Archive for 'Arts and science'

Him, and his theory of things

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Do you have a theory of things? Bunge has a theory of things. And Bunge has something to say about someone who said something about his theory of things:

MarioBungeReply to Van Rootselaar’s Criticisms of My Theory of Things,” Mario Bunge [pictured here], International Journal Of General Systems, no. 3 (1977): 181-182. Bunge, McGill University , Montreal, Canada and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, explains:

Van Rootselaar criticizes some points in my theory of things for being allegedly trivial, others for being mistaken. While some results are indeed mathematically trivial they are not so philosophically. As for the mistakes, some arc undoubtedly there, most can be corrected easily, and others require changes that have been introduced in the final version of the theory. The rest arc not mistakes but misunderstandings, perhaps unavoidable given the brevity of the original paper.”

BONUS: The Primitive Theory of Things

The 2014 Ig Nobel tour of Europe

Monday, March 10th, 2014

A bevy of Ig Nobel Prize winners — scientists who have done things that make people LAUGH, then THINK — will strut their stuff in the 2014 Ig Nobel tour of Europe. It happens March 14—April 2. Here’s a quick list of events:

  • Fri, March 14 ….      LONDON, Imperial College.
  • Mon, March 17  ….    COVENTRY, University of Warwick
  • Tue, March 18  ….      LONDON. Conway Hall.
  • Thu, March 20 ….      LEEDS, University of Leeds
  • Mon, March 24 ….      AARHUS. University of Aarhus
  • Tue, March 25 ….      AARHUS. University of Aarhus
  • Wed, March 26 ….      COPENHAGEN, Copenhagen University
  • Thu, March 27  ….      STOCKHOLM, Karolinska Institute
  • Thu, March 27  ….      STOCKHOLM, ABF House
  • Wed, April 2 ….       PORTSMOUTH, University of Portsmouth

For full details, see our events schedule. For fuller details of the UK part of the tour, see the 2014 UK tour page. Among the participants (in various shows):

  • Marc Abrahams (editor of the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, father of the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony) [Marc will be master of ceremonies at all the tour events.]
  • Brian Crandall (Ig Nobel Prize winner —the experimental swallowing and excreting of a parboiled shrew)
  • Masanori Niimi (Ig Nobel Prize winner —the effect of listening to opera, on heart transplant patients who are mice)
  • Kees Moeliker (Ig Nobel Prize winner —homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck, and who will now tell the strange recent history of pubic lice)
  • Robin Ball (Ig Nobel Prize winner — the physics of ponytails)
  • Ilja van Beest (Ig Nobel Prize winner — roller coaster rides as a treatment for asthma)
  • Richard Stephens (Ig Nobel Prize winner — swearing as a response to pain)
  • The QI Elves (the researchers who dig up info for the British TV program ‘QI’)
  • Mason Porter (mathematician — bipolar patients as harmonic oscillators)
  • David Schultz (weather researcher — does it rain more often on weekends?)
  • Alex Ford (biologist —the happiness of clams who take Prozac)

gillingwater-artworkNEW DUCK OPERA: The show at Imperial College London will include the world premiere of “The Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera” by Daniel Gillingwater, with a cameo appearance by Kees Moeliker, the Ig Nobel Prize-winning discoverer of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.


DRAMATIC IMPROBABLE READINGS: Several of the shows will also feature celebrated persons each doing two-minute-long dramatic readings from genuine — and bizarre — published scientific studies. The readings will be part of the shows at Imperial College London, Conway Hall (London), and The University of Leeds.

The tour also celebrates publication of the new book This Is Improbable Too, by Marc Abrahams. The Daily Mail has already celebrated the book, saying: “It’s almost dementedly inconsequential.”

Pole Dancers and Stock Brokers

Monday, March 10th, 2014

What psychological / philosophical concept might serve as a way to connect these two photos – featuring pole dancers and stockbrokers?


One answer, a surprising one according to authors Karina Paludan Nielsen and Kristina Stockunaite (who recently participated in the MSocSc in Social Science in Service Management programme at Copenhagen Business School) is Flow’ [for background about the concept of 'Flow' see note below]

Their 2012 master’s thesis, featuring the two photos, is available here ‘The surprising similarities between pole dancers and financial dealers”

“The similarities between pole dancers and financial dealers were surprising. The case studies revealed that all respondents except one had experienced flow.

Click to continue reading “Pole Dancers and Stock Brokers”

A tour of the Museum of Bad Art

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

The CBS Sunday Morning television program paid a visit to our friends and colleagues at the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA):

BONUS: Back in 2003, CBS Sunday Morning, which was in those wordy days called CBS News Sunday Morning, visited to the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony [though there seems not to be video of that online]. And three years later, CBS Evening News visited:

MYSTERY: Big body through a little hole?

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Some folks love a real-life forensic mystery, of which this is one:

A matter of large body passing through a small hole: The holeproof out the window,” F. Patel, Forensic Science International, Volume 56, Issue 2, October 1992, Pages 183–188. The author, at the Department of Forensic Medicine, UMDS Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, University of London, explains:

“A baffling case of fall-from-height is described focusing on aspects of a human body passing through a small hole, within a holeproof window. It is a classic example of an unsatisfactory outcome when a scene of death is modified adversely due to delay in the commencement of scene management. The operative factors may be entirely outside the control of scene investigators. The primary medical attendant is reminded of the forensic obligations at a scence of unnatural death. Reporting this case might encourage forensic practitioners having experience of a similar case to respond through this journal.”

Here is some detail from the report — a photo of the window with the hole in it: