mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR")

September 2016, issue number 2016-09. ISSN 1076-500X.

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      Research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK.

      A tiny supplement to the magazine Annals of Improbable Research.

      Archive at <http://improbable.com/airchives/miniair>

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01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

02 The Magazine Itself: Impending REDness

03 SPOTLIGHT: Eating Cinnamon Converts Poor Learners Who Are Mice

04 Introducing the new Ig Nobel Prize Winners

05 Cinnamon Reading Brain Limerick Contest

06 Heads Versus Risk Poet

07 MORE IMPROBABLE: Apples for Sex, Life, Grizzly Bear Re-Research

08 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Cinnamon on Brain Infarction

09 Improbable Research Events

10 — The Magazine (AIR) — How to Subscribe or Get Single Issues (*)

11 — Contact Info (*)

12 — Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

13 — How to start or stop receiving mini-AIR (*)

 

      Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

 

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02 The Magazine Itself: Impending REDness

 

The special RED issue (vol. 22, no. 5) of the magazine is imminent.

The special KISSING issue (vol. 22, no. 4) yearns to have you read it:

 

      SUBSCRIPTIONS & SINGLE ISSUES: <https://gumroad.com/improbable>

 

      Tables of Contents: <http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>

 

 

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03 SPOTLIGHT: Eating Cinnamon Converts Poor Learners Who Are Mice

 

This month's research spotlight shines on cinnamon-eating mice (or, if you like, mice eating cinnamon):

 

"Cinnamon Converts Poor Learning Mice to Good Learners: Implications for Memory Improvement," Khushbu K. Modi, Suresh B. Rangasamy, Sridevi Dasarathi, Avik Roy, and Kalipada Pahan, Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, epub 2016. <https://is.gd/IGq0wU> (Thanks to Adam K. Olson for bringing this to our attention.) The authors explain:

 

"oral treatment of cinnamon and NaB [metabolite sodium benzoate] increased spatial memory consolidation-induced activation of CREB and expression of plasticity-related molecules in the hippocampus of poor-learning mice and converted poor learners into good learners. These results describe a novel property of cinnamon in switching poor learners to good learners via stimulating hippocampal plasticity."

 

 

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04 Introducing the new Ig Nobel Prize Winners

 

Ten new Ig Nobel Prizewinners were introduced at the 26th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, at Harvard University on September 22:

 

REPRODUCTION PRIZE [EGYPT] — The late Ahmed Shafik, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.

REFERENCE: "Effect of Different Types of Textiles on Sexual Activity. Experimental study," Ahmed Shafik, European Urology, vol. 24, no. 3, 1993, pp. 375-80.

REFERENCE: "Contraceptive Efficacy of Polyester-Induced Azoospermia in Normal Men," Ahmed Shafik, Contraception, vol. 45, 1992, pp. 439-451.

 

ECONOMICS PRIZE [NEW ZEALAND, UK] — Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.

REFERENCE: "The Brand Personality of Rocks: A Critical Evaluation of a Brand Personality Scale," Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes ,and Shelagh Ferguson, Marketing Theory, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 451-475.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Mark Avis and Sarah Forbes

 

PHYSICS PRIZE [HUNGARY, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND] — Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas, Susanne Ākesson, Péter Malik, and Hansruedi Wildermuth, for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.

REFERENCE: "An Unexpected Advantage of Whiteness in Horses: The Most Horsefly-Proof Horse Has a Depolarizing White Coat," Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas and Susanne Ākesson, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol. 277 no. 1688, pp. June 2010, pp. 1643-1650.

REFERENCE: "Ecological Traps for Dragonflies in a Cemetery: The Attraction of Sympetrum species (Odonata: Libellulidae) by Horizontally Polarizing Black Grave-Stones," Gábor Horváth, Péter Malik, György Kriska, Hansruedi Wildermuth, Freshwater Biology, vol. 52, vol. 9, September 2007, pp. 1700–9.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Susanne Ākesson

 

CHEMISTRY PRIZE [GERMANY] — Volkswagen, for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.

