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

September 2013, issue number 2013-09. ISSN 1076-500X.

----------------------------------------------------------

Monthly mini update/alert from the Annals of Improbable Research

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

=========================================================

 

2013-09-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2013-09-02 Imminent Events

2013-09-03 In the Magazine: Soon Tolstoys, Soon Rifles

2013-09-04 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Astronomy Applied to Whale Sharks

2013-09-05 The 2013 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

2013-09-06 Ig Nobel Events in Italy

2013-09-07 Recovering Alcoholics / Coffee / Cigs Limerick Competition

2013-09-08 Dissolved Air Flotation Poet

2013-09-09 MORE IMPROBABLE: Ig Informal, Silly Walks, Pop Up

2013-09-10 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Tomato-Catsup Fundus/Sturge-Weber Syndrome

2013-09-11 Improbable Research Events

2013-09-12 -- How to Get the Magazine (*)

2013-09-13 -- Our Address (*)

2013-09-14 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2013-09-15 -- How to start or stop receiving this newsletter (*)

 

      Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-02 Imminent Events

 

Perugia Science Fest, Italy         Sep 28

 

Rome, Italy                         Oct 1

 

      Full schedule at <http://goo.gl/tzwJt>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-03 In the Magazine: Soon Tolstoys, Soon Rifles

 

The special Tolstoys & Rifles issue of the Annals of Improbable Research is at the printer. The special Italian Hand Gestures online at <http://goo.gl/RMNTWK>; the full e-book version is available, too.

 

      Download a FREE E-BOOK ISSUE <http://goo.gl/BMzMw>

      All issues of the magazine <http://www.improbable.com/magazine>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-04 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Astronomy Applied to Whale Sharks

 

This month's research spotlights astronomy techniques as applied to whale sharks:

 

"An Astronomical Pattern-Matching Algorithm for Computer-Aided Identification of Whale Sharks Rhincodon typus," Z. Arzoumanian, J. Holmberg and B. Norman, Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 42, no. 6, December 2005, Page 999-1011. <http://goo.gl/hWuVdw> (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.) The authors explain:

 

"We describe a novel technique for identifying individual whale sharks Rhincodon typus through numerical pattern matching of their natural surface 'spot' colourations.... We have automated this process by adapting a computer algorithm originally developed in astronomy for the comparison of star patterns in images of the night sky."

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-05 The 2013 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

 

The 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded at a gala ceremony at Harvard on Septmber 12, with four Nobel laureates physically presenting the prizes to new winners from five continents.

 

Ceremony details (and video): <http://www.improbable.com/ig/2013>

 

The winners <http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2013>:

 

MEDICINE PRIZE: Masateru Uchiyama [JAPAN], Xiangyuan Jin [CHINA, JAPAN], Qi Zhang [JAPAN], Toshihito Hirai [JAPAN], Atsushi Amano [JAPAN], Hisashi Bashuda [JAPAN] and Masanori Niimi [JAPAN, UK], for assessing the effect of listening to opera, on heart transplant patients who are mice.

REFERENCE: "Auditory stimulation of opera music induced prolongation of murine cardiac allograft survival and maintained generation of regulatory CD4+CD25+ cells," Masateru Uchiyama, Xiangyuan Jin, Qi Zhang, Toshihito Hirai, Atsushi Amano, Hisashi Bashuda and Masanori Niimi, Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, vol. 7, no. 26, epub. March 23, 2012.

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Masateru Uchiyama, Xiangyuan Jin, Masanori Niimi

 

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Laurent B¸gue [FRANCE], Brad Bushman [USA, UK, the NETHERLANDS, POLAND], Oulmann Zerhouni [FRANCE], Baptiste Subra [FRANCE], and Medhi Ourabah [FRANCE], for confirming, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.

REFERENCE: "'Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder': People Who Think They Are Drunk Also Think They Are Attractive," Laurent B¸gue, Brad J. Bushman, Oulmann Zerhouni, Baptiste Subra, Medhi Ourabah, British Journal of Psychology, epub May 15, 2012.

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Brad Bushman, Laurent B¸gue, Medhi Ourabah

 

JOINT PRIZE IN BIOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY: Marie Dacke [SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA], Emily Baird [SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA, GERMANY], Marcus Byrne [SOUTH AFRICA, UK], Clarke Scholtz [SOUTH AFRICA], and Eric J. Warrant [SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA, GERMANY], for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.

