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

March 2011, issue number 2011-03. 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/2011/mini2011-03.htm>

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

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

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2011-03-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2011-03-02 Imminent Events

2011-03-03 The Magazine: Missing Pieces

2011-03-04 William McGonagall Poems to Be Revealed After Century!

2011-03-05 Ig Nobel Tour of the UK — March 10-19

2011-03-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Shake, Doctor, Shake

2011-03-07 Lumpers, Splitters, Nosology Competition

2011-03-08 Head-Loss-in-Crumb-Rubber-Filters Poet

2011-03-09 Bearded Scientists Did Convene in Washington

2011-03-10 MORE IMPROBABLE: Mediocracy & Maggots

2011-03-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: As the Fruit Turns

2011-03-12 Improbable Research Events

2011-03-13 -- How to Subscribe to the Magazine (*)

2011-03-14 -- Our Address (*)

2011-03-15 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2011-03-16 -- 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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2011-03-02 Imminent Events

 

      Ig Nobel UK Tour                    March 10-19

                                          Details below.

 

      Edinburgh Science Festival          Apr 17-18

 

      GEL Conference, New York City       Apr 29

 

 

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2011-03-03 The Magazine: Missing Pieces

 

The special Missing Pieces issue of the magazine has gone out to subscribers and (depending on how many nations' postal services are involved) has either just reached them or will reach them at some indeterminate post-postalized point.

 

Read back issues online, and/or subscribe to the fully tangible paper version, at: <http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>.

 

 

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2011-03-04 William McGonagall Poems to Be Revealed After Century!

 

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: We have found — in Scotland — several poems by the wretched poet William Topaz McGonagall (1830-1902). These poems have never been published in a book, and have not been performed in public for more than a century, if ever.

 

We will give two of these re-discovered poems their modern public debut at our show March 19 in Dundee (where McGonagall lived most of his adult life). And then a month later at the Edinburgh Science Festival we will debut two more, with a pilgrimage to McGonagall's grave (in Edinburgh).

 

This discovery is of NO IMPORTANCE but GREAT HISTORICAL INTEREST.

 

BACKGROUND: McGonagall's masterpiece is "The Tay Bridge Disaster". In case you have never been exposed to its bottomless wonders, here are:

      1. McGonagall info: < http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/>

      2. Text of "The Tay Bridge Disaster": <http://bit.ly/g9S8hh>

      3. A reading by Billy Connolly: <http://bit.ly/g5PCMY>

 

We hope you will join us for these historic occasions.

DETAILS: <http://bit.ly/gfn39u>

 

 

BONUS FACT: McGonagall's name lives on, given to a character in the Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling is said to be an appreciator of the man's uniqueness.

 

 

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2011-03-05 Ig Nobel Tour of the UK — March 10-19

 

The 9th annual Ig Nobel Tour of the UK begins this week, featuring Ig Nobel winners and other Improbable performers.

 

NEWLY ADDED EVENT — March 10, London: The tour will be preceded with a special, small, rather different kind of event: brief dramatic readings from Ig Nobel Prize-winning studies. WeÕre calling it Improbable Research After Dark, because some of the studies are on topics that might possibly, conceivably, theoretically, offend individuals who are prim, proper, and of high sensibility. We advise that anyone who is easily offended by anything should not come to this event. See schedule page for details.

TICKETS: A very few tickets are available: <http://bit.ly/eyfLGl>

 

Here are the regular (to the extent that that's the proper word) shows:

 

LIVERPOOL, the Cavern Club — March 13 (2 shows)

      TICKETS: [by invitation only]

 

BRISTOL, Hewlett Packard — March 15.

      TICKETS: <[email protected]>

 

NEW BRIGHTON, Floral Pavilion Theatre — MARCH 16 (2 shows)

      Afternoon show is fully booked.

      Evening: a few TICKETS available: <[email protected]>

 

LONDON, Imperial College — March 17.

      TICKETS: <http://bit.ly/hsVtsx>

 

DUNDEE, University of Dundee — March 19.

      Featuring the modern debut of 2 McGonagall poems.

      TICKETS: <http://bit.ly/eTgfLb>

 

Twitter: #IGUKTOUR

 

SCHEDULE DETAILS:

<http://improbable.com/improbable-research-shows/ig-uk-tour>

 

 

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2011-03-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Shake, Doctor, Shake

 

This month's spotlighted study is awake-up call to certain doctors:

 

"An Evidence-Based Perspective on Greetings in Medical Encounters," Gregory Makoul, Amanda Zick, and Marianne Green, Archives of Internal Medicine, vol. 167, 2007, pp. 1172-6 <http://bit.ly/gSyfO3>. (Thanks to Adrian Smith for bringing this to our attention.) The authors report:

 

"Widely used models for teaching and assessing communication skills highlight the importance of greeting patients appropriately, but there is little evidence regarding what constitutes an appropriate greeting....

 

"RESULTS: Most (78.1%) of the 415 survey respondents reported that they want the physician to shake their hand."

 

 

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2011-03-07 Lumpers, Splitters, Nosology Competition

 

Lumpers, splitters, and nosology inspire this month's limerick competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the nature of this report:

 

"On Lumpers and Splitters, or the Nosology of Genetic Disease," Victor A. Mckusick, Birth Defects: Original Article Series. Vol. 5 ,No. 1,  January, 1969, pp. 23-30 <http://1.usa.gov/gBKcK2>. The author, at Johns Hopkins University, sums it up this way:

 

"In genetic nosology both lumping and splitting have a place: lumping in connection with pleiotropism; splitting in connection with genetic heterogeneity."