REFERENCE: "EPA, California Notify Volkswagen of Clean Air Act Violations", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency news release, September 18, 2015.

 

MEDICINE PRIZE [GERMANY] — Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas Münte, Silke Anders, and Andreas Sprenger, for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).

REFERENCE: "Itch Relief by Mirror Scratching. A Psychophysical Study," Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas F. Münte, Silke Anders, Andreas Sprenger, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no 12, December 26, 2013, e82756.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Andreas Sprenger

 

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [BELGIUM, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, CANADA, USA] — Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.

REFERENCE: "From Junior to Senior Pinocchio: A Cross-Sectional Lifespan Investigation of Deception," Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon D. Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, Acta Psychologica, vol. 160, 2015, pp. 58-68.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Bruno Verschuere

 

PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] — Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called "On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit".

REFERENCE: "On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit," Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek J. Koehler, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Gordon Pennycook, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang

 

BIOLOGY PRIZE [UK] — 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.

REFERENCE: GoatMan; How I Took a Holiday from Being Human, Thomas Thwaites, Princeton Architectural Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1616894054.

REFERENCE: Being a Beast, by Charles Foster, Profile Books, 2016, ISBN 978-1781255346.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Charles Foster, Thomas Thwaites. [NOTE: Thomas Thwaites's goat suit was kindly released for Ig Nobel purposes from the exhibition 'Platform - Body/Space' at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, and will be back on display at the museum from 4 October 2016 till 8 January 2017.]

 

LITERATURE PRIZE [SWEDEN] — Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.

REFERENCE: "The Fly Trap" is the first volume of Fredrik Sjöberg's autobiographical trilogy, "En Flugsamlares Vag" ("The Path of a Fly Collector"), and the first to be published in English. Pantheon Books, 2015, ISBN 978-1101870150.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Fredrik Sjöberg

 

PERCEPTION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

REFERENCE: "Perceived size and Perceived Distance of Targets Viewed From Between the Legs: Evidence for Proprioceptive Theory," Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, Vision Research, vol. 46, no. 23, November 2006, pp. 3961–76.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Atsuki Higashiyama

 

* * *

 

ALL WINNERS (1991-2016): <http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/>

 

CEREMONY DETAILS (and video): <http://www.improbable.com/ig/2016/>

 

OTHER IG NEWS: <http://www.improbable.com/category/ig-nobel/>

 

 

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05 Cinnamon Reading Brain Limerick Contest

 

This month's challenge: Devise a limerick elucidating this study:

 

"Reading Cinnamon Activates Olfactory Brain Regions," Julio González, Alfonso Barros-Loscertales, Friedemann Pulvermüller, Vanessa Meseguer, Ana Sanjuán, Vicente Belloch, and César Ávila, Neuroimage 32, no. 2 (2006): 906-912. <https://is.gd/WTjupY> The authors explain:

 

"Subjects passively read odour-related words (‘garlic’, ‘cinnamon’, 'jasmine’) and neutral language items. The odour-related terms elicited activation in the primary olfactory cortex, which include the piriform cortex and the amygdala."

 

Submit your perfectly formed, delightfully enlightening limerick to:

 

      CINNAMON READING BRAIN LIMERICK COMPETITION

      c/o <MARC aaattt IMPROBABLE dddooottt COM>

 

 

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06 Heads Versus Risk Poet

 

The judges have chosen a winner in last month's Heads Versus Risk Limerick Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor this study:

 

"Males Choose to Keep Their Heads: Preference for Lower Risk Females in a Praying Mantid," Esteban Avigliano1, Romina C. Scardamaglia, Fabián M. Gabelli, Lorena Pompilio, Behavioural Processes, vol. 129, August 2016, pp. 80–85. <https://is.gd/K1yRvF>

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR ALLISON BROWN, who wrote:

 

A mantid who wishes to wed,

But'd rather hold on to his head,

  Pushes some prey

  In lady love's way.

