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HEAD & BRAIN
Head on Brain in Brain, Is the Brain Necessary? Tempermental Heads…
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© 2011 Annals of Improbable Research ISSN 1079-5146 print / 1935-6862 online
AIR, P.O. Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238, USA “Improbable Research” and “Ig” and the tumbled thinker logo are all reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. 617-491-4437 FAX: 617-661-0927 www.improbable.com email@example.com EDITORIAL: firstname.lastname@example.org Research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK Co-founders Marc Abrahams Alexander Kohn Editor Marc Abrahams email@example.com Bureaus and Desks Kees Moeliker, European Bureau Chief Steve Farrar, Edinburgh Desk Chief Dariusz Jemielniak, Warsaw Desk Chief Magnus Wahlberg, Scandinavian Desk Chief Martin Gardiner, Rio de Janeiro Desk Chief Sid Rodrigues, London Organiser Erwin J.O. Kompanje Willem O. de Jongste Commutative Editor Stanley Eigen, Northeastern U. Associative Editor Mark Dionne Dissociative Editor Rose Fox VP, Human Resources, and Psychology Editor Robin Abrahams Contributing Editors Otto Didact, Stephen Drew, Ernest Ersatz, Emil Filterbag, Karen Hopkin, Alice Kaswell, Nick Kim, Katherine Lee, Bissel Mango, Randall Monroe, Steve Nadis, Nan Swift, Marina Tsipis, Bertha Vanatian Research Researchers Kristine Danowski, Tom Gill, Mary Kroner, Wendy Mattson, Tom Roberts Improbable Facilitator Circulation Director Katherine Meusey firstname.lastname@example.org Ig Nobel Facilitator Lisa Birk email@example.com Design and Art Geri Sullivan, PROmote Communications Lois Malone, Rich & Famous Graphics Art Director emerita Peaco Todd WEB TEAM Editor Marc Abrahams Webmaster Julia Lunetta Technical Eminence Grise Dave Feldman, InterfaceThis General Factotum Jesse Eppers Webmaster emerita Amy Gorin Webmaster in absentia Mira Wilczek “When all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”—Sherlock Holmes “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”—Richard Feynman
KIM CARTOON by Nick Kim: “Orchestra”
2 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. 17, no. 2
Switzerland September 29. as displayed in an 1888. 2011 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony October 1. on our web site: WWW. Warrenton.COM See WWW. Special Section: Head and Brain 6 9 10 12 14 Head on Brain in Brain* — Marc Abrahams Brain Damage May Be an Advantage for Gamblers* — Alice Shirrell Kaswell The Psychoanalyst Says Your Gut Says* — Marc Abrahams Plucked From Obscurity: An Immortality Pump for the Head* — Marina Tsipis Temperamental Heads* — Alice Shirrell Kaswell Improbable Research Reviews* 4 5 16 18 20 24 26 Improbable Research Review* — Dirk Manley Improbable Medical Review* — Bertha Vanatian May We Recommend: Chewing and the Alphabet* — Stephen Drew Icky Cutesy Research Review* — Alice Shirrell Kaswell Soft Is Hard* — Alice Shirrell Kaswell and Bissell Mango Boys Will Be Boys* — Katherine Lee Ig and Beyond* — Nan Swift ® On the Front Cover Heads and brains. Qatar September 2011 Geneva. Many of the other articles are genuine. www. no.q See page 14. too.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol.IMPROBABLE. On the Back Cover Some temperaments. 2 | 1 .COM for details of these and other events. but we don’t know which ones. Beer* — Martin Eiger XKCD: “Time Travel” — Randall Munroe Coming Events April 2011 Edinburgh Science Festival May 2011 New York City May 2011 Cambridge (MA) Science Festival May 2011 NIH. See articles on pages 12 and 14. VA June 2011 Doha.Contents The features marked with a star (*) are based entirely on material taken straight from standard research (and other Official and Therefore Always Correct) literature. News & Notes IFC KIM CARTOON: “Orchestra” — Nick Kim 2 3 11 13 17 19 22 23 27 AIR Vents (letters from our readers) AIR Books Editorial Board Teachers’ Guide Back Issues 2011 Ig® Nobel Prize Ceremony Puzzling Solutions — Emil Filterbag Ig® Nobel Limericks: Slime. 17.improbable.IMPROBABLE. Nation. 2011 Ig Informal Lectures November 2011 Ig Nobel Scandinavia Tour IBC Unclassified Ads Every Day Read something new and improbable every day on the Improbable Research blog.
I would like it acknowledged that there is precious little evidence. Linda Lombardi and Silver Spring (AIR Vents 17:1). We did not intend to give you a different first name.AIR Vents Exhalations from our readers NOTE: The opinions expressed here represent the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of those who hold other opinions.improbable. a different person than you used to be. When the issue (17:1) prior to this one was mailed. MD Al Padilla Greenwich.” It was signed by: Linda Lombardi. Texas. Connecticut. either automatically or as an option. and having given you that new first name we have endeavored to take it back. no. Dr. Scotland. perhaps someone who had always yearned to be called something other than the “Harold” or “Weilun” or “Lee” or “Gustav” or “Alicia” that their parents had presumptuously given them long ago as a birthday gift. and did not dare use the train toilet. While his picture is indeed often depicted as small. Germany If you are a subscriber to this magazine you may have discovered that you are. at which point I debarked the train and did my business on terra firma. 17. This was an accident. PhD Silver Spring. * e. Whoever You May Find Yourself to Be I was in Britain to see a show on this year’s Ig Nobel Tour of the UK. levitate passengers who use the toilet? I have heard Britons talk of something called “hovering over the toilet seat. if any. USA A Little About Mel Fruit Bat Question I read with great interest the letter by Drs. Indeed none would be more than a few inches tall—which must make the live events such as the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony quite astonishing.” I continue to be astonished. or in the alternative sometime before I die (years hence I hope). Faced with the reality of this sign. from where I later went to the Ig Nobel show in Dundee).” but I never knew what they were talking about. Why do the British attach magnets to their toilet seats? Is this a follow-on to the Ig Nobel Prize winning work of Andre Geim and Michael Berry. that Mel was or is “little. On a Virgin (that is the name of one of the British train companies) train I went to the toilet compartment. Hyman Professor. by the apparent and ongoing* confusion between the size of Mel. and without electromagnetic aids. Martha Buhler Hamburg. Vreeland Heiss’s letter in 17:1 in which he writes “…the little man who always appears in your pages. so to speak. we will consider whether to give the new name to yet another subscriber. I held myself in suspense until I reached my destination (Edinburgh. We apologize for taking away this new first name. that was posted on the wall above the toilet itself. so are the pictures of all humans shown in the magazine. On the other hand if things are assumed to be printed life size (as Mel is apparently) then the Orthohalarachene attenuata pictured on page 5 in 17:1 is indeed a formidable beast and it is no wonder that the person in whose eye it resided was alarmed. but even more we apologize for having given you the different first name in the first (or second?) place.g. our subscriber database file assigned a few of you some new first name. or at least were for a brief period. Department of Biomedical Engineering Texas A&M University College Station. Sometime before I retire (summer ’11). High-Powered Seats on British Trains Notice to Subscribers. in which those two physics professors used magnets to levitate a frog? Do British trains now.” William A. Now that we (hope we) have taken the name back and given you back your original first name. 2 www. and the size of Mel’s picture. I am sorry to say that I became frightened.com . but was taken up short by this notice. The letter ran under the headline “Fruit bats are not so singular.. USA 2 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. having previously pointed out my initial astonishment in these pages. but was wondering where they are located. which I then photographed.
