Archive for 'Research News'

Wrinkled sheets, crumpled paper

Monday, November 26th, 2018

New research about how paper crumples was done in the same chunk of Harvard that produced an Ig Nobel Prize-winning study about how sheets get wrinkled. It builds on—and adds new wrinkles to—that earlier research.

Siobhan Roberts reports, in the New York Times, about the paper-crumpling study:

This Is the Way the Paper Crumples
In a ball of paper, scientists discover a landscape of surprising mathematical order.

While working on his doctoral thesis at Harvard over the last few years, Omer Gottesman spent a lot of time at his desk crumpling sheets of paper, especially when he was stuck. He’d crumple a sheet, uncrumple it, stare into its depths, and think, “There must be something that would make all this mess look a little less messy.”

Crumple, uncrumple, crumple. Sheet after sheet landed in the recycling bin, each one blank but for its chaotically creased geography. In time, a semblance of order emerged.

Crumpled wads of paper are no doubt as old and commonplace as paper itself — “graves for failed theories,” Mr. Gottesman, a physicist, has called them. But for him, the crumpled paper itself was the research….

REFERENCE FOR THE PAPER-CRUMPLE RESEARCH: “A state variable for crumpled thin sheets,” Omer Gottesman, Jovana Andrejevic, Chris H. Rycroft, and Shmuel M. Rubinstein, Communications Physics, epub 2018.

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to L. Mahadevan and Enrique Cerda Villablanca, for studying how sheets become wrinkled.

REFERENCES FOR THE SHEET-WRINKLE RESEARCH: “Wrinkling of an Elastic Sheet Under Tension,” E. Cerda, K. Ravi-Chandar, L. Mahadevan, Nature, vol. 419, October 10, 2002, pp. 579-80.
Geometry and Physics of Wrinkling,” E. Cerda and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, fol. 90, no. 7, February 21, 2003, pp. 074302/1-4.
Elements of Draping,” E. Cerda, L. Mahadevan and J. Passini, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 101, no. 7, 2004, pp. 1806-10.

The new paper about paper wrinkles cites three research studies published by Cerda and Mahadevan.

BONUS FACT (somewhat related): At the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, many, many paper airplanes fly. Quite a few of them are, or become, crumpled.



Research on burnt food: Where to go

Monday, November 26th, 2018

If you want to understand burnt food—understand it better than most humans have managed to—this study by Nikolopoulos and Tzanetis is a good source of insight:

TIME-ESTIMATES OF BURNT FOOD FOR A NONLOCAL REACTIVE-CONVECTIVE PROBLEM FROM THE FOOD INDUSTRY,” by C.V. Nikolopoulos and D.E. Tzanetis, Advances in Scattering and Biomedical Engineering, 2004,  pp. 355-362.

For a less theoretical exploration, the place to go is (we remind you) The Museum of Burnt Food. Here’s part 2 of our now-historic report. And here is part 1.

Human Placentophagy – some Q.s and A.s

Monday, November 26th, 2018

The existence of possible benefits or detriments brought about by eating human placentas (placentophagy) is hotly debated. Here are some topical viewpoints in the form of Questions and Answers

Q. Should human placenta-based products [see photo*] come with ‘use by / best before’ dates?
A.  Yes, they should, says Emily Woodley (Cardiff Metropolitan University).


Q. What drinks could accompany a placenta meal?
A. Orange juice, recommends Dr Sara Wickham PhD, RM, MA, PGCert, BA(Hons).


Q. If you’re conducting placentophagy research with a placebo control group, what alternatives are there?
A. Beef, explains Laura Kathleen Gryder (University of Nevada)


Q. Does the mainstream medical establishment think human placentophagy is a good idea?
A. More research is needed – assert Alex Farr, M.D. Ph.D (Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York) et al., bearing in mind that, as yet, no health benefits have been proven, whereas potential dangers have been.


* Note: The photo shows an example of 紫河车 (Purple River), a traditional Chinese Medicine remedy, which is available from Anguo City Jupharmacang Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Coming soon : Who ‘owns’ a placenta?

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Ig Nobel on Science Friday on the day after Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

The 28th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony will be broadcast on the Science Friday program this Friday, November 23rd, 2018, in a specially-edited, recorded one-hour highlights version.

This continues the day-after-Thanksgiving tradition—now in its 27th year—for Science Friday’s special coverage of the ceremony. In most parts of the USA, it will be the first hour of the Science Friday radio broadcast. You can, alternatively, listen online. (Can’t wait? Listen to some of the broadcasts from previous years that are archived online.)

We always enjoy seeing/hearing how our friends at Science Friday manage to wrangle the complex Ig Nobel ceremony down into an entertaining, all-audio single radio hour.

The photo you see here is an action shot taken at this year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. It shows part of the on-stage demonstration for the chemistry prize. Francesca Bewer is on the left, Eric Workman is on the right. The photo was taken by Howard Cannon.

UPDATE: For more info about the ceremony, including video, visit the 28th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony web page.  The special Ig Nobel issue of the magazine will present further details—that issue will appear in late December; if you subscribe beforehand the special issue will be sent to you automatically.

Choices for Students : Food or Smartphones – Smartphones or Food? (new study)

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

If students are placed in a situation where they are required to choose between either being deprived of food, or being deprived of their smartphone, which option will they be most likely to go for? A recent study from the Department of Pediatrics, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, New York, has attempted, by experiment, to find out . . .

“The results of this study show for the first time that college students find smartphones reinforcing, and that smartphone use is more reinforcing than food. Food deprivation increases food reinforcement, and yet despite not having eaten for at least three hours, and not using a smartphone for two hours, individuals were still more motivated to work towards gaining portions of smartphone use than food, and were willing to spend a greater amount of hypothetical money on portions of smartphone use over food.“

See: ‘Smartphones are more reinforcing than food for students’ by Sara O’Donnell and Leonard H. Epstein, which is scheduled to appear in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

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