Archive for 'Arts and science'

You’re invited to the Improbable Research show at the AAAS meeting Saturday

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Join us, if you’re in Boston this Saturday night, at the annual Improbable Research session at the AAAS Annual meeting! Here are details:

AAAS Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston Hotel (in the Prudential Center), in Constitution Ballroom A, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. — February 18, 2017, Saturday, 8:00 pm.  This year’s Improbable Research session will feature:

This evening special session is open free to the public. BUT NOTE: Every year this session fills rapidly, so we suggest you arrive a little early, if you want to get into the room.

This is the research study that introduced the Dunning-Kruger effect:

Nobel laureates don’t grow on trees

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Nobel laureates don’t grow on trees, but they do go a-wandering in pleasant places. Sheldon Glashow (standing on the left, and possessor of a 1979 Nobel Prize for physics) and Rich Roberts (standing on the right, and possessor of a 1993 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine) sent us this photo of them in Bali.

Rich Roberts writes:

“Taken in the monkey forest in Bali yesterday. The gentleman in the middle is from Brazil. His name is Oscar, and the shirt was bought for him by his girlfriend. We thought you might find a good use for this photo.”

Until we find a good use for the photo, we are posting it here on the Improbable Research blog.

Centrifugal duration: An almost sure-fire way to lose weight (and other things)

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

If someone put you in a centrifuge — for an entire year — would you lose weight?

An essay by someone named Sarah argues, that “Centrifugation makes animals smaller, leaner, more muscular, and denser-boned.” The essay gives many examples. Here are two of those examples:

Female rats exposed to 3.5 or 4.7 G for one year showed “marked depletion of body-fat depots” and “significant decrease in kidney and liver lipids.”[2]…

The drop in body fat from centrifugation can be quite large; chickens went from 13% body fat to 3% body fat at 3G, and mice have a 55% drop in total body fat after 8 weeks of 2G exposure.[18]

Here are the studies that produced those, uh, results:

[2] Oyama, J., and B. Zeitman. “Tissue composition of rats exposed to chronic centrifugation.” American Journal of Physiology–Legacy Content 213.5 (1967): 1305-1310.

[18]Fuller, Patrick M., et al. “Neurovestibular modulation of circadian and homeostatic regulation: vestibulohypothalamic connection?.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99.24 (2002): 15723-15728.

A question raised, but not stated, by these studies: If you rode in a centrifuge for a year, or even for eight weeks, would you inevitably lose not just weight, but also all hope? Would a rat, or a chicken?

Achievements in pepper spicelessness: First the jalapeno, now the habanero

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Eighteen years after the creator of the spiceless jalapeno pepper was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize, a different plant-breeding scientist has achieved spicelessness in a different variety of chile pepper, say reports.

Dr. Paul Bosland, director of The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, was awarded the 1999 Ig Nobel biology prize for breeding a spiceless jalapeno chile pepper.

Today, in 2017, NPR’s “The Salt” blog reports about the new, second-spiceless-pepper, achievement:

This Heatless Habanero Packs All Of The Flavor With None Of The Burn

[A] pepper — an aromatic, orange habanero without any heat…

“We selected the habanero for heat because that’s what was coveted. But what if you wanted to experience the melon-like experience of a pepper?” Barber asks. “You can’t do it with a habanero — you can with a Habanada.”

Cornell plant breeder Michael Mazourek created the Habanada as part of his doctoral research. He got the idea after discovering a rogue heatless pepper whose genetics behaved very differently from a naturally sweet pepper like the Bell.

The man behind the Habanada is a Cornell University plant breeder named Michael Mazourek, who created it as part of his doctoral research….


Future fashion cycles of Korean pants – a study

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Is it possible to establish a fashion theory frame to forecast future fashion cycles of pants (in the Republic of Korea) – through analyzing past fashion cycles of pants through a diachronic method? Yes! says researcher Seonsook Kim of the Dept. of Clothing & Textiles, Daejeon University, Republic of Korea. A paper on the subject is published in the Journal of the Korean Society of Clothing and Textiles Vol. 37, No. 6 (2013) p.786~798, and is entitled:

‘The Analysis of Pant Style Trend to Establish a Fashion Cycle Theory: Focus on 1967 to 2012’ (note: mostly in Korean).

This study establishes a fashion theory frame to forecast future fashion cycles of pants through analyzing past fashion cycles of pants through a diachronic method. Pants pictures from 1967-2012, post-industrialized period of Korea were analyzed. Representative pant styles, fashion cycles of pants and the relation of pant styles, length and width were identified. The total of 1006 pictures in fashion magazine published over 46 years were selected and analyzed using PASW 18.0 (statistical program).

The results are as follows. For 46 years, representative pant styles were skinny, regular and bell-bottom. The first cycle period was from 1969 to 1992 and lasted 24 years. The second cycle period was from 1993 to 2003 and lasted 11 years. The third cycle is ongoing as of 2004. Fashion cycles have shown a general trend to be shortened. The relation between pant styles, length and width revealed related results; in addition, pant length and width changed significantly in a similar orientation. Fashion marketers can develop successful products using fashion cycle theory from these results.”

Note: It remains unclear as to whether pant lengths and styles can be meaningfully related to economic trends.