Archive for 'Arts and science'

Dead Duck Day 2017, in pictures

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

The 22nd edition of Dead Duck Day, honoring the mallard duck that became known to science as the first (documented) ‘victim’ of homosexual necrophilia in that species, on June 5th, 2017 attracted 85 spectators, a record number since 1996.

Right outside the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam, the ceremony included (1) the first posthumous public appearance of the world’s second officially homosexual necrophiliac duck (now a museum specimen), (2) The special ‘Dead Duck Day Message’, delivered in person by Henk Wolf who was hit in the eye by an Eurasian coot (Fulica atra) and who wrote the book ‘Een meerkoet in mijn oog‘ [A coot in my eye] about the dramatic consequences, and (3) the Moldavian poet Dumitru Crudu, poet-in-residence of the 48th Poetry International Festival Rotterdam, who read a poem about his encounters with ducks in Rotterdam.

Traditonally, Dead Duck Day also commemorated the billions of other birds that die(d) from colliding with glass buildings, and was topped off with a six-course duck dinner.

Here is a series of pictures, taken by Maarten Laupman, that captured the performers and the audience.

Atlas Obscura’s report on Dead Duck Day.

Trees and drones — how will the tally turn out?

Friday, June 9th, 2017

A new project, promoted by a beer company, offers a promotional video called “How drones are helping to plant trees“:

If successful, this project will to some extent offset the damage caused when drones crash into trees. Numerous videos document the phenomenon of drones crashing into trees. Here’s a video that compiles a very few of those very many crashes:

Eating Popcorn in Front of a Mirror May Induce Some People to Eat More Popcorn

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Eating popcorn in front of a mirror is a provocative act — provoking the urge to eat more popcorn — suggests this study:

The ‘Social’ Facilitation of Eating Without the Presence of Others: Self-reflection on Eating Makes Food Taste Better and People Eat More,” Ryuzaburo Nakata and Nobuyuki Kawai, Physiology and Behavior, epub 2017. The authors, at Nagoya University, Japan, explain:

“Food tastes better and people eat more of it when eaten with company than alone. Although several explanations have been proposed for this social facilitation of eating, they share the basic assumption that this phenomenon is achieved by the existence of co-eating others. Here, we demonstrate a similar “social” facilitation of eating in the absence of other individuals. Elderly participants tasted a piece of popcorn alone while in front of a mirror (which reflects the participant themselves eating popcorn) or in front of a wall-reflecting monitor, and were found to eat more popcorn and rate it better tasting in the self-reflecting condition than in the monitor condition. Similar results were found for younger adults. The results suggest that the social facilitation of eating does not necessarily require the presence of another individual. Furthermore, we observed a similar “social” facilitation of eating even when participants ate a piece of popcorn in front of a static picture of themselves eating,”

The university published an illustrative press release, which features this clarifying illustration:(Thanks to Tony Tweedale for bringing this to our attention.)

A man describing coffee descriptors for an hour and a half

Friday, June 9th, 2017

This is a rare 90-minute-long video of an emeritus professor describing coffee descriptors.

If you are not sure what a coffee descriptor is, you have 90 minutes in which to figure that out. After that, you are free to continue the effort unassisted:

BONUS: Professor Kenneth Liberman, of coffee descriptor descriptions fame, describes “turn-taking in the surfers’ lineup“.

Cinnamon to Induce Browning in the Fat of Fat Persons

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

A conjunction of thoughts might lead to the attempt at browning the fat of fat persons, if the results of this study hold sway:

Cinnamon induces browning in subcutaneous adipocytes,” Hiu Yee Kwan, Jiahui Wu, Tao Su, Xiao-Juan Chao, Bin Liu, Xiuqiong Fu, Chi Leung Chan, Rebecca Hiu Ying Lau, Anfernee Kai Wing Tse, Quan Bin Han, Wang Fun Fong and Zhi-ling Yu, Scientific Reports, vol. 7, article no. 2447, 2017.

The study includes photos of two flayed, dead mice.

The authors, at Hong Kong Baptist University, HKBU Shenzhen Research Institute and Continuing Education, Guangzhou Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, Guangzhou Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Disease, and Guangzhou Medical University, explain:

“Browning is the process of increasing the number of brite cells, which helps to increase energy expenditure and reduce obesity. Consumption of natural and non-toxic herbal extracts that possess the browning effect is an attractive anti-obesity strategy. In this study, we examined the browning effect of cinnamon extract [CE]…. [Our] data suggest that CE has a browning effect in subcutaneous adipocytes. Our study [which involved fat mice] suggests a natural non-toxic herbal remedy to reduce obesity [in fat humans].”

(Thanks to Tony Tweedale for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: “What are subcutaneous adipocytes really good for?

BONUS: A purveyor of subcutaneous adipocytes.