, will be awarded a Nobel Prize in physics for his discoveries about the substance graphene. <http://nobelprize.org/>

 

 

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2010-11-03 The Magazine: Ig Nobel Issue in Prep

 

The special Ig Nobel issue of the magazine, chock full of photos, facts and bacteria from the recent ceremony, is in preparation. It should be making its way to subscribers latish in December.

 

The Skunk and Canyon issue did manage to amble its way into the world. Read it online at <http://bit.ly/eZ64hJ>

 

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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2010-11-04 Tea Survey: The Agony of the Leaves

 

A tea enthusiast informed us that to make tea properly and well, one must include a tea-making phase called "the agony of the leaves". The phrase was new to us. We found a definition at <http://englishtea.us/2009/04/02/the-agony-of-the-leaves/>:

 

"'The Agony of the Leaves' is the term used to indicate the unfurling of the tea leaf during steeping.... This is an important element of the process, and one that is severely compromised if the tea is constrained in a tea bag. The tea is unable to fully expand and move in the hot water, limiting its potential for releasing flavor. One thing you never want to subject a tea leaf to is [sic] constraining its expansion during brewing."

 

If you are a tea expert, please help us decide the worth of the agony of the leaves. Please send your pithy (TEN WORDS MAX) evaluation of the concept to:

 

      Agony-of-the-Leaves Survey

      c/o <[email protected]>

 

We will agonizingly boil down your (collective) wisdom, and share it with the world.

 

 

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2010-11-05 The Date of the Next Ig

 

The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony (the 21st First Annual!) will happen on Thursday night, September 29, 2011, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre.

 

The Ig Informal Lectures will be two days later, on Saturday afternoon, October 1, 2011, at MIT.

 

Mark your calendar.

(And sign-up for the Improbable events email list, so you'll get a reminder when tickets are about to go on sale: <http://five.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/ig-nobel-events>

 

 

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2010-11-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Blue Alert — Dyed But Not Dead

 

This month's hand-selected research gem explains that blue-colored medical patients are not necessarily what they seem:

 

"Dyed But Not Dead — Methylene Blue Overdose," Norman Blass and Dennis Fung, Anesthesiology, vol. 45, no. 4, October 1976, pp. 458-9. The authors, at the University of California, Davis, explain:

 

"the fact that methylene blue is a dye... should be important to the surgeon and the anesthesiologist. The blue color can be mistaken for cyanosis... [Also,] it would be wise to alert the personnel in the recovery room as to the nature of the apparent "cyanosis".

 

 

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2010-11-07 Accuracy-of-100.4% Competition

 

Anal precision inspires this month's limerick competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the nature of this report:

 

"Gas Distribution Within the Human Gut: Effect of Meals," Frederic Perez, Anna Accarino, Fernando Azpiroz, Sergi Quiroga, and Juan-R. Malagelada, American Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 102, no. 4, April 2007,  pp. 842-9. (Thanks to Ben Voellger for bringing this to our attention.) <http://bit.ly/gfkh6P> The authors, at the  Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, report:

 

      "The volume of gas infused per rectum was

      detected with an accuracy of 100.4 3.0%."

 

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 super-precise, hi-res PDF issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. Send your limerick to:

 

      ACCURACY-OF-100.4% LIMERICK COMPETITION

      c/o <[email protected]>

 

 

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2010-11-08 Xenoturbella Acoelomorph Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner in the Xenoturbella Acoelomorph Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study "After All: Xenoturbella is an Acoelomorph!" Claus Nielsen, Evolution & Development, vol. 12, no. 3, May/June 2010, pp. 241-43.

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR DAVID MARPLES who wrote:

 

Xenoturbella's a worm

Whose classification's not firm.

   With no gut to go south

   It spits sperm through its mouth;

Platyhelminth is not the right term.

 

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

Which phylum's the right one to tell a

Disquisitive xenoturbella

   Who asks, "Which am I in?"

   Say, "There's no denyin'

That you're an acoelomorph, fella."

 

 

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2010-11-09 Improbable Host: You?

 

Would your institution like to host an event on one of the upcoming tours (UK, Scandinavia, etc.) or elsewhere? If so, please get in touch with us!

 

 

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2010-11-10 MORE IMPROBABLE: 28 Hours of Piano Playing Nonstop

 

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/>

<> FR(finger ratio)enology

<> Bacteria can walk — and often do

<> Textual Analysis of Fortune Cookie Sayings

<> Smear Thanksgiving leftover food on your body

And many more...

 

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

<> "Psychoses" – A Magnificent Hoax Long Predating Sokal

<> The Effects of Playing Piano for 28 Hours Nonstop

<> When Sex Can Be an Eye-Opener

<> Gov't's Falling-Coconut Advice Underscored

<> Random-promotion discoveries, now and then

 

      twitter: ImprobResearch

      facebook: "Improbable Research"

 

 

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2010-11-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Coefficient of Obliviousness

 

"Figures of Merit," Martin Tompa, ACM SIGACT News, vol. 20, no. 1, Winter 1989. (Thanks to investigator Dany Adams for bringing this to our attention.) <http://bit.ly/fz5Gcd> The paper is historic because the author, at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center, introduces the term "coefficient of obliviousness."

 

 

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2010-11-12 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

AAAS, Washington, DC                      — Feb 19, 2011

 

UK Tour                                   — Mar 2011

 

Edinburgh Science Festival                — TBA

 

Scandinavia Tour                          — Apr 2011

 

Cambridge (MA) Science Festival           — TBA

 

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

 

Cairo, Egypt                              — Jun 2011

 

HUPO, Geneva, Switzerland                 — Sep 4, 2011

 

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony                   — Sept 29, 2011

 

 

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2010-11-13 -- 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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2010-11-14 -- 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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2010-11-15 -- 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, Stephen 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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2010-11-16 -- 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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