In Ig Nobel Prize-winning invention is now being used, insistently, to help protect nuclear power plants.
The 1993 Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to James Campbell and Gaines Campbell of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, dedicated deliverers of fragrance, for inventing scent strips [also known as "scratch 'n sniff" strips], the odious method by which perfume is applied to magazine pages.
A Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station control room operator didn’t pass the smell test last year. The operator couldn’t even get one.
The exam is regularly given to Pilgrim employees — via scratch-and-sniff cards — to make sure they can smell problems such as natural gas leaks, smoking equipment, or fire. But in January 2012, one worker reported that a contract medical assistant hadn’t administered the test during a routine physical. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigated. Its findings, released Wednesday, opened a window on the olfactory rules governing the nation’s nuclear facilities….
A bold physicist is about to present his plan — a bold plan — to build gigantic walls to protect people and property against tornadoes. The physicist is none other than Rongjia Tao, chair of the physics department at Temple University. Here’s notice about his planned announcement:
Session Q30: The Physics of Climate
2:30 PM–5:06 PM, Wednesday, March 5, 2014 [at the meeting of the American Physical Society, in Denver, Colorado], Room: 605
Abstract: Q30.00009 : Can We Eliminate the Major Tornado Threats in Tornado Alley?
Author: R. Tao (Dept. of Physics, Temple Univ, Philadelphia, PA)
“The recent devastating tornado attacks in Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota raise an important question: can we do something to eliminate the major tornado threats in Tornado Alley? Violent tornado attacks in Tornado Alley are starting from intensive encounters between the northbound warm air flow and southbound cold air flow. As there is no mountain in Tornado Alley ranging from west to east to weaken or block such air flows, some encounters are violent, creating instability: The strong wind changes direction and increases in speed and height. As a result, it creates a supercell, violent vortex, an invisible horizontal spinning motion in the lower atmosphere. When the rising air tilts the spinning air from horizontal to vertical, tornadoes with radii of miles are formed and cause tremendous damage. Here we show that if we build three east-west great walls in the American Midwest, 300m high and 50m wide, one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma to east, and the third one in the south Texas and Louisiana, we will diminish the tornado threats in the Tornado Alley forever. We may also build such great walls at some area with frequent devastating tornado attacks first, then gradually extend it.”
(Thanks to investigator John Ptak for bringing this to our attention.)
For the first time, Improbable can draw attention to an experimentally verified investigation into ‘Lower Extremity Kinetics in Tap Dance’ (in: Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, Volume 14, Number 1, March 2010 , pp. 3-10(8))
Investigators Lester Mayers, M.D., Shaw Bronner, P.T., Ph.D., O.C.S., Sujani Agraharasamakulam, M.S., and Sheyi Ojofeitimi, M.P.T. asked six professional tap dancers to perform ‘flaps, cramprolls, and pullbacks‘ on a platform which measured the kinetic forces involved as they actuated their lower extremities (a.k.a. legs and feet). The moves were also photographed with a high speed camera.
“Compared with studies of hip and knee joint compression forces occurring during various activities, our findings again most closely resembled measurements during low impact aerobic dance, and only slightly exceeded those occurring during walking and stair climbing.
As anticipated, we found relatively small joint landing forces and moments for the four sequences performed by experienced tap dancers.”
Coming soon: Possible problems caused by lower extremity kinetics of tap dancers.
Given the current interest in the implications of automated computer analysis of voice recordings, say for example telephone calls, it’s perhaps not surprising that some might have thought about disguising their voice to (try to) avoid recognition and/or obfuscate the content. But those who work professionally in the voice-recognition field have been investigating such nefarious methodology for more than a decade. In a now-classic paper on the subject published as long ago as 2000, authors professor Robert D. Rodman and Michael S. Powell of the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University, US, listed more than 20 viable types of voice disguise techniques. They include, for example:
● Putting on a foreign accent
● Deliberately lisping
● Tongue holding (whilst speaking)
● and so-called ‘Pipe-smoker’ speech (talking whilst biting a hard object)
An video example of which is available here. Compare and contrast various phrases with and without pipe.
Note: The photo above shows the 12018 ‘voice changer’ available from Berwick Industrial Co. Ltd. Hong Kong.
BONUS: ”Facilitating fashion camouflage art,” Ranran Feng [pictured below, partially camouflaged] and Balakrishnan Prabhakaran, MM ’13 Proceedings of the 21st ACM international conference on Multimedia. (Thanks to investigator Florian Gallwitz for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, explain:
“Artists and fashion designers have recently been creating a new form of art — Camouflage Art — which can be used to prevent computer vision algorithms from detecting faces. This digital art technique combines makeup and hair styling, or other modifications such as facial painting to help avoid automatic face-detection. In this paper, we first study the camouflage interference and its effectiveness on several current state of art techniques in face detection/recognition; and then present a tool that can facilitate digital art design for such camouflage that can fool these computer vision algorithms. This tool can find the prominent or decisive features from facial images that constitute the face being recognized; and give suggestions for camouflage options (makeup, styling, paints) on particular facial features or facial parts. Testing of this tool shows that it can effectively aid the artists or designers in creating camouflage-thwarting designs. The evaluation on suggested camouflages applied on 40 celebrities across eight different face recognition systems (both non-commercial or commercial) shows that 82.5% ~ 100% of times the subject is unrecognizable using the suggested camouflage.”
The web site cvdazzle.com further explains the technology, and shows examples of what it accomplishes:
Xinn Lin, the prominent six-toe poet, has published two books of poetry about having six toes:
Toeing Life, Xinn Lin, Trafford publishers, 2012, ISBN 1466931531. the publisher says: “Toeing Life is a collection of poetry by Xinn Lin that allows her to share her questions and doubts about her life while she examines her innermost thoughts…. Lin was born with six toes, something that has defined her and how she thinks and feels.”
Tip Toe, Xinn Linn, Trafford publishers, 2013, ISBN 1466991372.
(Thanks to investigator Ramona Gillies for bringing six-toe poetry to our attention.)