Archive for 'Arts and Science'

Grow Hair with Electricity on Rats and Nude Mice

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Hair growth was electrically prodded into happening in/on rats and in/on nude mice, using a clever gizmo, says a new study. The news potentially raises excitement about growing hair akin to the excitement about disease treatment raised by numerous reports of cancer being cured in mice.

The new study is: “Self-Activated Electrical Stimulation for Effective Hair Regeneration via a Wearable Omnidirectional Pulse Generator,” Guang Yao, Dawei Jiang, Jun Li, Lei Kang, Sihong Chen, Yin Long, Yizhan Wang et al., ACS nano, epub 2019.

The authors, at the University of Wisconsin, USA, at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, and at Shenzhen University, China, report:

“a universal motion-activated and wearable electric stimulation device that can effectively promote hair regeneration via random body motions was designed. Significantly facilitated hair regeneration results were obtained from Sprague–Dawley rats and nude mice. Higher hair follicle density and longer hair shaft length were observed on Sprague–Dawley rats when the device was employed compared to conventional pharmacological treatments…. This work provides an effective hair regeneration strategy in the context of a nonpharmacological self-powered wearable electronic device.”

(Thanks to Mark Benecke for bringing this to our attention.)

Wealth Inequality Among Snails

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

The economics of snails—specifically, what one might call “the economics of the shell game”—gets some data and hard thought in a new study.

A Comparison of Wealth Inequality in Humans and Non-Humans,” Ivan D. Chase, Raphael Douady, and Dianna K. Padilla, Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, 2019, 122962. The authors, at Stony Brook University, explain:

“Inequality in the distribution of material resources (wealth) occurs widely across human groups…. Here we present the first description of inequality in material resources in an animal population: the distribution of gastropod (snail) shells inhabited by the hermit crab Pagurus longicarpus. We find that the shell distribution for the crabs strongly resembles the characteristic form of wealth distribution in human groups. The amount of inequality in the crabs is more than that in some small-scale human groups but less than that in nations.”

Nathaniel Barr’s Ig Nobel lecture on Pseudo-Profound Bullshit

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Nathaniel Barr did a five-minute-long talk about pseudo-profound bullshit, and then answered questions, two days after receiving the 2016 Ig Nobel Peace Prize.

That prize was awarded to Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit”. (The study was published in the journal Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 10, no. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563.)

Here’s video of that talk, part of the Ig Informal Lectures, at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What happens at an Improbable Dramatic Readings session

Friday, September 27th, 2019

Improbable Dramatic Readings is (or are) one of the kinds of events we’ve invented. Here’s video of the Improbable Dramatic Readings session at Arisia, in January 2019.

This particular session included:

  • Dramatic readings from (real) improbable research studies. The dramatic readers: Gary Dryfoos, Sonya Taaffe, Jeremy Bell. Michele Liguori, Geri Sullivan, human spotlight Jim Bredt, and an unnamed timer also are featured.
  • Also: The world premiere performance of the chorus-enhanced version of William Topaz McGonagall‘s disastrous poem “The Tay Bridge Disaster.” (This poem, in this enhanced version, was performed again later in the year in Ig Nobel shows in England.)

You may wonder why the performers repeatedly refer to music. There was an event in an adjoining hall that involved loud music which would sometimes become overpoweringly audible in the hall where we performed. Happily for you, dear video watcher, that music did not get nearly as distractingly picked up in this recording.

(Thanks to David Kessler for arranging this event from 3000 miles away.)

Will you go to Hel?

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Will you go to Hel? If you go to Pomerania, specifically to the Hel Peninsula, and then go alllllllllllllllllll the way to the tip of that peninsula, you will find yourself in the town of Hel. Good luck, voyager!

Here is a tourism photograph of Hel:

Need a map? Here’s one.

You might notice that the Hel Peninsula is not far from Puck. Yet Puck is a long way from Hel. Make of that what you will.

BONUS FACT (unrelated): The 1994 Ig Nobel Prize for mathematics was awarded to the he Southern Baptist Church of Alabama, mathematical measurers of morality, for their county-by-county estimate of how many Alabama citizens will go to Hell if they don’t repent. The railway station master in Hell, Norway sent greetings that were delivered at that year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony by the Norwegian consul to Boston.

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