Archive for 'Improbable Investigators'

In search of Flensmark (of high-heels and schizophrenia fame)

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

The NeuroSkeptic blog reports:

Neuroscience’s Shoe Saga

If you delve into the wildest depths of the scientific literature, you will find a trilogy of papers so weird, that they have become legendary.

In these articles, spanning a 12 year period, author Jarl Flensmark says that heeled shoes cause mental illness, while flat footwear promotes brain health:

Unsurprisingly, Flensmark’s bizarre work has been a regular feature of ‘weird science’ compilations such as Improbable Research and many others. But did Jarl Flensmark really believe that shoes affect brain function, or was it all a joke? ….

Innovative Scientists Talk About Their Childhood (2): Nicole Sharp and the Space Station

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

Here’s Nicole Sharp talking about the space station that, when she was a child, excited Nicole in a way that led to her eventual unusual career. Nicole created and runs FYFD, the most popular fluid dynamics web site in this part of the universe.

ABOUT THIS LITTLE VIDEO SERIES—This is part of a series of sessions we (David Hu and I, and a film crew) recorded at Georgia Tech. We assembled a little group of scientists (including David) who are renowned for looking at questions others might overlook, and doing research in inventive, clever ways.

The question we asked them: “What happened when you were a kid that somehow led—much later—to your doing unusual science?

The scientists: David Hu, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Frans de Waal, Nicole Sharp, Diego Golombek, and Olga Shishkov. Follow the links on their names to begin exploring some of their work!

A FURTHER NOTE ABOUT THIS SERIES: These little videos are not quite as good as they ought to have been, due to curious decisions made by the video editor. The most obvious of those strange decisions was to dose everything with goopy, slightly distracting music. The editor also objected to some of the content of the videos, deeming them somehow too offensive to record. The lesson we learned: choose our video editor more carefully.

The Strangeness Correction About Murray Gell-Mann

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

This strangeness correction appeared in today’s New York Times:

OBITUARIES

An obituary on May 25 about the physicist Murray Gell-Mann overstated a law about the conservation of a quantity in physics called strangeness. It is conserved in strong interactions and electromagnetic interactions but not in weak interactions. It is not the case that “like energy, strangeness must always be conserved.”

(Thanks to noted New York attorney William J. Maloney for bringing this to our attention.)

Innovative Scientists Talk About Their Childhood (1): Frans de Waal’s Jackdaws

Friday, May 31st, 2019

Here’s Frans de Waal talking about some jackdaws that, when Frans was a child, excited him in a way that led to his eventual unusual career. Frans studies chimps, bonobos, macaques, capuchin monkeys, and other of our close relatives. He wants to understand how and why they (and we) do some of the impressive things they (and we) do every day.

ABOUT THIS LITTLE VIDEO SERIES—This is part of a series of sessions we (David Hu and I, and a film crew) recorded at Georgia Tech. We assembled a little group of scientists (including David) who are renowned for looking at questions others might overlook, and doing research in inventive, clever ways.

The question we asked them: “What happened when you were a kid that somehow led—much later—to your doing unusual science?

The scientists: David Hu, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Frans de Waal, Nicole Sharp, Diego Golombek, and Olga Shishkov. Follow the links on their names to begin exploring some of their work!

A FURTHER NOTE ABOUT THIS SERIES: These little videos are not quite as good as they ought to have been, due to curious decisions made by the video editor. The most obvious of those strange decisions was to dose everything with goopy, slightly distracting music. The editor also objected to some of the content of the videos, deeming them somehow too offensive to record. The lesson we learned: choose our video editor more carefully.

2019 Ig Nobel EuroTour: Thanks!

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

A big thank you to everyone and everything who (or that) came to, helped organize, or otherwise was part of the 2019 Ig Nobel EuroTour.

It all happened in six weeks, in ten countries: Scotland, England, Austria, The Czech Republic, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Italy (again). Several of the events were webcast, including the big show at Imperial College London:

Here’s a list of all (or at least most) of the 2019 Ig Nobel EuroTour events:

You can read about, see, or hear bits and pieces of the tour, in some of the clips on our press clips page.

Next year (2020)’s Ig Nobel EuroTour

We will soon begin organizing the 2020 Ig Nobel EuroTour. If your institution would like to host an event, please get in touch with us!

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