Archive for 'Arts and science'

A Model of Motion Sickness

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Takahiro Wada, Normia Kamiji, and Shunichi Doi of Ritsumeikan University recently examined an application of a model of motion sickness incidence (MSI) (which Wada, Kamiji, and others developed in a 2007 paper) to vehicle passengers. They generalized earlier work by including more types of motion — especially head rotation — and they used the model to examine the effect of head-tilt strategy on motion sickness:

Thus, the effect of the head tilt strategy on motion sickness was investigated by the proposed mathematical model. The head movements of drivers and passengers were measured in slalom driving. Then, the MSI of the drivers and that of the passengers predicted by the proposed model were compared.

The model (developed by Kamiji et al. in 2007) of motion sickness used by Wada et al. in their recent paper.

Bonus: Motion sickness is often a Rotating Hell (not to be confused with Rotating HeII).

Medical trial of soap opera videos streamed to smartphones

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

The first medical effects of a soap opera series that streams to smartphones show no significant advantage over phone-texting clear medical messages, but the soap opera is popular, says this study:

A randomized controlled trial of soap opera videos streamed to smartphones to reduce risk of sexually transmitted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in young urban African American women,” Rachel Jones, Donald R. Hoover, Lorraine J. Lacroix, Nursing Outlook, vol. 61, no. 4, July–August 2013, pp. 205–215.e3. (Thanks to Adrian Levitsky for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Northeastern University and Rutgers University, report:

Love, Sex, and Choices (LSC) is a soap opera video series created to reduce HIV sex risk in women.

METHODS: LSC was compared to text messages in a randomized trial in 238 high-risk mostly Black young urban women. 117 received 12-weekly LSC videos, 121 received 12-weekly HIV prevention messages on smartphones. Changes in unprotected sex with high risk partners were compared by mixed models.

RESULTS: Unprotected sex with high risk men significantly declined over 6 months post-intervention for both arms, from 21-22 acts to 5-6 (p < 0.001). This reduction was 18% greater in the video over the text arm, though this difference was not statistically significant. However, the LSC was highly popular and viewers wanted the series to continue.

CONCLUSION: This is the first study to report streaming soap opera video episodes to reduce HIV risk on smartphones. LSC holds promise as an Internet intervention that could be scaled-up and combined with HIV testing.

Here’s the pilot episode of the soap opera series:

Here’s the clinical trials registration for part of the project — a part which (the registration says) has not yet begun: Identifier: NCT02493647

This study is not yet open for participant recruitment.
Verified July 2015 by Northeastern University.

Estimated Enrollment: 912
Study Start Date: July 2015
Estimated Study Completion Date: March 2019
Estimated Primary Completion Date: December 2017 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)

PURPOSE: This study tests a 12-episode Internet-based, guide enhanced Love, Sex, & Choices (LSC) HIV prevention soap opera video series for smartphones or computers, in a randomized clinical trial among predominately at-risk African American urban women.

The following hypotheses are to be tested: 1) The LSC treatment arm will show lower unprotected sex risk, meaning lower frequency of unprotected sex (vaginal + anal) with high risk partners at 6 months post intervention compared to an attention control arm 2) The LSC treatment arm will show higher participation in HIV testing at 6 months post intervention compared to the control.


Snotbot, the whale snot-collecting drone, builds on Ig Nobel Prize-winning research

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Snotbot, a project to make drones that will collect whale snot, for scientific research purposes, builds on some Ig Nobel Prize-winning research.

The 201o Ig Nobel Prize for engineering was awarded to Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London, UK, and Diane Gendron of Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Baja California Sur, Mexico, for perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter. (The documented their work, in the study “A Novel Non-Invasive Tool for Disease Surveillance of Free-Ranging Whales and Its Relevance to Conservation Programs,” Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse, Agnes Rocha-Gosselin and Diane Gendron, Animal Conservation, vol. 13, no. 2, April 2010, pp. 217-25.)

The new project, Snotbot, describes itself:

About this project.  We’ve invented a way to learn about whales while removing the need to harass them in the process. It’s called Snotbot.

What is a Snotbot? Snotbots are custom-built drones created in partnership between Ocean Alliance and Olin College of Engineering. They hover in the air above a surfacing whale and collect the blow (or snot) exhaled from its lungs. Snotbot then returns that sample back to researchers a significant distance away….

Why drones? 

By using Snotbots, the whale never knows the data is being collected. The custom-built drones fly well above the surface of the water and into the blow, the subjects are never touched or approached closely. Ideally, whale researchers should be positioned about half a mile away from their subjects, giving the whales plenty of room to go about their business. Dozens of technological hurdles had to be overcome in order to make the drones capable of collecting a physical sample at this distance in an uncontrolled marine environment.

Nidhi Subbaraman, writes about it, for BetaBoston: “Whale conservationists seek backers on Kickstarter for snot-harvesting drone“.

Patrick Steward, he of Star Trek, the Next Generation, stars in a video about Snotbot:


Podcast#21: Objects found in people’s rectums

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

“In subsequent years, as consumer confidence soared, so, too, did the purchasing of goods that would find their way into people’s rectums.” Hidden objects — of many kinds — turn up  in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

Click on the “Venetian blinds” icon — at the lower right corner here — to select whichever week’s episode you want to hear:

SUBSCRIBE on, iTunes, or Spotify to get a new episode every week, free.

This week, Marc Abrahams tells about:

The mysterious John Schedler perhaps did the sound engineering this week.

The Improbable Research podcast is all about research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK — real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere —research that may be good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless. CBS distributes it, both on the new CBS web site, and on iTunes and Spotify).

Pocket-spectrometer sales-pitch with a slightly-sleazy-sounding narration

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

If you make a video to advertise your pocket spectrometer, be sure it has a slightly sleazy-sounding narration. Here’s an example of what you can achieve: