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Archive for 'Arts and Science'

“Why do I always spill my coffee?”

Thursday, 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.


Upside-down Rhinos, and other Cornellian Ig Nobel Prize winners

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

Cornellians, the alumni magazine of Cornell University, celebrates some of the alumni who have been awarded Ig Nobel Prizes. The 2021 Ig Nobel Transportation Prize winners are just the latest:

“When you see a rhino hanging upside down, it’s a little bit comical,” he admits. “But it makes you wonder, and then you start to think—and I’m glad that it’s making people think, because our research is actually serious. Rhinos are highly endangered.”

Wait: upside-down rhinoceri?

Radcliffe and three colleagues (Vet College faculty Julia Felippe, PhD ’02, and Robin Gleed, and statistician Stephen Parry) won a 2021 Ig Nobel for their work in Namibia on methods of relocating black rhinos—which is often vital to protect the critically endangered species from poachers…..

Dog-Human Tennis-Ball-Based Internet Communicator

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

The quest to more often communicate with one’s dog, if one has a dog, takes a big bounce forward with the invention of a tennis-ball-based dog-to-human internet communication system. A new study offers detail on how, and how well, it works:

Forming the Dog Internet: Prototyping a Dog-to-Human Video Call Device,” Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, Roosa Piitulainen, and Andrés Lucero, Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 5, no. ISS, 2021. (Thanks to Tom Whipple for bringing this to our attention.)

Lead author Hirskyi-Douglas is continuing her long line of work on this subject, a line that includes the study “On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re a Dog… Unless You’re Another Dog.”

Table 1, in the new study, is of special interest to anyone who is interested in something special. Here is the beginning of Table 1:

Dogs and Cats and the Future

Some people, and perhaps many dogs and perhaps a few cats, yearn for a grand dog-cat-human communication system.

Research on the cat-human aspect of that was honored with the 2021 Ig Nobel Prize for biology, awarded to Susanne Schötz, Robert Eklund, and Joost van de Weijer, for analyzing variations in purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, growling, and other modes of cat–human communication.

The Talk of Scandinavia

Scandinavia appears to be, currently, the center of innovation for this kind of research. The dog/tennis-ball research was conducted primarily in Finland. The cat-human communication research was conducted primarily in Sweden. Norway and Denmark have still, each of them, to establish which kind of animal to claim as most central to their own communications research yearnings.

The Duck Guy gets yet another honor

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

A new honor awaits Kees Moeliker, who in 2003 was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for biology, for documenting the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.

Here is the official announcement of the new honor:

Kees Moeliker to receive the 54th Laurens Medal

The 54th Laurens Medal is being awarded to Kees Moeliker, biologist and director of the Natural History Museum Rotterdam. The Laurenspenning Foundation expresses its appreciation for the unremitting enthusiasm with which Moeliker draws attention to urban nature in all its manifestations – within the walls of his museum, but also in books, newspapers and magazines and on radio and television.

Biologist Kees Moeliker (9 October 1960) receives the Laurens Medal on Thursday 18 November at 5.30 pm in the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk in Rotterdam. The celebration speech will be given by Auke-Florian Hiemstra, who, as a biologist at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, conducts research into urban nature (such as the use of plastic waste for nests by coots). The ceremony will be graced with performances by Anne Vegter, Conny Janssen Danst and Arie van der Krogt.

In the photo: Kees Moeliker with a duck call in 2016. Photo (c) Maarten Laupman.

Organizations and food [study]: “Overweight Organizations”

Monday, November 15th, 2021

The original meaning of the word ‘corporation’ strongly hints at the idea that a firm can be regarded, in some ways (including, on occasion, legally) as a ‘person’. Could the idea of corporality be expanded to include ‘organizations’? If so, what if they eat too much – or too little?

Professor Miguel Pina e Cunha  (now at the Nova School of Business & Economics, Portugal) and colleagues explore such things :

Organizations are like people; as they get older and more successful, they put on fat (Reis and Peña, 2001). Overweight organizations are regarded as bad and unsuccessful, thus requiring an intervention of some kind. The remedy appears to be similar to the one prescribed for individuals: dieting (downsizing), hiring a personal trainer (hiring consultants to do the dirty job of firing people), and do plenty of exercise in the gym (structural changes, removal of managerial layers). The ultimate goal for individuals and organizations alike is to achieve that seductive, slim and beautiful body (make the organization more flexible and more attractive to investors). And the risks are not dissimilar either: Taken too far or too quickly, a sliming programme can become a health hazard. Anorexic firms may experience serious problems. But food may also have other meanings in the field of organizations. Among these, is the search for the best organization.

Sauce : Manna from heaven: The exuberance of food as a topic for research in management and organization  Human Relations Journal Volume: 61 issue: 7, page(s): 935-963 (a full copy of which may be found here)

Coming soon : Oganizations and dogs

Improbable Research