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The special Children issue of the Improbable magazine

November 26th, 2021

The special Children issue (volume 27, number 5) of the magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, has flown its way to subscribers. This special issue, like many other special issues of the magazine, is also available for purchase. All the issues are in the form of downloadable PDFs.

Are you a Child?

Whether you are a child or a non-child, you are likely to discover many surprising things about children, if you read the special Children issue, a likelihood that is large indeed if you assess such things considering matters that concern children, compared with what would be the size of you considered all possible subjects. The previous sentence is nearly incomprehensible, by the way.

Research about Children

The special Children issue includes these articles about children-related research (and includes other articles, too, about research about other things):

Pre-teen Werewolf
Big-Toe Curling
Saliva, Snot, and Sugar
Unusual Children
Children and Walking and Toes
What Children Dislike or Like
Children Chewing

The issue even includes an explanation of the image that appears on the magazine’s front cover. Also, there is an explanation, of sorts, about the image that appears on the back cover.

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on “Science Friday” on the day after Thanksgiving

November 25th, 2021

Friday, November 26, 2021 is the day for this year’s day-after-Thanksgiving Ig Nobel special on the Science Friday radio program, on public radio stations in the USA. This is the 30th year for the special. (This is the 31st year for the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony itself.)

WHAT: This is a specially edited version of the 31st First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, with commentary from SciFri founder/host Ira Flatow, and Ig Nobel founder/emcee Marc Abrahams.

WHEN, IN MOST OF THE USA: On most public radio stations, the Ig Nobel broadcast will be at 3:00 pm (which is HOUR TWO of Science Friday’s two-hour broadcast).

BOSTON IS AN EXCEPTION: Boston, where the ceremony is based, always views itself as an exceptional place, always a step ahead of the crowd. Accordingly, in Boston the Ig Nobel special will be broadcast on WBUR-FM, at 2:00 pm, rather than 3:00 pm.

INTERNET: Most public radio stations stream over the internet, as well as broadcasting good ol’ radio signals — so no matter where you are, you can probable catch the show. And if you don’t catch it on the fly, you can catch it later on the sofa. The broadcast will also be archived, and available later on the Science Friday web site.

“Why do I always spill my coffee?”

November 25th, 2021

Oxford maths PhD student Sophie Abrahams explicates the Ig Nobel Prize-winning research on what happens when one walks backwards while (or whilst) holding a cup of coffee.

The 2017 Ig Nobel Prize for fluid dynamics was awarded to Jiwon (Jessie) Han, for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee.

He documented that research, in the study “A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime,” Jiwon Han, Achievements in the Life Sciences, vol. 10, no. 1, 2016, pp. 87-101. Here you see him demonstrate that the basic physics of walking with a cup of coffee, back in 2015 while he was a high school student:

All of this was inspired by an earlier Ig Nobel Prize.

The 2021 Ig Nobel Prize for fluid dynamics was awarded to Rouslan Krechetnikov and Hans Mayer for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.

REFERENCE: “Walking With Coffee: Why Does It Spill?” Hans C. Mayer and Rouslan Krechetnikov, Physical Review E, vol. 85, 2012.


Podcast Episode #1085: “Mindful Dishwashing”

November 24th, 2021

Marc Abrahams shows an unfamiliar research study to psycholinguist Jean Berko Gleason. Dramatic readings and reactions ensue. The study is:

Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice,” Adam W. Hanley, Alia R. Warner, Vincent M. Dehili, Angela I. Canto, and Eric L. Garland, Mindfulness, October 2015, vol. 6, no. 5, pp 1095-1103.

Kristina Collins joins Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHfC)

November 23rd, 2021

Kristina Collins has joined the The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists™ (LFHCfS). She says:

I am a PhD candidate in electrical engineering at Case Western Reserve University, where I specialize in professional amateur radio and its application to ionospheric physics. I organize citizen science campaigns, usually during solar eclipses, in which people throw signals at the ionosphere and some of the signals bounce off of it, become all scrunched up, and land in other people’s radios. My masters work, also at CWRU, was on space laser robots for NASA and featured an entire chapter about LEGO. In my copious free time, I can be found looking for hair ties or messing about in boats.

Kristina Collins, MA, LFHCfS
Graduate Student, Electrical Engineering
Case Western Reserve University,
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Improbable Research