Archive for 'News about research'

Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Dress (podcast 62)

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

What is necessary — from an engineer’s perspective —to keep a strapless evening dress in place? We explore that question, and the Henson-Conantian music that resulted from it, in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

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This week, Marc Abrahams  — with dramatic readings by Nicole Sharp — tells about:

  • Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Dress: The essay Charles E. Siem‘s essay “Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown” appears in the book called Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gownedited by Robert Baker. Here’s a look at the book cover, and at one of the diagrams in the essay:
  • Strapless-BOOKSiem-dress-diagramStress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown: The music— Deborah Henson-Conant‘s musical creation appears on her Grammy-nominated album Invention & Alchemy, which is available via her web site, HipHarp.comInventionAlchemyCover
  • Stress Analysis is a collection of knowledge and techniques developed by engineers, to help them figure out whether particular objects will remain intact, or will instead crack and perhaps break.

The mysterious John Schedler or the shadowy Bruce Petschek 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, on the CBS Play.it web site, and on iTunes and Spotify).

Virtual cockroaches alleviate fear of cockroaches

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Not many people with a fear of, say, cockroaches, would be happy to let a few of them roam across their bare hands (in order to alleviate their fears by habituation). In other words:

“Although in vivo exposure is the treatment of choice for specific phobias, some acceptability problems have been associated with it.”

In the world of Augmented Reality (AR) though, they might consent to such things. Virtual cockroach possibilities are examined in a new paper for PLoS ONE 11(2), February, 2016. In Vivo versus Augmented Reality Exposure in the Treatment of Small Animal Phobia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. AR_roachesResearchers Cristina Botella, M. Ángeles Pérez-Ara, Juana Bretón-López, Soledad Quero, Azucena García-Palacios, and Rosa María Baños found that:

“Results obtained in this study indicate that Augmented Reality exposure is an effective treatment for specific phobias and well accepted by the participants.”

Question: Would you  lay naked on a stage while 13 giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches (real ones) explore your body? Stacey Sewell did – see: Music | Cockroaches | Nudity – a review

Sixteen-legged Oral Sex

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

Sixteen legs, all told, are involved in the kind of one-on-one sexual activity celebrated in this new study:

Spider-sex

Matja_GregoricSpider behaviors include oral sexual encounters,” Matjaž Gregorič [pictured here, right], Klavdija Šuen, Ren-Chung Cheng, Simona Kralj-Fišer & Matjaž Kuntner, Scientific Reports, vol. 6, no. 25128, epub 2016. The authors, at Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, write:

“Here, we bring [report] on sexual behavior of Darwin’s bark spider, Caerostris darwini. This sexually size dimorphic Madagascan species is known for extreme web gigantism and for producing the world’s toughest biomaterial. Our field and laboratory study uncovers a rich sexual repertoire that predictably involves cannibalism, genital mutilation, male preference for teneral females, and emasculation. Surprisingly, C. darwini males engage in oral sexual encounters, rarely reported outside mammals. Irrespective of female’s age or mating status males salivate onto female genitalia pre-, during, and post-copulation.”

Daniel Oberhaus wrote an appreciative essay about this in Motherboard.

This adds to the list of species eagerly observed, by humans, to engage in oral sex. Among the very most celebrated: The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize for biology was awarded to Libiao Zhang, Min Tan, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, and Shuyi Zhang of China, and Gareth Jones of the University of Bristol, UK, for scientifically documenting fellatio in fruit bats. Their report about that is; “Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time,” Min Tan, Gareth Jones, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, Shuyi Zhang and Libiao Zhang, PLoS ONE, vol. 4, no. 10, e7595. Here is video of that:

Ed Yong, a specialist in this line of research, published an appreciative essay in 2013 on that fruit bat paper and on a subsequent, related discovery: “You’ve Seen Fruit Bat Fellatio. Now: Fruit Bat Cunnilingus.”

 

Intimate exaltation in Japanese, in English

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

How does one come to understand the concept and role of  intimate exaltation — especially intimate exaltation in Japanese — if one does not speak Japanese or live in Japan? One place to start:

Speech-style shifts and intimate exaltation in Japanese,” Yoko Hasegawa, Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 269-284, 2002. The author [pictured here] is Professor of Japanese Linguistics in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California.

Professor Hasegawa has also written about “Soliloquy as an index of intimate exaltation“.

mini-AIR: glowing cockroaches, scorpions, and a Smelly publication

Friday, April 29th, 2016

The April issue of mini-AIR (our monthly e-mail newsletter) just went out. (mini-AIR is a wee little supplement to the magazine). Topics include:

  • Fluorescence in Cockroaches
  • Optical Properties of a Scorpion Limerick Contest
  • Reducing Scorpion Fluorescence
  • and more
It also has info about upcoming events.

Mel [pictured here] says, “It’s swell.”

mini-AIR is the simplest way to keep informed about Improbable and Ig Nobel news and events.

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