Archive for 'Research News'

Shocking rice pudding technique (report)

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

“Currently, consumers’ concerns and consciousness about safety and nutritiousness of food consumptions are increasing. Fresh and fresh-like products have become more attractive in the market than the same kind of products produced by heat process.”

But heating isn’t the only method to preserve, say, rice pudding – you could pulse 33,000 volts though it instead. A joint US / Turkey / Thai investigation in 2008 did just that – with promising results. The team developed their own rice-pudding recipe (see diagram) and then exposed it to Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) treatment – the results of which showed that the pudding’s shelf life could be considerably extended whilst maintaining its fresh-like appearance.



• The diagram above is a pie chart of a rice pudding.

• The research project was funded by the U.S. Army Natick RD&E Center.

Shocking Mushrooms Technique (report)

Monday, August 14th, 2017

“The SPLG [pictured above] consists of four parts: a controller, connection cable, a high voltage generator, and a wheel electrode. The system is powered by rechargeable AA sized batteries. Lightening [sic] is generated by an epoch-making device which can be disassembled and used elsewhere.”

The epoch-making lightning dispenser was developed by Ferzana Islam and Shoji Ohga at the Department of Agro-Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyushu University, Japan, and is intended to give high voltage electric shocks to mushrooms – specifically Shiitake (椎茸) mushrooms.

“After applying the electric stimulator to the specific area, the numbers of mushroom were increased more than twice. Remarkable changes were also observed by weight gaining of the fruit bodies which increased 67% in the first harvest and 69% in the second harvest, and besides length was increased by 65 to 113%. [pictured below]

In their report, the team didn’t speculate about why giving the mushrooms electric shocks might make them grow faster and bigger, other than to note :

“ As the mechanism of fruit body formation is not still fully understood, it needs further more research work.”

See: The Response of Fruit Body Formation on Tricholoma matsutake In Situ Condition by Applying Electric Pulse Stimulator in ISRN Agronomy, Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 462724.

Coming Soon: The effects of high voltage electric shocks on rice pudding.

Can trends in baby’s names foreshadow major social events? (new study)

Monday, August 7th, 2017

“Before 1992, the names ‘Hillary’ and ‘Hilary’ had been increasing in popularity for several decades. After 1992, however, their popularity dropped suddenly 10-fold.”

– explains Stefano Ghirlanda who is Professor of Psychology, Biology, and Anthropology, Brooklyn College, CUNY, and Founder and fellow, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm University. With this in mind, he writes, in the current issue of Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution regarding his thesis that : ‘Trends in First Names Foreshadowed Hillary Clinton’s Electoral Defeat’ 

“I examine trends in the popularity of first names around the years of USA presidential elections, showing that the names ‘Hillary’ and ‘Hilary’ decreased abruptly by more than 90% in popularity following the 1992 election of Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill. I show that this outcome is unique to the 1992 election, and argue that it may evidence a “dislike” for Hillary Clinton’s public image among both Democratic and Republican voters, which may have eventually contributed to Hillary Clinton’s losing the 2016 presidential election.”

Bonus Task [optional]: At the time of writing, according to the US Govt. baby names database, the most popular boy’s name is ‘Noah’. What, if anything may be inferred?

Update Note: Professor Ghirlanda was co-recipient of the 2003 Ig Nobel prize for INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH (along with Liselotte Jansson, and Magnus Enquist of Stockholm University), for their inevitable report “Chickens Prefer Beautiful Humans.”





“All these papers were deliberately bad”

Monday, August 7th, 2017

“All these papers were deliberately bad. They were created with the purpose of exposing exploitative publishing practices. That is, the works collected here were sting operations on predatory journals.” So says the introduction to the book Stinging the Predators: A collection of papers that should never have been published, assembled by Zen Faulkes. Falkes is a professor of biology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. You can download the book, free.

That book includes the following papers, and follows them with some Faulkesian analysis of the situation that led people to write the papers, and led publishers to publish them:

The Sokal hoax (1996)

The blog that called predator (June 2009)

Abstract theology (August 2011)

Random math (September 2012)

The Bohannon Science sting (October 2013)

“Get me off your fucking mailing list” (November 2014)

Cuckoo for cocoa puffs (January 2015)

Fake news (May 2015)

Been there, done that (August 2016)

“Siri, write me a conference abstract” (October 2016)

The first Spears (November 2016)

The second Spears (December 2016)

Doctor Fraud (March 2017)

A paper about nothing (April 2017)

The conceptual penis (May 2017)

The garbage’ll do (July 2017)

Spam inspires surreal sting (July 2017)

NOTE: Publication of the Sokal hoax paper led to the awarding of the 1996 Ig Nobel Prize for literature to the editors of the journal Social Text, for eagerly publishing research that they could not understand, that the author said was meaningless, and which claimed that reality does not exist.

“Ingredients in Victoria’s Secret Bombshell and Ivanka Trump eaux de parfums that repel mosquitoes” [research study]

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Humanity’s war against mosquitoes still rages, after the failure of another new strategy. This study gives details of the failure:

Ingredients in Victoria’s Secret Bombshell and Ivanka Trump eaux de parfums that repel mosquitoes,” Fangfang Zeng, Pingxi Xu, Kaiming Tan, Paulo Zarbin, Walter Leal, BioRxiv, August 3, 2017, The authors, at the University of California Davis and Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil, report:

“We analysed Bombshell to identify the constituent(s) eliciting a previously reported “off- label” repellence activity…. These compounds were also major constituents of Ivanka Trump eau de parfum…. Although wearing these perfumes may repel nuisance mosquitoes, their use as “off-label” repellents against infected mosquitoes is not recommended…. A panel of 104 students (18-23 years old) conducted a blind test to compare the two eaux de parfums and showed a preference for Bombshell over Ivanka Trump’s brand, particularly among women.”

Here’s additional detail from the study:

This is the standard container for Bombshell perfume:

(Thanks to Dan Vergano for bringing this to our attention.)