• We have updated the guidelines regarding posting political content: please see the stickied thread on Website Issues.

Improbable Research



For your delight, a selection of genuine articles and research of massive scientific importance.

> "Gamma Radurisation of Vienna Sausages," M.L Wessels, A. du
> Plessis, Food Ind. S. Afr., vol. 45, no. 6, 1992, pp. 14-15.
> "Viagra makes flowers stand up straight," Judy Siegel-Itzkovich,
> British Medical Journal, vol. 319, no. 7205, July 31, 1999, p.
> 274A.
> The author reports that:
> 1 mg of the drug (compared with 50 mg in one pill taken
> by impotent men) in a solution was enough to prevent two
> vases of cut flowers from wilting for as much as a week
> longer than might be expected.
> ScandalOUS Spud STORY
> "Hot Potatoes in the Gray Literature," Brian Pon & Alan Meier,
> Recent Research in the Building Energy Analysis Group [Lawrence
> Berkeley Laboratory], no. 3, October 1993. The report explains
> that:
> Utilities generate numerous reports, technical memos,
> and evaluations which are never catalogued or published.
> [We] assessed this uncatalogued, or "gray," literature....
> One of the more interesting examples was a reference to
> electrical ignitors in new gas ovens. [Using that data, we
> discovered that modern] gas ovens use more electricity
> than microwaves to bake a single potato!
> "Taxi rank malaria," D.N. Durrheim, British Medical Journal, vol.
> 311, no. 7018, December 2, 1995, p. 1507.
> "The density of cream cheese" [article in German], K. Rambke and
> H. Konrad, Nahrung, vol. 16, no. 5, 1972, pp. 461-6.
> "Effects of high-speed drill noise and gunfire on dentists'
> hearing," W.D. Ward and C.J. Holmberg, Journal of the American
> Dental Association, vol. 79, no. 6, December 1969, pp. 1383-7.
> "Cannibalism: ecology and evolution among diverse taxa", M.A.
> Elgar and B.J. Crespi (editors), Oxford University Press, 1992.
> On page 361 the paper gets right to the nub of the matter:
> "Cannibalism is a particularly antisocial form
> of behaviour".
> "Beer consumption as a function of music and the presence of
> others," D.R. Drews, D.B. Vaughn, and A. Anfiteatro, "Journal of
> the Pennsylvania Academy of Science," vol. 65, no. 3, 1992, pp.
> 134-6. The authors determined that:
> "Both the presence of music and of drinking partners
> increased the length of stay and music increased
> the amount consumed."
> "The stressful kiss: A biopsychosocial evaluation of the origins,
> evolution, and societal significance of vampirism," Donald R.
> Morse, "Stress Medicine," vol. 9, no. 3, 1993, pp. 181-9. The author
> explains his work thusly:
> "In addition to the mythological concepts, vampirism is
> considered scientifically. This includes the anatomical,
> physiological, and stress-related aspects of love-, vampire-, and
> lethal biting.... On the positive side, vampirism can provide
> temporary escape from the stressors of the 1990s; on the negative
> side is the sinister nature of engaging in ritualistic, cultic
> vampirism. The need is expressed for extensive psychological and
> physiological testing of modern day vampires to determine if there
> are psychological patterns that would predispose a person to
> becoming a 'vampire.'"
> "Saving eliminativism," R. Bertolet, "Philosophical Psychology,"
> vol. 7, 1994, pp. 87-100.
> "Swelled Head in Merino Rams. An Unfinished Description of an
> Enquiry Into This Condition," S. Dodd, "Journal of the Royal
> Society of New South Wales," vol. 61, 1927, pp. 135-148. [Found
> among his papers after his death.]
> "Imaginary Figures of Early Childhood: Santa Claus, Easter Bunny,
> and the Tooth Fairy," N.M. Prentice, M. Manosevitz, and L. Hubbs,
> "American Journal of Orthopsychiatry," October 1978, vol. 48, no.
> 4, pp. 618-28. The abstract reads in part:
> "The developmental progression of children's belief in three
> major figures of early childhood was examined... Belief in Santa
> Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy varied with the
> child's age and the level of parental encouragement of belief.
> However, belief in these figures was unrelated to other indices of
> the child's fantasy involvement."
> "Children's Belief in Santa Claus: a developmental study of
> fantasy and causality," N.M. Prentice, L.K. Schmechel, and M.
> Manosevitz, "Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry,"
> vol. 18, no. 4, Autumn 1979, pp. 658-67.
> "Encounter With Reality: Children's Reactions on Discovering the
> Santa Claus Myth," C.J. Anderson and N.M. Prentice, "Child
> Psychiatry and Human Development," vol. 25, no. 2, Winter 1994,
> pp. 67-84. The abstract reads in part:
> "Children generally discovered the truth on their own at age
> seven. Children reported predominantly positive reactions on
> learning the truth. Parents, however, described themselves as
> predominantly sad in reaction to their child's discovery."
> "Santa Claus: Good or Bad for Children?," B.C. Nelms, "Journal of
> Pediatric Health Care," November/December 1996, vol. 10, no. 6,
> pp. 243-4.
> [In case you need more info, consult the researchers themselves:
> Norman M. Prentice, professor at the Department of Psychology of
> the University of Texas at Austin; and Bobbie Crew Nelms, editor
> of the Journal of Pediatric Health Care.]
> "Forced single-nostril breathing and cognition," B. Sanders, C.
> Lattimore, K. Smith, and L. Dierker, "Perceptual and Motor
> Skills," vol. 79, 1994, pp. 1499-1506.
> "The immobilization of all spermatozoa in vitro by bitter lemon
> drink and the effect of alkaline pH," P.U. Nwoha, "Contraception,"
> vol. 46, 1992, pp. 37-542.
> "Fracture Testing of Cream Cracker Biscuits," T.R. Gromley,
> "Journal of Food Engineering," vol. 6, 1987, pp. 325-32.
> "Natural sniffing gives optimum odor perception for humans," D.G.
> Laing, "Perception," vol. 12, 1983, pp. 99-117.
> "Chemical Ornaments of Semen," Carlos Cordero, "Journal of
> Theoretical Biology," vol. 192, no. 4, June 21 1998, pp. 581-4.
> "Frequency of Pubic Hair Transfer During Sexual Intercourse," D.L.
> Exline, F.P. Smith, and S.G. Drexler, "Journal of Forensic
> Sciences," vol. 43, no. 3, 1998, pp. 505-8.
> "Fracture Force, Hardness and Brittleness in Crisp Bread, with a
> Generalized Regression Analysis approach to Instrument-Sensory
> Comparisons," Y. Andersson, B. Drake, et al., "Journal of Texture
> Studies," vol. 4, 1973, pp. 119-44.
> "Leg movements of stick insects walking with five legs on a
> treadwheel and with one leg on a motor-driven belt. II. Leg
> coordination when step-frequencies differ from leg to leg," E.
