Watch the 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony live!

September 14th, 2017

UPDATE: Ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners were introduced at the 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Sanders Theater, Harvard University. This year’s theme was “UNCERTAINTY”.

You can read some of the early press accounts.

The ceremony was webcast. Here’s recorded video:

Exploring the Confusion Matrix for Auto Bidet Seat Icons (study)

September 13th, 2017

When it comes to designing icons for the operation of household equipment, care must be taken to avoid misunderstandings.

“If the right button is pushed, the desired function will be performed. If the wrong button is pushed, an unexpected function will be performed. It might cause the user’s body or mental state of unwell even dangerous.“

This applies, for example, to the Auto Bidet Seat.

“Regarding functions, in addition to the basic jet water washes and warm seat, some medium class products still have other derivative features such as Deodorizer, Warm Air Dry and Remote Control. Some high class products even have broadcast music attempting to give users a more relax atmosphere in the toilet environment.”

To determine how readily (or otherwise) icons are understood, researchers Cherng-Yee Leung, Chih-Sheng Chang, and Da-Teh Wu, devised a set of experiments based on confusion matrices [as shown above]. They found that recognition-rates varied dramatically in percentage terms  – from an impressive 100% in some cases, like this one :

whilst some scored in mid-range :

and others only achieved a disappointing 0%

“In the age of global village, icons have to be good media of communication because the culture, language and words of some areas are different from others. With the increases of contents and complexity of new products, it is not easy to design ideal icons for users to recognize the delicate functions. Though Auto Bidet Seat has already presented for decades on the market, many function icons, even the icons with text hint, still puzzle users.”


Vegemite and Marmite (and cigarette butts): research studies

September 11th, 2017

A collection of research studies about Marmite and Vegemite enlivens and en-goos the (digital) pages of the special Cigarette Butts, Vegemite, and Marmite issue (vol. 23, no. 4) of the Annals of Improbable Research.

The issue’s table of contents is online. And you can obtain, for a pittance, the full issue, in PDF form.

Effect of Explosion-Puffed Coffee on Fruit Flies [research study]

September 11th, 2017

Fruit flies can be measurably affected by explosion-puffed coffee, suggests this new study:

Effect of Explosion-Puffed Coffee on Locomotor Activity and Behavioral Patterns in Drosophila melanogaster,” Bong Soo Ko, So Hyun Ahn, Dong Ouk Noh, Ki-Bae Hong, Sung Hee Han, and Hyung Joo Suh, Food Research International, epub 2017.

The authors, at several institutions in South Korea and the USA, report:

“Results of the underlying mechanism of the behavioral change patterns of explosive puffed [coffee]  with or without caffeine in Drosophila models, transcript level for the Dop1-R1 receptor in caffeine group was significantly higher than normal, PB, and DePB groups. Flies exposed to the caffeine had significantly decreased transcript levels for the GABA receptors. PB 7.5 and DePB showed higher level of GABA content than RB.”

Here’s further detail from the study:

Psycho-emotional status regulation of minigolf players (study)

September 11th, 2017

When it comes to sporting activities, the psycho-emotional state of the players can have a profound effect on their performance. What positive steps can be taken to enhance it? A number of strategies are currently available :

“[…] various ways and their combinations based on physiological reflexes are applied: breath holdings, relaxation of facial muscles, deep respiration, the arbitrariest synkineses, etc.”

How would such methods impact on the performance of, say, mini-golf players? A newly published study by Russian researchers Aleksey Korolkov, Evgeny Lysov and Oksana Frizen has referenced not only arbitrariest synkineses, but also the effects of aromas and music etc etc.

“It is established that the effect of influence of the functional music is comparable with effect of influence of an activating odorant and exhaustion. Significant distinctions in medians of Kerdo’s index by Vilkokson’s criterion for pair data at the level of a statistical significance are revealed statistically р =0.05. Besides, the effect of decrease in rate of game actions and increase of their stability after musical influence is established. “

See: About Ways of Psyhoemotional [sic] Status Regulation of Minigolf Players in MOJ Sports Med 2017, 1(1): 00004.

Note: There may still be time to book tickets for the World Minigolf Sport Federation Delegates Conference 2017, to be held in Nin (Croatia), Zaton Holiday Resort, September 17, 2017.