Campus Benjamin Franklin Berlin. As you can see by comparing this medieval drawing of Charlemagne and the photograph of me. Each additional child of the emperor adds 3000 base pairs. northern Italy). and so then I found and read about lazarettos in a book called “The Principle Lazarettos of Europe.Don’t Look at Bookshelves You see this photograph? I snapped it while visiting the Wellcome Library in London. Because of inbreeding this value has to be multiplied with the ratio of hypothetical to really existing descendants in and near both towns (281 trillion/0. The town served as overnight accommodation during 30 years when Charlemagne travelled from his seat in Aachen to his palace in Paderborn/Westphalia for war against the Saxons.E. The father of my father belonged to the native population of the latter region. I have estimated Charlemagne’s minimal contribution to the genes of the population in Mönchengladbach and Paderborn assuming that only two of his children remained there and all following generations had 2 surviving children. belonged to a group with much more Karolingian heritage. Surely he fathered more with attractive lower class girls. With 4 generations per century. before I ran across the lazarettos). which is why I had to start reading about them. Possibly my mother. Dr. 2 | 3 .com or at other fine and even not-so-fine e-bookstores. you can see how this softening of the mind process works. At least a distant familial relation is possible. K. France.).g. of which I knew nothing (not that I knew much about 18th and 19th century prisons. Böning Sportmedizin. Without inbreeding the 3 billion base pairs within Charlemagne’s chromosomes should be diluted to only 10-5. www. This is only an average. 17. And that led me to… Well. There should be Karolingian clusters around sites of intense imperial sexual activity.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. Eighteen children from five wives and five concubines are documented. as descendant of a native pub owner family. 248 (281 trillion) Karolingians should live in these towns after 1200 years. This is the kind of thing they (The Wellcome Library people) have on their bookshelves.S. an exact analysis of Charlemagne’s sexual activity would be possible. Missouri. Charlemagne has been described as vivacious and receptive to female beauty. It scared the hell out of me.improbable.” by someone named John Howard. Institut für Physiologie Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin.200). USA BOOKS Ig® Nobel Improbable Research & Charlemagne and Dieter Once my mother dreamt that she was a daughter of the emperor Charlemagne (768 to 814 C. and so I went looking for information about 18th and 19th century prisons. Dr. for she was born in Mönchengladbach in the lower Rhine district. and found that they are related to lazarettos. the phenotypical similarity between subjects of both families is astonishing. D. and found that it’s a book by someone named Robin Evans about prison architecture in the 18th and 19th centuries. Stay away from the Wellcome Library in particular.5 million = 560. There result 6000 base pairs. western Germany. And I would become sure about a Karolingian descendence of my grandfather from Paderborn. Stay away from libraries or it will happen to you. no. Prof. Germany Get them in bookstores — or online via www.improbable. Samples are obtainable from his corpse buried in the Aachen cathedral. This is not the case because of inbreeding among Charlemagne’s descendants. In future a scientific breakthrough could result from analysis of Charlemagne’s genome. Waller Nixa. By comparing his Y chromosome (which is inherited by all his male descendants) with those of men from this region and other parts of his empire (e. so then I had to find out what lazarettos were. After I got home I looked it up.
(Thanks to Slobodan Jaric for bringing this to our attention. www. 209. at the Auckland University of Technology. as well as use of the single variant. vol. Vladimir M. At the end of each trial. (Thanks to Brian R. 2 > The Moss from the Tyrolean Iceman’s Colon “The Moss from the Tyrolean Iceman’s Colon.” James H. pp. and conclusions compiled by Dirk Manley. 17. “Dunno.Improbable Research Review Improbable theories. vol.) The authors. Significant differences in synergy indices across conditions were seen at the final steady state showing that digit coordination during steady holding of an object is history dependent. Zatsiorsky.com .) The author is at the University of Glasgow. 2282–96. vol. no. 42. explain: We explored how digit forces and indices of digit coordination depend on the history of getting to a particular set of task parameters during static prehension tasks…. Scotland. emptied (Full-Half) or stayed half-filled throughout the trial (Half-Only)…. Improbable Research staff Half-Empty vs. 571–85. Experimental Brain Research.” Lynn E. pp. 2011.” 4 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. Journal of Pragmatics. 19. their use in academic discourse.improbable. the participants always held a half-filled container that has just been filled (Empty-Half). pp. 449–51. 2010. 3. explains: Further research could add to these findings by looking at all the meanings the phrases have in conversation. Speer for bringing this to our attention. experiments. and Mark L. Dunno in New Zealand “A Corpus Comparison of the Use of I Don’t Know by British and New Zealand Speakers. Half-Full Glasses: Finger Coordination With “Prehension of Half-Full and Half-Empty Glasses: Time and History Effects on Multi-Digit Coordination” Yao Sun. Journal of Bryology. Dickson. 1997. Detail from the study “Prehension of Half-Full and Half-Empty Glasses…” Dunno in Britain. The author. Grant. no. Latash. at Penn State University.
The repositioning has remained stable over 6 months to 3 years’ follow-up. www. and the brow apex was shifted laterally….” M. 17. 4. Jayanand Mekwan.K. Improbable Research staff A Too-Mobile Phone Card “Accidental Mobile Phone Card Ingestion.improbable.” P. Boston. Ups and Downs: Stock Market and Ingested Coins “Ingested Foreign Bodies and Societal Wealth: Three-Year Observational Study of Swallowed Coins. U. 341. and Nigel F. reports that: A 14-year-old boy attended the emergency department at 21:24 h. Colchester. p. report: Objective: To examine the relation between coins ingested by children and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.Improbable Medical Review Improbable diagnoses. The authors. techniques. vol. Unfortunately. Zheng. He had taken the SIM card out and placed it between his teeth. report: Undesirable brow shape and position may occur after brow lift surgery…. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. 24. Eyebrows As They Once Were “Reversing Brow Lifts. Benslimane. Yaremchuk.J. Detail from Firth et al. All brows were lowered. Please enclose the full citation (no abbreviations!) and. and F. Massachusetts. vol. a copy of the paper. and research compiled by Bertha Vanatian.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. We welcome your suggestions for this and other columns. vol. 2010. saying that he had swallowed part of his phone 2 hours ago. no.) The authors.’s study about the relationship between the economy and the ingestion of coins. range 32 to 62 years) presented for correction of their brow position and shape after brow lift surgery. Firth. 142. 27. Conclusion: There was no detectable difference in the total value of coins ingested. 367–75. he managed to swallow it. 2 | 5 .. Essex. no.” Sudesh Dixit. July–August 2007. or ratio of coins to other objects swallowed. O’Sullivan. at Massachusetts General Hospital. N. at Massachusetts General Hospital. if possible. Emergency Medicine Journal. Biller. (Thanks to Len Finegold for bringing this to our attention.A. 2007. before or after a massive stock market crash. BMJ. Brayley. pp. who are at Colchester General Hospital. and J. H. The authors.G. We report on a procedure to restore or improve presurgical brow shape and position. RESULTS: Twenty-two women (average age 45 years.