> Foth, U. Bassler, Biological Cybernetics, vol. 51, no. 5, 1985,
> pp. 319-24.
> "Fatal arrhythmia following deodorant inhalation: case report,"
> R.C. Kamm, Forensic Science, vol. 5, no. 1, February 1, 1975, pp.
> 91-3.
> "A new approach to analysis of human sweating," M. Shimazu, T.
> Matsumoto, et al., "Experientia," vol. 52, no. 2, 1996, pp. 131-5.
> "Characteristics of the white sausage from the Las Cuatro Villas
> area: I. Production and Chemical composition," L. Tudela, R.
> Millan, E Sanjuan, M. Castelo, J.C. Penedo, J.M. Mangas, S.
> Estupinan, and A. Cordona, "Alimentaria," vol. 34, no. 271, 1996,
> pp. 51-6.
> "Nitroglycerine to Facilitate Fetal Extraction During Cesearean
> Delivery," M. David, H. Halle, W. Lichtenegger, P. Sinha, and T.
> Zimmerman, "Obstetrics and Gynecology," vol. 91, no. 1, January
> 1998, pp. 119-24.
> "How to be a Fig," D.H. Janzen, "Annual Review of Ecology and
> Systematics 10," 1979, pp. 13-51.
> "Acoustic characteristics of less-masculine-sounding male speech,"
> Jack D. Avery and Julie M. Liss, "Journal of the Acoustical
> Society of America," vol. 99, no. 6, June 1996, pp. 3738-48.
> "What to do with the bean from a patient's ear," R. Cranshaw,
> "Archives of Internal Medicine," vol. 131, no. 2, Feb. 1973, pp.
> 278-9.
> "Categories of disgust: a factor analysis study, Karen Barker and
> Graham C.L. Davey, Cognitive Science Research Paper 471,
> University of Sussex, December 1997. (Thanks to Shimon Edelman for
> bringing this to our attention.) The abstract reads:
> "This paper describes two studies based on a factor analysis of
> disgusts. The results revealed that disgusts could be grouped into
> five categories representing foodstuffs of animal origin, human
> body and body products, invertebrate animals, gastro-enteric
> products and sexual practices. The factor structures for males and
> females and student and employed populations were comparable
> except for some minor differences, and females exhibited
> significantly higher disgust scores on all disgust categories
> except gastro-enteric products. Scores on all five categories were
> all highly inter-correlated and also significantly correlated with
> an independent measure of disgust sensitivity."
> "The Dielectric Properties of Apples in the Range 0.1 to 100 kHz,"
> F.X. Hart and W.H. Cole, "Journals of Materials Science," vol. 28,
> 1993, pp. 621-31.
> "Association between toenail selenium and risk of acute myocardial
> infarction in European men -- The EURAMIC study," A.F.M.
> Kardinaal, F.J. Kok, et al., "American Journal of Epidemiology,"
> vol. 145, no. 4, pp. 373-9, 1997.
> "The effect of dexfenfluramine on eating habits in a Dutch
> ambulatory android overweight population with an overconsumption
> of snacks." M.L. Drent, et al., "International Journal of Obesity
> and Related Metabolic Disorders, vol. 19, no. 5, 1995, pp. 299-
> 304.
> "Pre-copulatory ejaculation solves time constraints during
> copulations in marine iguanas," M. Wikelski and B. Eurle,
> "Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B (Biological
> Sciences)," vol. 263, no. 1369, 1996, pp. 439-44.
> "Induction of ear wiggling in the estrous female rat by
> gonadectomized rats treated with androgens and estrogens," J.T.M.
> Vreeburg and M.P. Ooms, "Hormones and Behavior," vol. 19, 1985,
> pp. 231-6.
> "Survival of ring-necked pheasants with backpacks, necklaces and
> leg bands," V. Marcstroem, R.E. Kenward, and M. Karlbom, "Journal
> of Wildlife Management, vol. 53, no. 3, 1989, pp. 808-10.
> "Risk Handbook," John C. Chicken, International Thomson Business
> Press, London, 1996.
> "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. Leunissen reports that, "This article is
> very interesting (for me as a native Limburger, and lover of the
> cheese) in that the authors use Limburger cheese and its volatile
> extracts as an analogon for human foot odour, as they had
> concluded in a previous paper that A. gambiae attacked by
> preference at feet and ankles of a naked human volunteer."
> "The Influence of Bars on Nuclear Activity," Luis C. Ho, Alexei V.
> Filippenko, Wallace L. W. Sargent, to appear in "Astrophysical
> Journal." The preprint is available at
> http://xxx.lanl.gov/archive/astro-ph/
> The authors report that:
> "The presence of a bar seems to have no noticeable impact on the
> likelihood of a galaxy to host either nuclear star formation or an
> active galactic nuclei."
> "Effects of body weight on the taste of male and female rats," B.S.
> Roo, "Indian Journal of Pharmacology," vol. 28, no. 1, 1984, pp.
> 53-7.
> "Skylark optimal flight speeds for flying nowhere and somewhere,"
> A. Henderstrom and T. Alerstam, Behavioral Ecology., vol. 7, no.
> 2, 1996, pp. 121-6.
> "Images of Madness in the Films of Walt Disney," Allen Beveridge,
> "Psychiatric Bulletin," vol. 20, 1966, pp. 618-620.
> "Nerd Harassment, incentives, school priorities and learning,"
> John H. Bishop, "CAHRS [Cornell Center for Advanced Human
> Resources Studies] Working Papers," no. 96-09, [working paper #96-
> 10], 1996, pp. 43-45.
> "Effect of Habitual Knuckle Cracking on Hand Function," J.
> Castellanos and D. Axelrod, "Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases,"
> vol. 49, no. 5, May, 1990, pp. 308-9.
> "The effect of gamma radiation on the ultrastructure of the peel
> of banana fruits," M.T. Smith, G.J. Strydom, and J. van Staden,
> "Environ. Exp. Bot.," v. 31, no. 1, 1991, pp. 43-9.
> "On journeys to the Moon by balloon," Walter Simon, "Classical
> Quantum Gravitation," vol. 10, 1993, pp. 177-181.
> The abstract reads in part:
> "We give inequalities for the equation of state of a
> static perfect fluid in Newton's theory and in an
> asymptotically flat spacetime in relativity which ensure
> finite extension of the fluid region. In the relativistic
> case, our condition is closely related to one which is
> known to imply, for given surface potential, uniqueness of
> the solution (when its existence is assumed). Our results
> cast doubts on reported early journeys to the Moon."
> "The self/nonself discrimination: reconstructing a cabbage from
> sauerkraut," M. Cohn, "Research in Immunology, " vol. 143, no. 3,
> Mar-Apr 1992, pp. 323-34.
> "Size matters when three-spined sticklebacks go to school," E.
> Ranta, K. Lindstrom and M. Peuhkuri, "Animal Behaviour," vol. 43,
> no. 1, 1992, p. 160 ff.
> "Should you brush your teeth on 6 November, 1984?", A. Wuffle,
> "Political Science," vol. 17, 1984, pp. 577-81.
> "Female gait patterns: the influences of footwear," R.W. Soames
> and A.A. Evans, Ergonomics, vol. 30, 1987, pp. 893-900.
