Archive for 'Arts and science'

Scintillating new book about firefly sex (and fireflies)

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

Sara Lewis (who gave a 24/7 Lecture about firefly sex, at the recent Ig Nobel Prize ceremony) has a new book out. The book is called Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies.


The Washington Post has one of the first reviews of the book:

…Lewis, who has spent years and traveled the word studying fireflies, tells this and other fairly icky tales with glee — but to be fair, she spends even more of this intense, almost obsessive book describing the radiantly appealing aspects of the firefly world…

…There’s more — including a chapter on how Japan, with a long tradition of loving and capturing fireflies, brought them back from near extinction in part via commercial breeding houses. And how Tokyo, where no fireflies survive, stages an annual festival with the aid of 100,000 solar-powered, glowing table-tennis balls taking the place of the living creatures. It’s all pretty amazing.

BONUS: Here’s the TED Talk Sara Lewis gave about firefly sex:

Mischief and its legal logic (back when)

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

Mischief, despite the modern aura of fun that the word has acquired, can be a serious matter. A book called A penal code prepared by the Indian law commissioners, and published by command of the governor general of India in council (Bengal Military Orphan Press, 1837), explores some of the legal logical that applied then and there, and in part applies here and now (wherever here is for you) to mischief. It begins:

Of Mischief.

399. Whoever causes the destruction of any property, or any such change in any property, or in the situation of any property, as destroys or diminishes the value of such property, intending thereby to cause wrongful loss to any party, is said, except in the case hereinafter excepted, to commit “mischief.”

Explanation. A person may commit mischief on his own property.

Exception. Nothing is mischief which a person does openly, and with the intention in good faith of thereby saving any person from death or hurt, or of thereby preventing a greater loss of property than that which he occasions….

The book gives several pages of examples of what was to be considered mischief, and what was not.


Introducing the Horse Gyro (new patent)

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Attention horse owners/riders: Does your horse sometimes have the inclination to lean the ‘wrong’ way when ridden? Have you thought about fitting it with a set of gyroscopes? Inventor Greg Collier, of Lubbock, Texas, has been granted a new US patent which might go some way towards alleviating equine equilibria insufficiencies.Patent-Horse-Gyro_02

“This disclosure relates generally to a system and method of use of gyroscopic forces on animal equilibrium. Animal training systems are well known and the mechanics and use of gyroscopic forces are also well known. However, the combination and use of these arts are as yet unexplored as herein disclosed.“

The full extent of the invention’s potential can (perhaps only) be fully appreciated by reading the patent, entitled : ‘System and method of use of gyroscopic forces on animal equilibrium’


Human dancers act out various animal courtship rituals

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

This video shows courtship ritual movements of several kinds of animals, as performed by human dancers.  The animals are listed near the end of the video. The video is an ad for a particular brand of Japanese condoms.


(Thanks to La Boite Verte for bringing this to our attention.)

Leveraging City Smells (for marketing purposes)

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Do you associate the city of Parma (Italy) with scent of violets, or Bufallo (US) with the aroma of Cheerios™, or the city of York (UK) with the smell of horse hair & hoof oil? According to a new paper in the journal marketing theory some people do, and this has helped to inspire marketing ideas based around the (previously overlooked) opportunities for olfactory urban ‘Place-Marketing‘.


“The leverage of smell in place marketing campaigns provides the opportunity to move beyond an ocular fixation in promotional effort towards greater limbic stimulation, thereby creating potential for consumers to have a stronger emotional response to, and immersive experience of, the place product itself.”

See: Marketing the ‘city of smells’ (scheduled for publication in the journal marketing theory.)

Question [optional]: Do you know any reliably smelly cities? If so, could the smell be leveraged, marketingwise?

Bonuses [alt. Bonii]:

● The Telegraph’s list of ‘The world’s smelliest cities’

● GQ’s list of ‘The smelliest cities on the planet

● ‘Stinky Maps‘ iPhone app. (cited in the paper).

● The map shows the Sulphur Bay area of Rotorua, New Zealand – an urban area, which because of its plentiful geothermal hotspots, is unignorably odoriferous. (Note: not cited in the paper, but featuring in the Telegraph‘s list above.)