Archive for 'News about research'

Smellizing Cookies and Salivating

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

This month’s Smellizing Study of the Month is:

krishnaSmellizing Cookies and Salivating: A Focus on Olfactory Imagery,” Aradhna Krishna [pictured here], Maureen Morrin, and Eda Sayin, Journal of Consumer Research, epub 2014.

The prolific Mary Ann Twist issued a press release about it:

Fashion magazines come pre-loaded with scratch-and-sniff panels for perfume and aftershave, but what about advertisements for foods like chocolate chip cookies and fresh-baked bread? According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, when food advertisements combine a photo of food with an “imagined odor,” consumers both salivate more for the item and then consume it in larger quantities.

“We wondered whether both real and imagined food smells would enhance consumer desire for that product. Does the concept of smelling food make people salivate more and increase their desire to eat more than they normally would?” write authors Aradhna Krishna (University of Michigan), Maureen Morrin (Temple University), and Eda Sayin (Koç University)…

Skuse on British stalk-eyed crustacea & spiders

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

“Every living creature is said to have its use, its beneficial part to play in the economy of nature.” So says page 117 of the book British stalk-eyed crustacea and spiders: with an account of their structure, classification and habitats,written by F.A.A. Skuse, and published in 1887.

Him, and his theory of things

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Do you have a theory of things? Bunge has a theory of things. And Bunge has something to say about someone who said something about his theory of things:

MarioBungeReply to Van Rootselaar’s Criticisms of My Theory of Things,” Mario Bunge [pictured here], International Journal Of General Systems, no. 3 (1977): 181-182. Bunge, McGill University , Montreal, Canada and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, explains:

Van Rootselaar criticizes some points in my theory of things for being allegedly trivial, others for being mistaken. While some results are indeed mathematically trivial they are not so philosophically. As for the mistakes, some arc undoubtedly there, most can be corrected easily, and others require changes that have been introduced in the final version of the theory. The rest arc not mistakes but misunderstandings, perhaps unavoidable given the brevity of the original paper.”

BONUS: The Primitive Theory of Things

“Being drunk and high during sex is not associated with condom use”

Monday, March 10th, 2014

When one speaks of sex, drunkenness, and condoms, one can phrase one’s words in a manner that is indirect and genteel. Want an example of that? See the title of this study:

Being drunk and high during sex is not associated with condom use behaviours: a study of high-risk young Black males,” Richard A. Crosby [pictured here], Robin R. Milhausen, Stephanie Sanders, Cynthia A Graham and William L. Yarber, Sexual Health, epub March 4, 2014. The authors, at the University of Kentucky, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction [Indiana], the University of Guelph, the University of Southampton, and Indiana University, explain:

richard_crosby“Objective: to assess the relationship between the frequency of being drunk and high during sex, and condom use errors and problems (CUEP) among a sample of high-risk young Black males recruited from the United States…. [We found] positive associations between the frequency of being drunk and the frequency of unprotected vaginal sex, as well as the frequency of the 18-item measure of CUEP. A significant correlation was also found between the frequency of being high during sex and the frequency of unprotected vaginal sex. Adjustments for age did not change the findings.

Conclusions: interventions designed to promote safer sex behaviours among young Black males attending sexually transmissible infection clinics are no more likely to benefit patients through the inclusion of messages and training attempting to dissuade the use of alcohol and drugs before or during sex.”

(Thanks to investigator Johanna Hjalmarsson for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: From the same team [pictured here]: ”‘Homework’ leads to improved comfort and consistency with condom use“, which says:

“The Kinsey Institute Homework Intervention Strategy gives men a ‘ditty bag’ full of condoms and lubricants, makes sure the men understand how to apply condoms correctly, and then assigns homework. The men are expected to try out at least six condoms solo, paying particular attention to their own pleasure and which condoms they like best. ’It’s such a simple idea, but nobody has every structured an approach like this,’ said William L. Yarber, professor in the Indiana University School of Public-Health-Bloomington.”


