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Archive for 'Arts and Science'

Ice Cream Sticks’ Aroma Influence

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

What may be an advance in the understanding of ice cream sticks’ aroma influence emerges from a reading of a now-almost-two-decades-old study. First, for anyone not familiar with ice cream sticks, here is an image of some generic ice cream sticks:

The Impact of Wood Ice Cream Sticks’ Origin on the Aroma of Exposed Ice Cream Mixes,” S. Jiamyangyuen, J.F. Delwiche, and W. J. Harper, Journal of Dairy Science, vol. 85, no. 2, 2002, pp. 355-359. (Thanks to James Harkin for bringing this to our attention.)

The authors, at Ohio State University, report:

Batches of ice cream mix were exposed to the sticks and aged for 6 days at 4 degrees C and then assessed by the panelists by pairwise comparison. Findings suggest that differences in aroma of mixes that have been exposed to white birch sticks from four different geographical origins can be distinguished perceptually….

The samples of wooden sticks, obtained from the Norse Dairy Company (Columbus, OH), were made from white birch and were from four different geographical origins, including the states of Wisconsin and Maine (US), China, and British Columbia (Canada).…

Table 2 [NOTE: the image reproduced here from the study omits the Canadian ice cream stick data] shows the more frequently used terms for describing sample differences. There, it can be seen, for example, that the mix exposed to sticks from Maine was labeled as more woody and rancid than the control mix. These labels, however, should not be given undue weight since each judge independently created his/her own terms and no standards were used. The labels used by panelists were quite varied; for example, the difference between mix aromas for a mix-pair was described by different panelists as both “cucumber” and as “dry paper.” In addition, even the control mix [which contained no sticks] was described as having “woody flavor.” This simply reflects the idiosyncratic use of terms by individuals, and illustrates the caution one must use when asking unaligned panelists to describe a difference.

How Well Do Horror Fans Survive Real Pandemics?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

As if prepared for it all their lives, fans of horror fiction plunge now into a real pandemic. A new study looks at their psychological prospects.

Pandemic Practice: Horror Fans and Morbidly Curious Individuals Are More Psychologically Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Coltan Scrivner [pictured here, stylistically], John Johnson, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, and Mathias Clasen, PsyArXiv, 2020. (Thanks to Minna Lyons for bringing this to our attention.)

The authors, at the The University of Chicago, Pennsylvania State University, and  Aarhus University, explain:

“Conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, this study (n = 310) tested whether past and current engagement with thematically relevant media fictions, including horror and pandemic films, was associated with greater preparedness for and psychological resilience toward the pandemic…. We found that fans of horror films exhibited greater resilience during the pandemic and that fans of “prepper” genres (alien-invasion, apocalyptic, and zombie films) exhibited both greater resilience and preparedness. We also found that trait morbid curiosity was associated with positive resilience and interest in pandemic films during the pandemic. Taken together, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that exposure to frightening fictions allow audiences to practice effective coping strategies that can be beneficial in real-world situations.”

Small Animals special issue of Improbable Research

Monday, June 29th, 2020

The special Small Animals issue (volume 26, number 3) of the magazine is chock full of improbable research about small animals.

Lip-pumping invention avoids “ducky” lips [new patent]

Monday, June 29th, 2020

“Although useful for their intended purpose, currently available lip pumps can have negative side effects. After use, some lip pumps will leave unattractive marks, bruising, indentations, and grooves around a user’s lip area. In addition, some lip pumps continuously apply suction to both lips. Unfortunately, these types of lip pumps can cause misshaped lips and fail to address various lip problems. A user who only wants to increase a smaller lower lip, for example, may come away with a “ducky” upper lip that appears similar to a duck bill.“

A newly patented invention from Dr Thienna Ho of San Francisco, US, provides a method to avoid such things. The patent document first gives a general background on why some people might consider lip pumping as an option.

“Lip size and shape are facial features, which directly impact attractiveness levels. Many believe a person’s lips and smile to be an indicator of beauty. Full lips, especially in Western cultures, are considered attractive. Some suggest that the trend towards fuller lips developed because lips become less full with age. As one ages, gravitational effects and atrophy of tissue and muscles on and surrounding the lips often lead to lips which appear deflated and disproportionate. Fuller lips, however, are often associated with a healthy lifestyle, youth, and beauty.
In one study, it was found that men give more attention to women with fuller lips. Women having “luscious pouts” were found to attract more attention from men compared to thin-lipped women. In this same study, lips were found to represent one of the most sensual areas on a woman’s body and serve as a biological indicator of a woman’s health and fertility.”

The document goes on to describe the ‘lip shaper’ elements that are new to lip-pump prior art.

“A lip shaper may include one or more contouring elements that change the shape of a user’s lip(s). Various types of lip shapers may be included in the lip shaper assembly, depending on the shaping and contouring desired by a user. One type of lower lip shaper may be configured to form a fuller, unitary lower lip lobe, while another type of lip shaper may be configured to form two fuller, lower lip lobes, using a creaser element coupled to the lower lip shaper. Also a central platform may be coupled to either a lip shaper such that the upper and lower lips are at least partially separated during use of the lip enhancement and enlargement device.”

See: US patent 10,682,278 B2, Jun. 16Th, 2020


● Unfortunately, The patent document doesn’t provide any cited reference to the “luscious pouts” study.

● The invention, in various variants, is currently available to purchase, being marketed under the tradename CandyLipz®

● The story of the invention can be read here.

● Dr. Ho holds the Guinness Book of Records® records for the Longest Samson’s chair (static wall sit) and the Heaviest sumo deadlift in one hour (female).

● The device can, of course, also be used by men – as the ‘before and after’ photos [above] from the patent document show.

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Research About Coffee-and-Health is Often and Easily Confounded

Friday, June 26th, 2020

It’s easy to say that coffee has a good or bad effect on people’s health, but it’s not easy to know, suggests a study about studies about whether coffee has a good or bad effect on people’s health.

The study is: “Dietary research on coffee: Improving adjustment for confounding,” David R. Thomas, Ian D. Hodges, Current Developments in Nutrition, 2019, nzz142. The authors, at the University of Auckland, and at HealthSearch Limited, New Zealand, explain:

this narrative review critically evaluated the methods and analyses of cohort studies investigating coffee and mortality. A specific focus was adjustment for confounding related to smoking, healthy and unhealthy foods and alcohol. Assessment of 36 cohort samples showed many did not adequately adjust for smoking. Consuming 1–5 cups of coffee per day was related to lower mortality among never smokers, in studies which adjusted for pack-years of smoking, and studies adjusting for healthy and unhealthy foods. Possible reduced health benefits for coffee with added sugar have not been adequately investigated. Research on coffee and health should report separate analyses for never smokers, adjust for consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods, and for sugar added to coffee.

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