> "Theoretical analysis of aggressive golf putts," J.F. Mahoney,
> "Res. Q. Exercise Sport," vol. 53, 1983, pp. 165-72.
> "Avalanche dynamics in a pile of rice," V.Frette, K.Christensen,
> P.Meakin, "Nature," vol. 379, no. 6560, p. 49.
> "Partitioning behavior and off-flavor thresholds in cookies from
> plastic packaging film printing ink compounds," G.W. Halek,
> "Journal of Food Science," vol. 53, no. 6, Nov. 1, 1988, p. 1806.
> "Retching: its causes and management in prosthetic practice," M.J.
> Faigenblum, "British Dental Journal," vol. 125, pp. 485-90.
> "Salivary Testosterone Levels in Left and Right Handed Adults,"
> S.D. Moffat, E. Hampson, "Neuropsychologia," vol. 34, no. 3, Mar.
> 4, 1996, pp. 225-33.
> "Reestablishment of male sexual function and appearance 23 years
> after alligator induced traumatic orchiectomy and penile
> lacerations," N.M. Katlowitz, A. Fliescher, A.E. Benet, "Journal
> of Urology," vol. 153, no. 6, Jun 1995, pp. 1929-30.
> "The Dielectric Spectra of Heated Potatoes." F.X. Hart and B.
> Bodakian, "Journal of Materials Science Letters," vol. 14, 1995,
> pp. 1214-1217. The authors report activation energies for
> conductance change upon heating potatoes in a microwave oven.
> They observe a surprising difference in dielectric spectra between
> potatoes heated to 95 degrees C and to 105 degrees C, and
> speculate that this might have something to do with the fact that
> the boiling point of water falls between these two temperatures.
> "Regional Shellfish Production and Training, 1985 Annual Report,"
> G.A. Heslinga, T.C. Watson and T. Isamu, Koror, Republic of
> Palau, 1985.
> "Dry sex in Zimbabwe and implications for condom use," D.Civic and
> D.Wilson, "Social Science and Medicine," vol. 42, no. 1, 1996.
> "Bungee running: a further report," M.E. Lovell and V.P. Bradley,
> "British Journal of Sports Medicine," vol. 29, no. 1, Mar. 1995,
> p. 12, 1995. The abstract reads:
> Further to the report from Queen Mary's NHS Trust on bungee
> running affecting children, we present three cases of injury
> in adults. Two cases of injury presented to Noble's (Isle of
> Man) Hospital and one to Whiston Hospital, Merseyside. In
> all three cases, the competitors were trying to stretch the
> 'bungee' to grasp a pint of beer as a prize, much enthusiasm
> being shown by spectators. All injuries occurred when the
> competitors were catapulted backwards with some force.
> "A study of the influence of ageing on the mechanical properties
> of Cheddar cheese," by M. N. Charalambides, J. G. Williams, and S.
> Chakrabarti, "Journal of Materials Science," vol. 30, 1995, pp.
> 3959-3967. This research appears to have been conducted
> completely independently from that of Banjamin Waggoner, whose
> study, "Evolutionary Relationships Among Cheeses," was published
> in "The Annals of Improbable Research," vol. 1, no. 3, May/Jun
> 1995.
> "Manhole Covers," by Mimi Melnick with photographs by Robert A
> Melnick, MIT Press, 1994.
> "Influence of sex on the short-term outcome of elderly patients
> with a first acute myocardial infarction," H. Bueno, M.T. Vidan,
> A. Almazan, J.L. Lopez-Sendon, and J.L. Delcan, "Circulation,"
> vol. 92, no. 5, 1995.
> "Ear preference in telephone listening," J. Seeman and W.
> Surwillo, "Perceptual and Motor Skills," vol. 65, 1987, pp. 803-9.
> "Do gastroenterologists themselves follow the American Cancer
> Society recommendations for colorectal cancer screening?" "The
> American Journal of Gastroenterology," 1994, vol. 89, no. 12, pp.
> 2184-7. It reads in part:
> "Currently, the ACS recommends a yearly digital rectal exam for
> persons age 40 and over and yearly fecal occult blood test and
> flexible proctosigmoidoscopy every 3 to 5 years for persons age 50
> and over... Though about two-thirds of gastroenterologists felt
> the ACS guidelines were adequate, only 38% strictly followed them
> themselves. Lack of time, inconvenience, and procrastination were
> the common reasons."
> "The use of a foam anesthesia donut for the positioning of a
> patient in the barber chair position", M.L Dvorkin and W. Bradley,
> "Orthopedics," 1995, vol.18, no.3, pp.277-278.
> "Precautions when lightning strikes during the monsoon: the effect of
> ozone on condoms," by RF Baker, RP Sherwin, GS Bernstein, et al, "Journal
> of the American Medical Association," vol. 260, no. 10, 1988.
> "Met het oog op... de champagnekurk," J. E. E. Keunen and C. W. J.
> Storimans, "Ned Tijdschr Goneeskd," Vol. 138, no, 52, December 24, 1994,
> pp. 2594-6. Thanks to Peter Kootstra for bringing this to our attention.
> The article is in Dutch; here is the English abstract that accompanies
> it:
> "With an eye on...the champagne cork." Two patients, males of
> 31 and 15 years old, developed blunt injury in one eye, including
> hyphacma, due to a champagne cork. In one patient surgical
> evacuation was performed, the other recovered with drug therapy
> only. Inquiries in other opthalmic departments in the Netherlands
> indicate that this type of trauma seems to be more frequent at the
> turn of the year."
> "Sodefrin: A Female-Attracting Peptide Pheromone in Newt
> Cloacal Glands," by S. Kikuyama, F. Toyoda, Y. Ohmiya, K. Matsuda,
> S. Tanaka, H. Hyyashi, "Science," vol. 267, March 17, 1995, p.
> 1643.
> 2) ________ (1982) Painless jogging for 15,000 km after a
> lumbrosacral stabilization with screws and cement. Med. J. Aust.
> 1(9):389.
> 3) ________ (1993) Sudden death while lawnmowing. Med J. Aust.
> 158(3):216.
> "Cannabis in the Ear--the Legal Aspects," by S.R. Saeed, M.S.
> Timms, and T. J. Woolford, "Journal of Laryngology & Otology,"
> vol. 107, no. 10, 1993, p. 979.
> "Dissociation between the calcium-induced and voltage-driven
> motility in cochlear outer hair cells from the waltzing guinea
> pig," B. Canlon, B. and D. Dulon, "Journal of Cell Science," vol.
> 104, 1993, pp. 1137-1143.
> "Energy of the Closed Universe With Respect to the Gas of Clocks,"
> by N.N. Gorobey and A.S. Lukyanenko, "Classical and Quantum
> Gravity," vol. 10, no. 10, 1993, pp. 2107-2110.
> "The effects of chewing gum stick size and duration of chewing on
> salivary flow rate and sucrose and bicarbonate concentrations," M.
> Rosenhek, L. Macpherson, and C. Dawes, "Archives of Oral Biology,"
> vol. 38, no.10, Oct. 1993, pp. 885-891.
> "Synergistic activation of Ras and 14-3-3 protein of a mitogen
> activated protein kinase kinase kinase named Ras-dependant
> extracelluar signal regulated kinase kinase stimulator," by K.
> Shimizuet et al, "Journal of Biological Chemistry," vol. 269,
> 1994, p. 22917.
> "The deterioration and conservation of chocolate from museum
