Archive for 'Arts and Science'

“Ingredients in Victoria’s Secret Bombshell and Ivanka Trump eaux de parfums that repel mosquitoes” [research study]

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Humanity’s war against mosquitoes still rages, after the failure of another new strategy. This study gives details of the failure:

Ingredients in Victoria’s Secret Bombshell and Ivanka Trump eaux de parfums that repel mosquitoes,” Fangfang Zeng, Pingxi Xu, Kaiming Tan, Paulo Zarbin, Walter Leal, BioRxiv, August 3, 2017, doi.org/10.1101/172304. The authors, at the University of California Davis and Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil, report:

“We analysed Bombshell to identify the constituent(s) eliciting a previously reported “off- label” repellence activity…. These compounds were also major constituents of Ivanka Trump eau de parfum…. Although wearing these perfumes may repel nuisance mosquitoes, their use as “off-label” repellents against infected mosquitoes is not recommended…. A panel of 104 students (18-23 years old) conducted a blind test to compare the two eaux de parfums and showed a preference for Bombshell over Ivanka Trump’s brand, particularly among women.”

Here’s additional detail from the study:

This is the standard container for Bombshell perfume:

(Thanks to Dan Vergano for bringing this to our attention.)

Towards robotic goosebumps

Monday, July 31st, 2017

“Although there have been many researches on artificial haptic-sensory skin and discussions of materials for facial expression, we can find few trials related to expressions on surface of robots.”

Explain a research team from Dr. Tomoko Yonezawa’s lab at Kansai University Osaka, Japan, prompting them to become one of the first teams  worldwide (perhaps the first) to develop robotic goosebumps.

“The goose bumps are caused both of external stimuli such as cold temperature and internal state such as fear. The testbed of the goose-bump skin was implemented on the robot’s arm.”

The video above goes some way towards describing the project.

See: Involuntary expression of embodied robot adopting goose bumps in HRI ’14 Proceedings of the 2014 ACM/IEEE international conference on Human-robot interaction.

 

Why Use Dinosaur Poop to Repair Sheep Bones?

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Roy Bloebaum used fossilized dinosaur poop to repair sheep bones. The repair of bones can be an intricate undertaking. Dr. Bloebaum (and colleagues!) hoped to demonstrate how easy it can be to make iffy assumptions. They chose dinosaur feces fossil material to attract attention that could then be focused on certain intellectual aspects of bone repair. They describe this, in technical language, in a newly published study:

Transcortical or intracondylar? Which model is accurate for predicting biomaterial attachment in total joint replacement?” Roy D. Bloebaum [pictured here], Nicole T. Abdo, Aaron A. Hofmann, Richard T. Epperson, Raymond E. Olsen, and Ornusa Chalayon, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B, epub 2017. They authors, at the Bone & Joint Research Laboratory, DVA SLC HCS, Salt Lake City, Utah, and the University of Utah, report:

Despite four decades of research on material and porous coatings intended for cementless fixation in total joint replacement (TJR), aseptic mechanical loosening unrelated to particulate disease remains a concern….

Porous-coated commercially pure titanium implants (Ti-Coat) were from Thortex Inc., Portland Oregon and were used as the material to test the hypothesis (control). Commercially pure titanium has been shown to provide successful attachment clinically in TJR. Coprolite implants, from David Gillette with Utah State University, commonly known as petrified dinosaur poop (Dino), were used to establish a dramatic understanding that even this unique material (which would never be used in TJR) might demonstrate that bone could hypothetically bridge a 500 mm gap at the transcortical location, but possibly not at the weight-bearing intracondylar location….

In conclusion, the results of this investigation emphasize that biomaterial scientists, manufacturers, investigators, and orthopedic surgeons should be aware of the inferior healing properties of cancellous [the inner, spongily-structured, portion of] bone as compared to cortical [the outer, more-compactly-structured portion of] bone and how these results suggest a false-positive nature of the transcortical model in TJR. The results showed that even petrified dinosaur feces could be mechanically stable in the transcortical model.

Here are further details from the study:

(Thank to Donald W. Howie for bringing this to our attention.)

Sad News: Daedalus (David Jones) is gone

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

We’ve just seen reports that our friend David Jones — best known in the science world as “Daedalus” — died. “Daedalus” was the name of the column David created and wrote, in which he did something that, as far as I am aware, was a unique way to make people laugh, then think.

Each Daedalus column would describe an imagined invention. Usually there would be something quite intentionally wrong in the details — a violation of some law of nature, typically — but in a way that was not immediately obvious. The greatest pleasure, should you the reader care to indulge, came in figuring out what exactly made that invention so very odd or impossible. (He waxed on, a bit, about one of his favorite specialties — perpetual motion machines — in a 1983 piece in New Scientist.)

The column ran for many years in New Scientist magazine, and then moved to Nature. Some of the best Daedalus columns were collected and made into two books: The inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes; and The Further Inventions of Daedalus.

David was fond of pointing out, later in life, that many of the ideas he presented in the column accurately foreshadowed things later honored with Nobel Prizes, and a few with Ig Nobel Prizes. That and other musings are in David’s book The Aha! Moment.

Wikipedia has a partial summary of some of the things David did. Better: Conor Lawless visited David in 2010, then produced a writeup with lots of photos.

The photo here shows David at the 2001 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. He was not in the best of health, having lost most his ability to walk — but said he would come to demonstrate to himself and the world that he could still do things he wanted to do. David traveled from his home in England to the Ig Nobel ceremony at Harvard University, in the US (and that was in the weeks just after the September 11 attack on New York — travel was not simple for anyone).

In the ceremony, David did one of the first 24/7 lectures. This photo shows that moment. You can read his words, and see video of his actual performance.

While David was in town, he and I and Jerry Lettvin and our families had dinner together. The meal featured a spectacular competition: David Jones and Jerry Lettvin — two of the most inventive, science-loving minds on the planet — gleefully shooting each other’s musings full of holes.

 

Bike riding with up/down and left/right swaps

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

These two videos show two related experiments that demonstrate some very weird things the human brain can do. The first, newer video shows Destin (the creator of the SmarterEveryDay videos) learning to ride a bike in which the left/right turning machinery has been reversed:

The second shows the Erismann/Koehler experiment in which a person learned to navigate the world while wearing special glasses that make up into down (and down into up). The bicycle part comes very near the end of the video, as a culminating achievement: