Archive for 'Arts and science'

Study: Top (male) comedians die earlier?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

A new study from professors Simon Stewart and David Thompson of the Centre for the Heart and Mind and the Mary MacKillop Institute of Health Research (MMIHR) at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) has found that :

“Elite comedians are at increased risk of premature death compared to their less funny counterparts.”

The team examined a study cohort of 53 (exclusively male) comedians from the UK and Ireland – both living (23) and not (30) – and analysed the data using IBM SPPS Statistics version 22.0. The data were weighted according to the ‘funniness’ of the man in question, running from ‘relatively funny’ to ‘hilariously funny’.


“On an adjusted basis, there was no correlation between the decade of birth (HR 0.94, 95% 0.65 to 1.38 per incremental decade; p =0.763) and comedy team status (HR 1.13, 95% 0.51 to 2.48 versus independent comedian; p = 0.761) with longevity. However, an increasingly funny comedy score was associated with increased mortality (HR 1.24, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.44 per unit funny score; p = 0.006). Of the 23 comedians adjudged to be very funny (score 8–10), 18 (78%) had died versus 12 (40%) of the rest; mean age at death 63.3 ± 12.2 versus 72.3 ± 14.7 (p = 0.079). Within comedy teams, those identified as the funnier member(s) of the partnership were, on an adjusted basis, more than three times more likely to die prematurely when compared to their more serious comedy partners (HR 3.52, 95% CI 1.22, 10.1; p = 0.020).”

The hypothesis was further bolstered with the finding that in the case of double-acts, the ‘stooges’ (or straight men) were more than 3 times less likely to die on an adjusted basis before those designated as the funny man.

See: ‘Does comedy kill? A retrospective, longitudinal cohort, nested case–control study of humour and longevity in 53 British comedians’ in: The International Journal of Cardiology, 180 (2015), pp. 258–261.

Notes [1] : The paper cites this study from the British Journal of Psychiatry, 204 (2014), pp. 341–345, by Victoria Ando, Gordon Claridge and Ken Clark Psychotic traits in comedians. The researchers asked more than 500 comedians to complete an online form based on the Oxford-Liverpool Inventory of Feelings and Experiences (O-LIFE), with scales measuring four dimensions of psychotic traits, finding that : “Comedians scored significantly above O-LIFE norms on all four scales.”

[2]: Sadly, both the comedians in the clip above – Peter Cook (comedy rating 9 in the ACU study) and Dudley Moore (comedy rating 5 in the ACU study) are no longer metabolically extant. They are deceased. They are ex-comedians. They do, however, in a sense, live on, in YouTubeLand

Rod constraints for simplified ragdolls

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Programmers sometimes love rag dolls. This study is the fruit of one such love:

Rod constraints for simplified ragdolls,” Chris Lewin, Matt Thorman, Tom Waterson, Chris Williams, and Phil Willis, Proceedings of the 12th ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics Symposium on Computer Animation, pp. 79-84. ACM, 2013. The authors, at the University of Bath, UK, and Electronic Arts, explain:

“Physics-based animation has become a standard feature in modern games. Typically, the bones in a character’s animation rig are each associated with a simulated rigid body, leading to a jointed assembly commonly called a ragdoll. The high density of animation bones in the spine area can cause instability and performance issues, so we are motivated to find a simplified physical representation for this region. We approximate the spine region of a ragdoll as an inextensible elastic curve, building a circular arc constraint based on the Kirchhoff rod model. Our simplified spine shows improved performance and stability over the standard group of socket joints, and proves to be more controllable.”

Here’s more detail from the study:


Profiling the IJIRS journal

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

IJIRS_CoverGopal Chakraborty, B.Sc (Physics Hons.), M.Sc (Physics), CWD, PHD (Pursuing), Assistant Professor of Physics, GKCEM, JIS GROUP, is the editor-in-chief of an unusual academic publication entitled : The International Journal Of Innovative Research and Studies (ISSN: 2319-9725).

It’s unusual in several respects – in that it’s a monthly, multidisciplinary, international, English language journal, with zero-level plagiarism tolerance, using a double blinded review process – and it’s open-access.

IJIRS (about us)

“International Journal of Innovative Research and Studies is a brisk multidisciplinary educational research platform providing those individuals an ideal intricate opportunity to accomplish their desires who long for a refined betterment in their respective arenas. Designed to usher the sublimity around the glob we engage our noble efforts for the enlightenment of multidisciplinary issues contemplatively. We bring forth this electronic journal monthly and promote the vivid research entries with precise and apt touches and by bridging the gulf between perception and the inception. Join us to sail beyond horizons or to ride beyond stars for bring off contouring destinies.”

Its mission :

“IJIRS is an unique advantageous platform for those who wish to venture vast in multidisciplinary sphere. Equiped with the usurp experts and advanced by their priceless endeavours IJIRS is the best place for meticulous kit outs.”

Some example papers:

Probabilistic Analysis of A Two-Unit Cold Standby System with Partial Failure, Ordinary and Expert Repairman
Solid Waste Disposal: A Modern System of Garbage Disposal in Lovely Professional University, Phagwara
Technique for Remove Unusefull State of Deterministic Finite Automata
Brain Based Learning Strategies

Prospective authors can find submission guidelines here : (Note that there is a minimum publication fee of US$75)

PR headline: “Young bar patrons more likely to smoke”

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Today’s PR Headline of the Week is from a press release issued by the American Public Health Association:

Young bar patrons more likely to smoke and use multiple tobacco products

New Orleans – Smoking prevalence among young adults who frequent bars is at least twice the rate of smoking found among young adults in the general population, according to new research presented today at APHA’s 142nd Annual Meeting….

“These findings are important…,” authors of the study explain.


(Thanks to investigator Bruce Rolfsen for bringing this to our attention.)

Arisia: Nominate a reader for our Jan. 17th event

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014


Calling all Arisia fen: Improbable Research will return to Arisia on January 17, 2015 and we’re asking the fen to help us find the best people to present some of our research papers.

What qualities should the person you nominate have to be a reader at this event?

  • Charismatic stage presence
  • A good speaking voice
  • Able to read clearly into a microphone
  • Not easily rattled when asked strange questions about a research paper they have only just read themselves
  • (and most importantly) Attending Arisia on Saturday Jan 17, 2015

The event at Arisia will include a number of brief, dramatic readings from studies and patents that have won an Ig Nobel prize. Shortly before this event begins, we supply our Readers a selection of papers to choose between.

James Bacon, illuminated by Human Spotlight, Dr. Jim Bredt (photo by D. Kessler)

Do you know someone who should be illuminated by The Human Spotlight? (photo by D. Kessler)

They choose one, and then find the portions of it they want to read – or present in some other dramatic manner – to the audience.

Each presentation will be 2 minutes long, after which the Reader may (if they wish) entertain questions from the audience. In answering these questions, they may draw from the paper or from their personal experience. They may surmise or deflect, but they must not lie.


If you know people like this then please go to our nomination page and tell us that they would be good readers for this Ig-Arisia event.

If you would like to know people like this, then head to our nomination page to see who has already been nominated.

We encourage you to nominate attendees, staff, vendors, or other unexpected people who would do a good job (see the list of qualities, above).