Archive for 'News about research'

Flea distributions on stray cats (updated)

Monday, September 26th, 2016

“Osbrink and Rust (1985) reported that there was no significant difference in the mean number of fleas collected from any particular area of the cat.”

Ref. Osbrink, W.L.A., and M. K. Rust. 1985. Seasonal abundance of adult cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) on domestic cats in southern California. Bull Soc Vector Ecol. 1985, 10, 30-5 *

This finding is disputed by Meng-Hao Hsu, Tung-Ching Hsu and Wen-Jer Wu at the Department of Entomology, National Taiwan University. Cat_Fleas_DistributionCounting fleas on 164 stray cats, the team found that :-

“A significantly higher mean number of fleas was found on the area of head plus neck than on the ventral part of the body. More specifically, the mean number of fleas was highest on both of the neck and dorsal areas. However, in terms of the density of fleas, the neck had more fleas than the dorsal area did. The fewest fleas were found infesting the legs and tail.”

See: Distribution of Cat Fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) on the Cat

Also of note: The 2008 Ig Nobel Biology Prize – which was awarded to Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.

Further reading: The Flea Encyclopedia

* Sadly, the online-archive file for the The Bulletin of the Society of Vector Ecology, Volume 10, Issue 1, June 1985 , Osbrink and Rust, appears to be corrupted.

Orthographic effects on rhyme monitoring

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

seidenbergRhyme monitoring offers countless opportunities for a watchful person. A few of those opportunities were seized, resulting in this study:

Orthographic effects on rhyme monitoring,” Mark S. Seidenberg [pictured here] and Michael K. Tanenhaus, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, vol. 5, no. 6, 1979, pp. 546-54.

Here’s detail from the study:



An analysis of CEO shirking (at the golf course)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

GolfersCEOs of high-profile (e.g. S&P 1500) corporations are sometimes tempted to shirk their duties. One quite well-tried method of shirking is to leave the office for the day and play golf instead. Thus, as an observer, if you take the position that shirking might in general hamper business performance, an extrapolated question can be asked – ‘Is golf bad for business?’ Researchers Biggerstaff, Cicero and Puckett have investigated such things, and present their findings in a forthcoming paper for the journal Management Science entitled FORE! An analysis of CEO shirking They find that :-

“CEOs that golf frequently (i.e., those in the top quartile of golf play, who play at least 22 rounds per year) are associated with firms that have lower operating performance and firm values.”

And also :

”Numerous tests accounting for the possible endogenous nature of these relations support a conclusion that CEO shirking causes lower firm performance.”

A full copy of the paper can be found here.

Also see:Optimal shirking’
Bonus: ‘2012 Yearly Golfball Patents: A look back’

Optional assignment Although not investigated in the paper, some take the view that golf is actually good for business – in the sense that high-profile CEOs often encounter other high-profile CEOs at the golf course. Discuss

Note: The picture is ‘The MacDonald boys playing golf ‘ by Jeremiah Davison (1695?–1750?)

Ig Nobel Prize-winning swearing research wins best science book prize

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad, a new book by Richard Stephens, is the British Psychological Society’s Book Award winner — in the category Popular Science.bps-logo The BPS’s Book Awards have just been announced.

In the year 2010, Richard Stephens and two colleagues were awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize, for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain. That research is documented in the study  “Swearing as a Response to Pain,” Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston, Neuroreport, vol. 20 , no. 12, 2009, pp. 1056-60.

That same research forms part of the backbone of Richard Stephens’ (now prize-winning!) recent book, Black Sheep.

BONUS INFO: There is something of a tradition now of Ig Nobel Prize winners’ books winning prizes. One of the earliest examples: Chris McManus‘s book Right Hand, Left Hand, was awarded the 2003 Aventis Prize as best science book of the year. That book, Right Hand, Left Hand, grew mightily, over many years, from the research that eventually earned McManus the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize for biology. That Ig Nobel Prize was for McManus’s first published scientific paper: “Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and in Ancient Sculpture,” which appeared in the journal Nature, vol. 259, February 5, 1976, p. 426.


Removal of a 9-Ring Personal Testicle Device, Medically, in Detail

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

This newly published medical report, which tells how doctors removed a nine-ring personal testicle device from the testicles of the person who had too-successfully used that device, demonstrates how to almost gracefully write (1) a clear headline and also (2) a clear summary:

Scrotum Incarceration with Nine Galvanized Iron Rings: An Unusual Case Report,” Ying-Chen Chou, Chi-Wen Juan, Tsung-Hsing Lin, Chih-Wei Tsai, and Choon-Hoon Hii, Journal of Acute Medicine, epub September 19, 2016. The authors, at Kuang Tien General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, report:

“In this case report we describe the case of a 36-year-old male who presented to the emergency department with a grossly swollen scrotum. Nine galvanized iron rings were placed around his scrotum for the enhancement of his sexual performance. Attempts to remove them with lubricants, ring cutters, pliers, and orthopedic bone cutters were unsuccessful. Finally, they were removed with a hydraulic bolt cutter borrowed from the fire department. Genital incarceration or strangulation represents a true urological emergency. Removal of such devices can be challenging for emergency physicians and often requires resourcefulness and a multidisciplinary approach.”

The paper goes on to give full details. Here are before-removal and after-removal views of the nine rings:

Microsoft Word - jacme_150_JACME_150_author_V2

Microsoft Word - jacme_150_JACME_150_author_V2

(Thanks to Frank Swain for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS (possibly unrelated): Here’s video of Barry Biggs performing the song “Three Ring Circus”: