Archive for 'Research News'

How Aesthetically Pleasing Is Your Country’s Diffraction Pattern?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

You may be wondering how aesthetically pleasing is your country’s diffraction pattern. This new physics study proves that Albert F. Rigosi shares your mental hobby:

Analysis of Fraunhofer Diffraction Patterns’ Entropy Based on Apertures Shaped as National Borders,” Albert F. Rigosi, Optik, vol. 172, November 2018, pp. 1019-1025. (Thanks to John Ng for bringing this to our attention.) The author, at Columbia University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, reports:

“How aesthetically pleasing is your country’s diffraction pattern? This work summarizes the calculated and experimental Fraunhofer diffraction patterns obtained from using apertures lithographically formed into shapes of national borders. Calculations are made based on the fast Fourier transform of the aperture images. The entropy of a diffraction pattern image, based on its two-dimensional gradient, for each of 113 nations has also been computed. Results suggest that most nations’ diffraction patterns fall under one of two prominent trends forming as a function of geographical area, with one trend being less entropic than the other.”

The top images here shows shows a diagram of the experimental setup. The bottom collection of images show: “Three example nations. (a) The aperture for the continental USA is depicted. (b) is the FFT calculation of the aperture above, and the corresponding experimental data is shown below in (c). (d) The aperture for Egypt is depicted, along with its FFT and experimental data in (e) and(f), respectively. (g) The aperture for Papua New Guinea is shown with its (h) calculated FFT and (i) experimental diffraction data.”

Additional everything can be found in an appendix.

SATURDAY: The 2017 Ig Informal Lectures, at MIT

Friday, September 14th, 2018

The Ig Informal Lectures
Saturday, Sept 15, 2018, 1:00 pm.
MIT, building 10, room 250 — 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, Planet Earth.
You are invited. It’s free, no tickets needed. Come early to assure a seat.

A half-afternoon of improbably funny, informative, informal, brief public lectures and demonstrations:

The new Ig Nobel Prize winners  have each done something that makes people LAUGH, then THINK. That’s why they were awarded Ig Nobel Prizes. In these lectures, the winners will attempt to explain what they did, and why they did it. Everyone will be available for you to talk with, both before and after the lectures.

We will webcast the event:

The Ig informal Lectures are a free event, organized in cooperation with the MIT Press Bookstore.

Here’s video of last year’s (2017) Ig Informal Lectures:

The Ig informal Lectures are a free event, organized in cooperation with the MIT Press Bookstore.

Announcing the 2018 Ig Nobel Prizes winners

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

The 2018 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded at the 28th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, on Thursday, September 13, 2018, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast. Here’s video of the entire ceremony, and a list of the winners:

For links to the prize-winning studies, see the list of all past (and new!) Ig Nobel Prize winners. The new winners are:

MEDICINE PRIZE [USA] — Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger, for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones.

REFERENCE: “Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster,” Marc A. Mitchell, David D. Wartinger, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, vol. 116, October 2016, pp. 647-652.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dave Wartinger

 

ANTHROPOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, ROMANIA, DENMARK, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, UK, INDONESIA, ITALY] — Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, for collecting evidence, in a zoo, that chimpanzees imitate humans about as often, and about as well, as humans imitate chimpanzees.

REFERENCE: “Spontaneous Cross-Species Imitation in Interaction Between Chimpanzees and Zoo Visitors,” Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, Primates, vol. 59, no. 1, January 2018, pp 19–29.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc

 

BIOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, COLOMBIA, GERMANY, FRANCE, SWITZERLAND] — Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, for demonstrating that wine experts can reliably identify, by smell, the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine.

REFERENCE: “The Scent of the Fly,” Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, bioRxiv, no. 20637, 2017.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Peter Witzgall

 

CHEMISTRY PRIZE [PORTUGAL] — Paula Romão, Adília Alarcão and the late César Viana, for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces.

REFERENCE: “Human Saliva as a Cleaning Agent for Dirty Surfaces,” by Paula M. S. Romão, Adília M. Alarcão and César A.N. Viana, Studies in Conservation, vol. 35, 1990, pp. 153-155.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The winners delivered their acceptance speech via recorded video.

 

MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Akira Horiuchi, for the medical report “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy.”

REFERENCE: “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy by Using a Small-Caliber, Variable-Stiffness Colonoscope,” Akira Horiuchi and Yoshiko Nakayama, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, vol. 63, No. 1, 2006, pp. 119-20.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Akira Horiuchi

 

LITERATURE PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, EL SALVADOR, UK] — Thea Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, for documenting that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual.

REFERENCE: “Life Is Too Short to RTFM: How Users Relate to Documentation and Excess Features in Consumer Products,” Alethea L. Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, Interacting With Computers, vol. 28, no. 1, 2014, pp. 27-46.

