Archive for 'Arts and Science'

Does leg length play a determinative role for success in ballet? [research study]

Monday, March 19th, 2018

A unique 2009 research project quantified (for the first time) the changes in elevation angles of ballet dancers’ legs between 1946 and 2004. Now a new study has examined (again for the first time) leg-length in relation to selected ballet performance indicators.

“The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationships between leg length and selected dance movements representative of power, dexterity, and range motion, in a sample of female ballet dancers ranging from recreational to professional standards.”

The researchers found that long legs (when thought of as long levers) :

“[…] are advantageous only when the associated muscles are strong enough to bring about their maximum function.”

Furthermore :

“A shorter leg can cope with inertia better than a longer one, as the later requires greater muscular strength in order to move.”

Thus, in conclusion :

“We found no clear evidence that leg length plays a determinative role for success in ballet.”

See: Leg-Length in Relation to Selected Ballet Performance Indicators in Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 32 Number 3: Page 165 (September 2017).

Also See: Attractiveness of Leg Length (updated)

The photo shows ballerinas Pierina Legnani as Medora (right) and Olga Preobrajenskaya as Gulnare (left) in the scene Le jardin animé from the ballet Le Corsaire, 1899.

The PIZZA & POPCORN issue of the Annals of Improbable Research

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

The special Pizza & Popcorn Questions issue (vol. 24, no. 1) of the Annals of Improbable Research is now available.

The issue’s table of contents is online. And you can obtain, for a pittance, the full issue. The magazine is in splendid PDF form, packed with info yet lighter by far than a feather or a popcorn kernel.

The Evolution of Popcorn” is a featured article. Lead author Russ Hodge will discuss the evolution of popcorn, when he joins the Ig Nobel EuroTour. Hodge will be part of the events in Berlin (March 19), Langen (March 21), and  Heidelberg (March 23). Come see and hear him!

Acoustical Analysis of Shouting Into the Wind

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

The physics of shouting into the wind are now slightly better plumbed.

Details emerge in the study “Effects of flow gradients on directional radiation of human voice,” Ville Pulkki [pictured here, performing the experiment], Timo Lähivaara, and Ilkka Huhtakallio, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 143, no. 2, 2018, pp. 1173-1181. (Thanks to Lauri Savioja for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Aalto University and the University of Eastern Finland, report:

“In voice communication in windy outdoor conditions, complex velocity gradients appear in the flow field around the source, the receiver, and also in the atmosphere. It is commonly known that voice emanates stronger towards the downstream direction when compared with the upstream direction. In literature, the atmospheric effects are used to explain the stronger emanation in the downstream direction. This work shows that the wind also has an effect to the directivity of voice also favouring the downstream direction. The effect is addressed by measurements and simulations. Laboratory measurements are conducted by using a large pendulum with a loudspeaker mimicking the human head, whereas practical measurements utilizing the human voice are realized by placing a subject through the roof window of a moving car.”

This video shows the road work:

SIL e-Books – the bees’ knees for rhyming jingles (linguistics study)

Monday, March 12th, 2018

If you’re after in-depth information about hanky panky, tittle tattle, or even argy bargy then where better to look than the pages of SIL e-Books ? In particular, chapter 16 of ‘A Mosaic of languages and cultures: studies celebrating the career of Karl J. Franklin*‘ – ‘Helter skelter and ñugl ñagl: English and Kalam Rhyming Jingles and the Psychic Unity of Mankind’ 

Wherein Professor Andrew Pawley BA (NZ), MA, PhD (University of Auckland), FRSNZ, FAHA (Department of Linguistics College of Asia & the Pacific, Australian National University) examines English rhyming jingles such as dilly dally, rumpy pumpy, hocus pocus, nitty gritty and topsy-turvy.

He then compares them with those of Kalam, a language spoken by about 20,000 people living in the Bismarck and Schrader Ranges in SW Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. For example ;

Godey Bodey (to swing round like a propellor)
Gadal Badl (higgledy piggledy)
Cnaŋ Mnaŋ (to wear strings of beads that cross the chest and back diagonally) and, of course,
ñugl ñagl (resound, of the evening chorus of insects, frogs, etc. in the grasslands).

* The entire e-Bbook (476 pages) may be downloaded, for scholarly purposes only, from here.

Note: The bees’ knees means roughly the same as “the cat’s pajamas” i.e. the height of excellence.

BONUS (musical) : Rootin’ tootin’ Hurdy Gurdy music from Andrey Vinogradov.

A Dramatic Non-Reading of William McGonagall’s Bad Poetry

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

A special dramatic non-reading of the poetry of William McGonagall was a last-minute addition to the Ig Nobel Show at Imperial College on Friday night, March 9, 2018.

McGonagall is famed as the worst poet ever to write in the English language. Ig Nobel shows have, time and again, included dramatic readings of his work. (The literal high point was the group reading, on a train crossing the Tay Bridge, of McGonagall’s “Tay Bridge Disaster“—a poem lamenting the tragic collapse of that bridge.

Many of the Ig Nobel shows we have done at Imperial College have included a dramatic reading of McGonagall poems, performed by Andrew J.T. George, whose persistence on many occasions induced the successful booing and halting of the reading. Professor George was unable to attend this year’s show at Imperial College. Therefore, we sought and found an able substitute performer—a performer capable of delivering a specially restrained performance: noted author and raconteur Stevyn Colgan.

Colgan performed a dramatic non-reading of several poems by William McGonagall, in the midsts of spending the entire evening on stage at Imperial College, gagged, and bound to a chair.

The entire Ig Nobel show began, proceeded, and finished during Colgan’s evening-long on-stage tenure. Here are photos of that performance by Stevyn Colgan. Many audience members clambered onto the stage to have their photographs taken with Colgan.

The Ig Nobel Show at Imperial College was the first event in the Ig Nobel EuroTour. The tour will also include shows in the UK, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and other countries.

UPDATE: Here is the photo taken by Tom Williamson, whom you can see (in photo number 2, above) taking this photograph: