Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

Incomplete info: The case of the donkey-bitten member

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Some published medical reports give incomplete information, inducing frustration in intellectually curious readers. This newly published study exemplifies the problem:

Total Phallic Reconstruction Using the Radial Artery Based Forearm Free Flap After Traumatic Penile Amputation,” Marco Falcone, MD, Giulio Garaffa, MD, PhD, FRCS(Eng), Amr Raheem, MD, Nim A. Christopher, MPhil, FRCS(Urol), and David J. Ralph, FRCS(Urol), Journal of Sexual Medicine, vol. 13,  2016, pp. 1119-1124. The authors, at University College London Hospitals, UK, the University of Turin, Italy, and the University of Cairo, Egypt, report:

“The causes of penile loss were self-amputation owing to an acute schizophrenic episode (n = 2), road traffic accident (n = 3), blast injury (n = 3), donkey bite (n = 1), and Fournier gangrene (n = 1).”

Here is further detail from the study:

donkey table

The study includes no further information about the donkey.

Overturned rhinoceros beetles – how do they get back on their feet? (study)

Monday, June 20th, 2016

No matter how careful a beetle might be, there’s a fair chance that, sooner or later, it’ll find itself on its back. Raising the question, how does it right itself, i.e. get onto its feet again?

For current beetle-righting research turn to volume 28, Issue 2, 2016, of the journal Ecological Psychology where researchers professor Masato Sasaki and professor Tetsushi Nonaka [respectively of the Graduate School of Education, University of Tokyo and the Graduate School of Human Development and Environment, Kobe University, Japan] describe a set of experiments designed to provide some answers.

Beetles (more specifically Japanese rhinoceros beetles, Allomyrina dichotomus) were upturned on a variety of surfaces :
1. A trench in the floor,
2. A towel,
3. A fan,
4. A pan mat,
5. A sheet of newspaper,
6. A wooden toothpick,
7. A narrow ribbon,
8. A wide ribbon,
9. A plastic string,
10. A sheet of tissue paper,
11. A T-shirt,
12. A perilla leaf,
13. A sheet of scratch paper,
14. A disposable chopstick, and
15. The lid of a film case.

– to try and determine how they’d get the right way up again. Depending on the surface, the team noted various strategies and degrees of success (or otherwise). Here is the description for the Towel trial #2 (one of the more successful trials, as shown above).

“When the insect was turned upside down, a towel was slid on the floor to the left side of the beetle’s head. As the towel approached, the beetle oriented its head to it immediately and the two hind legs started to move in-phase, which resulted in the locomotion by pushing with the hind legs. The approach of a towel slipping over the wooden substrate surface may have shaded the part of optic array surrounding the beetle, or changed the air flow that could be sensed by its antennae, which seems to have induced the prospective extension of the leg on that side. Shortly after, the left foreleg came close to the towel and briefly touched it, and the left foreleg got entangled with the towel. Using this leg as a pivot point, the beetle pulled the whole body in such a way to roll. Subsequently, the tips of the right middle and hind legs also grasped the towel and the insect succeeded in righting itself. The leg of the insect was observed to release the cloth, which had been tangled tightly. However, how this was made possible is unclear. Duration: 3 s.”

See: The Reciprocity of Environment and Action in Self-Righting Beetles: The Textures of the Ground and an Object, and the Claws

The team came to various conclusions [for details see the full paper,  linked above] not least that :

“It is not improbable that various meanings of the habitat of an animal are embodied and embedded in the tips of the body-like claws.”

Note: After the experiments, the beetles were released back into the wild, where several promptly fell over again – but managed to quickly right themselves.

“This observation suggested that, in their natural habitat, it is not so difficult for beetles to right themselves after having been turned upside down.”

Also see: Geometry and self-righting of turtles and A Review of Self-Righting Techniques for Terrestrial Animals


4.5 million looks at a couple’s sex organs

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

The historic video of the video of MRI sex has gone past the 4.5 million (4,500,000) views mark on YouTube. Dr. Pek van Andel produced the MRI sex video as a spinoff from his historic, ultimately prize-winning experiment. The experiment asked and answered the question: Is it possible to take MRI images of a couple’s sexual organs while those organs are in use?

The Ig Nobel prize in medicine, in the year 2000, was awarded to Willibrord Weijmar SchultzPek van Andel, and Eduard Mooyaart of Groningen, The Netherlands, and Ida Sabelis of Amsterdam, for their report, “Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Male and Female Genitals During Coitus and Female Sexual Arousal.” [Published in British Medical Journal, vol. 319, 1999, pp 1596-1600.]

BONUS: Ida Sabelis, one of the people inside the MRI tube, later wrote about the experience. That account was published in the Annals of Improbable Research.