> collections," by Helen Cox, "Studies in Conservation," vol 38,
> 1993, pp. 217-223.
> "Measurement of the vibrational response of porcine lungs to low-
> frequency underwater sound", by Thomas N. Lewis, James S. Martin,
> and Peter H. Rogers, "Journal of the Acoustical Socciety of
> America, vol. 95, no. 5, Pt 2, p 2830.
> "Azoreductase Activity in Bacteria Associated with the Greening of
> Instant Chocolate Puddings," "Applied & Environmental Microbiology,"
> Vol.60,#8, pp.3027-3029.
> "Wavefront amplitude distribution in the female breast," by Qing
> Zhu and Bernard D. Steinberg, " Journal of the Acoustical Society
> of America," Vol. 96, No 1, July 1994.
> "Effects of egg yolk and glycerol levels in lactose-EDTA-EGG yolk
> extender on the motility of frozen-thawed stallion spermatazoa," by
> Cristanelli, M.J., Amann, R.P., Squires, E.L., and Pickett, B.W.,
> "Theriogenology," vol. 24, 1985, pp. 681-686.
> "The Dielectric Properties of Meat" by B. Bodakian and F. X. Hart,
> "IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation", Vol.
> 1, No 2, April 1994. The abstract reads in part: "The
> permittivity and conductivity of beef and chicken samples were
> measured in the frequency range of 1 Hz to 1 MHz. Differences were
> observed in these dielectric spectra for commercially purchased,
> as compared to freshly slaughtered samples."
> "A Classification of Pure Malt Scotch Whiskies" by F. J. Lapointe
> and P. Legendre, "Applied Statistics", Vol. 43, No 1, pp. 237-257,
> 1994. The authors introduce their study thusly: "Single malts are
> well known by amateurs to differ widely in nose, colour, body,
> palate and finish. The layman interested in discovering the
> diversity of these tasting sensations may wonder how to approach
> the problem: what are the main types of single-malt Scotches, and
> in what way do they differ? This is the type of question that came
> to us after acquainting ourselves with single-malt whiskies during
> and after the 3rd Conference of the International Federation of
> Classification Societies held at Heriot-Watt University in
> Edingburgh, Scotland, in August 1991."
> "Identification of Gourmet Meat Using FINS (Forensically
> Informative Nucleotide Sequencing)," by Alistair Raymond Russel
> Forrest and Patrick Robert Carnegie., "Biotechniqes," 1994, vol.
> 17, no 1, pp. 24-26. The report reads in part:
> "To protect both producers and consumers from illegal substitution
> of cheaper meats for expensive meats, it is necessary to have
> tests available that are effective with both cooked and processed
> meats.... This high cost of development cannot be justified for
> gourmet meats, such as emu, crocodile, and buffalo... As an
> example of the application of the improved FINS technique, a
> sample of an emu shish kebab ordered at a local restaurant was
> analyzed..." It was found that the "emu" shish kebab was actually
> buffalo shish keb.
> "A Partial Form of Lycanthropy with Hair Delusion in a Manic-
> Depressive Patient," by H. Verdoux and M. Bourgeois, "British
> Journal of Psychiatry," vol. 163, pp. 685-686.
> "Rewarming Hypothermic Animals with Microwaves," by Ken Bartels,
> "Veterinary Forum," March 1994, pp. 28 and following.
> BIOLOGY. Peter Fong of Gettysburg College, Gettysburg,
> Pennsylvania, for contributing to the happiness of clams by giving
> them Prozac.
> REFERENCE: "Induction and Potentiation of Parturition in
> Fingernail Clams (Sphaerium striatinum) by Selective Serotonin Re-
> Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)," Peter F. Fong, Peter T. Huminski, and
> Lynette M. D'urso, "Journal of Experimental Zoology, vol. 280,
> 1998, pp. 260-64.
> CHEMISTRY. Jacques Benveniste of France for his homeopathic
> discovery that not only does water have memory, but that the
> information can be transmitted over telephone lines and the
> Internet.
> REFERENCE:"Transatlantic Transfer of Digitized Antigen Signal by
> Telephone Link," J. Benveniste, P. Jurgens, W. Hsueh and J. Aissa,
> "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology - Program and
> abstracts of papers to be presented during scientific sessions
> AAAAI/AAI.CIS Joint Meeting February 21-26, 1997."
> SCIENCE EDUCATION. Dolores Krieger, Professor Emerita, New
> York University, "for demonstrating the merits of therapeutic
> touch, a method by which nurses manipulate the energy fields of
> ailing patients by carefully avoiding physical contact with those
> patients."
> STATISTICS. Jerald Bain of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto and
> Kerry Siminoski of the University of Alberta for their carefully
> measured report, "The Relationship Among Height, Penile Length,
> and Foot Size."
> REFERENCE: The paper was published in "Annals of Sex Research,"
> vol. 6, no. 3, 1993, pp. 231-5.
> ECONOMICS. Richard Seed of Chicago for his efforts to stoke
> up the world economy by cloning himself and other human beings.
> CONTACT: Richard Seed, 708-442-0500, FAX 708-442-1500
> <[email protected]>
> MEDICINE. To Patient Y and to his doctors, Caroline Mills,
> Meirion Llewelyn, David Kelly, and Peter Holt, of Royal Gwent
> Hospital, in Newport, Wales, for the cautionary medical report, "A
> Man Who Pricked His Finger and Smelled Putrid for 5 Years."
> REFERENCE: The paper was published in "The Lancet," vol. 348,
> November 9, 1996, p. 1282.
> LITERATURE. Dr. Mara Sidoli of Washington, DC, for her
> illuminating report, "Farting as a Defence Against Unspeakable
> Dread."
> REFERENCE: "Farting as a Defence Against Unspeakable Dread," Mara
> Sidoli, "Journal of Analytical Psychology," vol. 41, no. 2, 1996,
> pp. 165-78.
> ENTOMOLOGY: Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida, for his
> scholarly book, "That Gunk on Your Car," which identifies the
> insect splats that appear on automobile window. The book is
> published by Ten Speed Press.
> PHYSICS: John Bockris of Texas A&M University, for his wide-
> ranging achievements in cold fusion, in the transmutation of base
> elements into gold, and in the electrochemical incineration of
> domestic rubbish.
> MEDICINE: Carl J. Charnetski and Francis X. Brennan, Jr. of Wilkes
> University, and James F. Harrison of Muzak Ltd. in Seattle,
> Washington, for their discovery that listening to elevator Muzak
> stimulates immunoblobulin A (IgA) production, and thus may help
> prevent the common cold.
> PEACE: Harold Hillman of the University of Surrey, England for his
> lovingly rendered and ultimately peaceful report "The Possible
> Pain Experienced During Execution by Different Methods."
> [Published in "Perception 1993," vol 22, pp. 745-53.]