long before he became editor. Brain’s Brain tribute and other material about Dr.” Brain. and that it was stuffed full of knowledge. is called “Some Reflections on Brain and Mind. Improbable Research staff Nowadays not many people read Brain on Head in Brain. for Brain. suggests that his predecessor may have been over-brainy: “He had many ideas: he bubbled over with them. a 135-page behemoth. Baron Brain of Eynsham—was editor of the journal Brain. Brain. Buzzard’s generosity. documentation being unclear. pp. though respectful of Head. Head wrote many monographs. because this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Russell Brain’s mostlyadmiring six-page essay called “Henry Head: A Man and His Ideas. which Dr. at the age of 42. Which means that this year we are all of us entitled to celebrate the 150th anniversary of that happy event. and perhaps he was sometimes too ready to convince himself of their truth”.” In 1904. some quite lengthy. Buzzard. Henry Head. Brain—who was also Lord Brain. Turnbull as saying: I had the good fortune when first going to the hospital to meet daily in the mornings.com . Dr. Head gives special thanks to a Dr. and ‘Henry Head doing gaits’ was a perennial attraction. profession. Mary’s station people on the other side of the wide Whitechapel Road would turn to look at us. Brain’s final articles. One of Dr.M.” Brain then quotes Professor H. The first.” Lord Brain. That could change. indeed in his characteristic keenness he spoke so loudly that as we walked to the hospital from St. the nature of which is not specified. Dr. Head’s birth.improbable. in 1963. It would have been surprising had he not written that essay about Dr.” which Henry Head. 17.” “Some Reflections on Brain and Mind. vol. Brain became head in 1954. appeared in 1893. In it. no. No other editors in the journal’s long history (it was founded in 1879) could or did boast surnames that so stunningly announced their obsession. Head headed Brain from 1905 to 1923. Dr. Brain writes that “Some men… feel impelled to impart information to others. editor) of the journal (the name of which. 381-402. Brain’s first article in Brain concerned a cracked-pot percussion note. 3. and place of employ. Head married a headmistress: Ruth Mayhew of Brighton High School for Girls. Head was one of those. Head was not shy about sharing. 6 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. Dr. citing Dr. I repeat for clarity. 1963. Reading Dr. Brain assures us that she was “a fit companion for him in intelligence. 2 www. the anniversary of Dr. in a photograph taken celebrated the 100th in 1914 or in some other year. no. That’s because Head preceded Brain (the man) as head (which is to say. Brain says that Head “would illustrate his lectures by himself reproducing the involuntary movements or postures produced by nervous disease. on the steam engine underground railway. dying in office in 1967. Head. is Brain). much to the annoyance of our fellow travellers. 86. Head. He… kindly taught me throughout our journeys about physical signs.Head on Brain in Brain by Marc Abrahams. one gets the strong impression that Head had a big head.
“A Human Experiment in Nerve Division. 323–450. 175) we found a brilliant description of a part endowed with protopathic and deep sensibility only. about which he presented a surprising amount of detail. On turning to von Frey’s account of the glans penis ( p.” W. gradually approached one of the glasses until the surface of the water covered the glans but did not touch the foreskin. H. and the penis allowed to hang downwards. We can add nothing material to this remarkable description. but shall attempt to show how exactly in the case of H. But coldspots abound and paradox-cold can be as easily evoked… We therefore made a number of observations in the following Henry Head. no. In the case of H. no. the response of this organ to cutaneous stimuli corresponds to that of the highly protopathic area. the temperature of the water was such that it did not produce a sensation of heat or cold. was unaware that anything had been done….R. Brain. which remains on the back of his hand….H. The account is too lengthy to reproduce here.. continued > Lord Brain’s tribute.Head’s Heady Experiment. H. in (of course) Brain Head’s most nervy experiment involved (although not exclusively) his penis. the body and tip of the glans are entirely insensitive to heat. except for the following snippets: We then discovered that the glans penis responded to cutaneous stimuli in that peculiar manner with which we were already familiar from our study of the first stage of recovery after nerve division. 3. 31. 1908. Rivers and Henry Head.improbable. tingling sensation over the glans which is extremely unpleasant. to Henry Head. therefore. vol. foreskin was drawn back. Contact with the fluid was not appreciated. and R. if. www. there appear to be no heatspots except in the neighbourhood of the corona. in a lengthy monograph in Brain. The near 1914. perhaps his most eminent predecessor as editor of the journal. The most remarkable peculiarities are shown in the behaviour of the glans to heat and cold. published in Brain.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. pp. 17. in a photograph taken in or manner. 2 | 7 . stood with his eyes closed. [An] interrupted current almost painless on the normal skin causes an aching. A number of drinking glasses were prepared containing water at different temperatures. The characteristic “whirring” sensation is absent and is replaced by a slowly increasing diffused pain. helping to enliven a new century.
it was and remains one of the few well-regarded medical studies that includes the phrase “cracked-pot” in its title: “Clinical Meeting Held May 10. pp. pp. 1923: Case of Right Frontal Tumour. 46. came Head’s last article in Brain: “Speech and Cerebral Localization. 4. as head. p. vol. 1-133. 2 www. 2. Brain. Brain confronts the classical mind/brain question. 17. just months later. The monograph in which Head addressed the head of his penis. then think. Russell Brain. Then. Brain. 4. George Riddoch and Dr. no. Left Palmar Reflex. no. December 1961. In one of Brain’s final articles in Brain. 8 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. pp. vol. 84.” Russell Brain. and one could argue. “Editorial. pp. 1923.com and elsewhere. 1893. vol. 127. First.and Brain-filled Year of Lasts and Firsts References and Notes The full citation for Brain on Head in Brain is: “Henry Head: The Man and His Ideas.Head on Brain in Brain (continued) 1923—A Brain. Brain. 46. 561–6. especially for Brain. Though brief.” Henry Head. nos.” Henry Head. Brain itself eventually produced a small essay about Head and Brain and other editors of Brain. no. 1923. Brain. The year 1923 was a historic year for Head and for Brain. Then watch them all! WHAT: Three-minute videos about research that makes people laugh. 246. 16. no. 1689–90.” Alastair Compston. at www. Thus there was a brief but documented period in which both Head. and Brain.” Dr. vol. 1-2. 2004. The title of Head’s first article in Brain alluded only indirectly to the head and brain: “On Disturbances of Sensation with Especial Reference to the Pain of Visceral Disease. were officially part of Brain. Cracked-pot Percussion Note over Right Frontal Bone. WHERE: On the web. What’s New on Improbable TV Check out the latest episode on Improbable Research TV.improbable. headed to eventually become head. vol.com . 355–528.improbable. Brain’s first article in Brain appeared. Brain.
