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Scientists barked like dogs at toads to make them pee

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Scientists barked like dogs at toads to make them pee in order to save the species from extinction, according to an Associated Press report by Dánica Coto:

1st in vitro Puerto Rico crested toad gives scientists hope

…Extracting semen from toads that measure up to 4.5 inches (11 centimeters) long is normally easy: they release it in their urine, and they usually pee whenever they’re picked up, Barber [Diane Barber, pictured here, ectotherms curator at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas] said. But for those toads that did not pee, another tactic was used.

“It’s kind of weird, but if you hold them in your hand and look at them and bark at them like a dog, they will pee,” she said.

(Thanks to Eris Caffee for bringing this to our attention, in vivid wording.)

Benefits of Tapping on an Un-Opened Beer Can?

Friday, February 21st, 2020

[NOTE: The researchers will describe and demonstrate their work at the Ig Nobel show, on Wednesday, April 15, at the University of Southern Denmark.]

Can you retrieve more beer from a can if you tap on the can before you open it? A Danish team ran some tests, and published a study about what they found:

To beer or not to beer: does tapping beer cans prevent beer loss? A randomised controlled trial,” Elizaveta Sopina, Irina E. Antonescu, Thomas Hansen, Torben Hoejland, Morten M. Jensen, Simon V. Pedersen, Wade Thompson, Philipp Weber, Jamie O Halloran, Melissa G. Beach, Ryan Pulleyblank, and Elliot J. Brown, arXiv:1912.01999, 2019.

The authors, at the University of Southern Denmark and the Technical University of Denmark, report:

Objective: Preventing or minimising beer loss when opening a can of beer is socially and economically desirable. One theoretically grounded approach is tapping the can prior to opening, although this has never been rigorously evaluated. We aimed to evaluate the effect of tapping a can of beer on beer loss….

Main outcome measure: The main outcome measure was beer loss (in grams). This was calculated as the difference in the mass of the beer after the can was opened compared to before the can was opened.

Results: For shaken cans, there was no statistically significant difference in the mass of beer lost when tapping compared to not tapping. For unshaken cans, there was also no statistically significant difference between tapping and not tapping.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that tapping shaken beer cans does not prevent beer loss when the container is opened. Thus, the practice of tapping a beer prior to opening is unsupported. The only apparent remedy to avoid liquid loss is to wait for bubbles to settle before opening the can.

The authors used locally produced beer. They specify that: “No funding was received for this study. The materials for the experiment (beer cans) were provided by Carlsberg Breweries A/S, who had no vested interest in the outcome of the study and were not involved in any part of the study conception, design, analysis or manuscript writing.”

Michael Milken, First Winner (in 1991) of the Ig Nobel Economics Prize, Pardoned

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Michael Milken, the very first winner of the Ig Nobel Economics Prize, was pardoned today by the current President of the United States, Donald Trump.

The 1991 Ig Nobel Prize for economics was awarded to “Michael Milken, titan of Wall Street and father of the junk bond, to whom the world is indebted”.

Fox Business reported, today:

Milken, ‘Junk Bond King,’ could return to Wall St. after Trump pardon

Now that Michael Milken has secured a pardon from President Trump for financial crimes he was convicted of three decades ago, can the man, once known as the “junk bond king,” rejoin the securities industry?

The answer is yes, but the outcome won’t be so simple. Milken, at least for now, is telling reporters he has no plans to get back into the business of Wall Street. It was there, during the finance boom of the 1980s, that he made tons of money on junk bonds and leveraged finance deals at the now-defunct Drexel Burnham Lambert. His plea and conviction in 1990 for securities fraud, landed him a 10-year prison sentence (commuted to two years), $1.1 billion in fines and restitution, and a permanent ban from the securities business. The king had been turned into a pariah.

Not Only Assholes Drive Mercedes [research study]

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Evidence suggests that one can accurately judge a person by seeing what kind of car the person drives, at least in Finland, suggests a new study.

The study is: “Not Only Assholes Drive Mercedes. Besides Disagreeable Men, Also Conscientious People Drive High‐Status Cars,” Jan Erik Lönnqvist, Ville‐Juhani Ilmarinen, and Sointu Leikas, International Journal of Psychology, epub 2019. (Thanks to Kristine Danowski for bringing this to our attention.)

The authors, at the University of Helsinki, explain:

the results can be interpreted from the perspective of self‐congruity theory, according to which consumers purchase brands that best reflect their actual or ideal personalities. An important implication is that the association between driving a high‐status car and unethical driving behaviour may not, as is commonly argued, be due to the corruptive effects of wealth. Rather, certain personality traits, such as low agreeableness, may be associated with both unethical driving behaviour and with driving a high‐status car.

BONUS: Here are some advertisements for Mercedes cars:

 

Man vs. Bear, without Troy Hurtubise

Friday, December 20th, 2019

A new TV series called “Man Vs Bear” tries to fulfill some of the ambitions of Ig Nobel Prize winner Troy Hurtubise, but without using the protective suits of armor that Troy tried to perfect. The TV producers describe what they hope to portray:

For thousands of years, Grizzly Bears have stood at the top of the evolutionary food chain with unchallenged dominance. Now for the first time ever, humans will be entering the bear’s turf and take them on in a competition like never before attempted.

Back then, there was Troy

Troy Hurtubise was awarded the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize for safety engineering, for developing, and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears.

You can see some of Troy’s early work, in the documentary film “Project Grizzly“, produced by the National Film Board of Canada:

Then, a grizzly man who did not heed the teachings of Troy

Like the people in this new TV series, others have tried interacting warmly with grizzly bears. At least one of those people did not fare well. You can read about that in the little essay “Farewell, Treadwell. Praised Be Troy” (That little essay is about, among other things, the movie “Grizzly Man“, with a cameo of sorts by actor Leonardo DiCaprio.) Here is a promotional trailer for “Grizzly Man”:

Appendix: Farewell, Troy

Troy Hurtubise himself did come to a sad end, but not one that involved grizzly bears.

 

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