REFERENCE: "Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation," Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clarke H. Scholtz, Eric J. Warrant, Current Biology, epub January 24, 2013. The authors, at Lund University, Sweden, the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and the University of Pretoria

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Eric Warrant

 

SAFETY ENGINEERING PRIZE: The late Gustano Pizzo [USA], for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers — the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane's specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival. US Patent #3811643, Gustano A. Pizzo, "anti hijacking system for aircraft", May 21, 1972.

 

PHYSICS PRIZE: Alberto Minetti [ITALY, UK, DENMARK, SWITZERLAND], Yuri Ivanenko [ITALY, RUSSIA, FRANCE], Germana Cappellini [ITALY], Nadia Dominici [ITALY, SWITZERLAND], and Francesco Lacquaniti [ITALY], for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the moon.

REFERENCE: "Humans Running in Place on Water at Simulated Reduced Gravity," Alberto E. Minetti, Yuri P. Ivanenko, Germana Cappellini, Nadia Dominici, Francesco Lacquaniti, PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 7, 2012, e37300.

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Alberto Minetti and Yuri Ivanenko

 

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Shinsuke Imai [JAPAN], Nobuaki Tsuge [JAPAN], Muneaki Tomotake [JAPAN], Yoshiaki Nagatome [JAPAN], Toshiyuki Nagata [JAPAN, GERMANY], and Hidehiko Kumgai [JAPAN], for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realized.

REFERENCE: "Plant Biochemistry: An Onion Enzyme that Makes the Eyes Water," S. Imai, N. Tsuge, M. Tomotake, Y. Nagatome, H. Sawada, T. Nagata and H. Kumagai, Nature, vol. 419, no. 6908, October 2002, p. 685.

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: All six co-authors.

 

ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE: Brian Crandall [USA] and Peter Stahl [CANADA, USA], for parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing the shrew without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days — all so they could see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system, and which bones would not.

REFERENCE: "Human Digestive Effects on a Micromammalian Skeleton," Peter W. Stahl and Brian D. Crandall, Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 22, November 1995, pp. 789–97.

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Brian Crandall

 

PEACE PRIZE: Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.

 

PROBABILITY PRIZE: Bert Tolkamp [UK, the NETHERLANDS], Marie Haskell [UK], Fritha Langford [UK, CANADA], David Roberts [UK], and Colin Morgan [UK], for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.

REFERENCE: "Are Cows More Likely to Lie Down the Longer They Stand?" Bert J. Tolkamp, Marie J. Haskell, Fritha M. Langford, David J. Roberts, Colin A. Morgan, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 124, nos. 1-2, 2010, pp. 1–10.

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Bert Tolkamp

 

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: Kasian Bhanganada, Tu Chayavatana, Chumporn Pongnumkul, Anunt Tonmukayakul, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Krit Komaratal, and Henry Wilde, for the medical techniques described in their report "Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam" — techniques which they recommend, except in cases where the amputated penis had been partially eaten by a duck. [THAILAND]

REFERENCE: "Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam," by Kasian Bhanganada, Tu Chayavatana, Chumporn Pongnumkul, Anunt Tonmukayakul, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Krit Komaratal, and Henry Wilde, American Journal of Surgery, 1983, no. 146, pp. 376-382.

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-06 Ig Nobel Events in Italy

 

Join us for the Ig Nobel events in Perugia and Rome, Italy.

 

PERUGIA: Saturday, September 28, 9:00 pm.

Perugia Science Fest.

Featuring Marc Abrahams and Ig Nobel Prize winners Alberto Minetti (new Italian Ig Nobel winner!) and Kees Moeliker (homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck). <http://goo.gl/eD30lt>

 

ROME: Tuesday, October 1, 7:30 pm.

Libreria Assaggi di San Lorenzo, Via degli Etruschi, 4, Roma.

Marc Abrahams, Gilberto Corbellini (Sapienza University of Rome), Mario De Caro (University of Roma Tre), and Armando Massarenti (Sunday Sole 24 Ore) discuss the Ig Nobel Prizes. There will perhaps also be a special guest. <http://goo.gl/HkO08s>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-07 Recovering Alcoholics / Coffee / Cigs Limerick Competition

 

Recovering alcoholics, coffee, and cigarettes inspire this month's limerick competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that illuminates the nature of this study:

 

"Coffee and Cigarette Consumption and Perceived Effects in Recovering Alcoholics Participating in Alcoholics Anonymous in Nashville, Tennessee," Michael S. Reich, Mary S. Dietrich, A.J. Reid Finlayson, Edward F.Fischer, and Peter R. Martin, Alcohol Clin Exp Res., vol. 32, no. 10, October 2008, pp. 1799–1806. <http://goo.gl/ANUX7A> The authors explain their chief finding:

 

"CONCLUSIONS: A greater proportion of AA participants drink coffee and smoke cigarettes in larger per capita amounts than observed in general U.S. populations."

