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Archive for 'Arts and Science'

Another TV Show ‘Inspired’ by the Ig Nobel Prizes

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Zaobao reports, on October 11, 2021:

In recent years, many Chinese variety shows have been draft talents. Zhejiang Satellite TV has taken a different approach. In mid-August, it launched a real-life show “Hi Release”. Wang Jiaer, Ren Jialun and Chen Feiyu served as “Hi Release Explorers”. Li Ronghao ( Participated in the fifth period of recording), Wei Daxun (joined in the fifth period) is the “Hi Broadcast Specialist”. Artist guests include Li Chen, Zheng Kai and Jike Junyi. “Hi” is inspired by the “Ig Nobel Prize“, which is dedicated to exploring scientific research that “makes people laugh at first glance, but is thought-provoking after thinking about it”. The program uses life as the soil and science as the entry point, revealing unexpected scientific conclusions through some seemingly nonsensical experiments.

UPDATE (October 15, 2021): And today, there’s a report by Giaoduc about a law school competition in Vietnam: “Happy Law Competition (abbreviated as ‘Ig Law’) is inspired by the Ig Nobel Prize

Data poetry: Ode to The General Index

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

In this six-minute-long impassioned video, Carl Malamud draws on his considerable poetical and performance skills to introduce The General Index:

What is The General Index, and how can it benefit you? The answer, some of it in the form of questions, is in the video.

Here, to whet your appetite for viewing the video, are some passionate phrases from it, and from the documentation about it:

Topics—Access to Knowledge, Text and Data Mining, Temples of Knowledge, General Index
Language—Science is our universal language.

Public Resource, a registered nonprofit organization based in California, has created a General Index to scientific journals. The General Index consists of a listing of n-grams, from unigrams to five-grams, extracted from 107 million journal articles.

The General Index is non-consumptive, in that the underlying articles are not released, and it is transformative in that the release consists of the extraction of facts that are derived from that underlying corpus. The General Index is available for free download with no restrictions on use. This is an initial release, and the hope is to improve the quality of text extraction, broaden the scope of the underlying corpus, provide more sophisticated metrics associated with terms, and other enhancements.

Access to the full corpus of scholarly journals is an essential facility to the practice of science in our modern world. The General Index is an invaluable utility for researchers who wish to search for articles about plants, chemicals, genes, proteins, materials, geographical locations, and other entities of interest. The General Index allows scholars and students all over the world to perform specialized and customized searches within the scope of their disciplines and research over the full corpus.

Access to knowledge is a human right and the increase and diffusion of knowledge depends on our ability to stand on the shoulders of giants.



Headline writing is for the birds?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

Ambiguity comes easily when one writes headlines, sometimes. Here’s an example:

An inexpensive, 3D‐printable breast muscle meter for field ornithologists,” Luke L. Powell, Adam Metallo, Crinan Jarrett, Nathan W. Cooper, Peter P. Marra, Scott R. McWilliams, Ulf Bauchinger, and Bryant C. Dossman, Journal of Field Ornithology, vol. 92, no. 1, March 1, 2021, pp. 67-76. (Thanks to Walter Berry for bringing this to our attention.)

National Funeral Directors Association Leadership Conference at Walt Disney World

Monday, October 11th, 2021

“So here’s the thing. Flight, taxes, death – they’re all connected to this event”

explains the cheery video for the National Funeral Directors Association Leadership Conference 2021.

The bad news is that the deadline to attend the event has now expired. The good news is that there’s still time to book for the 2022 event – which will be held on July 10-13, 2022 at Walt Disney World’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort in Orlando, Florida.

“This event will leave you inspired, invigorated, and ready to take on the issues of the day!“

The special Ducks issue of the Improbable magazine

Friday, October 8th, 2021

The special Ducks issue (volume 27, number 4) 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 Duck?

Unless you yourself are a duck, and an unusual duck at that, you are likely to discover many surprising things about ducks, if you read the issue, an activity which, the educational system being what it is in 2021, is probably more likely if you are not a duck than if you are a duck. The previous sentence was a long, multi-part sentence.

Research About Ducks

The special Ducks issue includes these articles about duck research (and includes many other articles, about research about other things):

Uranium for Ducks, Please
Ducks and Walking
Steaming and Dabbling
Ducks and Water
May We Recommend: Duck Death by Spaghetti
The Turducken Experiment
Duck or Not Duck?
Ducks’ Body Parts
Duck Droppings

Walk Like a Duck?

The special Ducks issue begins, as some of our issues do, with an article called “Ways to Use This Magazine“. One of those ways is to write a limerick about one of the cited studies. To get you started, the article assaults you with this limerick about the study “Higher Heritabilities for Gait Components than for Overall Gait Scores May Improve Mobility in Ducks,” which is featured in the magazine:


Improbable Research