> METEOROLOGY: Bernard Vonnegut of the State University of Albany,
> for his revealing report, "Chicken Plucking as Measure of Tornado
> Wind Speed." [Published in "Weatherwise," October 1975, p. 217.
> NOTE: Bernard Vonnegut passed away in the spring of 1997. A further note
> of
> interest: Bernard was the older brother of novelist Kurt
> Vonnegut.]
> BIOLOGY Anders Baerheim and Hogne Sandvik of the University of
> Bergen, Norway, for their tasty and tasteful report, "Effect of
> Ale, Garlic, and Soured Cream on the Appetite of Leeches." [The
> report was published in "British Medical Journal," vol. 309, Dec
> 24-31, 1994, p. 1689.]
> PHYSICS Robert Matthews of Aston University, England, for his
> studies of Murphy's Law, and especially for demonstrating that
> toast always falls on the buttered side. [The report, "Tumbling
> toast, Murphy's Law and the fundamental constants" was published
> in "European Journal of Physics," vol.16, no.4, July 18, 1995, p.
> 172-6.]
> PUBLIC HEALTH Ellen Kleist of Nuuk, Greenland and Harald Moi of
> Oslo, Norway, for their cautionary medical report "Transmission of
> Gonorrhea Through an Inflatable Doll." [The report was published
> in "Genitourinary Medicine," vol. 69, no. 4, Aug. 1993, p. 322.]
> LITERATURE The editors of the journal "Social Text," for eagerly
> publishing research that they could not understand, that the
> author said was meaningless, and which claimed that reality does
> not exist. [The paper was "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a
> Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity," Alan Sokal,
> "Social Text," Spring/Summer 1996, pp. 217-252.]
> ECONOMICS Dr. Robert J. Genco of the University of Buffalo for
> his discovery that "financial strain is a risk indicator for
> destructive periodontal disease."
> NUTRITION John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta, for
> Luak Coffee, the world's most expensive coffee, which is made from
> coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luak (aka, the palm
> civet), a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia.
> PHYSICS D.M.R. Georget, R. Parker, and A.C. Smith, of the
> Institute of Food Research, Norwich, England, for their rigorous
> analysis of soggy breakfast cereal, published in the report
> entitled 'A Study of the Effects of Water Content on the
> Compaction Behaviour of Breakfast Cereal Flakes." [Published in
> the research journal "Powder Technology," November, 1994, vol. 81,
> no. 2, pp. 189-96.]
> MEDICINE Marcia E. Buebel, David S. Shannahoff-Khalsa, and
> Michael R. Boyle, for their invigorating study entitled "The
> Effects of Unilateral Forced Nostril Breathing on Cognition."
> [Published in "International Journal of Neuroscience," vol. 57,
> 1991, pp. 239-249.]
> LITERATURE David B. Busch and James R. Starling, of Madison
> Wisconsin, for their deeply penetrating research report, "Rectal
> foreign bodies: Case Reports and a Comprehensive Review of the
> World's Literature." The citations include reports of, among other
> items: seven light bulbs; a knife sharpener; two flashlights; a
> wire spring; a snuff box; an oil can with potato stopper; eleven
> different forms of fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs; a
> jeweler's saw; a frozen pig's tail; a tin cup; a beer glass; and
> one patient's remarkable ensemble collection consisting of
> spectacles, a suitcase key, a tobacco pouch and a magazine.
> [Published in the medical journal "Surgery," September 1986, pp.
> 512-519.]
> PUBLIC HEALTH Martha Kold Bakkevig of Sintef Unimed in Trondheim,
> Norway, and Ruth Nielson of the Technical University of Denmark,
> for their exhaustive study, "Impact of Wet Underwear on
> Thermoregulatory Responses and Thermal Comfort in the Cold."
> [Published in "Ergonomics," vol 37, no. 8, Aug. 1994 , pp. 1375-
> 89.]
> DENTISTRY Robert H. Beaumont, of Shore View, Minnesota, for his
> incisive study "Patient Preference for Waxed or Unwaxed Dental
> Floss." [Published in the research journal "Journal of
> Periodontology," vol. 61, no. 2, Feb. 1990, pp. 123-5.
> BIOLOGY W. Brian Sweeney, Brian Krafte-Jacobs, Jeffrey W. Britton,
> and Wayne Hansen, for their breakthrough study, "The Constipated
> Serviceman: Prevalence Among Deployed US Troops," and especially
> for their numerical analysis of bowel movement frequency. [The
> study was published in "Military Medicine," vol. 158, August,
> 1993, pages 346-348.]
> MEDICINE First, to Patient X,
> formerly of the US Marine Corps, valiant victim of a venomous bite
> from his pet rattlesnake, for his determined use of electroshock
> therapy -- at his own insistence, automobile sparkplug wires were
> attached to his lip, and the car engine revved to 3000 rpm for
> five minutes. Second, to Dr. Richard C. Dart of the Rocky Mountain
> Poison Center and Dr. Richard A. Gustafson of The University of
> Arizona Health Sciences Center, for their well-grounded medical
> report: "Failure of Electric Shock Treatment for Rattlesnake
> Envenomation." [The report was published in "Annals of Emergency
> Medicine," vol. 20, no. 6, June 1991, pp. 659-661.]
> ENTOMOLOGY Robert A. Lopez of Westport, NY, valiant veterinarian
> and friend of all creatures great and small, for his series of
> experiments in obtaining ear mites from cats, inserting them into
> his own ear, and carefully observing and analyzing the results.
> [Dr. Lopez's report was published in "The Journal of the American
> Veterinary Society," vol. 203, no. 5, Sept. 1, 1993, pp. 606-607.]
> PHYSICS The Japanese Meterological Agency, its seven-year
> study of whether earthquakes are caused by catfish wiggling their
> tails.
> ECONOMICS Jan Pablo Davila of Chile, tireless trader of financial
> futures and former employee of the state-owned Codelco Company,
> for instructing his computer to "buy" when he meant "sell," and
> subsequently attempting to recoup his losses by making
> increasingly unprofitable trades that ultimately lost .5 percent
> of Chile's gross national product. Davila's relentless achievement
> inspired his countrymen to coin a new verb: "to davilar," meaning,
> "to botch things up royally."
Nice post, Dark Detective. I've been reading the Annals of Improbable Research for a while now and recognize a few of the articles. I'm an IgNoble Prize fan and was wondering how you compiled the list? I'm just not up to trawling through the journals and publications myself - too much work.
PHYSICS The Japanese Meterological Agency, its seven-year
study of whether earthquakes are caused by catfish wiggling their tails.

