Archive for 'Arts and science'

Short Paper Titles Tend to Have a Longer Reach

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

A study with a six-word-long title tells about the effects of study title lengths:

The Advantage of Short Paper Titles,” Adrian Letchford, Helen Susannah Moat, Tobias Preis, Royal Society Open Science, epub August 26, 2015. The authors, at the University of Warwick, UK, report:

“Vast numbers of scientific articles are published each year, some of which attract considerable attention, and some of which go almost unnoticed. Here, we investigate whether any of this variance can be explained by a simple metric of one aspect of the paper’s presentation: the length of its title. Our analysis provides evidence that journals which publish papers with shorter titles receive more citations per paper. These results are consistent with the intriguing hypothesis that papers with shorter titles may be easier to understand, and hence attract more citations.”

Karen Hopkin talks about this, tersely, in this video for Scientific American:

BONUS: The Ig Nobel Prize-winning (literature prize, 2006) paper “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.”

Cheers for the Oxford Offal Conference

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

You can be part of the cheering throngs at the Oxford Offal Conference, which will befall 8-10 July at the University of Oxford.


The Offal Conference is this year’s incarnation of the Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery. On the menu, both intellectually and sur table: offal, offal, and more offal. What is offal, you may slightly wonder? Here’s the official Offal Conference take on offal:

Offal can mean many things. It does not just refer to organ meats but to the manifold ways in which certain foods may be rejected and despised (‘awful offal’!); or reclaimed and loved. There can be vegetable offal, in the form of the ‘ugly’ vegetables deemed too imperfect for supermarkets to sell. We invite papers that embrace the subject of offal from a wide and imaginative perspective.

Conference attendees will be ingest offal. The conference web site touts, in advance, some of those rendered remains:

  • Friday Night Feast: Fergus Henderson, the King of Nose-to-Tail Cookery [will prepare] A Bold Offal Feast ( and Bold Vegetables).
  • Saturday Lunch will be all vegetable, titled Leftover, Rejected, Orphaned, and Reclaimed.
  • Saturday Dinner: Jacob Kenedy of Bocca di Lupo restaurant in London… will be cooking A Roman Offal Feast including vegetable and fish offal.

At least two of our colleagues will contribute to the offalness:

  • Saturday morning panel discussion: What is offal? What does it mean in different cultures? Why is it sometimes a delicacy and sometimes a source of horror? What are some of the common features of offal cookery? … Joining the panel: Merry White, anthropologist of Japanese food and author of the legendary Cooking for Crowds as well as, more recently, Coffee Life in Japan (UC Press).
  • On Sunday, our plenary speaker is Ben Wurgaft, addressing the subject of In Vitro Meat: the science and philosophy of ‘lab meat’.

A rare Ph.D. thesis with a trilobite and tribology

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

This is one of the very few doctoral these that explicitly deal with both a trilobite (the extinct animal) and tribology (the study of how surfaces rub against each other or don’t):

The classification of textured surfaces under varying illuminant direction,” Ged McGunnigle, PhD dissertation, Heriot-Watt University, June 1998. The author writes:

“This thesis sets texture analysis in a physical context…. The first component is the rough surface, models of the surface topography are selected from the fields of tribology and scattering….

“We illustrate the importance of illuminant direction for rough surface discrimination with the following example. Consider the fossilised trilobite (Elrathia Kingii, 550 MYA, Utah) shown in Figure 1.1.3a. Here the fossil is illuminated from tau=90° and there is little texture information that can be used to segment the fossil from the surrounding matrix.”


This and that about drawing a perfect circle

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

There’s much to be said and done about drawing perfect circles. Alexander Overwijk says and does some of it, in this video:

Stephen Ornes says lots more, in the essay “Archimedes in the Fence“, in The Last Word on Nothing”.

Introducing the newly patented Wheelbarrow-Chair (and vice versa)

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Do you sometimes wish you had a wheelbarrow that could convert into a chair? Or a chair that could convert into a wheelbarrow? You’re luck could be in.


Inventors James Patrick Cardona, of Coolum Beach, Queensland (Australia); Trevor Raymond Clark, of Woombye, Queensland (Australia); Guy Darren Trappett, of Peregian Spring, Queensland (Australia); and Mario Cardona, of Coolum Beach, Queensland (Australia) . . .

WheelBarrowChair02– have just (March 29, 2016) received their US patent for a ‘Convertible dual purpose device’.

Also see: Another new patent (May 2016) – A shovel that’s also an umbrella, or an umbrella that’s also a shovel.