Edward Schreiber and Orson Anderson once tested whether the Moon really could be made of green cheese. Caltech planetary scientist David Stephenson discussed that achievement, in Box 1 of his article in Physics Today in November 2014. In their 1970 article in the journal Science, Schreiber and Anderson compared the speeds of sound waves in rocks that were returned from the Moon with measured sound speeds of various terrestrial materials, including various types of cheese. (Sound speeds correlate highly with density and are thus often used to try to infer the composition of rocks.)
Table from E. Schreiber and O.L. Anderson (Science, 1970) comparing the sound speeds of various Moon and terrestrial materials.
According to these data, the sound speed from lunar materials seems to be much closer to those of terrestrial cheeses than of terrestrial rocks. However, one should look at Stephenson’s excellent article to read about more serious hypotheses about the origin of the Moon.
[CAUTION: A different, also recent, study indicates that walking increases creativity. Be careful about expressing sarcasm while walking — the combination could, perhaps, induce unpredictable levels of creativity.]
The contents of Appendix A of the article.
As with all other recent papers in journals by world-renowned publisher Elsevier, the study has five self-reported highlights:
(1) Sarcasm is an instigator of conflict but also a catalyst for creativity.
(2) General forms of sarcasm promote creativity through abstract thinking for both expressers and recipients.
(3) Expressing sarcasm to or receiving sarcasm from trusted others increases creativity without elevating conflict.
(4) We manipulated sarcasm via a simulated conversation task and a recall task.
(5) We employed three different creativity measures and a well-established measure of abstract thinking.
I feel like this study has justified the last 39 years of my existence. (Thanks to investigator Taha Yasseri for pointing us to this study.)
Note: Absolutely no sarcasm was employed in the writing of this blog entry.
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 Play.it web site, and on iTunes (and soon, also on Spotify).
I am traveling to Tokyo to take part in the final birthday party — that’s how he describes it — of Dr. Nakamats, the world’s most inventive inventor (more than 3500 patents, including patents for the floppy disk, the self-defense wig, and flying shoes), author, political candidate, Ig Nobel Prize winner (in 2005, for having photographed every meal he had consumed during the previous 34 years) and the closest we will ever see to a real-life Wizard of Oz.
Unlike most people’s birthday parties, this one will happen at the National Press Club, in Tokyo. Dr. Nakamats was diagnosed with a form of prostate cancer that will kill him, his doctors say, some time before the end of this year. Dr. Nakamats, in characteristic form, is choosing to make the very best of the situation. [UPDATE NOTE: See photos from the press conference / party, below.]
There will be nine days of Nakamats and Ig Nobel events — the first-ever official Ig Nobel Prize events to be held in Japan. Several other of Japan’s many Ig Nobel Prize winners will participate in some of those events.
If, somehow, you have never encountered the wonder that is Dr. Nakamats, you can get a good introduction by watching Danish filmmaker Kaspar Astrup Schröder’s mesmerizing documentary called “The Invention of Dr. Nakamats.” Schröder is filming a second documentary, which will include footage from some of the upcoming events.
June 29 (Monday) — special event at the Dr. Nakamats House.
June 30 (Tuesday) Ig Nobel event at University of Tokyo – public lecture in science — featuring Dr. Nakamats and other Ig Nobel prize winners: Masanori Niimi (effect of opera songs on heart transplant patients who are mice), Yukio Hirose (why one particular bronze statue fails to attract pigeons), and the team of Shinsuki Imai, Nagatome Yoshiaki, and Tsuge Nobuaki (biochemistry of onions causing human tears), and others. Details TBA.
July 1 (Wednesday) 15:00-16:00 — press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. Details.
July 3 (Friday) Ig Nobel Event at Chuo-prefecture. Details TBA.
July 4 (Saturday) 10:00. Marc Abrahams will cut the tape at the Opening ceremony of the World Genius Convention, of which Sir Dr. NakaMats is chairman.
Other events, possibly in profusion, TBA
If you are in Tokyo, please join us at one or more of these events. If you have friends in Tokyo, please spread the word.
Here is a further look at the world of Dr. Nakamats:
UPDATE: Here are panoramic photos I took while sitting next to Dr. Nakamats at the press conference, and at the Final Birthday Party, which immediately followed the press conference (Click on each image to see an enlarged version):
Don and his wife, Nancy Featherstone, came to almost every Ig Nobel Prize ceremony in succeeding years, where adoring throngs cheered them and the plastic pink flamingos. He has been ill the past few years. This photo shows Don and Nancy (who, every day of their marriage, wore matching outfits designed by Nancy) at the last of Don’s many happy returns, in 2012:
Don created the flamingo when he was freshly graduated from art school, and newly employed at a plastics factory. One of his first assignments was to create three-dimensional plastic lawn ornaments (up to that time, most plastic lawn ornaments were more or less flat). The flamingo was one of his earliest efforts for the factory.
The flamingos inspired the film that launched John Waters‘s directorial career: Pink Flamingos. The flamingos also inspired the birth of several businesses that supply flamingoes en mass, as surprise visitors to the lawn of a beloved or despised neighbor. One of those businesses produced this tribute/promotional video, in 2008:
Don Featherstone was a happy, kind, and thoughtfully imaginative man, who became famous for his goofiest, tackiest creation. It was “goofiest” and “tackiest” by Don’s own reckoning — he was a richly talented artist, but felt that, given the fame and financial security the flamingo brought him, he ought to publicly act as if he were interested only in making happy goofy, plastic art. In 2012, Abigail Tucker wrote a history of the flamingo’s effect on the world, in Smithsonian magazine, with the headline “The Tacky History of the Pink Flamingo.”
Please think of Don, and raise a smile, whenever you see a flamingo, be it plastic or of some less physically durable species.
(The photo above shows two of the flamingos Don donated to the Improbable Research museum.)
UPDATE: Reader Scott Valla suggests: “Everyone please stand in your yard on one leg for a moment of silence.”