Damasio. The brain-damaged gamblers pretty consistently ended up with more money than their healthier-brained competitors. they hit their brakes in panic.” In 2008 he and three colleagues were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for demonstrating that expensive fake medicine is more effective than cheap fake medicine. and the right insular or somatosensory cortex. pp. published in the journal Psychological Science. 435–9. The researchers speculate that when “normal” gamblers encounter a run of unhappy coin toss results. 16. The study notes that this brain damage side-effect might occasionally even save someone’s life. but the patient crossed the icy patch unperturbed. The study.improbable. www.” Baba Shiv. The five co-authors. and the same gambling instructions. they plunge on. ask: “Can dysfunction in neural systems subserving emotion lead. Antoine Bechara.Brain Damage May Be an Advantage for Gamblers by Alice Shirrell Kaswell. and then enjoy a relatively handsome payoff. At least sometimes. they get discouraged and become cautious—perhaps too cautions. under certain circumstances. the other being a sign of the one). Improbable Research Staff Brain damage has its disadvantages. 6. Not so the people with brain lesion–induced emotional dysfunction. but an American study suggests that it can sometimes give gamblers a winning edge.” Lead author Baba Shiv has an eye for nonstandard ways of exploring the weird morass that is human behavior. undaunted. no. They cite the case of a man with ventromedial prefrontal damage who was driving under hazardous road conditions: “When other drivers reached an icy patch. and Antonio R. Hanna Damasio. who had no such brain lesions. 17. juicy question into lofty academese. causing their vehicles to skid out of control. and his lack of fear allowed him to perform optimally. help a person triumph over others or over adversity. led by Baba Shiv. George Loewenstein. Medically. Each brain-damaged person got a wad of play money and instructions to gamble on 20 rounds of coin tossing (headsyou-win/tails-you-lose. gently pulling away from a tailspin and driving ahead safely.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. got the same amount of money. renders its tantalizing. the orbitofrontal cortex. a marketing professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. to more advantageous decisions?” The team experimented with people who had abnormalities in the amygdala. no. in some circumstances. Encountering a run of bad luck. Reference “Investment Behavior and the Negative Side of Emotion. The researchers take a flier at explaining how and why certain brain lesions might. The patient remembered the fact that not hitting the brakes was the appropriate behavior. Other people. such abnormalities can be a sign that something’s amiss in how the person handles emotions (and/or vice-versa. with some added twists). June 2005. vol. Psychological Science. 2 | 9 . He sometimes teaches a course called “The Frinky Science of the Mind.
Müller paraphrases a 1918 essay by someone named Willener that “concludes that the phenomenon generally known as borborygmi must be regarded as cryptogrammatically encoded body signals that could be interpreted with the help of [special] apparatus. Improbable Research staff Some psychoanalysts can find meaning in the most ordinaryseeming bits of your life. 17. no.” in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomics. anyway) is his “Borborygmi as Markers of Psychic Work During the Analytic Session: A Contribution to Freud’s Experience of Satisfaction and to Bion’s Idea About the Digestive Model for the Thinking Apparatus. 10 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. I am told. Some discern it even in your intestinal rumblings.’ This lovely piece of deadpan. Müller himself had access to later.” Christian Muller. pp. There’s a technical name for those digestive sounds: borborygmi.” This professionally dense monograph appeared in a 1990 issue of the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. vol. was swallowed whole by some readers. published several apparently quite serious papers about the psychoanalytical significance of borborygmi. and in addition to use digital transformation for a quantitative analysis of the curves via computer. Psychotherapy and Psychosomics. and later president of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. Guy Da Silva. nos. “We have been trying at our clinic since 1980. Freud is Sigmund Freud.” he writes. “to combine electromesenterography with Spindel’s alamograph. intentional nonsense.improbable. a Montreal psychoanalyst. 1–4. published a report called “New Observations on Body Organ Language. In 1984. leave me alone. Dr. “New Observations on Body Organ Language.The Psychoanalyst Says Your Gut Says… by Marc Abrahams. better equipment. Austria.” Happily. 42. Prof.” Müller laments that Willener’s “attempts to follow up on his theory were thwarted by the defects of recording techniques at that time. the psychoanalysis pioneer who lived in Vienna. director of the London Clinic of Psycho-Analysis in the 1950s. 1984.com . 124–6.” Müller reveals his greatest interpretive triumph: The presence of a negative transference situation was not difficult to deduce from the following sequence: ‘Ro… Pi… le… me… 1o…’. and perhaps also some journal editors. The following translation is certainly an appropriate rendering: ‘Rotten pig. Switzerland. A few years later. The most accessible (in my view. Several published studies tell how to interpret people’s gut feelings—how to translate those borborygmi into common everyday words. 2 www. Bion is Wilfred Ruprecht Bion. Christian Müller of Hôpital de Cery in Prilly.
Washington St. Boston U. NY. of Kansas Richard Wiseman. Finegold. Guy Da Silva digested a little Freud together with a little Bion. SciWrite.) Psychoanalysis and the Zest for Living: Reflections and Psychoanalytic Writings in Memory of W. Neimi****. “The Emergence of Thinking: Bion as the Link Between Freud and the Neurosciences. Computer Science Dennis Frailey. Symposium of the Société Psychanalytique de Montréal. Little Rock. Lippman. UK Chris McManus*******. Erasmus MC University. G. MN Paleontology Sally Shelton. Rose. Nutrition Brian Wansink*******. Jackson. MIT Medical Ethics Erwin J. Within the primitive maternal transference. Romania Science Policy Al Teich. Close. Rochester. Western Wash. of Connecticut Marine Biology Magnus Wahlberg*******. Namibia Orthopedic Surgery Glenn R. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Earle Spamer. Stevens. New York. Frank Wilczek*. and Porn-O-Matic 2000. Omak. Litsky. Bishop’s U. New England Biolabs Molecular Pharmacology Lloyd Fricker... U of Hertfordshire Pulmonary Medicine Traian Mihaescu. U. 1990. NY Psychiatry and Neurology Robert Hoffman. Dalhousie U. Biomaterials Alan S. University Coll. 71. Pharmacology Stanton G.” The name Guy Da Silva will be familiar to some readers as the star of hundreds of psychologically gut-wrenching films.M. thereby providing a ‘moment of truth’. TX Robert T. Bowman Gray School of Med. Johns Hopkins U. National Insts of Health Molecular Biology Walter Gilbert*. Alfred E. Tufts U. Harvard Med. Stromsdorfer.” International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. Northwestern U. U. Economics Ernst W. Duke U Louis G. Grignon (Ed. AR Library & Info Sciences Regina Reynolds. U.. Biophysics Leonard X. Orgenics. Int’l Forensic Res. The Lube Guy. Ohio State U. Binghamton. MN History of Science & Medicine Tim Healey. U. Bemidji. Lisse. 641–59. Engineering Dean Kamen. Israel Infectious Diseases James Michel*****. Library of Congress George Valas.“Borborygmi as Markers of Psychic Work During the Analytic Session: A Contribution to Freud’s Experience of Satisfaction and to Bion’s Idea About the Digestive Model for the Thinking Apparatus. Spring 1992. Ornithology Kees Moeliker*******. NASA/Ames Astronomy Robert Kirshner. MIT Political Science Richard G. Tufts U. Budapest. Harvard U. School Chemistry Dudley Herschbach*. Karl Kruszelnicki*******. Genetics Michael Hengartner. 1998. Loyola U. ESF Publishers. American Assn for the Advancement of Science Stochastic Processes (selected at random from amongst our subscribers) Jens Hvelplund. May. Harvard U. Lawrence Dill*******. of Southern Denmark Materials Science Robert M. Med. Harvard U. Harvard U. U. U. JoAnn Manson.C. Drexel U. Philadelphia. Neil Martin. Rebecca German. Waconia. Virginia David Slavsky.. The Netherlands Eberhard W. Denmark Swordswallowing Dan Meyer *******. Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam Obstetrics & Gynecology Pek van Andel*******. Alexandria. 2 | 11 . Sabin. Harvard U. New York. U. Rotterdam Methodology Rod Levine. UK Jerome Friedman*.. Salkind. Chicago Biology Dany Adams. Mann Foundation Bureaucracy Miriam Bloom.” Guy Da Silva. Quebec Physics Len Fisher*******. But Guy Da Silva the actor and Guy Da Silva the psychoanalyst are not the same person. Pediatrics Ronald M. Copenhagen. Ltd. Attack of the Killer Dildos. MIT Margo Seltzer. U. U. Cutting Edge Innertainment Women’s Health Andrea Dunaif. Barnsley. West Chester U. Simon Fraser U. in M. Daly City. England Immunology Falk Fish. Holden. Williams Coll. “Le Modèle Alimentaire dans la Théorie de la Pensée de Bion: Suivi d’une Application de ce Modèle dans l’Analyse d’un Patient. U. CA Psychology Dan Ariely*******. p. DEKA Research Food Research Massimo Marcone. Harvard U. Museum of Geology. of Zürich Geology John C. Normal. Middlesex U. Yavne. NY Law William J. Intelligence Marilyn Vos Savant**. Einstein Coll. no. among them Beyond Reality 3. Stanford U. Biotechnology A. American Philosophical Society. www. MIT Sheldon Glashow*.. of Medicine Neuroengineering Jerome Lettvin.” Guy Da Silva.improbable. Stephen Dahms. Köln Functional Biology & Morphology Frank Fish. Eric Schulman. He writes: “Borborygmi may signal the process and acquisition of new thoughts (symbolization) and the free associations derived from borborygmi often provide the key to the understanding of the session by linking the verbal flow of ideas to the underlying sensory and affective experience. Richard Wassersug*******. Mack. MS Cardiology Thomas Michel*****. WA John Splettstoesser. PA Parasitology Wendy Cooper. Texas Instruments. Johnson. MIT Neurology Thomas D. Sydney Harry Lipkin. Scott. Maloney. William Lipscomb*. North Carolina Archaeology Angela E. vol. Washington Astrochemistry Scott Sandford. Bristol U. no matter how similarly stimulating their work may be. Swakopmund State Hospital. NY Ronald A. Kompanje. Jay M. Plano. Iasi. Morris***. borborygmi are often accompaniments to the fantasy or the hallucination of being fed by the analyst. Auth. Kimmel. London Neil J. Brigham & Women’s Hosp. Richard Roberts*.O. OK Philosophy George Englebretson. Australian Pest & Vet. Douglas Osheroff*. Medical Faculty Groningen. Cornell U. Weizmann Inst. 17. of Guelph Forensic Biology & Criminalistics Mark Benecke. Hungary Norman D. A Guide to the Stars * Nobel Laureate ** world’s highest IQ *** convicted felon **** misspelled ***** sibling rivalry ****** six stars ******* Ig Nobel Winner Annals of Improbable Research Editorial Board Anthropology Jonathan Marks.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. Pasachoff.
1988.. no. severed from its body).” was granted to Chet Fleming of St. The cabinet provides physical support for the head. The document cites. Missouri on May 19. shows the basic component blocks of the entire operation. Patent 4. yet under-publicized devices by Marina Tsipis. If I hadn’t been a patent attorney specialising in biochemistry and medical technology and if I hadn’t spent hundreds of hours researching each component and consulting surgeons and biochemists I couldn’t have obtained the patent.425. Every component must be publicly available and the inventor must describe explicitly how to assemble and use them. 655–74. pp. 1988. by means of a collar around the neck. Armand M. p. Louis. or similar mechanical means. 6655. Polinym Press.. Karow and David E. vol. The document explains: This invention involves a device. 12 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. no.e. He writes: It is far more difficult to obtain a prophetic patent in America than Professor Hamblin suggests. Pegg. among other things. This device can be used to supply a discorped head with oxygenated blood and nutrients. BMJ. Fleming later published a letter in the British Medical Journal (“If we can keep a severed head alive…”.’ which provides physical and biochemical support for an animal’s head which has been “discorporated” (i. October 22.improbable. since mechanical components are more predictable than chemical reactions or experimental drugs. responding to a review of the book.666. Improbable Research staff U. 1981. New York. Inventor Fleming also wrote a book about invention: If We Can Keep a Severed Head Alive… Discorporation and U. by means of tubes connected to arteries which pass through the neck…. Marcel Dekker. patent application #4.425. 1048).666. for a “Device For Perfusing an Animal Head.S. 17. The image here. Your reviewer asks: Would anyone want the operation? I have been contacted by half a dozen people who want to know how soon the operation will be available and how much it will cost. referred to herein as a ‘cabinet. White. reproduced from the patent. 297. Chet Fleming. the key block being the disembodied head. 2nd ed. the report: “Brain. Chet Fleming.com . 2 www. 1987. Such patents usually must be limited to mechanical systems.S.” Robert I.Plucked From Obscurity: An Immortality Pump for the Head Inventive. pins attached to one or more vertebrae. in Organ Preservation for Transplantation. ISBN 0-942287-02-9.
A technical diagram from the patent. no. anyway? • Can you think of even one different explanation that works as well or better? • Did the test really. So: • Is this scientist right—and what does “right” mean. of his book. Should you take their word for it? • Other people might say this is absolutely correct and important. Should you take their word for it? Kids are naturally good scientists. Help them stay that way. 2 | 13 . Fleming’s book. unquestionably. especially in students.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. has discovered something about how the universe behaves. truly. of all people. Choose your favorite hAIR-raising article and give copies to your students. or whatever). 17. The scientist thinks that he (or she. or could he be suffering from wishful thinking? • Some people might say this is foolish. in the British Medical Journal.improbable. AIR Teachers’ Guide Three out of five teachers agree: curiosity is a dangerous thing. AIR and mini-AIR can be powerful tools.Fleming’s letter responding to a review. If you are one of the other two teachers. www. The approach is simple. completely test what the author thought he was testing? • Is the scientist ruthlessly honest with himself about how well his idea explains everything. really.
2 www. 14 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. by Nelson Sizer and Henry Shipman Drayton. no. Improbable Research Staff Each of these heads represents one of the temperaments of man (and/or of woman). New York.com . 17. 1888. and How to Study Them: A Manual of Phrenology and Physiognomy.improbable. as shown and explained in the book Heads and Faces.Temperamental Heads by Alice Shirrell Kaswell. Fowler and Wells (publishers).
no.improbable.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. 17.www. 2 | 15 .
at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. pp. the leads of the strain gauge terminate in a miniature socket. The authors.” 16 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. This wire is led out of the right corner of the mouth and draped over the ear to keep it out of the way… [Only] minor perturbations of the baseline occur with saying the alphabet and talking. report: To permit recording during a meal at this stage of our work. Shrager. no. These are probably due to the effects of breathing through the mouth.E. mounted on the buccal surface of the right molar so that a fine wire lead to a kymograph can be plugged in. Improbable Research staff Chews and Swallows and the Microstructure of Eating. 17. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 973–82. 2 www. Detail of the study: A graph showing output from the sensor corresponding to “alternating chews and swallows.com . November 1985. following a large bite of hotdog on a roll.May We Recommend: Chewing and the Alphabet Items that merit a trip to the library compiled by Stephen Drew.improbable. 42. vol.” Eliot Stellar and E.
