Stripes and tails against flies

February 20th, 2019

The Surprising Reason Zebras Have Stripes,” Ed Yong’s essay in The Atlantic, celebrates the most recently published research about how some large mammals manage to protect themselves against flies. Tim Caro and colleagues experimented with striped blankets, publishing their story in the research journal PLoS ONE.

Ig Nobel Prize winners Gábor Horváth, Susanne Äkesson, and colleagues published a paper about the attractiveness or repulsiveness of zebra stripes to flies, in 2012 in The Journal of Experimental Biology. This year they published a paper in Royal Society Open Science about the effect, on flies, of stripes painted on humans.

Last year, Ig Nobel Prize winner David Hu and colleagues published a paper, in the Journal of Experimental Biology, about how zebras and other animals use their tails to repel flies. Co-author Marguerite Matherne presented this research a few days ago, in the Improbable Research session at the AAAS Annual Meeting, in Washington, DC.

Humans, who generally have neither stripes nor tails, do sometimes make up for it by painting stripes on themselves, wearing striped clothing, or using fly swatters.



Retract! Retract! Retract!

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….

He who tunes big bells, for better tintinnabulation

February 19th, 2019

Few people get to tune a big bell. Fewer know that big bells need to be tuned. Those are two reasons why the web site Spitalfields Life interviewed “Benjamin Kipling, bell tuner.”

(Thanks to Mark Dionne for bringing this to our attention.)

Tune into more info, if you like, about bell tuning, by reading the study  “On the tuning of church and carillon bells,” R. Perrin, T. Charnley, Tand G.M. Swallowe, Applied Acoustics, vol. 46, no. 1, 1995, pp. 83-101.

But—for these purposes—tune out the mostly unrelated study “The lesson of causal discovery algorithms for quantum correlations: Causal explanations of Bell-inequality violations require fine-tuning,”  Christopher J. Wood and Robert W. Spekkens, New Journal of Physics, vol. 17, no. 3, 2015: 033002.

Recent Progress in ‘Ratatouille’ Studies

February 18th, 2019

The 2007 publication of the Pixar movie Ratatouille presented a unique set of opportunities for academic study – a challenge which scholars have not ignored. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of published work about the film :

● Man is a Puppet, Soul is a Rat: On Pixar’s Ratatouille in Critical Engagements: A Journal of Criticism and Theory, 2015.

● Ratatouille: An Animated Account of Cooking, Taste, and Human Evolution in Ethnos : Journal of Anthropology, Volume 76, 2011 – Issue 3

● Cooking like a Rat: Sensation and Politics in Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille in Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Volume 31, 2014 – Issue 5

● The Jurisprudence of Ratatouille: The Rat in the Machine, or, the Equivocal Taste of Égaliberté in the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law – Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique, December 2015, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 843–866

● A critical review analysis about the movie Ratatouille and its impact on culinary tourism in the International Journal of Qualitative Research in Services, Volume 3, Issue 1

● Homunculus. Icon of Self, from Paracelso to Ratatuille in H-ermes. Journal of Communication, No.4, 2015

Also see:

Recent progress in ‘My Little Pony’ studies
Recent progress in Wonder Woman studies
Recent progress in Kung Fu Panda studies

Improbable Research tonight in Washington, DC

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. Bring friends (seating is limited—arrive early if you want a seat) #AAASmtg

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