WHO PLANS TO ATTEND THE CEREMONY: Thea Blackler

 

NUTRITION PRIZE [ZIMBABWE, TANZANIA, UK] — James Cole, for calculating that the caloric intake from a human-cannibalism diet is significantly lower than the caloric intake from most other traditional meat diets.

REFERENCE: “Assessing the Calorific Significance of Episodes of Human Cannibalism in the Paleolithic,” James Cole, Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 44707, April 7, 2017.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: James Cole

 

PEACE PRIZE [SPAIN, COLOMBIA] — Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge, Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Jaime Sanmartín, Constanza Calatayud, and Beatriz Alamar, for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile.

REFERENCE: “Shouting and Cursing While Driving: Frequency, Reasons, Perceived Risk and Punishment,” Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge and Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, vol. 1, no. 12017, pp. 1-7.

REFERENCE: “La Justicia en el Tráfico: Conocimiento y Valoración de la Población Española” [“Justice in Traffic: Knowledge and Valuation of the Spanish Population”)], F. Alonso, J. Sanmartín, C. Calatayud, C. Esteban, B. Alamar, and M. L. Ballestar, Cuadernos de Reflexión Attitudes, 2005.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Francisco Alonso

 

REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE PRIZE [USA, JAPAN, SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT, INDIA, BANGLADESH] — John Barry, Bruce Blank, and Michel Boileau, for using postage stamps to test whether the male sexual organ is functioning properly—as described in their study “Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps.”

REFERENCE: “Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps,” John M. Barry, Bruce Blank, Michael Boileau, Urology, vol. 15, 1980, pp. 171-172.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: John M. Barry, Bruce Blank, Michel Boileau

 

ECONOMICS PRIZE [CANADA, CHINA, SINGAPORE, USA] — Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa Keeping, for investigating whether it is effective for employees to use Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses.

REFERENCE: “Righting a Wrong: Retaliation on a Voodoo Doll Symbolizing an Abusive Supervisor Restores Justice,” Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa M. Keeping, The Leadership Quarterly, February 2018.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Hanyu Liang, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa M. Keeping

Smiling intensity among scientists is related to greater scientific achievements (new study)

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Using a sample of 440 scientists from a social networking site for researchers, multiple raters coded smile intensity (full smile, partial smile, or no smile) in publicly available photographs. We found that scientists who presented a full smile had the same quantity of publications yet of higher quality”

See: Lukasz D. Kaczmarek, Maciej Behnke, Todd B. Kashdan, Aleksandra Kusiak, Katarzyna Marzec, Martyna Mistrzak & Magdalena Włodarczyk (2017): Smile intensity in social networking profile photographs is related to greater scientific achievements, The Journal of Positive Psychology.

A full copy of which may be found here.

Note: The image is from lead author Dr Kaczmarek’s website

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

“Cat Typing” – towards a possible remedy

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Opportunities for Animal Computer Interactions (ACI) are, it seems, in ascendance :

“Take, for instance, the phenomenon where a cat walks on a keyboard when its owner is trying to work. This is called “cat typing”, and it results when the cat wants to be near the owner, and is attracted to the typing motions and sounds. Unfortunately, the owner is often forced to keep the cat at a distance to comfortably use the computer for work. By this fashion, people give priority to their own comforts. We believe that it is important for both people and pets to reinforce their symbiotic needs and comfortably live with one another.”

A new research project from Rina Sasaki and Yu Suzuki at Miyagi University, Japan, have, between them, developed CATouch! – an ACI system which aims to distract errant cats sufficiently that they don’t engage in typing.

A cat toy system that consists of an owner’s PC and an accompanying tablet for a cat. The CG animations, based on the owner’s PC operations, are displayed on the tablet. When the cat touches in the CG animations displayed on the LCD screen, the animations are generatively changed and a sounds are produced.”

They conducted a suite of experiments with 5 cats, the results of which indicated, at least to some degree, “a positive correlation between cat entertainment and having access to their own equipment” – to put that in context :

“Only Cat5, a 2-year-old female, was interested in CATouch! and played with the tablet. Other cats (i.e., mature/kitten, male/female) never played, regardless of age and sex.”

“As a result, the three phenomena clarified in this experiment are not facts but were identified as hypotheses.”

See: Sasaki R., Suzuki Y. (2018) An Interactive Cat Toy Interfacing Owner PC Operations. In: Kurosu M. (eds) Human-Computer Interaction. Interaction Technologies. HCI 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10903. Springer, Cham.

A previous (full) version of the paper is available here in Japanese.

BONUS : Chris Niswander of Tucson, Arizona, who won the year 2000 Ig Nobel prize for Computer Science, is author and provider of the PawSense™ software suite, which not only detects when a cat is walking across your keyboard, but also makes a sound that annoys them: “This teaches your cat that getting on the keyboard is bad even if humans aren’t watching.”

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

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