Better off hungry than dead.

 

Here's the outpouring by our LIMERICK LAUREATE, MARTIN EIGER:

 

Two times in my life did I wed.

They both were fantastic in bed.

  That's as good as it gets,

  But I had some regrets

When the second one bit off my head.

 

 

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07 MORE IMPROBABLE: Apples for Sex, Life, Grizzly Bear Re-Research

 

Recent improbable research bits you may have missed...

 

The podcast:

 

      LISTEN / DOWNLOAD: <http://goo.gl/sxh7DX>

 

      #79 Does an Apple a Day Improve a Woman’s Sex Life?

      #80 "The Best Life — Act 1 (of 3)" — A scientific mini-opera

      #81 "The Best Life — Act 2 (of 3)" — A scientific mini-opera

      #82 "The Best Life — Act 3 (of 3)" — A scientific mini-opera

      #83 Journeys of Toothbrushes

 

The blog <http://www.improbable.com/>:

 

<> That moment when a Canadian TV News anchor discovered the Ig Nobel Prizes

<> The pleasures of watching ironically-enjoyed movies

<> Finding grizzly: funding Troy

      ...and lots more

 

Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists, etc (LFHCfS):

<http://www.improbable.com/category/lfhcfs-hair-club/>:

 

More, at

      [twitter]   @ImprobResearch, @MarcAbrahams, #IgNobel

      [facebook]  <http://www.facebook.com/improbableresearch>

 

 

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08 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Cinnamon on Brain Infarction

 

"Magnetic Resonance Angiography in Patients With Brain Infarction," Adnan I. Qureshi, Jay Cinnamon, Jack Fountain, Jeffrey R. Ottenlips, Janet Braimah, and Michael R. Frankel, Journal of Neuroimaging, vol. 8, no. 2, 1998, pp 65-70. <https://is.gd/mRyx2D>

 

 

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09 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

<http://improbable.com/improbable-research-shows/complete-schedule>

 

Science Friday Ig Nobel broadcast   — Nov 25, 2016

ARISIA, Boston                      — January 2017

AAAS Annual Meeting, Boston         — Feb 18, 2017

Ig Nobel EuroTour                   — Mar 2017

Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Annual Meeting

                                    — Apr 27, 2017

 

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10 — The Magazine (AIR) — How to Subscribe or Get Single Issues (*)

 

The Annals of Improbable Research is a 6-issues-per-year magazine, published in PDF form. It's packed with research that makes people laugh, then think. (mini-AIR, the thing you are reading at this moment, is but a tiny, free-floating appendix to the actual magazine.)

 

      <http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>

      SUBSCRIPTIONS     (just $25)

      SINGLE ISSUES     (just $5 each)

 

 

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11 — CONTACT INFO (*)

 

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA

(+1) 617-491-4437

 

Web Site & blog & subscriptions: <http://www.improbable.com>

Twitter: @ImprobResearch

EDITORIAL: <MARC aaattt IMPROBABLE dddooottt COM>

SUBSCRIPTION QUESTIONS: <subscriptions AT improbable.com>

 

 

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12 — Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

 

Please distribute copies of mini-AIR (or excerpts!) wherever appropriate. The only limitations are: A) Please indicate that the material comes from mini-AIR. B) You may NOT distribute mini-AIR for commercial purposes.

 

      ------------- mini-AIRheads -------------

EDITOR: Marc Abrahams

CO-CONSPIRATORS: Kees Moeliker, Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Gary Dryfoos, Ernest Ersatz, Stephen Drew

PROOFREADER: Ambient Happenstance

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, Sheldon Glashow, Richard Roberts

 

Key words: improbable research, science humor, Ig Nobel, AIR, the

(c) copyright 2016, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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13 — How to start or stop receiving mini-AIR (*)

 

Mini-AIR is a (free!) tiny monthly *supplement*

to the big, bold six-times-a-year magazine AIR.

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