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

April 2011, issue number 2011-04. 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/mini2011-04.htm>

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

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

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2011-04-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2011-04-02 Imminent Events

2011-04-03 The Magazine: Head & Brain Issue

2011-04-04 Improbable at the Edinburgh Science Festival

2011-04-05 The Re-Discovered McGonagall Poems

2011-04-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Nocturnal Emissions of the Digital Kind

2011-04-07 Apes, Lice and Prehistory Competition

2011-04-08 Lumpers, Splitters, Nosology Poet

2011-04-09 MORE IMPROBABLE: Pickles, Haddock, Clarinet & Metals

2011-04-10 MAY WE RECOMMEND: When Algebras Are Squids

2011-04-11 Improbable Research Events

2011-04-12 -- How to Subscribe to the Magazine (*)

2011-04-13 -- Our Address (*)

2011-04-14 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2011-04-15 -- 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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2011-04-02 Imminent Events

 

      Edinburgh Science Festival          Apr 17-18

 

      GEL Conference, New York City       Apr 29

 

      Cambridge (MA) Science Festival     May 2 & 7

 

Details below.

 

 

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2011-04-03 The Magazine: Head & Brain Issue

 

The special Head & Brain Issue issue of the magazine has gone to the to the printer, and will before long emerge, and attempt to reason its way through the postal system to subscribers.

 

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

 

 

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2011-04-04 Improbable at the Edinburgh Science Festival

 

If you're near the Edinburgh Science Festival, please join us:

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 7:30 pm

"IMPROBABLE RESEARCH & the IG NOBEL PRIZES"

At the Jam House (5 Queen Street).

Featuring:

      MARC ABRAHAMS and

      Ig Nobel Prize winners:

      CATHERINE DOUGLAS (named cows give more milk than nameless cows)

      RICHARD STEPHENS (swearing relieves pain)

 

SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 9:30 pm

"IMPROBABLE RESEARCH AFTER DARK"

At the Jam House (5 Queen Street).

An all-star lineup of scientists and science journalists will perform two-minute dramatic readings from Ig Nobel Prize-winning studies. 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.

Featuring:

      MARC ABRAHAMS

      CATHERINE DOUGLAS

      RICHARD STEPHENS

      STEVE FARRAR

      SIAN BEVAN

      GORDON RUTTER

      GLENN MURPHY

      ROBIN INCE

      CLARE MARSH

      JON RONSON

      JAMIE GALLAGHER

      and others to be announced.

 

MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2:00 pm

McGONAGALL POETRY READINGS, GRAVE VISIT, and PUB GATHERING

(See next section, below, for details.)

 

 

DETAILS & TICKET INFO:

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

 

 

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2011-04-05 The Re-Discovered McGonagall Poems

 

THE RECENT REVELATIONS IN DUNDEE

 

The McGonagall revelation at the University of Dundee on March 19 went well indeed. It featured (among other things) the first public performance in more than a century of two bad poems by William Topaz McGonagall (1830-1902). See bits of that at <http://bit.ly/i3sIQx>

 

Read the poems:

 

      "Stirling Castle": <http://bit.ly/idUlBS>

 

      "Hawthornden": <http://bit.ly/iirZdg>

 

Several days later, in London, TERRY JONES (one of the Monty Pythons) gave the first public reading outside Scotland of the "Stirling Castle" poem. See video of that at: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC3_-F-rXYk>

 

 

NEXT, IN EDINBURGH: TWO MORE POEMS!

 

We will reveal two more poems on MONDAY, APRIL 18, at the Edinburgh Science Festival. That revelation will happen at the OLD TOWN BOOKSHOP (8 Victoria Street) at 2:00 pm. Immediately afterwards, everyone will walk together to the nearby Greyfriars Kirkyard for a respectful visit to the poet's grave. After that, we will all go to a nearby pub and recite McGonagall bad poetry.

 

 

DETAILS:

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

 

 

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2011-04-06 Cambridge Science Festival

 

In early May, we will be doing two (2) shows for the Cambridge (MA) Science Festival. You are invited.

 

MONDAY NIGHT, MAY 2, 7:30 pm.

"Scientists (and friends) Sing Improbable Science Songs"

Featuring

<> Nobel Laureate FRANK WILCZEK as Atom and TERESA WINNER BLUME as Eve in the mini-opera "Atom & Eve"

<> DEBORAH HENSON-CONANT performing highlights from her suite "Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Dress"

<> Songs by the possibly immortal Tom Lehrer

<> Songs from Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony mini-operas

<> OTHER STELLAR PERFORMERS and curious songs

 

SATURDAY NIGHT, MAY 7, 11:00 pm.

"Improbable Research After Dark"

With 10-15 performers from the science, journalism, and theater community. (Similar to the event in Edinburgh, but with different performers.) WARNING: Do not come to this event if you are easily offended by anything.