Some physics of trick roping

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Trick roping and physics are revealed as being more or less the same thing (One of the revealers won an Ig Nobel Prize several years ago for revealing the reason spaghetti breaks into interesting pieces). James Morgan reports for BBC News:

By studying trick roping as a science, a French physicist has taught himself to lasso like a rodeo veteran. Anyone can teach themselves the famous “flat loop” by following some basic formulae, says Dr Pierre-Thomas Brun, of EPFL in Switzerland. He showed off his ‘cowboy physics’ skills at the American Physical Society meeting in Denver….

But while these loops spellbind our imagination, they also harbour useful mathematical secrets. ”Elastic threads are everywhere in our daily lives – from hair and textile yarns to DNA and undersea broadband cables. Even the honey you pour on your toast,” said Dr Brun who worked on the research with his colleagues, Dr Basile Audoly and Dr Neil Ribe….

That Basile Audoly is the same Basile Audoly who shared the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize for physics with his colleague Sebastien Neukirch of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie,  Paris. They were honored  for their insights into why, when you bend dry spaghetti, it often breaks into more than two pieces. [REFERENCE: "Fragmentation of Rods by Cascading Cracks: Why Spaghetti Does Not Break in Half," Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, Physical Review Letters, vol. 95, no. 9, August 26, 2005, pp. 95505-1 to 95505-1.]

Pierre-Thomas Brun and Basile Audoly have a lasso-physics paper in prep. Meanwhile, the trick-roping paper that Brun presented at the American Physical Society Meeting in Denver is

The mechanics of trick roping.” The abstract explains:

“Trick roping evolved from humble origins as a cattle-catching tool into a sport that delights audiences the world over with its complex patterns or ‘tricks,’ such as the Merry-Go-Round , the Wedding-Ring, the Spoke-Jumping, the Texas Skip… Its implement is the lasso, a length of rope with a small loop (‘honda‘) at one end through which the other end is passed to form a large loop. Here, we study the physics of the simplest rope trick, the Flat Loop, in which the motion of the lasso is forced by a uniform circular motion of the cowboy’s/cowgirl’s hand in a horizontal plane. To avoid accumulating twist in the rope, the cowboy/cowgirl rolls it between his/her thumb and forefinger while spinning it. The configuration of the rope is stationary in a reference frame that rotates with the hand. Exploiting this fact we derive a dynamical ‘string’ model in which line tension is balanced by the centrifugal force and the rope’s weight. Using a numerical continuation method, we calculate the steady shapes of a lasso with a fixed honda, examine their stability, and determine a bifurcation diagram exhibiting coat-hanger shapes and whirling modes in addition to  at loops. We then extend the model to a honda with finite sliding friction by using matched asymptotic expansions to determine the structure of the boundary layer where bending forces are significant, thereby obtaining a macroscopic criterion for frictional sliding of the honda. We compare our theoretical results with high-speed videos of a professional trick roper and experiments performed using a laboratory ‘robo-cowboy.’ Finally, we conclude with a practical guidance on how to spin a lasso in the air based on the results of our analysis.”

(Thanks to investigator Neil Judell for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS:  Some physics of some toys, as described at that same physics meeting:

Snap, crack and pop: What elastic instabilities in toys can teach us,” Dominic Vella [University of Oxford], abstract for an Invited Paper for the March 2014 Meeting of the American Physical Society, The author writes:

“The mechanism of many modern toys rely on some form or other of elastic instability, from the locomotion of the ‘Hexbug nano‘ to the snapping of a ‘Hopper popper.’ In this talk I will discuss some fundamental mechanical problems that are inspired by the mechanism of such toys. A particular focus will be on the ‘snap’ and ‘pop’ phases of the Hopper popper but I will also discuss the ‘crack’ of a whip and other examples of dynamic elastic instabilities.”