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

May 2011, issue number 2011-05. 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/mini2011-05.htm>

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

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

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2011-05-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2011-05-02 Imminent Events

2011-05-03 The Magazine: Head & Brain Issue

2011-05-04 Sad News: Professors Lipscomb & Lettvin

2011-05-05 Cambridge Science Festival: Songs & After Dark

2011-05-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Wrong: Order

2011-05-07 Worm/Fisheries Competition

2011-05-08 Apes, Lice and Prehistory Poet

2011-05-09 MORE IMPROBABLE: Lap Dancing, Royals, Body Odor, Ears

2011-05-10 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Worthless Gifts

2011-05-11 Improbable Research Events

2011-05-12 -- How to Subscribe to the Magazine (*)

2011-05-13 -- Our Address (*)

2011-05-14 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2011-05-15 -- 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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2011-05-02 Imminent Events

 

 

      GEL Conference, NYC                 Apr 29, 2011

 

      Cambridge (MA) Science Festival     May 2 & 7

 

      UMass Lowell                        May 4

 

      NIH, Warrenton, VA                  May 17

 

Details below.

 

 

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2011-05-03 The Magazine: Head & Brain Issue on the Loose

 

The special Head & Brain Issue issue of the magazine went out a while ago, and is still fighting, fighting, fighting its way throught the international postal system to subscribers. A delightfully cheesy low-res-PDF version is online free at <http://bit.ly/jnaAxb>

 

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

 

 

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2011-05-04 Sad News: Professors Lipscomb & Lettvin

 

In the past few days, science has lost two of its giants, and we have lost two of our best friends and collaborators.

 

WILLIAM LIPSCOMB, aka COLONEL LIPSCOMB, aka PROFESSOR LIPSCOMB

Harvard chemistry professor emeritus, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, prize student of Linus Pauling, the best and funniest performer (as a speaker, dancer, clarinet player, and many other things) in most of the Ig Nobel Prize ceremonies, and frequent cover model for the Annals of Improbable Research.

<http://improbable.com/2011/04/15/bill-lipscomb-is-gone>

 

JERRY LETTVIN, co-author of "What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain", MIT professor emeritus of biomedical engineering and of electrical engineering, an MD, a psychiatrist, a protege of mathematician Norbert Wiener, a former free-lance researcher for both the CIA and the Mafia, an original screenwriter on the film "Rebel Without a Cause," an ace designer of electronic circuits, and a raconteur and practical joker with few peers.

<http://improbable.com/2011/04/26/jerry-lettvin-is-gone>

 

 

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2011-05-05 Cambridge Science Festival: Songs & After Dark

 

We will be doing two (2) shows at the Cambridge (MA) Science Festival. Please join us!

 

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

<http://bit.ly/faftNE>

 

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 recent After Dark events in London and Edinburgh, but with different performers.)

WARNING: Do not come to this event if you are easily offended by anything. <http://bit.ly/kn8vE2>

 

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

 

DETAILS & TICKET INFO:

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

 

 

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2011-05-06 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Wrong: Order

 

This month's spotlighted study is Wrong writing about order:

 

The Problem of Order: What Unites and Divides Society, Dennis H. Wrong, Harvard University Press, 1994, ISBN 002935515X. <http://amzn.to/lSJqwc>

 

 

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2011-05-07 Worm/Fisheries Competition

 

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

 

“Rebuilding Global Fisheries,” by Boris Worm et al., Science, Vol. 325, 2009, p. 578-585. (Thanks to Alan Dove for bringing this to our attention.) <http://bit.ly/jvb9YG>

 

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

 

      WORM/FISHERIES LIMERICK COMPETITION

      c/o <[email protected]>

 

 

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2011-05-08 Apes, Lice and Prehistory Poet

 

The judges, themselves beset by lice, apes, and a gloomy remembrance of post-prehistory, have failed to choose a winner in the Apes, Lice and Prehistory Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study "Apes, Lice and Prehistory," Robin A. Weiss, Journal of Biology, 2009, 8:20. <http://jbiol.com/content/8/2/20>.

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

For apes and for lice, there are trees

That depict evolution. From these

   The author suspects

   Ancient humans had sex

With gorillas, but not chimpanzees.

 

 

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2011-05-09 MORE IMPROBABLE: Lap Dancing, Royals, Body Odor, Ears

 

Recent improbable bits you may or may not have missed:

 

BLOG <http://improbable.com/>

<> Lap dancing and the British royal wedding

<> Finger ratios don’t always predict body odor

<> Electricity and the color of socks

And many more...

 

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

<> Old folks have big ears

<> Handy tips for identifying future doctors

 

      twitter: ImprobResearch

      facebook: "Improbable Research"

 

 

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2011-05-10 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Worthless Gifts

 

COSTLY BUT WORTHLESS GIFTS

"Costly But Worthless Gifts Facilitate Courtship," Peter D. Sozou and Robert M. Seymour, Proceedings of the Royal Academy B, vol. 272, no. 1575, September 2005, pp. 1877-84. (Thanks to Jim Cowdery for bringing this to our attention.) The authors are at University College London, < http://bit.ly/jJT4gW >

 

CHEAP BUT WORTHLESS GIFTS

"An Invasion of Cheats: The Evolution of Worthless Nuptial Gifts," N.R. LeBas and L. Hockham, Current. Biology, vol. 15, 2005, pp. 64–7. The authors are at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. <http://bit.ly/ivWTco>

 

 

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2011-05-11 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

GEL Conference, NYC                       — Apr 29, 2011

 

Cambridge (MA) Science Festival           — May 2 & 7 2011

(2 events!)

 

UMASS-Lowell                              — May 4, 2011

 

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

 

Abu Dhabi Science Festival                — Nov 23, 2011

 

Scandinavia Tour                          — Oct/Nov 2011

 

 

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2011-05-12 -- 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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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 <[email protected]>

 

 

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2011-05-13 -- 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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2011-05-14 -- 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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2011-05-15 -- 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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To subscribe or unsubscribe, please visit <http://chem.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/mini-air>

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