So are they? I'll resist the obvious temptation to say it sounds a bit fishy to me.... doh!

There was some research done to determine the best biscuit for dunking. Turns out it's the ginger nut. They also determined the ideal dunking time - the point where the biscuit is soft but hasn't yet disintegrated and fallen to the bottom of your mug.
"Viagra makes flowers stand up straight"
Years ago I was told that 125mg of paracetamol (1/4 of a tablet) fulfilled the same function when crushed and added to the water of cut flowers. This is obviously the result of previous improbable research. Its a darn sight cheaper than Viagra as well.
Sally said:
There was some research done to determine the best biscuit for dunking. Turns out it's the ginger nut. They also determined the ideal dunking time - the point where the biscuit is soft but hasn't yet disintegrated and fallen to the bottom of your mug.

Just think - you can get a research grant for anything, it seems.
I wonder if anyone managed to get a grant to field-test condoms...?
The deterioration and conservation of chocolate from museum
by Helen Cox, "Studies in Conservation," vol 38, 1993, pp. 217-223.

I read that!
It was very interesting, actually. Included problems of pests and the formation of crystals on the surface.
May as well stick this on here:
Rooney reputation puts fear into feet of his opponents
By Richard Gray, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 1:28am GMT 17/12/2006

Wayne Rooney's reputation goes before him. It is this rather than his ball skills that makes the first impact on other players and could be key to him wrong-footing defenders.

