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Ig Nobel Prize-winning Black Hole / Hell Expert Jack Van Impe Is Dead

January 19th, 2020

Dr. Jack Van Impe, who discovered the link between black holes and Hell, has crossed the event horizon. He has died, according to news reports.

In 2001, Dr. Van Impe and his wife, Rexella, were awarded the Ig Nobel Astrophysics prize, for their discovery that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements to be the location of Hell. They revealed their discovery on the March 31, 2001 television and Internet broadcast of the “Jack Van Impe Presents” program. (If you can track down the video, you will see it at about the 12 minute mark).


The Van Impes could not or would not attend that year’s Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. They tentatively planned to come, but eventually informed us, via their secretary, that they had a pre-existing commitment to appear at an event elsewhere.

And so, MIT astrophysicist Walter Lewin accepted custody of the Prize on behalf of the Van Impes. Lewin hailed the Van Impes’ “breakthrough contributions to astrophysics.” He then remarked that, to astrophysicists, “Black holes go beyond our wildest expectations, fantasies and dreams,” that “black holes are heaven to us.”

Here’s video of the prize announcement and the acceptance speech:

Jack Van Impe conducted a long series of scientific and technical research projects, many of which he described during his television broadcasts. In 2007, he announced another grand discovery: that the basic design of the automobile was published in The Bible.

Always, the announcements were made with verve:

“Bullshit Makes the Art Grow Profounder” (new research study)

January 17th, 2020

Jonathan Fugelsang, whose team was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 2016 for studying the power of pseudo-profound bullshit, has a new study, with other colleagues, about the power of bullshit:

Bullshit Makes the Art Grow Profounder,” Martin Harry Turpin, Alexander C. Walker, Mane Kara-Yakoubian, Nina N. Gabert, Jonathan A. Fugelsang, and Jennifer A. Stolz, Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 14, no. 6, November 2019, pp. 658-670.

The new study says:

Across four studies participants (N = 818) rated the profoundness of abstract art images accompanied with varying categories of titles, including: pseudo-profound bullshit titles (e.g., The Deaf Echo), mundane titles (e.g., Canvas 8), and no titles. Randomly generated pseudo-profound bullshit titles increased the perceived profoundness of computer-generated abstract art, compared to when no titles were present (Study 1). Mundane titles did not enhance the perception of profoundness, indicating that pseudo-profound bullshit titles specifically (as opposed to titles in general) enhance the perceived profoundness of abstract art (Study 2). Furthermore, these effects generalize to artist-created abstract art (Study 3). Finally, we report a large correlation between profoundness ratings for pseudo-profound bullshit and “International Art English” statements (Study 4), a mode and style of communication commonly employed by artists to discuss their work. This correlation suggests that these two independently developed communicative modes share underlying cognitive mechanisms in their interpretations. We discuss the potential for these results to be integrated into a larger, new theoretical framework of bullshit as a low-cost strategy for gaining advantages in prestige awarding domains.

Here’s further detail from the study:

Sheep facial recognition software efforts in New Zealand

January 15th, 2020

Sheep facial recognition software is in the offing, suggests an October 22, 2019 news report in the New Zealand Herald:

The world’s first sheep facial recognition software, developed in Dunedin, is set to be prototyped this year.

Sheep NN, a project created by artificial intelligence and machine learning company Iris Data Science, has received a $40,000 grant from Callaghan Innovation towards the $100,000 project that will take the model to prototype by the end of the year.

(Thanks to Mason Porter for bringing this to our attention.)

The load on a human hair during combing [study]

January 13th, 2020

“The objective . . .” of a 2018 research project from the Fashion Business School, London College of Fashion, and Dr Chris Gummer at Cider Solutions Ltd., Chilworth, UK, was “ . . . to assess the frequency and magnitude of combing forces on individual hairs against a hypothesis that fibres on a consumer’s head rarely experience significant loads during routine combing.”

So, what is the load on a human hair during combing?

“During combing, individual fibres may not experience any significant load and are unlikely to experience repetitive loads >10g “

See: Measuring the frequency of consumer hair combing and magnitude of combing forces on individual hairs in a tress and the implications for product evaluation and claims substantiation in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, Volume 40, Issue 5.

BONUS: Does anti-ageing advertising have a future? by Dr Chris Gummer at Cider Solutions Ltd..

Image credit : Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Woman Combing Her Hair (1865)

The Professor Who Says He Knows Love

January 10th, 2020

Love is, to many researchers, so difficult to define that no one can grasp it scientifically.

BUT… some researchers are undaunted in trying to understand and control love. Perhaps preeminent among the dauntless is Robert J. Sternberg, professor of development at Cornell University.

Professor Sternberg’s web page proclaims:


If you’re interested in my theory of love and how to use research-based information to discover, maintain, and nurture the love relationship of your dreams, check out my new website here.

You’ll find lots of science-based information, ideas, and tools how to turn your dreams about love into reality.

Professor Sternberg professes a—perhaps theTriangular Theory of Love.

Cited for Being Cited

Professor Sternberg’s web page explains, also, that Professor Sternberg is cited for being cited:

He has been cited by ISI for being one of the most highly cited (top ½ of 1%) among psychologists and psychiatrists.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!