Archive for 'Research News'

Retract! Retract! Retract!

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Retraction Watch reports:

Ladies and gentlemen, we appear to have a new record. The Journal of Fundamental and Applied Sciences (JFAS) recently retracted 434 articles from three issues of their journal. Yes, 434, giving it more retractions than any other journal ever, according to our records….

Improbable Research tonight in Washington, DC

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Join us tonight at the Improbable Research show at the AAAS Annual Meeting, Omni Shoreham Hotel (in the Diplomat Ballroom), Washington DC—The annual Improbable Research session will include:

This session is open free to the public. (Seating is limited—arrive early if you want a seat.) #AAASmtg

Hows and Whys of There’s a Fly in My Wine

Friday, February 15th, 2019

Alex Dainis explains videographically the inner workings of the Ig Nobel Prize-winning experiment that demonstrates some people’s ability to tell—by smelling!—whether there was a fly in a glass of wine:

The people-can-sniff-out-a-fly study

The published study is: “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.


A fly-by-day public demonstration, in April

The study authors, who shared the 2018 Ig Nobel Prize in biology, will themselves publicly demonstrate their work twice—at the Karolinska Institute on Tuesday, April 9, and at Stockholm University on Wednesday, April 10—as part of this year’s Ig Nobel EuroTour.

Come see them, and talk with them, and smell the fly!

 

Eye-beam believers – numbers perhaps not as high as previously thought (new study)

Thursday, February 14th, 2019
According to a new study from the Graziano Lab at Princeton University, US, there has been a sharp drop in the number of US college students who believe that some form of invisible beams are emitted form peoples’ eyes when they look at something (k.a. extramission).

Their research suggests that the figure could now be as low as 5% – falling from around 50% in 2002. This order-of-magnitude drop is not easily explained say the research team.

“Our finding of an ∼5% incidence of extramission beliefs conflicts with previous work suggesting that more than half of US adults, possibly as high as 60 to 70%, explicitly believe in an extramission account. We cannot easily explain this difference. It is possible that education about optics has significantly improved since the 1990s. Another possibility is that our sample was skewed, since it included only participants who could sign up for an online service and complete the study on a computer.”

See: Implicit model of other people’s visual attention as an invisible, force-carrying beam projecting from the eyes in PNAS January 2, 2019 116 (1) 328-333.

The photo is a still taken from a video by Wyatt Scott who ran for parliament as an independent candidate for Mission Matsqui Fraser Canyon, Canada.

A Jaundiced View of Ducks and How to Make Them Pay

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

The book Ducks, and How to Make Them Pay, by William Cook, published by E. Clarke and Sons, in 1890 and later in other editions, is about how to make ducks pay. Cook instructs his fellow humans on how to make money, one way or another, by utilizing ducks one way or another.

A Latter-day, Jaundiced View of Ducks and How to Make Them Pay

Cook’s book was not the last word on the subject. In 2008, long after Cook’s demise, Jonathan M. Thompson wrote an essay about Cook and the ducks, called “The Orpington Ducks.” Thompson finishes his lengthy diatribe with this paragraph:

Over the years, William Henry Cook claims to have been the originator of many varieties of fowls and ducks; only one, however, deserves any credence. He set out to deceive—for whatever reason—and the authors who follow, and unquestioningly repeat what has gone before, also mislead their reader. It is, therefore, little wonder the precise history of this breed and its colour-forms has appeared in an inaccurate state, following on from the primary accounts, when, prior to the writer’s endeavours, no exact investigation of the facts had taken place.

Here is a portrait of Mr. Cook, from his book. Judge for yourself his merits, if you think that looking at at drawing of someone about whom you have just heard is a good way to judge things:

Perhaps no discussion of Mr. Cook can or should duck the responsibility of mentioning the biology research study called “Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Duck,” and perhaps no discussion of that study can exceed in merit the TED Talk given by its author, Kees Moeliker:

As you likely know, Moeliker was awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for biology, for this work.

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