Magic Sand and Degradation, at the Shi-Ting River

November 15th, 2019

Degradation, over long periods of time, is a worry to some scientists, as is evident in this new study:

Can magic sand cause massive degradation of a gravel-bed river at the decadal scale? Shi‑ting River, China,” Chenge An, Gary Parker, Marwan A. Hassan, and Xudong Fu, Geomorphology, vol. 327, February 15, 2019, pp. 147-158. (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China; the University of Illinois, USA; and the University of British Columbia, Canada, report:

Massive bed degradation (20 m in 7 years) has been observed in the Shi‑ting River, Sichuan Province, China, since the 2008 Wenchuan Ms. 8.0 earthquake. The reason for the massive bed degradation has not been well understood. A hypothesis has been proposed that relates bed degradation to the augmentation of sand supply after the earthquake. The effect of sand on gravel mobility (magic sand effect) has long been observed in laboratory experiments. In this paper, we study whether the augmentation of sand supply and its magic sand effect can lead to the observed massive degradation at decadal scales….

Our simulation results also indicate that despite the fact that magic sand effects are not explicitly included in most sediment transport relations, they are at least partly built in via the hiding function that is contained in most sediment transport relations for gravel-sand mixtures.

The insect sex research adventures of Yoshitaka Kamimura

November 13th, 2019

This insect-sex-reversal-centric profile of 2017 Ig Nobel Biology Prize co-winner Yoshitaka Kamimura appeared a year ago in the Keio Times:

Sex-Role Reversal Research in Insects Wins Ig Nobel Prize for Keio Professor Yoshitaka Kamimura

…In 2012, Prof. Kamimura was first invited to join a research team led by Kazunori Yoshizawa, an associate professor at Hokkaido University, whose award-winning research focuses on cave-dwelling species of insect from Brazil that belongs to the genus Neotrogla. In most insects, the male penetrates the female reproductive organ to transfer seminal fluid, but for Neotrogla, it is the female that has a penis, which it uses to penetrate the male in order to receive seminal fluid and nutritional substances.

“Neotrogla are small, 3mm-long insects that inhabit caves in Brazil. Our first face-to-face encounter with these fascinating creatures was in 2016, when we donned headlamps and explored the caves in search of them. The caves they inhabit are quite dry and food is scarce, which forces them to rely on bat guano and mouse droppings to survive….”



The entomologist who seduced malaria mosquitoes with cheese

November 12th, 2019

“Bart Knols, the entomologist who seduced the mosquito mosquito with cheese” says the headline of this Telemetro [Panama] profile of Ig Nobel Prize winner Bart Knols and his innovations against malaria.

The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize for biology was awarded to Bart Knols (of Wageningen Agricultural University, in Wageningen, the Netherlands; and of the National Institute for Medical Research, in Ifakara Centre, Tanzania, and of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna Austria) and Ruurd de Jong (of Wageningen Agricultural University and of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Italy) for showing that the female malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae is attracted equally to the smell of limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet.

Their Ig-winning research is documented in several publications:

REFERENCE: “On Human Odour, Malaria Mosquitoes, and Limburger Cheese,” Bart. G.J. Knols, The Lancet, vol. 348 , November 9, 1996, p. 1322.

REFERENCE: “Behavioural and electrophysiological responses of the female malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae (Diptera: Culicidae) to Limburger cheese volatiles,” Bulletin of Entomological Research, B.G.J. Knols, J.J.A. van Loon, A. Cork, R.D. Robinson, et al., vol. 87, 1997, pp. 151-159.

REFERENCE: “Limburger Cheese as an Attractant for the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles gambiae s.s.,” B.G,J. Knols and R. De Jong, Parasitology Today, yd. 12, no. 4, 1996, pp. 159-61.

REFERENCE: “Selection of Biting Sites on Man by Two Malaria Mosquito Species,” R. De Jong and B.G.J. Knols, Experientia, vol. 51, 1995, pp. 80–84.

Laboratory News looks at almost 30 years of Ig Nobel stuff

November 11th, 2019

There’s lots of quasi-juicy Ig Nobel history in this profile, in the British publication Laboratory News, by Jonathan Chadwick:


Umbilical cord storage doll and set thereof [new patent]

November 11th, 2019

A newly issued US patent, awarded to inventor Hyunkap Park, of Siheung-si, South Korea, details an ‘umbilical cord storage doll and set thereof’.

“The umbilical cord naturally falls off a baby’s navel after a predetermine period has elapsed since the birth of the baby. Meanwhile, the umbilical cord has a special meaning in that it is a lifeline which has connected a mother and a baby for 10 months.

Furthermore, from the past, it has been said that the umbilical cord is a token of luck and fortune comes when the umbilical cord is possessed. In some homes, the umbilical cord was kept deep in a wardrobe. When a person experienced a difficult situation, he or she carried the umbilical cord as a charm.

As described above, as a conventional technology for the storage of the umbilical cord, patent document 1 discloses a seal capable of storing the umbilical cord, the seal including: a cylindrical seal body part configured such that a hole is formed through a side surface thereof and a longitudinal section surface is open; a transparent resin part configured to be inserted into the seal body part and to store the umbilical cord; and an engraving member configured such that a name is engraved on one longitudinal section surface thereof and another longitudinal section surface is inserted into the open longitudinal section surface of the seal body part; wherein the umbilical cord stored in the resin part can be viewed through the hole of the side surface of the seal body part.”

See: US patent 10,449,464 B2, October 22, 2019, Umbilical cord storage doll and set thereof

Research research by Martin Gardiner

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