 

 

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 crummy or crumby, hi-res PDF issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. Send your limerick to:

 

      LUMPERS-SPLITTERS-NOSOLOGY LIMERICK COMPETITION

      c/o <[email protected]>

 

 

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2011-03-08 Head-Loss-in-Crumb-Rubber-Filters Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner in the Head-Loss-in-Crumb-Rubber-Filters Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study "Prediction of Clean-Bed Head Loss in Crumb Rubber Filters," Hao L. Tang, John M. Regan, Shirley E. Clark, and Yuefeng F. Xie, J. Envir. Engrg. vol. 137, no. 1, January 2011, pp. 55-62. <http://bit.ly/gd59Jr>

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR TOM STEWART, who wrote:

 

If you want to keep clean in a bed

You mustnÕt go losing your head:

   DonÕt panic or blubber

   If some crumby rubber

Malfunctions; use filters instead.

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

Put traditional models aside

When a crumb rubber filter's applied.

 Predict head loss (clean-bed)

 With this new one instead.

The equation and tests coincide.

 

 

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2011-03-09 Bearded Scientists Did Convene in Washington

 

A big thank you to the approximately 50 bearded scientists who convened in Washington, DC, in connection with the study "Microbiological Laboratory Hazard of Bearded Men" [Applied Microbiology, vol. 15, no. 4, July 1967, pp. 899–906] <http://bit.ly/7Zi4Fv> and recipient of the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize in public health.

 

The AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) took lots of good photos of the Improbable Research show, a featured event of the AAASÕs recent annual meeting, held in Washington, DC. The photographer captured, among many other things, the historic moment when the parade of bearded scientists went up to shake hands with Ig Nobel Prize winner Manuel Barbeito, co-author of the study "Microbiological Laboratory Hazard of Bearded Men" after he gave his first-ever public lecture about the research. Barbeito and colleagues did the experiment in the mid-1960s at Fort Detrick, Maryland, where he was in charge of the health and safety office. The study, we are told, formed the basis for safety precautions used to this day in biology laboratories around the world.

 

You can see some of those bearded scientists — and Manuel Barbeito! — online at <http://bit.ly/dNb15R>

 

NOTE: If anyone has good photos or video of the event, we'd love to see it.

 

 

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2011-03-10 MORE IMPROBABLE: Mediocracy & Maggots

 

Recent improbable bits you may or may not have missed:

 

NEW HAIR CLUB MEMBERS

Jake Lowenstein joined the Luxuriant Former Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS)> See him and other members of the three sibling LFHCfS organizations, at <http://improbable.com/category/lfhcfs-hair-club/>.

 

BLOG <http://improbable.com/>

<> Camel urine – its use in medicine

<> The mathematics of mediocracy

<> Further advance in woodpecker head science

<> Ig Nobel winner reviews a peerÕs book

<> Maggots in the index

And many more...

 

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

<> A Hard Look at Cheap Rulers [Metrology]

<> What psychiatrists say your gut says [Psychology]

<> Medical consequences of eating falafel [Food safety]

 

      twitter: ImprobResearch

      facebook: "Improbable Research"

 

 

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2011-03-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: As the Fruit Turns

 

AS THE FRUIT TURNS (1)

"Fruit Machine Gambling: The Importance of Structural Characteristics," M.D. Griffiths, Journal of Gambling Studies, vol. 9, 1993, pp. 101–20 <http://bit.ly/gHyIKX>.

 

AS THE FRUIT TURNS (2)

"Physiological Arousal and Sensation-Seeking in Female Fruit Machine Gamblers," K.R. Coventry and B. Constable, Addiction, vol. 94, no. 3, March 1999, pp. 425-30 <http://bit.ly/hkC4LE>. The authors, who are at the University of Plymouth, U.K., conclude that:

 

"Gambling alone is not enough to induce increases in heart rate levels for female fruit machine gamblers; the experience of winning or the anticipation of that experience is necessary to increase heart rate levels."

 

 

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2011-03-12 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

UK Tour                                   — Mar 10-19, 2011

 

Edinburgh Science Festival                — Apr 17-18, 2011

(3 events!)

 

GEL Conference, New York City             — Apr 29, 2011

 

Cambridge (MA) Science Festival           — May 2011

(3 events!)

 

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

 

Doha, Qatar                               — Jun 2011

 

HUPO, Geneva, Switzerland                 — Sep 4, 2011

 

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony                   — Sept 29, 2011

 

Ig Informal Lectures                      — Oct 1, 2011

 

Scandinavia Tour                          — Oct/Nov 2011

 

 

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2011-03-13 -- How to Subscribe to the Magazine (*)

 

The Annals of Improbable Research is a 6-issues-per-year magazine. (It's much bigger, and maybe 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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2011-03-14 -- Our Address (*)

 

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA

617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927

 

EDITORIAL: [email protected]

SUBSCRIPTIONS: [email protected]

Web Site: <http://www.improbable.com>

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

Twitter: ImprobResearch

 

 

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2011-03-15 -- 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 2011, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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2011-03-16 -- 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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