Archive for 'News about research'

Melon bug and Sorghum bug ice cream

Monday, August 31st, 2015

“Ice cream was made by using 0.5% insect’s gelatin and compared with that made using 0.5% commercial gelatin as stabilizing agent.”

SAM_8059modeldThe two insects concerned, the melon bug (Coridius viduatus) and sorghum bug (Agonoscelis versicoloratus versicoloratus) were the subject of an investigation described in a new paper (for the journal Food Science and Technology International) by Professor Abdalbasit Adam Mariod Al-Nadif [pictured] of the Faculty of Sciences and Arts-Alkamil, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and colleague Hadia Fadul of the Department of Food Science & Technology, College of Agricultural Studies, Sudan University of Science & Technology, Khartoum North, Sudan.

The researchers note that:

“The properties of the obtained ice cream produced using insects [sic] gelatin were significantly different when compared with that made using commercial gelatin.“

Unfortunately, the paper’s abstract doesn’t specify what the significant differences were. See: ‘Extraction and characterization of gelatin from two edible Sudanese insects and its applications in ice cream making’ Food Science and Technology International, July 2015 vol. 21 no. 5 380-391.

Note: The sorghum bug is a species of the Agonoscelis genus, which along with the Tessaratomidae family, are commonly referred to as stink-bugs. See: Nutritional value of eating stinkbugs

Also see: (Ice cream related)

• The McMath ice cream licking hypothesis
• Dr. Altschuler on … Applied Ice Cream Headaches
• Kids’ brain response to ice cream and a milkshake

Bonus: The paper cites a definition of ice cream provided by Choo et al. 2010 :

“Ice cream is a frozen and aerated dairy-based dessert that [is] usually associated with happiness, pleasure and fun. Psychologically, the consumption of ice cream evokes an enjoyable state for a person.”

Inspired by pancakes: Further findings on the flatness of Kansas

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

Joshua Campbell and his colleague Jerome E. Dobson, inspired by the article “Kansas is Flatter Than a Pancake,” did some research on their own. Campbell tells about it in his  Disruptive Geo blog:

The Flatness of U.S. States

It all started with delicious pancakes and a glorified misconception. In a 2003 article published in the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), researchers claimed to scientifically prove that “Kansas is Flatter Than a Pancake” (Fonstad et al., 2003). The experiment compared the variation in surface elevation obtained from a laser scan of an IHOP pancake and an elevation transect across the State of Kansas. And while the researchers’ conclusion is technically correct…


Now, I can take a joke, and at the time thought the article was clever and funny. And while I still think it was clever, it began to bother me that the erroneous and persistent view that Kansas is flat, and therefore boring, would have negative economic consequences for the state. I grew up on the High Plains of southwestern Kansas…

As luck would have it, a few years after the AIR article I found an opportunity to work on this question of flatness and how to measure it. As part of my PhD coursework I was investigating the utility of open source geospatial software as a replacement for proprietary GIS and needed a topic that could actually test the processing power of the software. Combining my background in geomorphology and soil science with a large terrain modeling exercise using the open source stack offered the perfect opportunity to address the question of flatness. What emerged from that work was published last year (2014) in the Geographical Review as a paper coauthored with Dr. Jerry Dobson entitled “The Flatness of U.S. States” (Dobson and Campbell, 2014).

Here are citations for the two studies:
Dobson, J. E., & Campbell, J. S. (2014). The Flatness of U.S. States. Geographical Review, 104(1), 1–9.
Fonstad, M., Pugatch, W., & Vogt, B. (2003). Kansas is Flatter Than a Pancake. Annals of Improbable Research, 9(3), 16–17.

Trying to measure the iffiness of lots of psych research

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Many psychologists try to measure things that are tough to measure — and many of those many do it iffily. The Reproducibility Project is trying to measure how iffy those measurements are. They published a study called “Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science,” about their progress.

Psychological ScienceBenedict Carey tells about this, in a New York Times article called “Many Psychology Findings Not as Strong as Claimed, Study Says.”

Ed Yong tells about it, in an Atlantic article called “How Reliable Are Psychology Studies?

You might be able to tell something about it by skimming through titles and abstracts of studies published in Psychological Science.

Psychological Science is the top-of-the-line psychology research journal assembled by the top-of-the-line association of psychologists, the Association for Psychological Science (also known as the APS). An overlapping top-of-the-line association of psychologists, the APA, is known these days for the way some of its recent leaders relate to the activity that people other than those leaders call “torture”.

BONUS: Here’s how some (hard to say how much, but the Reproducibility Project might one day be able to say something) of the most iffy research can happen: “Science Isn’t Broken
It’s just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for“, by Christie Aschewanden, on the FiveThirtyEight web site.


The Tradition of Shoe-Throwing at Weddings

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Shoe-throwing may now be mostly a political act. But not long ago, it was a common rite of marriage, writes James Crombie of Aberdeen, who has gathered some matrimonial footwear-hurling facts into a 24-page treatise called Shoe-Throwing at Weddings.

This was in 1895, when readers may have empathised with Crombie’s opening thought: “Pelting a bride and bridegroom with old shoes when they start on their honeymoon is a custom we are all familiar with, and in which many of us have participated.”

Some 113 years later, in 2008, Muntazer al-Zaidi recategorised the social role of shoe-throwing when he hurled size-10 shoes, and some words (“This is your farewell kiss, you dog”), at US president George W Bush at a press conference in Baghdad….

So begins this month’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

Here’s video of the press-conference shoe-throwing:

BONUS: Another shoe-throwing video (thanks to SciCurious for bringing it to our attention):


“Why does coffee make you poop?” Four videos.

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Several organizations try to answer the same question (a question that is laden with assumptions): “Why does coffee make you poop?”

Discovery News:


ACS Reactions:

Nathan and Rose:

(Thanks to Vaughn Tan for bringing this to our attention.)