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

June 2011, issue number 2011-06. 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/mini2011-06.htm>

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

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2011-06-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2011-06-02 Imminent Events

2011-06-03 The Magazine: Bears & Mathematicians Together

2011-06-04 When Kiss Met Toad

2011-06-05 Tay Bridge Adventure

2011-06-06 Memorial News: Professors Lipscomb & Lettvin

2011-06-07 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: The Maddeningness of Malingering

2011-06-08 Random Balinese-German Competition

2011-06-09 Worm and Fisheries Poet

2011-06-10 MORE IMPROBABLE: Chest Hair, Dead Duck, Prayer

2011-06-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Forensic Cold Cases

2011-06-12 Improbable Research Events

2011-06-13 -- How to Subscribe to the Magazine (*)

2011-06-14 -- Our Address (*)

2011-06-15 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2011-06-16 -- How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

      Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

 

 

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2011-06-02 Imminent Events

 

      World Conference of Science Journalists, Doha, Qatar, Jun 29.

      Marc Abrahams, Reto Schneider and Jennifer Ouellette

      have a panel discussion called "Making Fun of Science?"

      Details: http://www.wcsj2011.org/

 

 

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2011-06-03 The Magazine: Bears & Mathematicians Together

 

The special Bears & Mathematicians issue of the magazine has just gone to press, and will soon try to claw and 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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2011-06-04 When Kiss Met Toad

 

You may think it happens mostly in fairy tales that kiss meets toad. None of those fairy tales suggests the actual result: a published study. Here is that study, featuring the work of Robert Kiss of the Universite Libre de Bruxelles:

 

"Rapid structural identification of cytotoxic bufadienolide sulfates in toad venom from Bufo melanosticus by LC-DAD-MS(n) and LC-SPE-NMR," Huimin Gao, Martin Zehl, Hanspeter Kaehlig, Peter Schneider, Hermann Stuppner, Laetitia Moreno Y. Banuls, Robert Kiss and Brigitte Kopp, Journal of Natural Products, vol. 73, no. 4, April 2010, pp. 603-8.

<http://bit.ly/luT5kQ>

 

This reportedly true-life tale begins unromantically: "Toad venom, namely, “Chansu” in China, has been widely used for the treatment of heart failure, sores, pains, and various cancers....",

 

You can become further acquainted with Dr. Kiss, and perhaps with the toad, at <http://bit.ly/kvXdB2>

 

 

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2011-06-05 Tay Bridge Adventure

 

The morning after our show at the University of Dundee, in March on this year's Ig Nobel Tour of the UK, several of us took a train south, over the Tay Bridge, and had a group reading of the famous (bad) McGonagall poem "The Tay Bridge Disaster" as the train was crossing over the Tay Bridge. Several people brought videocams. We've edited their accounts together. See them at:

 

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8o4UPq7sNk>

 

You can also see some highlights from preceding evening's show at the University, in this video: <http://www.youtube.com/user/RevealingResearch#p/u/3/wKMddJxVPIY>

The university is preparing additional videos from that night.

 

 

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2011-06-06 Memorial News: Professors Lipscomb & Lettvin

 

Last month brought the unhappy news that two of the greatest Improbable Researchers had left the planet (see last month's mini-AIR). Memorial events for each of them have now been scheduled:

 

WILLIAM LIPSCOMB (aka Professor Lipscomb)

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

MEMORIAL EVENT WILL BE ON SATURDAY, SEPT. 10, AT HARVARD.

 

JERRY LETTVIN

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

MEMORIAL EVENT WILL BE ON SUNDAY, SEPT. 25, AT MIT.

 

In each case, further details are still being arranged.

 

We ourselves are planning to celebrate each of them, separately, in the magazine. If you have a personal story about your experience with Bill or with Jerry, and if you write it up concisely, we would love to consider including it in the appropriate (Bill or Jerry) tribute. We'd need to receive the Bill tribute within the next two weeks.

 

 

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2011-06-07 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: The Maddeningness of Malingering

 

This month's spotlighted study turns a gimlet eye on a non-simple problem:

 

"Malingering of Psychiatric Disorders: A Review," Jaspreet Singh, Ajit Avasthi, and Sandeep Grover, German Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 11, no. 1, 2008, pp. 126-32. <http://www.gjpsy.uni-goettingen.de/gjp-article-singh-avasthi.pdf> The authors, at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India, report:

 

"As malingering is not considered to be a diagnosis, management does not imply the kind of measures utilized for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses. Understandably then, there are no known pharmacological or non-pharmacological therapies designed for a malingerer. However, certain guidelines have been suggested for the physician or psychiatrist who is convinced that the subject examined by him is malingering a disorder."