BONUS: Dutch filmmaker Bahram Sadeghi later made a short documentary about the people involved in the experiment. Here it is:

BONUS [July 3, 2012]: Investigator Tony Tweedale alerts us to the consequential connection between the above video and the one displayed, on the New Scientist web site, under the headline “Baby’s birth captured in MRI movie for the first time“:

Dead Duck Day, June 5th, honoring homosexual necrophilia in the mallard

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

DeadDuckDay-logoSunday, June 5th, 2016 is the 21st edition of Dead Duck Day, arriving precisely one year after last year’s Dead Duck Day. At exactly 17:55 h [Rotterdam time] we will honor the mallard duck that became known to science as the first (documented) ‘victim’ of homosexual necrophilia in that species, and earned its discoverer the 2003 Ig Nobel Biology Prize.

Dead Duck Day also commemorates the billions of other birds that die from colliding with glass buildings, and challenges people to find solutions to this global problem.

Please join the free, short open-air ceremony next to the new wing of the Natural History Museum Rotterdam (the Netherlands), right below the new Dead Duck Memorial Plaque— the very spot where that duck (now museum specimen NMR 9989-00232) met his dramatic end.

Sarah Forbes

Sarah Forbes

This is what will happen:

  • The traditional Ten Seconds of Silence.
  • Review of this year’s necrophilia news: two new clear cases in birds became known to science, and the first case in a Dutch mammal (!) will be revealed.
  • The reading of the special ‘Dead Duck Day Message’. This years message is send in by Sarah Forbes, former curator of the Museum of Sex (MoS) in New York and author of the book ‘Sex in the Museum’.
  • The announcement of the second performance of ‘The Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera’ in London, on sacred grounds, June 24th, 2016.
  • The first-ever Dead Duck Day Fashion Show. The first batch of t-shirts, designed by Mark Prinsen, will be for sale.
  • A six-course duck dinner, after the ceremony.

The traditional six-course (dead) duck dinner at the famous Tai Wu Restaurant is also open to the public (at your own expense).  Reserve you seat by e-mailing to: info [at]


BONUS: More on the history of Dead Duck Day on the official Dead Duck Day website:

BONUS: Here is Kees Moeliker’s TED Talk about the dead duck:

A round-up of American hole-in-one jurisprudence

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Of all the curious things one can get insurance cover for – the golfing fraternity’s ‘hole-in-one-insurance’ is surely one of the curiouser. Why would one want insurance against a hole-in-one? The answer lies in the substantial cash bonus prizes which (some) golf clubs offer to those players who manage to get one. From the club’s point of view, it can be costly, and that’s something that they want to insure against. Details are provided in a 2004 paper for the Journal of Sports Law & Contemporary Problems (10/01/2004) entitled : A GOOD PIECE OF PAPER SPOILED:1 AN EIGHTEEN-HOLE ROUND-UP OF AMERICAN HOLE-IN-ONE JURISPRUDENCE by Parker B. Potter Jr.. The author puts the odds of holes-in-one [or should that be hole-in-ones?] at 1:40,000, and goes into substantial detail regarding the perplexing legal aspects. Citing, as an example, a legal case from 1992.

“Crawford Chevrolet, Inc. (hereinafter ‘Crawford’) had ‘agreed to provide a new vehicle to any participant who scored a hole-in-one on a certain hole during the tournament.’ The specified hole was number nine. After Don Zamora ‘scored a hole-in-one on physical hole #9, but on his second time around the course,’ he claimed the prize, which Crawford delivered. Crawford, in turn, made a claim on its hole-in-one insurance carrier, the now-familiar National Hole-in-One Association (‘Hole-in-One’), the potential victim on hole number five and the defendant on hole number six.”

The author also offers advice for insurers :

“When advising clients who offer hole-in-one insurance, tell them to write policies that contemplate every conceivable possibility, or get ready to write a check. In a world where the term ‘shots’ can be considered ambiguous, as in Crawford Chevrolet, Inc. v. National Hole-in-One Ass’n, only the most precise and detailed policy language will protect an insurer from paying when a golfer has scored a hole-in-one in a covered event.”

If you’d like to take out hole-in-one insurance, there are a number of firms worldwide who will cover you – e.g. United States, Australia, United Kingdom.

Note 1: The paper’s title pays tribute to Mark Twain, who some say is said to have said : “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

Also see (Insurance related) Calculations: Insurance for clowns
Also see (golf related) 2012 Yearly Golfball Patents: A look back

Breaking(ish) News: ‘Golf is no longer a crime, decrees China’s Communist party’ The Guardian, (14th April)