Psychologists at the University of Wales, in Bangor, found that merely being shown a photograph of the Manchester United and England striker is enough to leave people with impaired control over their feet.

Professor Steven Tipper, from the university's Centre for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience, said: "It was a very surprising result, as we were expecting that images of famous athletes would enhance people's own skills. It turned out to be an inhibitory process. When people look at others they automatically compare themselves and realise they are not that good — it creates a negative effect.

"It could certainly explain why some professional players choke up and don't play nearly as well as they could if they think they are not as good as the person in front of them."

Prof Tipper believes the effect could explain how strikers can find it impossible to score against certain goalkeepers.

The reputation built up by players such as Michael Owen, Theo Walcott and David Beckham as youngsters helped them blow away the opposition in their first fully-fledged matches. "The reputation of their skills has been built up to the point that it leaves those they are facing in some doubt."

The study, which is published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, examined the hand and foot reaction times of 40 students when they were asked to identify famous sports people.

When shown a photo of Rooney, their finger response was faster than their foot response. Shown a picture of Tim Henman, however, their foot response was quicker. The researchers hope to study elite sportsmen to find whether the effect is the same.

Ken Bray, a soccer science expert at Bath University, agreed that the psychological state of a player could have a major impact on their performance.

"For a good performance you need psychological arousal and even elite athletes need to reach that peak level of arousal to execute that skill perfectly.

"If you take a player who is facing Rooney and knows his reputation, it is very damaging psychologically if you can't reach the right level of arousal. The England goalkeeper David James uses a huge amount of mental preparation before a game and if he is brought on without this he can have a terrible game.

"There have been plenty of examples of young players like Theo Walcott who came through the ranks as young players with no preconceptions and his performances were tremendous."
This seems more like a comic sketch than real research!

Big sweat as human hippo Brady Barr gets stuck in mud
John Harlow

DOES my rump look big in this? A scientist has gone undercover in a 14-stone armoured hippopotamus suit in Zambia to mingle unremarked with pods of the feared mammals.

Dr Brady Barr, who returned from his mission last week, adopted the disguise in an attempt to harvest sweat samples from hippos in the quest for a new type of sun cream.

The suit, designed by a taxidermist from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, consists of a steel-ribbed tube wrapped in bulletproof material and topped with mouldings taken from a female hippo.

“I have long believed that hippo sweat can provide breakthroughs in waterproof sunblock and antiseptics,” said Barr. “It works for them in some of the harshest environments in the world; it could work for us. But extracting it did not prove to be as easy as we hoped.”

Most of the weight in Barr’s suit is in the body armour. It is able to withstand a bite three times as powerful as that of a great white shark. Hippos cause more human deaths than any other animal in Africa.

When reassembled in the African bush, the suit was finished off with a daubing of mud and dung to disguise the scent of the scientist staggering beneath it to the riverbank to await a passing hippo. Barr’s plan was then to open a flap, tap a hippo with a long pole and scoop off fresh drops of its sweat.

He and his colleague, Christopher Viney, 48, a bio-engineer born in Skegness, arrived in Luangwa national park with high hopes of becoming the first scientists to extract the blood-red sweat of a wild hippopotamus before it dried brown.

Why? “Because the sweat, or to be more exact secreted oil, is denser, with more complex molecules, than the sweat I collected from Bulgey the hippo who lived in a zoo near where I teach,” said Viney, professor of engineering at the University of California, Merced.

On the first day in Luangwa, the fake animal was ignored, except by a curious lion, which sniffed and passed by, and a juvenile elephant, which mock-charged.

“I was bent double in 100F heats and the stench was eyewatering,” said Barr, 45, after six hours in the suit.

The most dangerous day was when the hippo suit started sinking into mud, eyed by a lone male a few feet away. A park ranger called Boston Chulu risked his life trying to squeeze Barr through an escape hatch, but it jammed. The scientist had to crouch inside sweating until the real hippo became bored and wandered off.

His mission failed but, Barr said, “we shall be going back to Africa as soon as we can”.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 257296.ece

And there's even a video...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECNxBhkS6jw :roll:
I think this guy has seen Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls a few too many times...
Exhibit A

Exhibit B
Bet you hadn't thought of this reason...

WHY do gamblers gamble? A new insight into this question has just been published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors (vol 22, p 380). Martin Gardiner reports in Really Magazine that research conducted by the University of Albany's Addictive Behaviors Laboratory involved more than 400 experimental subjects in a series of experiments to pinpoint the possible driving forces behind the thrill of gambling. The lab's findings "support the notion that the excitement of gambling is tied to the expectancy of winning money".

Well now.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2 ... 852.700_fb
Dogs can be jealous, say scientists :roll:
Dogs are prone to complex emotions such as jealousy and pride, according to scientific research that sheds new light on their relationship with humans.

By Alastair Jamieson
Last Updated: 3:18PM GMT 07 Dec 2008

Canines do not like seeing their owners offering affection to other creatures, especially other dogs, and react negatively when their owners bring home new partners, the research found.

Psychologists previously believed most animals lack the "sense of self" needed to experience so-called secondary emotions such as jealousy, embarrassment, empathy or guilt. These emotions are more complex than feelings associated with instant reaction – such as anger, lust or joy.

Dr Friederike Range, of the University of Vienna's neurobiology department, has shown that dogs feel intense jealously when they spot that they are unfairly treated compared with other dogs. "Dogs show a strong aversion to inequity," she said.

The dog study is the latest into several species, including cows, horses, cats and sheep, which have shown that animals are far more self-aware than was thought.

Dr Paul Morris, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth who studies animal emotions, told The Sunday Times: "We are learning that dogs, horses, and perhaps many other species are far more emotionally complex than we ever realised. They can suffer simple forms of many emotions we once thought only primates could experience."

