Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen joins the LFHCfS (Luxuriant Facial Hair Club for Scientists)

December 16th, 2017

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845-1923) has joined the Historical Honorary Members of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists.
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, LFHCfS

Known as the “Father of Radiology”, he discovered and investigated X-Rays while experimenting with vacuum tubes in 1895.  He named them "X-Rays" because they were an unknown form of radiation and he refused to patent his discovery.  He received the very first Nobel Prize in Physics (1901).  Other honors include a peak in Antarctica, a radioactive element (Rg), and a unit of measurement named in his honor.

Nov 8th, the anniversary of his discovery, is observed both as International Day of Radiology and also as World Radiography Day.

Images of Röntgen’s beard helped inspire Radiologist Philipp Weisser to grow his own beard, which in turn qualified him to join the hair club.

"…Last but not least, my beard is a homage to the Godfather of science in radiology, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen."       – P. Weisser, LFHCfS

Mr. Weisser mentioned this inspiration when he joined the LFHCfS, prompting the club to investigate and decide that, yes, Röntgren did indeed have impressive facial hair!

“Swearing helps us battle pain – no matter what language we curse in”

December 15th, 2017

A replication (with Japanese-language speakers and English-language speakers) of the Ig Nobel Peace Prize-winning experiment (with only English-language speakers) about swearing and pain, described by one of the researchers, in The Conversation:

Swearing helps us battle pain – no matter what language we curse in

The new study is “Swearing as a response to pain: A cross-cultural comparison of British and Japanese participants,” Olivia Robertson [pictured here], Sarita Jane Robinson, and Richard Stephens, Scandinavian Journal of Pain, epub 2017.

Even more applications for graphene (continued)

December 14th, 2017

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2010 was awarded jointly to Andre Geim (see note [1] below) and Konstantin Novoselov for their groundbreaking experiments regarding the extraordinary properties of two-dimensional carbon. Nowadays, the burgeoning cornucopia of applications is such that a 21st century individual can literally kit themselves from head to toe with accoutrements which feature graphene (or claim to – see notes [2] & [3] below). Here are but a few examples :

• Graphene hats 

• Graphene reinforced spectacles

• Graphene tattoos

• Graphene underwear

• Graphene based sensor gloves

• Graphene Far Infrared Biomass Socks [pictured]

• Graphene enhanced shoe soles

Notes :

[1] Professor Andre Geim was awarded the 2000 Ig Nobel Physics prize – along with Sir Michael Berry of Bristol University, UK – for using magnets to levitate a frog. [reference: “Of Flying Frogs and Levitrons” by M.V. Berry and A.K. Geim, European Journal of Physics, v. 18, 1997, p. 307-13.)

[2] According to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) “The term graphene should be used only when the reactions, structural relations or other properties of individual layers are discussed.” That’s to say, if it’s more than one atom thick, it’s not graphene, but a graphite layer, a carbon layer, or a carbon sheet instead.

[3] Not all claims for the applications of graphene are necessarily 100% accurate. 

BONUS (form 2012): Graphene From Garbage (and Girl Scout cookies and bugs)

Sound Pressures Generated by Exploding Eggs

December 13th, 2017

The claims made in lawsuits – and the need to verify or disprove them – sometimes spark interesting research. The Acoustical Society of America’s Fall 2017 meeting included a report titled, “Sound pressures generated by exploding eggs”.

photo by D. Kessler

  Some eggs and some safety gear
  (photo by D. Kessler)

Investigators Anthony Nash and Lauren von Blohn began this research thanks to a lawsuit: A restaurant had hard-boiled an egg and then re-heated it in a microwave before serving it. When the customer bit into the egg, it exploded with enough force and heat to cause burns and, importantly for this research, possible hearing loss.

The court could not find data on whether an exploding egg might cause hearing loss, so it contacted acoustical consulting firm, Charles M. Salter Associates, where Nash and von Blohn began their research:

“An acoustical investigation was conducted using nearly 100 eggs that were re-heated under controlled conditions in a calibrated microwave oven. About a third of the re-heated, boiled eggs exploded outside the oven. For those eggs that did explode, their peak sound pressure levels ranged from 86 up to 133 decibels at a distance of 300 millimeters. The paper will describe the test protocols and discuss the results.”

Decibel Chart courtesy of dangerousdecibels.org

dB chart from dangerousdecibels.org (does not mention eggs)

Most claims of hearing damage come from noise experienced over a sustained period of time – longer than the milliseconds of an egg explosion – but in this case, the offending egg was considerably closer than 300 millimeters away when it exploded. Nash and von Blohn began a second round of research to study the possible effects of an “in-mouth explosion”.

The lawsuit was settled out of court, but the research it sparked remains for any future court cases.

(Thanks to D. Grodzins for bringing this article to our attention.)

HEARING BONUS: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have articles on the sonic dangers of Vuvuzelas and also of being a NASCAR driver or pit crew member. The CDC has declared October to be National Protect Your Hearing Month.

EGG BONUS: Cooked egg-white is white because the heat has changed how its proteins are folded. The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded for inventing a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg.

COURTROOM BONUS: Another example of a lawsuit whose premise required original research received the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for investigating whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

A demonstration of the phenomenon

“Roxanne,” plus 5 percent compounded

December 13th, 2017

The song “Roxanne,” by The Police, gets a five-percent speed boost every time the singers sing the word “Roxanne”, in this video:

Thanks to Mason Porter for bringing this to our attention.

BONUS: Earlier today, we reported a different experiment in data communications: “Data Communications via Wet Sting, or via Hungry Snail.”