 

 

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2011-06-08 Random Balinese-German Competition

 

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

 

"Random number generation in bilingual Balinese and German students: preliminary findings from an exploratory cross-cultural study," Hans Strenge, Cokorda Bagus Jaya Lesmana and Luh Ketut Suryani, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 109, no. 1, August 2009, pp. 61-75. The authors explain:

 

"30 Balinese and 20 Germans, attempted to generate a random sequence of the digits 1 to 9. In Balinese participants, randomization was done in Balinese and Indonesian, in German subjects in the German and English languages.... The Balinese produced significantly more nonrandom responses than the Germans with higher rates of counting and significantly less occurrence of the digits 2 and 3."

 

PRIZE: The winning poet will receive (if we manage to send it to the correct address) a free, and somewhat random, hi-res PDF issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. Send your limerick to:

 

      RANDOM BALINESE-GERMAN LIMERICK COMPETITION

      c/o <[email protected]>

 

 

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2011-06-09 Worm and Fisheries Poet

 

The judges, themselves involved with worms and fishes, have chosen a winner in the Worm and fisheries Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study “Rebuilding Global Fisheries,” Boris Worm et al., Science, Vol. 325, 2009, pp. 578-85. <http://bit.ly/jvb9YG>

 

Here's the winning limerick, by INVESTIGATOR ERIK JENSEN:

 

When it comes to everyday worms,

Cry "Fish!" and you’ll get nervous squirms.

  But not so with Boris

  And scale-loving chorus!

With fisheries, Worm’s on good terms.

 

Honorably fishy mention to INVESTIGATOR MEL DICKSON:

 

We all enjoy eating our fish;

With lemon its simply delish.

  So hoorah for Team Worm

   Who've set out to confirm

How to keep fish stock just as we'd wish.

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

Twenty-one authors affirm

What they're wishing for fishing, long-term.

   Marine restoration

   And less exploitation

Are needed, contends Boris Worm.

 

 

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2011-06-10 MORE IMPROBABLE: Chest Hair, Dead Duck, Prayer

 

Recent improbable bits you may or may not have missed:

 

      twitter: @ImprobResearch

      facebook: "Improbable Research"

 

BLOG <http://improbable.com/>

<> Chest hair patterns of white males

<> Effect Of Prayer on God’s Attitude Toward Mankind

<> Scenes from Dead Duck Day 2011

And many more...

 

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

<> Is it safe to shake hands at graduation?

<> Troy’s New Book of Bear (and then some) Adventures

<> The Novel End of Cognitive Dissonance

 

 

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2011-06-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Forensic Cold Cases

 

FORENSIC COLD CASE: SMALL-SCALE ICE CREAM DEATHS

"Cause of Microbial Death during Freezing in a Soft-Serve Ice Cream Freezer," J. Foley and J.J. Sheuring, Journal of Dairy Science, vol. 49, no. 8, August 1966, pp. 928-32. <http://bit.ly/mxSPBy> The authors report:

 

"Photomicrographs established that disintegration of yeast cells occurred during freezing with agitation. Electron micrographs revealed the disintegration of cells of E. coli."

 

SHIPBOARD MELT DOWN IMITATION MYSTERY

"Investigation of Factors Affecting the Melt Down of Soft Serve Imitation Ice Milk," G. C. Walker, J. M. Tuomy and C. C. Waits, Food Laboratory, U. S. ARMY NATICK LABORATORIES, Natick. Massachusetts, March 1971, Technical Report 71-29-FL. <http://1.usa.gov/lix4sy> The authors report:

 

"The U.S. Navy has changed the design of ice cream preparation facilities aboard ships thus many new vessels are equipped with soft serve 'ice cream' freezers only. The Navy requested that resistance to rapid meltdown be built into the product. The Navy's request is the basis for the work reported herein."

 

 

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2011-06-12 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

Doha, Qatar                               — Jun 2011

 

ACS, Denver, Colorado                     — Aug 28, 2011

 

HUPO, Geneva, Switzerland                 — Sep 4, 2011

 

Life Science Network Basel, Switzerland   — Sep 7, 2011

 

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony                   — Sep 29, 2011

 

Ig Informal Lectures                      — Oct 1, 2011

 

 

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2011-06-13 -- 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.)

 

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2011-06-14 -- 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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2011-06-15 -- 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

 

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

(c) copyright 2011, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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2011-06-16 -- How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

Mini-AIR is a (free!) tiny monthly *supplement* to the bi-monthly print magazine AIR.

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