Archive for 'Research News'

Evaluating Students’ Evaluations of Medical Professors: Are There Cookies?

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Prof. Dr. med. Manuel Wenk, co-author of the cookies study. The cookies were chocolate.

Some medical schools may be selecting or rejecting faculty members because those individuals do or do not offer cookies to their students. That is a possible conclusion one might draw, after reading this new study done by faculty members:

Availability of cookies during an academic course session affects evaluation of teaching,” Michael Hessler, Daniel M Pöpping, Hanna Hollstein, Hendrik Ohlenburg, Philip H Arnemann, Christina Massoth [pictured below], Laura M Seidel, Alexander Zarbock, and Manuel Wenk [pictured above], Medical Education, vol. 52, no. 10, October 2018, no. 1064-1072. The authors, at the University Hospital of Munster, Germany, report:

“Results from end-of-course student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are taken seriously by faculties and form part of a decision base for the recruitment of academic staff, the distribution of funds and changes to curricula. However, there is some doubt as to whether these evaluation instruments accurately measure the quality of course content, teaching and knowledge transfer.”

Dr. med. Christina Marie Massoth. co-author of the study.

Documenting Meiji Gummy Candy Flavour-Recognition Times (new study)

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

If you have ever eaten a ‘Gummy Candy’ from Meiji Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, in apple, grape, orange, [European] pear, pineapple, or strawberry flavours, it may have taken you a few seconds to recognise which one you were eating. If so, you are not alone. A 2018 study published in the journal Perception sought to measure ‘Distribution of Recognition Times to Fruity Flavor of Gummy Candies in Healthy Adults’. The research team found, by experiment, that on average, healthy adults took around 7.5 seconds to be able to tell which flavour they were eating.


● The Ethics Committee of The University of Niigata Rehabilitation Graduate School approved the experiments

● The illustration shows the Meiji Gummy Sushi Candy, which did not feature in the study

● 22.7% of the participants got the flavour wrong

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

Psychologists Under the Bed [research study]

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

’Egocentricity’ in Adult Conversation,” is one of several studies featured in the article “Soft Is Hard: Psychologists Under the Bedfurther evidence why the ‘soft’ sciences are the hardest to do well,” which is one of the articles in the special Numbers issue of the Annals of Improbable Research, which is one of the 142 issues published so far!

The psychologists-under-the-bed-eavesdropping study is by Mary Henle and Marian B. Hubbell, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 9, no. 2, 1938, pp. 227-234.

Third-generation Ig Nobel Prize winner David Hu, profiled in the New York Times

Monday, November 5th, 2018

David Hu’s Ig Nobel Prize-winning research, and David Hu, and David Hu’s Ig Nobel  Prize-winning former advisor, and that advisor’s double-Ig Nobel Prize-winning former adviser, and lots more, are profiled in the New York Times:

…As male infants will do, his son urinated all over the front of Dr. Hu’s shirt, for a full 21 seconds. Yes, he counted off the time, because for him curiosity trumps irritation.

That was a long time for a small baby, he thought. How long did it take an adult to empty his bladder? He timed himself. Twenty-three seconds. “Wow, I thought, my son urinates like a real man already.”

He recounts all of this without a trace of embarrassment, in person and in “How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls: Animal Movements and the Robotics of the Future,” just published, in which he describes both the silliness and profundity of his brand of research….

Dr. Hu is a mathematician in the Georgia Tech engineering department who studies animals. His seemingly oddball work has drawn both the ire of grandstanding senators and the full-throated support of at least one person in charge of awarding grants from that bastion of frivolity, the United States Army….  [He] is completely serious when he describes Dr. Hu as a scientist of “profound courage and integrity” who “goes where his curiosity leads him.”

Dr. Hu has “an uncanny ability to identify and follow through on scientific questions that are hidden in plain sight,” Dr. Stanton said.

When it comes to physics, the Army and Dr. Hu have a deep affinity. They both operate at human scale in the world outside the lab, where conditions are often wet, muddy or otherwise difficult.

In understanding how physics operates in such conditions, Dr. Stanton explained, “the vagaries of the real world really come to play in an interesting way.” …

UPDATE [November 8, 2018]: The New York Times produced an educational guide follow-up to the profile: “ARTICLE OF THE DAY—Learning With: ‘The Mysteries of Animal Movement’


Of Mice, Men and Scrumpox

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Herpes gladiatorum is caused by a highly infectious version of the human herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and is associated with high physical-impact sports – it frequently plagues rugby players (who know it as ‘Scrumpox’), along with Judo participants and Sumo Wrestlers.

For details of the latter, a paper by Fumihiko Ban, Satoe Asano, Shigeru Ozawa, Hiroyuki Eda, James Norman, William G. Stroop and Kazuo Yanagi in the Journal of General Virology, 89 (Pt 10): 2410-5 · November 2008, explains that :

“The pathogenic properties of HSV-1 variants in mice and professional sumo wrestlers were examined here.”

“The frequent severe skin damage of sumo wrestlers may impair subcutaneous nerve cells and the strong physiological and mental stress resulting from their hard practice regime may affect their immunological status.”

See: Analysis of herpes simplex virus type 1 restriction fragment length polymorphism variants associated with herpes gladiatorum and Kaposi’s varicelliform eruption in sumo wrestlers

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

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