Archive for 'Arts and Science'

Some Kinds of Coffee Are More Fragrantly Attractive to Ants

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Humans are not the only animals that (in many cases) are attracted by the smell of coffee. This study focuses on ants’ attraction to coffee smells:

Olfactory behavior and response of household ants (Hymenoptera) to different types of coffee odor: A coffee-based bait development prospect,” Abdul Hafiz Ab Majid, Hamady Dieng, Siti Salbiah Ellias, Faezah Syukriah Sabtu, Abd Hafis Abd Rahim, and Tomomitsu Satho, Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, vol. 21, no. 1, March 2018, pp. 46-51.

The authors, at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia, and Fukuoka University, Japan, report:

In a series of Y-tube olfactometer bioassays, we examined the behavioral responses of Tapinoma indicum (TI), Monomorium pharaonis (MP) and Solenopsis geminata (SG) to various coffee-induced odor stimuli, comprised of extracts from Arabica, Robusta and Liberica….

Arabica extract mixed with sugar (S) elicited a significant attraction from workers of all three species in a balanced competition with either unsweetened Arabica extract or water. These results indicated that coffee, particularly Arabica, was attractive to the foragers of TI, MP and SG…

(Thanks to Neil Martin for bringing this to our attention.)

Video of a historic attempt to reproduce wombat, quasi-cubic poo

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

This historic (2998) video by Robyn Lawrence documents an attempt to understand and reproduce the forces and constraints that allow or induce wombats to produce somewhat cubic excrement. (Thanks to Pat Kight for bringing it to our attention.)

Currently, Patricia Yang [pictured here], a graduate student at Georgia Tech, who shared the 2015 Ig Nobel Physics Prize, for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds)—is working on the same general question.


The Ig Nobel EuroTour begins in London

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

The 2018 Ig Nobel Spring EuroTour begins this week—meandering to England, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, and Denmark.

The first show is in London:

TICKETS: The Imperial College show is fully booked. But don’t despair! Likely some tickets will become available at the last minute, if a few ticket-holders don’t turn up. If you’ve an ounce of optimism, come to the Great Hall fifteen minutes before show time, and maybe, maybe, maybe you’ll get lucky!

The full Ig Nobel EuroTour schedule is on our events page.

The analgesic effects of dancing in synch (study)

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Can dancing to PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ in sync with other dancers act as a kind of ‘analgesic ’ – by raising your threshold to pain? A 2016 research project from the Department of Experimental Psychology, at the University of Oxford, UK, suggested that the answer might be ‘Yes’.

A suite of somewhat painful [*see notes] experiments with 94 participants from Oxford showed that :

“ […] synchronising full-body dance movements increased strangers’ self-reported feelings of social closeness to one another and elevated pain thresholds. These effects arose when participants synchronised with each other and the music, rather than merely with the music.”

See: Silent disco: dancing in synchrony leads to elevated pain thresholds and social closeness in Evolution & Human Behavior, September 2016, Volume 37, Issue 5, Pages 343–349. A full copy of which may be found here.

Notes ;

[1] The study didn’t examine any possible differences in analgesic properties of the various music tracks used in the experiments – which were :

“ ‘I feel so close to you right now’ by Calvin Harris; ‘Lady Marmalade’ by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink; ‘Memories’ by David Guetta feat Kid Cudi; ‘Merengue’ unknown artist; ‘Wake me up before you Go – Go’ by Wham!; ‘Gangnam style’ by Psy; ‘Sexy and I know it’ by LMFAO; ‘Little Bad Girl’ by David Guetta.”

[2] “Pain threshold was measured by inducing ischemic pain through the inflation of a blood pressure cuff on the participant’s upper arm and noting the pressure sustained”

How to give a lecture: Burton Klein Lectures About Potpourri

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Of the many ways to lecture, the Burton Klein way is especially filled with facts and spellings and efficient delivery thereof. Ingest, if you will, this video of Burton Klein lecturing on the topic “Potpourri.” Count the facts. Count the spellings of words. Count yourself lucky for being exposed to Burton Klein lecturing on the topic “Potpourri.” It is a mere 29 minutes and 23 seconds in duration.

And here’s a one-minute tour of the mind of Burton Klein:

Is it possible to see Burton Klein speak in person? Reportedly yes, that is a possibility.

(Thanks to Leigh Buchanan for bringing Burton Klein to our attention.)