 

Both shows will be at the Central Square Theater, in Cambridge.

 

DETAILS & PERFORMERS & TICKET INFO:

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

 

 

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2011-04-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Nocturnal Emissions of the Digital Kind

 

This month's spotlighted study describes a modern medical problem:

 

"Writing Emails as Part of Sleepwalking After Increase in Zolpidem," Fouzia Siddiquine, Edgar Osuna and Sudhansu Chokroverty, Sleep Medicine, vol. 10, no. 2, February 2009, pp.  262-4. (Thanks to Bill Krogh for bringing this to our attention.) The authors are at Seton Hall University School of Graduate Medical Education, New Jersey and at the University of Toledo Medical Center, in Ohio, USA. <http://bit.ly/fi0ADp>

 

 

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2011-04-07 Apes, Lice and Prehistory Competition

 

Apes, lice and prehistory inspire this month's limerick competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the nature of this report: "Apes, Lice and Prehistory," Robin A. Weiss, Journal of Biology, 2009, 8:20. <http://jbiol.com/content/8/2/20> The author, at University College London, reports:

 

"Molecular phylogeny indicates that human pubic lice diverged from gorilla lice as recently as 3.3 MYA, whereas the chimp and human host lineage split from the gorilla lineage at least 7 MYA. Thus, it seems clear that humans acquired pubic lice horizontally, possibly at the time of the Pthirus species' split and probably directly from gorillas."

 

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, and probably lice-free, hi-res PDF issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. Send your limerick to:

 

      APES, LICE AND PREHISTORY LIMERICK COMPETITION

      c/o <[email protected]>

 

 

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2011-04-08 Lumpers, Splitters, Nosology Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner in the Lumpers, Splitters, Nosology Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study "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 winner is the sister team of INVESTIGATORS MARTA & KATRINA GWINN, who wrote:

 

A snootful of highly-trained schnozzes

Sniffs out genes as the ultimate causes.

   Some may lump, others split,

   But a cupful of spit

Just supplies more subordinate clauses.

 

Semi-honorable mention goes to INVESTIGATOR JOHN MARK DAVIS, for this:

 

I finally figured it out,

What "nosology" is all about:

   You link genotypes

   With sick phenotypes.

It's nothing to do with your snout.

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

Nosologists long have been flustered

As rival geneticisits blustered.

   Should we lump? Should we split?

   Both are right, we submit.

Now diseases can safely be clustered.

 

 

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2011-04-09 MORE IMPROBABLE: Pickles, Haddock, Clarinet & Metals

 

Recent improbable bits you may or may not have missed:

 

NEW HAIR CLUB MEMBERS

Christos Moraitis 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/>

<> Pickles and Haddock: Paranoia and Depression

<> His Pants Filled With Foam

<> Headline of the day: Sex After Fieldtrip

<> Heavy Meals / Heavy Metals: Typo?

And many more...

 

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

<> The professor with bees & clarinet

<> Where and Why Sheep Split Up

<> Torn-Up About Torn-up Money

<> On the bullhorn of a surgical dilemma

<> Anal probe: parsnips, pigsŐ tails & lots more

 

      twitter: ImprobResearch

      facebook: "Improbable Research"

 

 

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2011-04-10 MAY WE RECOMMEND: When Algebras Are Squids

 

WHEN ALGEBRAS ARE SQUIDS

"On Wild Tilted Algebras Which Are Squids," Luise Unger, Archiv der Mathematik, vol. 55, no. 6, 1990, pp. 542-50. <http://bit.ly/f7qzXV> (Thanks to David Mosher for bringing this to our attention.)

 

RADIOACTIVITY OF HONEYBEE HONEY

"Radioactivity of Honeybee Honey," M.H. Borawska, J. Kapala, K. Hukalowicz, and R. Markiewicz, Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, vol. 64, no. 5, 2000, pp. 617-21. <http://bit.ly/fpjEIB> (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.)

 

 

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2011-04-11 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

Edinburgh Science Festival                — Apr 17-18, 2011

(3 events!)

 

GEL Conference, New York City             — Apr 29, 2011

 

Cambridge (MA) Science Festival           — May 2011

(2 events!)

 

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

 

Doha, Qatar                               — Jun 2011

 

ACS, Denver, Colorado                     — Aug 28, 2011

 

HUPO, Geneva, Switzerland                 — Sep 4, 2011

 

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony                   — Sep 29, 2011

 

Ig Informal Lectures                      — Oct 1, 2011

 

Scandinavia Tour                          — Oct/Nov 2011

 

 

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2011-04-12 -- 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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      Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

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      617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927 <[email protected]>

 

 

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2011-04-13 -- 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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2011-04-14 -- 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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2011-04-15 -- 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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