 

Send your limerick to:

 

      RECOVERING ALCOHOLICS / COFFEE / CIGS LIMERICK COMPETITION

      c/o <[email protected]>

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-08 Dissolved Air Flotation Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner for last month's Dissolved Air Flotation Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study:

 

"Dissolved Air Flotation and Me," James K. Edzwald, Water Research, vol. 44, no. 7, April 2010, Pages 2077–2106. <http://goo.gl/xMW6uW>

 

The winning poet is PAUL BARNETT, who wrote:

 

As we quaffed at his gay celebration

Dr. Edzwald gave brief explanation:

   "This isn't champagne

   But comes straight from the drain —

Rendered bubbly and clear by flotation."

 

From LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

One option is sedimentation.

Another's dissolved air flotation.

   A personal journey

   Begins it.  It turn he

Expounds about clarification.

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-09 MORE IMPROBABLE: Ig Informal, Silly Walks, Pop Up

 

Recent improbable bits you maybe missed:

 

IMPROBABLE BLOG:

<> Anna H. goes to the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT

      <http://goo.gl/ShZrYT>

<> "Silly Walk" Studies

      <http://goo.gl/7Pd9Zr> and <http://goo.gl/Qbdy9O>

<> Things that Pop Up in Databases. Read at Your Own Risk.

      <http://goo.gl/V4F1cJ>

... and more at <http://improbable.com>

 

NEWSPAPER COLUMN:

<> Solar Protectivity of Beards and Moustaches, Tested

      <http://goo.gl/Zx7i59>

 

LUXURIANT FLOWING HAIR CLUB FOR SCIENTISTS (LFHCfS):

Romain Franconville <http://goo.gl/KihGfd>

 

twitter:    @ImprobResearch, @MarcAbrahams, #IgNobel

facebook:   <http://www.facebook.com/improbableresearch>

book:       <http://goo.gl/rHMb3t>

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-10 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Tomato-Catsup Fundus/Sturge-Weber Syndrome

 

"The 'Tomato-Catsup' Fundus in Sturge-Weber Syndrome," J.O. Susac, J.L. Smith, and R.J. Scelfo, Archives of Ophthalmology, vol. 92, no. 1, July 1974, pp. 69-70. <http://goo.gl/xgVXYF>

 

 

------------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-11 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

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

 

Perugia Science Fest, Italy               — Sep 28, 2013

Rome, Italy                               — Oct 1, 2013

AAAS Annual Meeting, Chicago, USA         — Feb, 2014

Ig Nobel Tour of Scandinavia             — Mar, 2014

Ig Nobel Tour of the UK, USA              — Mar, 2014

USA Sci & Eng Fest, Washington, DC        — Apr 24, 2014

Imperial College London Festival, UK      — May, 2014

ESOF, Copenhagen, Denmark                 — Jun, 2014

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

--------------------------------------------------------------

2013-09-12 -- How to Get the Magazine (*)

 

The Annals of Improbable Research is a 6-issues-per-year magazine. (It's much bigger and better than the little bits in this newsletter.)

We produce each issue as an e-book, as well as on traditional paper.

 

E-BOOKS:

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

      DOWNLOAD A FREE E-BOOK ISSUE: <http://goo.gl/BMzMw>

 

PAPER EDITION:

      To subscribe, go to <http://improbable.com/subscribe/>

      or send in this form:

   .....................................................

   Name:

   Address:

   Address:

   City and State:

   Zip or postal code:

   Country:

   Phone:                     E-mail:

   ....................................................

   PAPER SUBSCRIPTIONS (6 issues per year):    

   USA            1 yr/$44          2 yrs/$82

   Canada/Mexico  1 yr/$55 US       2 yrs/$104 US

   Overseas       1 yr/$72 US       2 yrs/$133 US

   ....................................................

   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]>

   ....................................................

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

2013-09-13 -- Our Address (*)

 

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA

(+1) 617-491-4437, FAX: (+1) 617-661-0927

 

EDITORIAL: <[email protected]>

PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS: <[email protected]>

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

Twitter: @ImprobResearch

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

2013-09-14 -- 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, Richard Roberts

 

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

(c) copyright 2013, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

2013-09-15 -- How to start or stop receiving this newsletter (*)

 

Mini-AIR is a (free!) teeny-tiny monthly *supplement* to the actual six-times-a-year magazine AIR.

   ...................................................

   To subscribe or unsubscribe, please visit

   <http://chem.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/mini-air>

   ...................................................

======================================================