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

December 2011, issue number 2011-12. 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/mini2011-12.htm>

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

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2011-12-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2011-12-02 Imminent Events

2011-12-03 The Magazine: Special Ig Nobel Issue

2011-12-04 Most Provocative Science Statement of 2011

2011-12-05 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Old Dogs vs New Tricks

2011-12-06 Salt-On-Salt Competition

2011-12-07 Double Stare/Walk Poet

2011-12-08 MORE IMPROBABLE: Army dandruff, exploding meat

2011-12-09 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Pop's Pro-p Hom-Form

2011-12-10 Improbable Research Events

2011-12-11 -- How to Subscribe to the Magazine (*)

2011-12-12 -- Our Address (*)

2011-12-13 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2011-12-14 -- How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

      Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

 

 

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2011-12-02 Imminent Events

 

      ARISIA, Boston          Jan 15, 2012

 

      AAAS, Vancouver         Feb 18, 2012

 

      UK Tour — Leeds, Bristol, London, Dundee, etc

                              Mar 8-17, 2012

 

 

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2011-12-03 The Magazine: Special Ig Nobel Issue

 

The special Ig Nobel issue of the magazine has just been mailed to subscribers, and will spend the next few days, weeks and years wending its way through the world's postal services. You can see it online at <http://bit.ly/uasduh>

 

Read back issues online (including the special Animal Oddities issue) and/or subscribe to the fully tangible paper version, at: <http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>.

 

 

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2011-12-04 Most Provocative Science Statement of 2011

 

The most provocative statement of the year, in the view, presumably, of hordes of people, is this:

 

      "Only the Mongol invasion could have lowered global CO2,

      but by an amount too small to be resolved by ice cores."

 

Details are in the study: "Coupled climate–carbon simulations indicate minor global effects of wars and epidemics on atmospheric CO2 between AD 800 and 1850," Julia Pongratz, Ken Caldeira, Christian H. Reick and Martin Claussen, The Holocene, vol. 21 no. 5, August 2011, pp. 843-51. (Thanks to Karel Klika for bringing this to our attention.) <http://hol.sagepub.com/content/21/5/843.short>

 

The authors are at the Carnegie Institution for Science in the USA, the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany and the University of Hamburg.

 

 

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2011-12-05 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Old Dogs vs. New Tricks

 

This month's research spotlight focuses on an ancient and proverbial question: Can an old dog learn new tricks?

 

"Size and Reversal Learning in the Beagle Dog as a Measure of Executive Function and Inhibitory Control in Aging," P. Dwight Tapp, Christina Siwak, Jimena Estrada, Elizabeth Head, Bruce Muggenburg, Carl Cotman, and Norton Milgram, Learning and Memory, vol. 10, 2003. pp.  64-73. (Thanks to Tom Stafford for bringing this to our attention.) <http://bit.ly/rM3Ogf> The authors, at University of Toronto, Scarborough, University of California, Irvine, and Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, explain:

 

"As part of a larger effort to investigate age-related changes in executive processes in the dog, inhibitory control was measured in young, middle-aged, old, and senior dogs using size discrimination learning and reversal procedures. Compared to young and middle-aged dogs, old and senior dogs were impaired on both the initial learning of the size task and the reversal of original reward contingencies."

 

 

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2011-12-06 Salt-On-Salt Competition

 

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

 

"Genetic and physiological basis of adaptive salt tolerance divergence between coastal and inland Mimulus guttatus," David B. Lowry, Megan C. Hall, David E. Salt and John H. Willis, New Phytologist, vol. 183, no. 3, August 2009, pp. 776–88. <http://bit.ly/uDvfAi>

 

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

 

      SALT-ON-SALT LIMERICK COMPETITION

      c/o <[email protected]>

 

 

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2011-12-07 Double Stare/Walk Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner in the Double Stare/Walk Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study "Effects of Facial Expression and Stare Duration on Walking Speed: Two Field Experiments," D. Elman, D.C. Schulte, and A. Bukoff, Environmental Psychology and Nonverbal Behavior, vol. 2, 1977, pp. 93–99. <http://bit.ly/u8hFPs>

 

This was an unusual competition. Competitors were required to write not just one, but a COUPLED-PAIR of original limericks.

 

Here's the winning limerick, by INVESTIGATOR BARRY CLARK:

 

Why does the subject of staring

Lead us to limerick pairing?

  Can one pair of eyes

  And a fruitful surmise

Double the load we are bearing?

 

It's done to show that your eyes

Will bother the near passer bys,

   And alter their walk.

   They might even balk.

Due to your stare's length and size.

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

In Experiment 1, people meet

Outdoors, at some place on the street.

   A look, gaze, or stare,

   A cold, icy glare,

Does not induce fleetness of feet.

 

Indoors for Experiment 2,

In which we observe something new.

   If we stare for a while

   And whether we smile

Have impacts on what people do.

 

 

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2011-12-08 MORE IMPROBABLE: Army dandruff, exploding meat

 

Recent improbable bits you may or may not have missed:

 

      twitter: @ImprobResearch, @IgNobel

      facebook: "Improbable Research"

 

BLOG <http://improbable.com/>

<> Truffle detection by flying squirrels

<> When firefly meets superconducting magnet

<> How to (try to) stop a machine

And many more...

 

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

<> A Comprehensive Look at Dandruff in PakistanŐs Army

<> The scientists who synchronize cows

<> The Men Behind Exploding Meat

<> Does success as an artist bring you more sexual conquests?

And more...

 

HAIR CLUBS: "Genetics & the hair of Steven Pinker, LFHCfS" <http://bit.ly/v7NbSP>

 

 

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2011-12-09 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Pop's Pro-p Hom-Form

 

"Pro-p hom-form of the birational anabelian conjecture over sub-p-adic Fields," Scott Corry and Florian Pop, Journal fŸr die reine und angewandte Mathematik, no. 628, 2009, pp. 121-8. <http://bit.ly/vYMDXX>

 

BONUS: Pop's Page: <http://www.math.upenn.edu/~pop/>

 

 

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2011-12-10 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

ARISIA, Boston, MA, USA                   — Jan 15, 2012

 

AAAS, Vancouver, Canada                   - Feb 18, 2012

 

Ig Nobel UK Tour                          — Mar 2012

 

The Netherlands                           — Jun 2012

 

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony                   — Sep 2012

 

 

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2011-12-11 -- 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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2011-12-12 -- 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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2011-12-13 -- 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, Richard Roberts

 

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

(c) copyright 2011, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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2011-12-14 -- 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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