Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

Table of Contents for Volume 4, Issue 6, Nov/Dec 1998

Math & Money issue

Special Math & Money Issue!

On the cover: This photomicrograph, by Rick Hochberg andDarrell Steely of Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, showsan unusual sperm cell from the common marine snail Littorina scutulata.The cell appears to contain a homunculus which is wearing an American footballhelmet and is set in the classic "huddle stance" that is frequently adoptedby American football players.
The role of sperm in sexual reproduction was relatively unknown untilthe mid-1800s. Prior to that time, many scientists, among them microbiologypioneer Anton van Leewenhook, believed that sperm were parasitic animals(the word spermatazoa means "sperm animals") living within seminal fluid.The photomicrograph here could be taken by some bold modern researchersas an indication that sperm carry pre-formed embryos. The boldest of thesebold investigators might theorize that each snail sperm cell harbors anembryo that will develop into an American football player. This would bea most curious finding -- one that is not necessarily endorsed by Hochbergand Steely.
To view a close-up, click on the cover.

The features marked with a star (*) are based entirely on material takenstraight from standard research (and other Official and Therefore AlwaysCorrect) literature. Many of the other articles are genuine, too, but wedon't know which ones.

Special Mathematics Section

  • Toothpaste Arithmetic and the Chicken/Egg Problem Mark Benecke
  • The Number One, Precise to a Billion Places Christopher McManus
  • The Next Credit Card  Stanley A. Rudin and Dorian N. Rudin
  • The Underwater Economy: Coins in Ponds  Matthew W. Gertz and GlendaA. Gertz
News & Notes
  •  AIR Vents
  •  Spot-the-Typos Super
  •  Nobel Thoughts: Robert Wilson Marc Abrahams
  •  HMO Noir News
  •  Ask Symmetra Scientist/Supermodel Symmetra
  •  Cafeteria Review: The NIH Building 10 Cafeteria PeregrineWoorst
  •  Solution to Last Issueís Puzzler
  •  Bends on the Learning Curve Richard Lederer
  •  Plausible Statistics
  •  A Day in the Life L.C. Parmenter
  •  The History of the Universe in 200 Words or Less in 30 Languagesor More in Teeny Tiny Type  Eric Schulman et al.
  •  The Importance of Abbreviation in Scientific Communications AnthonyGreco
AIRhead Research Roundup
  •  AIRhead Research Review* Dirk Manley
  •  AIRhead Medical Review* Bertha Vanation
  •  Boys Will Be Boys* Katherine Lee
  •  Project AIRhead 2000* Grigor Belfrey
  •  AIRhead Natural History Review of 1673* Earle Spamer
  •  AIRhead Medical Review of 1673* Earle Spamer
  •  Tysonian Medicine*
  •  May We Recommend?* Stephen Drew
Cartoons & Poetry
  •  We Have Lost a Colleague Nick Kim
  •  The Craving Robert R. Pascal
  •  Pat the Dean Eric Schulman and Caroline V. Cox


  •  Ig® Nobel Prize Notice
  •  Loopy Lawsuit Update
  •  Teachers’ Guide
  •  AIR Stuff
  •  Unclassified Ads
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