Becoming with sheep (art project)

October 9th, 2017

Danish artist and researcher Charlotte Grumm explores (amongst other things) the constitutive relationship between subjectivity and materiality and the mattering and un-mattering of reality. With this in mind, the artist relates what she did in 2015 as part of this exploration :

“I, Danish artist Charlotte Grum, connected myself to a sheep for 5 weeks (5 hours a day, 5 days a week). The intention was to create a heterogenous relational and durational assemblage, intraacting and becoming-with the heath habitat, the other bypassing human and non-human animals, the changing weather and our fluctuating biological needs.”

A report about the project is published in the journal Performance Research, Volume 22, 2017 – Issue 2. See: Becoming with sheep – and with multiple others

Also see: The 2016 Ig Nobel Biology Prize which was awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.

The Ig Nobel events, reported firsthand by a winning scientist

October 8th, 2017

Dr.  Marisa López-Teijón, leader of the team that won the 2017 Ig Nobel Obstetrics Prize — for showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother’s vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother’s belly — describes what the team experienced during Ig Nobel week [this is an auto-translation into English; the original Spanish version, with additional photos, is on the team’s blog]:

I have just arrived from Boston and I want to share with you my joy for this award. It is an important recognition by prestigious universities and makes me especially excited because they try to bring science to everyone in an easy and fun way.

They treated us as if we were heroes of comics of scientific adventures, with respect and constant amusement. For example, before the Harvard ceremony we were shown the facilities but we were lined up with string, full of excitement and laughter.

To walk around the Massachusetts Institute of Technology they put stickers that put “IG NOBEL SPECIMEN” and the teachers and students did not stop asking us questions and asking for practical examples. The Korean physicist who studies fluid dynamics danced back imitating Michael Jackson carrying a cup of coffee in his hand (so do not spill !!).

The award-winning dinner was in the house of one of the teachers, absolutely endearing, even the soprano of the gala sang the happy birthday to the English researcher who studies the ears.

Some of us have the most developed sense of humor and all of this amuses us but others are very serious and really made an effort. But thanks to that the global impact on the media is amazing.

Squeezing the Data From Squeezing the Face (with added poison)

October 8th, 2017

Should patients — after they have had poison injected into their face — then squeeze their face? If so, then how often, and exactly where? Those are the bundled questions this study tried to get at, with perhaps a hint that further attempts to answer the questions might be able to produce some hint of possible success of some kind:

A Comparison of Facial Muscle Squeezing versus Non-facial Muscle Squeezing on the Efficacy of BotulinumToxin-A Injections for the Treatment of Facial Dystonia,” P. O’Reilly, J. Ross, J. Norris, and R. Malhotra [pictured here], Orbit, vol. 31, no. 6, 2012, pp. 400-403. The authors, at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, West Sussex, UK, explain:

“Twelve patients underwent the non-squeeze / squeeze / non-squeeze protocol and the remaining 14 patients underwent the squeeze / non-squeeze / squeeze protocol. All patients experienced at least one treatment with and one treatment without performing post-treatment squeezing exercises….

“Although this study failed to demonstrate an enhanced effect of botulinum toxin-A with muscle contracture in a clinical setting, further studies looking at a more defined subset and larger number of patients could possibly lead to statistical significance.”

The authors also remark: “Although there is a theoretical risk of inadvertent spread of botulinum toxin-A with extensive muscle contraction, no such cases were demonstrated here.”

The Case of The Painful Burp and the Not-Painful Swallow

October 6th, 2017

Pains in the mouth are not uncommon. What is somewhat more uncommon is a not-painful swallow with a painful burp. The case study, “The Wrong Toothpaste and The Painful Burp,” dives into this mystery for a 31-year old man.

To his surprise, there was only slight exacerbation upon swallowing, whereas burping triggered very severe pain with radiation to the ears, lasting approximately 5 seconds.

Researchers used techniques that involved examining an ulcer on his uvula and taking a video of the patient burping (with audio).

The uvula with the incorrect toothpaste use is on the left. The same uvula with correct toothpaste use is on the right.

Finally, the patient realized that he had accidentally been using a toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate for a few weeks prior to symptom onset. He has not experienced any recurrences upon switching back to his regular toothpaste without sodium lauryl sulfate.

The full citation: Pareek, M. and Bhatt, D. (2017). The Wrong Toothpaste and the Painful Burp. The American Journal of Medicine, 130(1), pp.e19-e20.

Professor Bird (avian science expert)

October 5th, 2017

If you’re seeking information about avian matters, who better to consult than the Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre  (and Emeritus Professor of Wildlife Biology at McGill University, British Columbia,) Professor Bird.


Previously, he was past-president of the Raptor Research Foundation Inc.; past-president of the Society of Canadian Ornithologists, past member of the board of directors of the American Birding Association; past member of the Board of Directors of Unmanned Systems Canada. He was also elected as a Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union in 1996 and as a Member of the International Ornithological Committee in1998. He has world-wide contacts in ornithology, and has organized two major conferences on birds and several symposia and workshops.

More info of Professor Bird here