elsewhere $9 (includes shipping) COMPLETE SETS: phone or email us for details. (NOTE: Each complete set includes original copies of MOST of the issues. fastened to the back molars. no.com> Teachers: You have our permission – and encouragement – to photocopy AIR articles and hand them out in your classroom. It has a palate plate (center) containing a strain gauge sensitive to tongue pressure during swallowing and flexing during chewing. 2 | 17 .com AIR 13:4 – What’s in Your Head Issue AIR 13:5 – Meaning of the Finger Issue AIR 13:6 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 14:1 – Reclassification/ Renaming Issue AIR 14:2 – Writing Research Issue AIR 14:3 – Anti-Terrorism Issue AIR 14:4 – Colorful Research Issue AIR 14:5 – Dots and Spots Issue AIR 14:6 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 15:1 – Mummies. & Bagels Issue AIR 15:2 – Navel Lint Issue AIR 15:3 – Accounting Issue AIR 15:4 – Instructions & Executions Issue AIR 15:5 – Helmets & Lost Planets Issue AIR 15:6 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 16:1 – Beards & Bagels & Paper Airplanes Issue AIR 16:2 – Geography & Teabagging Issue AIR 16:3 – Orgy & Handwashing Issue AIR 16:4 – Mathematics Issue AIR 16:5 – Skunk & Canyon Issue AIR 16:6 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 17:1 – Missing Pieces Issue AIR 6:4 – Postage & Handling Issue SOLD OUT AIR 6:5 – Bomby the Bombardier Beetle Issue SOLD OUT AIR 6:6 – Eccentrics Issue SOLD OUT AIR 7:1 – Ig Nobel/ Sweetie-Poo Issue SOLD OUT AIR 7:2 – YAVIS Psychology Issue AIR 7:3 – Physics Issue AIR 7:4 – Behavior Issue AIR 7:5 – Animal & Vegetable Issue AIR 7:6 – Holy Grail Issue AIR 8:1 – Ig Nobel / Wedding Issue AIR 8:2 – Pizza. described as being “a dental arch. Sex & TV (and Cheese) Issue AIR 8:3 – Nano-Friendship Issue AIR 8:4 – Wiener Sausage Issue AIR 8:5 – Smelly Issue AIR 8:6 – Art & Science Issue AIR 9:1 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 9:2 – Dismal Science Issue AIR 9:3 – Everything Issue AIR 9:4 – Chicken & Fish Issue AIR 9:5 – Murphy’s Law Issue AIR 9:6 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 10:1 – Beauty Issue AIR 10:2 – Way To Go Issue AIR 10:3 – Loss of Innocence Issue AIR 10:4 – Astronomy Issue AIR 10:5 – Cats Issue AIR 10:6 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 11:1 – Yawning Issue AIR 11:2 – Puzzling Solutions Issue AIR 11:3 – Security Issue AIR 11:4 – Snails & Cookies Issue SOLD OUT AIR 11:5 – Harry Potter & the Exploding Toads Issue AIR 11:6 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 12:1 – Fame & Fortune Issue AIR 12:2 – Painting Issue AIR 12:3 – Fish & Chips Issue AIR 12:4 – The Issue SOLD OUT AIR 12:5 – Anatomy Issue SOLD OUT AIR 12:6 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 13:1 – Coke & Pepsi & Coli Issue AIR 13:2 – Theoretical Figures Issue AIR 13:3 – Rivalry Issue Send payment to: Annals of Improbable Research PO Box 380853. and photocopies of every other issue. ONLY as part of a complete set. www.improbable.) ISSUES MARKED “SOLD OUT”: are available. SOLD OUT AIR 2:5 – Generic Issue SOLD OUT AIR 2:6 – Martian Meteorite Issue AIR 3:1 – Ig Nobel Prize Issue SOLD OUT AIR 3:2 – Annual Swimsuit Issue AIR 3:3 – Managed Health Care Issue AIR 3:4 – Peculiar Patents Issue AIR 3:5 – How-To Issue AIR 3:6 – Parapsychology Issue AIR 4:1 – Ig Nobel Prize Issue SOLD OUT AIR 4:2 – Annual Swimsuit Issue SOLD OUT AIR 4:3 – Cough & Apology Issue SOLD OUT AIR 4:4 – Animal Behavior Issue SOLD OUT AIR 4:5 – Social Science Issue AIR 4:6 – Math & Money Issue AIR 5:1 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 5:2 – Annual Swimsuit Issue. 17. Cambridge. SOLD OUT AIR 5:3 – Movie Issue AIR 5:4 – Coffee & Tea Issue AIR 5:5 – Bearded Men Issue AIR 5:6 – Education Issue SOLD OUT AIR 6:1 – Ig Nobel Issue AIR 6:2 – Crabs & UFOs Issue AIR 6:3 – Crime & Punishment Issue SOLD OUT Downloadable PDFs of many back issues (and the tables-of-contents of *every* issue) are available on our web site www. if at all. Zombies.Detail from the study: a photograph of the oral sensor. AIR 1:1 – Premier Issue SOLD OUT AIR 1:2 – Teachers’ Issue SOLD OUT AIR 1:3 – Food Issue SOLD OUT AIR 1:4 – Paleontology Issue SOLD OUT AIR 1:5 – Pediatrics Issue SOLD OUT AIR 1:6 – Animal Behavior Issue SOLD OUT AIR 2:1 – Ig Nobel Prize Issue SOLD OUT AIR 2:2 – Annual Swimsuit Issue SOLD OUT AIR 2:3 – Symmetra Cover Issue AIR 2:4 – Typo Issue.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol.improbable. elsewhere $11 (includes shipping) Multiple Copies – USA $7. MA 02238 USA (+1) 617-491-4437 FAX: (+1) 617-661-0927 <air@improbable.” BACK ISSUES One Copy – USA $9.
Psychological Science. One group tasted the samples blind (the secret ingredient was never disclosed). 2. 81.” Leonard Lee. and Dan Ariely. and Revelation on Preferences for Beer. but we have never before seen one caused by a golf tee. 2 www.” Mark Fellowes and Kerry Hutcheson. The number of “teeings off” every year in Ireland alone probably runs into several millions or even hundreds of millions. no. 17. and Patricia Logan. 2006. You’ll Like It: The Influence of Expectation. Consumption. p. In this unit we have seen many golf injuries though these are usually from golf clubs or balls. pp. rather than by acting as an independent negative input or by modifying retrospective interpretation of the experience. 75–8. Here. British Journal of Ophthalmology. A third group learned of the secret ingredient immediately after tasting. A second group was informed of the contents before tasting. 17.Icky Cutesy Research Review Research reports that are icky and/or cutesy compiled by Alice Shirrell Kaswell.) Ariely and several other colleagues were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 2008 for demonstrating that expensive fake medicine is more effective than cheap fake medicine. Improbable Research staff Cutesy: Flies in the Face of Adversity “Flies in the Face of Adversity. but prior to indicating their preference…. vol. Shane Frederick.improbable.com . Disclosure of the secret ingredient significantly reduced preference only when the disclosure preceded tasting. no. the authors explain that: Patrons of a pub evaluated regular beer and “MIT brew” (the same regular beer with some balsamic vinegar) in one of three conditions. The Biologist. Dublin. vol.” Alan Mulvihill. no. suggesting that disclosure affected preferences by influencing the experience itself. Ireland. (Thanks to Martin Gardiner for bringing this to our attention. 12. April 2001. Icky: Tee in the Eye “Penetrating Eye Injury Caused by a Golf Tee. vol. 48. 1997. Cutesy and Icky: Balsamic Beer “Try It. at Mater Misericordiae Hospital. The authors. 91. write: We report a case of penetrating eye injury caused by a golf tee…. Jane O’Sullivan. 18 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. The authors explain that their report: Discusses how fruit flies can be able to defend themselves against the attack of predators.
