Archive for 'News about research'

Effects of Red Wine on Pre-Hotdogs

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Initial progress is reported on understanding what can happen if you add red wine to hot dogs before the hot dogs are fully hot dogs. This study explains:

xifengEffects of adding red wine on the physicochemical properties and sensory characteristics of uncured frankfurter-type sausage,” Xi Feng [pictured here], Joseph G. Sebranek, Hyun Yong Lee, Dong Uk Ahn, Meat Science, vol. 121, November 2016, pp. 285–291. The authors, at Iowa State University, report:

“The aim of this work was to evaluate the quality and sensory characteristics of RTE frankfurter-type sausage cured with celery juice powder and including red wine…. Results showed that adding 5% red wine increased the a*-value, and the textural resilience, cohesiveness and springiness of the frankfurters, as well as decreased lipid/protein oxidation of the final products. Added wine also introduced new volatiles (alcohol and ester compounds) to the frankfurters…. However, the addition of excess amounts of red wine (10%) to the meat batter decreased the pH of meat batter and accelerated lipid oxidation.”

Did His Orgasm Lead to Blindness? (podcast #93)

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Can a man’s orgasm cause him to go blind, at least temporarily? A medical report explores that very question, and we explore that medical report, in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

SUBSCRIBE on, iTunes, or Spotify to get a new episode every week, free.

This week, Marc Abrahams discusses a published orgasm/blindess study, with dramatic readings from Yale/MIT/Harvard biomedical researcher Chris Cotsapas.

For more info about what we discuss this week, go explore:


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 web site, and on iTunes and Spotify).

NEXT POST: Is every measurement wrong?

Dirty Money (a comprehensive review)

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Before you reach into your pocket, bag, purse or wallet for some cash … you might pause for thought about the bacteria, yeasts, fungi, cysts and ova of intestinal parasites that could be lurking there.


All the above are commonly found on money worldwide – but which types of cash are the filthiest? In a comprehensive roundup of global research into money and its disease-causing potential, researchers Emmanouil Angelakis, Esam I Azhar, Fehmida Bibi, Muhammad Yasir, Ahmed K Al-Ghamdi, Ahmad M Ashshi, Adel G Elshemi and Didier Raoult have examined various physical forms of cash to determine which might be the most problematic.

They note that paper (i.e. cotton and linen based) notes are particularly bad (in Ghana, 100% of the currency notes tested were found to be contaminated with one or more bacterial species). Plastic (i.e. polymer) notes were considerably cleaner (polymer-based banknotes from Australia and New Zealand presented less than 10/cm2 bacteria). And coins – particularly those rich in copper, were also less contaminated than the paper (possibly due to the antibacterial properties of some metals).

The research team suggest that :

“The capacity of banknotes, coins and fomites* to serve as sources of pathogenic agents represents a major challenge in the 21st century. It is possible that the replacement of cotton-based banknotes by substrate material can play an important role in the reduction of bacterial concentration.”

REFERENCE: ‘Paper money and coins as potential vectors of transmissible disease’ in Future Microbiology (2014) 9(2), 249–261

*NOTE: A ‘fomite’ is any non-living entity that can transmit disease – like, say, a church font, or a doorknob

BONUS[1] ‘Microbiology: A Very Short Introduction’ by Professor Money

BONUS[2]: A look at another type of dirty money

NEXT POST: Can mathematicians understand each other?


Robert Sapolsky: How a Chair Revealed the Type A Personality Profile

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Robert Sapolsky explains how several apparently unrelated things — most especially a chair — led to new understanding about why certain kinds of people were suffering certain kinds of medical problems:


(Thanks to Joanne Manaster for bringing this to our attention.)

NEXT POST: Can words have meanings?

The man who wants you to realize that reality is unrealistic

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

A professor cooks up some computer simulations, which convince him to try to convince everyone that reality is unrealistic. Amanda Gefter interviewed the professor, for The Atlantic magazine: “The Case Against Reality“.


NEXT POST: Type A personality from a chair?