17. no.Thursday. 2011 Live Webcast at www. Photo: Kees Moeliker.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. 2011 21st First Annual Ig® Nobel Prize Ceremony! Save the Date: Keynote Address. 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. September 29.improbable.com www. Sanders Theatre Harvard University Tickets go on sale August 1.improbable. 2 | 19 .
People increasingly have to inhibit their (motor) impulse to void. and Katholik University of Leuven. Two studies. at University of Twente. the Netherlands. report: The present research tested the prediction that mixed-sex interactions may temporarily impair cognitive functioning. at Radboud University in Nijmegen.” Mirjam A. (Thanks to Joan Baugh and Vicki Hollett for bringing this to our attention. we show that higher levels of bladder control result in an increasing ability to resist more immediate temptations in monetary decision making. Tuk. SSRN paper # SSRN-id1720956. University of Groningen. We show that urination urgency correlates with improved performance on color naming but not word meaning trials of a Stroop task (Study 1). In Study 2 and 3.” Johan C. 17. no. 4.) The authors. 2009. making these simultaneously occurring behaviors susceptible for inhibitory spillover effects…. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 1. no. The inhibition of this motor response is present while people engage in other behaviors. and some practical implications. this effect occurred more strongly to the extent that the opposite-sex other was perceived as more attractive (Study 1). Debra Trampe and Luk Warlop. The authors. pp. Spring 2002. A filling bladder increasingly triggers inhibitory responses (Griffiths & Tadic. In line with our theoretical reasoning. Karremans. Tila M. <http://ssrn. Implications for the general role of interpersonal processes in cognitive functioning.” Dr. 79–90. vol. in which participants interacted either with a same-sex or opposite-sex other. are discussed. Sara Gwenllian Jones. and Meyke Reitsma. 45. demonstrated that men’s (but not women’s) cognitive performance declined following a mixed-sex encounter. Screen. Pronk. 2 www. 2008). December 7. 43 no. 20 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. Thijs Verwijmeren.Soft Is Hard Further evidence why the “soft” sciences are the hardest to do well compiled by Alice Shirrell Kaswell and Bissell Mango. explain: An important and daily experienced physiological sensation that relies on inhibitory responses is controlling one’s bladder in the face of accumulating urine. vol.com . Improbable Research staff Interacting with Women Can Impair Men’s Cognitive Functioning “Interacting with Women Can Impair Men’s Cognitive Functioning.improbable. and to the extent that participants reported higher levels of impression management motivation (Study 2). Some Effects of a Full Bladder on Decision-Making “Inhibitory Spillover: Increased Urination Urgency Facilitates Impulse Control in Unrelated Domains. The Sex Lives of Cult Television Characters “The Sex Lives of Cult Television Characters.com/ abstract=1720956>. 2010.
We tested if pedestrians followed others in this scenario…. 2 | 21 . subjects preferred companies with phone numbers implying a company-related word (e. 1236-42. making the beneficial value of social information use questionable in this context. at the University of Würzburg.. pp.” Jolyon J. This occurred even though the letters were not labeled on the keypad. pedestrians can use social information. Behavioral Ecology. of some possible meanings of some of those numbers. (Thanks to Adrian Smith for bringing this to our attention. SLIME). Stefan Krause. on people dialing cell phones. we observed that some individuals started to cross and then returned to the roadside. and participants were not aware of the digitletter correspondences. 75463. reports: This study tested whether sequences of simulations of virtual action effects can be integrated into a meaning of their own. we found that males tended to follow others more than females.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. 2011. Psychological Science.g.g. [We] propose that the relatively small benefit of a reduced waiting time came at the cost of an increased risk of injury. We found that on average a person was 1. www. Cell phones were used to test this hypothesis because pressing a key on a phone is habitually associated with both digits (dialing numbers) and letters (typing text messages). no.5 times more likely to cross if their neighbor had started to cross. and follow others across the road. January 26.. These individuals were more frequently found in groups and tended to start to cross relatively later than other pedestrians…. In Experiment 1. 6.g.) The authors. and Jens Krause. LOVE). 17. such as the crossing behavior of others. CORPSE for a mortician) compared with companies with phone numbers implying a company-unrelated word. explain: To judge a safe gap in traffic.Meaningful Phone Numbers “I 5683 You: Dialing Phone Numbers on Cell Phones Activates Key-Concordant Concepts.” Sascha Topolinski. In Experiment 2.. epub before print. The author. Second. 37326. vol. In Experiment 3. at the University of Leeds. 21. Germany.5–2. 2010. 5683. subjects preferred dialing numbers implying positive words (e. Details from Topolinski’s study about the effects. Road-Crossing Behavior in Humans “Collective Behavior in Road Crossing Pedestrians: The Role of Social Information. DREAM) over dialing numbers implying negative words (e.g.. no. dialing digit sequences induced the meaning of words that share the same key sequence (e.improbable. Faria. LOVE for a dating agency. Third.
com .Puzzling Solutions Solution to Last Month’s Puzzler by Emil Filterbag. Thus the answer is found by solving questions 6-19. resulting in the logical conclusion: Three (3) liters of pomade. 22 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol.improbable. 17. Improbable Research staff Questions 1-5 cancel each other out. no. 2 www.
for demonstrating that beer froth obeys the mathematical law of exponential decay. January 2002. You can rent the whole nation For your celebration.com/ig/winners. I see A continuous drop In the foam on the top As e to the negative t. For details of all the Ig Nobel Prize–winning achievements. REFERENCE: “Intelligence: MazeSolving by an Amoeboid Organism. Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University. Atsushi Tero of Presto JST. and other gatherings. bar mitzvah. bar mitzvahs.” Arnd Leike. Beer Ig Nobel Achievements distilled into limerick form by Martin Eiger. vol. The crossword has left me at sea. Nature. Hiroyasu Yamada. 2003 Ig Nobel Economics Prize 2002 Ig Nobel Physics Prize 2008 Ig Nobel Cognitive Science Prize The prize was awarded to Karl Schwarzler and the nation of Liechtenstein. and also see http://improbable.’s study “Intelligence: Maze-Solving by an Amoeboid Organism. 470. As I stare at it. p. 17.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. and Ágota Tóth. 23. REFERENCE: “Demonstration of the Exponential Decay Law Using Beer Froth. Hiroyasu Yamada of Nagoya. Nation. for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles. A wedding. or bris. one shouldn’t miss A chance of a lifetime like this. European Journal of Physics. Arnd Leike of the University of Munich. There’s a beer on the table near me.” www. A slime mold will solve them for me. September 2000. Ryo Kobayashi of Hiroshima University. weddings. Improbable Research Limerick Laureate The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh. In Liechtenstein. Though it won’t be as fun. Detail from a brochure describing the rental availability of the nation of Liechtenstein. vol. 407. then make them think. Detail from Nakagaki et al. I will get them done. no. Japan. 2 | 23 . Akio Ishiguro of Tohoku University. clearly. Japan.improbable. pp.” Toshiyuki Nakagaki. and Agota Tsth of the University of Szeged. see each year’s special Ig Nobel issue of the magazine.Ig® Nobel Limericks: Slime. The sudoku’s as hard as can be. Hungary. 21–6. for making it possible to rent the entire country for corporate conventions.
2011. U. which type. The authors are at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 28. What Makes Buttocks Beautiful? “What Makes Buttocks Beautiful? A Review and Classification of the Determinants of Gluteal Beauty and the Surgical Techniques to Achieve Them. manifestation of hatred of the bourgeoisie in the ideas and practices of the anarchists. Nellis. > 24 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. 52.Boys Will Be Boys Research by and for adolescent males of all ages and sexes compiled by Katherine Lee. in which plane they should be placed. vol. 2.improbable. and Jorge Quezada.) No reports can be found in medical literature describing the anatomic details that make the buttocks beautiful. Improbable Research staff Potty-Talk in Parisian Plays “Potty-Talk in Parisian Plays.” Elizabeth K. epub ahead of print. nor the defects in this region that can help the surgeon decide whether gluteal prostheses are necessary or not. 17. and volume of prostheses should be used. Livermore. pp 59–64. Interpretation as comments upon the bourgeoisie and their position with the lower class. and so forth.” Ramon Cuenca-Guerra. and. Chemical Processes in the Deep Interior of Uranus “Chemical Processes in the Deep Interior of Uranus. vol. California. Nature Communications.” Ricky Chau.320 photographs of nude women and measured 132 female patients ages 16 to 62 years. design. Art Journal.A. Sebastien Hamel. They also found the balanced anatomic dimension of the maximal gluteal projection. no. no. William J.com . They found that four characteristics determine attractive buttocks. if so. 340–7. (Thanks to Amy McLennan for bringing this to our attention. 2004. The author explains: Probes on the use of scatological references in theatrical productions at the end of the 19th century with focus on the plays La Berline de l’emigre by Henry Somm and Ubu roi by Alfred Jarry. no. 2. use of scatological dialogue. fall 1993. Detail from the study on what makes buttocks beautiful. Menon. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.S. vol. 2 www. February 22. pp. Methods: The authors studied 1. 3.
Management: With 19F cystoscopic sheath and 30 degree scope.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. His urethra was normal.” G.) The authors. (Thanks to Bill Tallen for bringing this to our attention. 2. Detail from the study on sexual orientation and penile size. (Thanks to Benja Fallenstein for bringing this to our attention. difficulty in voiding with dribbling of urine and subsequently developed acute urinary retention of 24 hours duration. 2 | 25 . Fish Up the Urethra “Unusual Foreign Body In Urinary Bladder: A Case Report. On all five measures. There was about 2 Cm long dead fish found inside the bladder. report: The relation between sexual orientation and penile dimensions in a large sample of men was studied. Internet Journal of Urology. 2007.5 Cm echogenic object found inside the bladder without any after shadow. and California State University. 17. pp. Then we introduced rigid ureteroscope and with the help of stone grasper the fish was removed in toto…. Vezhaventhan and R. On further questioning he gave an interesting history. Bogaert and Scott Hershberger. 3. 213–21. at Brock University. no.) The authors. bladder was full. Plain X ray KUB was normal. Explanations for these differences are discussed.Sexual Orientation and Penile Size “The Relation Between Sexual Orientation and Penile Size. crossing the external sphincter and entering the bladder. 28. Annals of Sexual Behavior. vol. We tried to remove with biopsy forceps but unable to hold because of the smooth surface. Subjects were 5122 men interviewed by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex. and Reproduction from 1938 to 1963.. They were dichotomously classified as either homosexual (n = 935) or heterosexual (n = 4187). and a 1. cysto-urethroscopy was done. India. Gender. including the possibility that these findings provide additional evidence that variations in prenatal hormonal levels (or other biological mechanisms affecting reproductive structures) affect sexual orientation development. Abdominal Ultrasonogram showed normal kidneys. in Chennai. We assume that our case may be the first evidence of fish traveling upstream in the urethra. report: Case Presentation: A 14-year-old boy came to us with complaints of pain.” Anthony F. no. www.improbable. Penile dimensions were assessed using five measures of penile length and circumference from Kinsey’s original protocol.A. U. Jeyaraman. the fish slipped from his hand and entered his urethra and then he developed all these symptoms. While he was cleaning the fish tank in his house. 1999. vol. no. he was holding a fish in his hand and went to the toilet for passing urine. homosexual men reported larger penises than did heterosexual men. 4. While he was passing urine.S. Canada.
Mahadevan and other colleagues were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 2007 for studying how sheets become wrinkled. 87. no. The result is more a consequence of geometry than material properties.Ig and Beyond ® ® Some further research adventures of Ig Nobel Prize winners compiled by Nan Swift. and is thus equally applicable to carbon nanotubes as it is to oil pipelines. the cubozoans have camera style eyes. 2003. A. February 2007.com . the eye doesn’t need a brain. Oppenheimer. 77. vol.” Connor Diemand-Yauman. 5 ff. report: Previous research has shown that disfluency—the subjective experience of difficulty associated with cognitive operations—leads to deeper processing. Study 1 found that information in hard-to-read fonts was better remembered than easier to read information in a controlled laboratory setting. In the Caribbean. vol.’s study “Persistence of a Pinch in a Pipe. although distinct differences exist…. Study 2 extended this finding to high school classrooms. are visually precocious and have surprisingly sophisticated ocular anatomy. no. Two studies explore the extent to which this deeper processing engendered by disfluency interventions can lead to improved memory performance. 525. 17. So. which we confirm experimentally. no. Fortune Favors the Bold (and the Italicized) “Fortune Favors the Bold (and the Italicized): Effects of Disfluency on Educational Outcomes. 2 > www. vol. Detail from Mahadevan et al. 26 | Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol. and M. Vaziri. While other jellyfish have primitive eyes. and must rely upon its vision to keep it in the shafts of light that filter between the mangrove roots where the copepods swarm…. and Erikka B. The results suggest that superficial changes to learning materials could yield significant improvements in educational outcomes. Europhysics Letters. Ivan R. 118. this species preys upon copepods. Coates. Schwab shared an Ig Nobel Prize in 2006 for helping to explain why woodpeckers don’t get headaches. Cognition. Daniel M. British Journal of Ophthalmology. Here the authors report: The cubozoan jellyfish. a class in the phylum Cnidaria.improbable. the authors. maybe. Improbable Research staff Is the Brain Overrated? “Is the Brain Overrated?”. The pipe pinch paper says: Here we provide a particularly surprising consequence of this confluence of geometry and physics in tubular structures: the anomalously large persistence of a localized pinch in an elastic pipe whose effect decays very slowly as an oscillatory exponential with a persistence length that diverges as the thickness of the tube vanishes. January 2011. Schwab and M.” Here.” L. Some cubozoans actually may “chase” fish with tentacles…. a tiny shrimp-like zooplankton. Daniel Oppenheimer was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006 for his study “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly. p. variously at Princeton University and at Indiana University. pp. Das. 4. much like squid or even vertebrates. and perhaps the brain is an outpouching of the eye.M.” Persistence of a Pinch in a Pipe “Persistence of a Pinch in a Pipe. pp. 114–8. 1. Dr. Mahadevan. Vaughan.
XKCD by Randall Monroe: “Time Travel” xkcd.com www. no. 2 | 27 . 17.com Annals of Improbable Research | March–April 2011 | vol.improbable.
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