In research among dog owners, Dr Morris found almost all of them reported jealous behaviour by their pets. The dog often tried to prise their owner away from a new lover in the early days of a relationship.

Behavioural experts recommend owners keeping their dog's routine as much as possible when a new partner or child comes along in order to prevent jealous activity from the dog such as interruptions with barking or whining.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandte ... tists.html

They should really have researched the "Psychologists [who] previously believed most animals lack the "sense of self" needed to experience so-called secondary emotions such as jealousy, embarrassment, empathy or guilt" and confront them with "You never had a pet when you were a kid, did you?" . :twisted:
Watching your team score is like having sex, say brain researchers
For years women have complained that some men are more interested in football than sex. Now scientists claim to have found out why.

By Roger Dobson
Last Updated: 10:25PM GMT 13 Dec 2008

Neurologists who looked into the brains of football fans while they watched a match found that seeing their team score triggered immediate activity in a particular area of the brain known to be associated with intense pleasure and sexual arousal.

When a goal was missed, or during open play, different areas of the brain were activated. The researchers believe they are the first to have observed the brains of spectators during a game.

"Our main aim was to exploit the passion that some people have for sport and capture the acute and intensely pleasurable feeling experienced by supporters when a goal is scored," said clinical scientist John McLean of the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, who led the study.

"Our results show that the part of the brain associated with intense pleasure, and which has been associated with arousal, is most active at the time a goal is scored, compared to other times. Whether it is as powerful a stimulus as sex, I don't know; perhaps for some people. It might be difficult, however, to do a study with people having sex in a scanner."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... chers.html

"It might be difficult, however, to do a study with people having sex in a scanner...."

But they're obviously thinking about it! ;)
Whinnies help horses picture herd

Horses have an almost human ability to conjure up visual memories of their herd-mates from the sound of their whinnies, a study has shown.

Research by scientists at the University of Sussex revealed the animals were surprised when they heard the "wrong" whinny from a herd member.

This "cross modal" recognition was once thought to be a purely human trait.

Twelve horses from Woodingdean livery yard, Brighton, and 12 from Sussex Horse Rescue, Uckfield, were studied.

Horses make a whinnying sound when they become separated from their group.

During the team's research, one of two familiar members of the herd was led past the horses and then behind a visual barrier.

Once the animal was out of sight the horses were played a recording of a whinny that either matched the herd-mate they had just seen or the other animal.

The scientists found that when the whinny sound did not match the herd-member seen walking behind the barrier the horses seemed startled.

The findings, made by Dr Karen McComb and her team from University of Sussex in Brighton, were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team wrote in the journal: "Overall, horses responded quicker and looked for a longer time during trials in which the familiar call heard did not match the familiar horse previously seen, indicating that the incongruent combination violated their expectations.

"This is the first clear empirical demonstration that in the normal process of identifying social companions of its own species, a non-human animal is capable of cross-modal individual recognition."


Well, I'll be hornswoggled!
Why do cows have their ups and downs?
A new study shows that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely it is to stand up, but the reverse is not true. Once up, you cannot predict how soon a cow will lie down again
Marc Abrahams guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 April 2010 17.00 BST

A new study called Are Cows More Likely to Lie Down the Longer They Stand? adds to our knowledge of what cows do and why they do it.

Some researchers succumb to temptation – hazarding unprovable guesses as to cows' intentions, motivations and desires. Five scientists in Scotland, though, took a careful path, methodically measuring a very specific part of the what, and not guessing too wildly at the why.

Bert Tolkamp, Marie Haskell, Fritha Langford, David Roberts and Colin Morgan, based at the Scottish Agricultural College, published their monograph in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

It builds upon a large body of work by other researchers. Some of the earlier reports have almost poetical titles. The best in that respect is (in my opinion, at least) a Swedish report called Effects of Milking Frequency on Lying Down and Getting Up Behaviour of Dairy Cows. 8) Its authors, Sara Osterman and Ingrid Redbo of the Kungsängen Research Centre in Uppsala, argue that milking thrice a day – rather than twice – "contributes to increased comfort in high-producing dairy cows".

The Scottish team focused on questions that stem indirectly from that Swedish study.

Tolkamp, Haskell, Langford, Roberts and Morgan set out to test two hypotheses – two educated guesses – about the nature of cowhood.

First, they hypothesized that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely it soon will stand up. After gathering lots of what-did-the-cows-do data, they report that yes, this is exactly what happens. Generally speaking, you can't keep a good cow down, not for long, not if the cow is healthy.

Their second hypothesis looked at things the other way round. They predicted the longer a cow has been standing up, the more likely it is to lie down. Here the cows gave them a surprise.

After ruminating over their results, the team decided that no, their expectation was wrong. The truth, they conclude, is that once a cow has stood up, you can't easily predict how soon it will lie down again.

This kind of experiment, if it is to produce trustworthy results, requires a series of careful technical decisions. How many cows should you watch, under what circumstances, and for how long? How can you reliably monitor whether and when each cow has officially stood up or flopped down?

The scientists examined three groups of cows. They attached an electronic sensor to each animal, to automatically note and record the cow's ups and downs. They then validated some of the findings, by watching video recordings of some cows and comparing what they saw with what the sensors had said.

Some mysteries persist. "The question of why some cows had total daily resting times less than half of those achieved by other cows in the same experiment, as well as many other questions", says the report, "remain to be addressed in future research."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/201 ... lying-down
Improbable research: The repetitive physics of Om
Indian scientists wield sophisticated mathematics to dissect and analyse the traditional meditation chanting sound 'Om'
Marc Abrahams guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 May 2010 17.00 BST

Two Indian scientists are wielding sophisticated mathematics to dissect and analyse the traditional meditation chanting sound "Om". The Om team has published six monographs in academic journals. These plumb certain acoustic subtleties of Om, which these researchers say is "the divine sound".

Om has many variations. In a study published in the International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security, the researchers explain: "It may be very fast, several cycles per second. Or it may be slower, several seconds for each cycling of [the] Om mantra. Or it might become extremely slow, with the mmmmmm sound continuing in the mind for much longer periods but still pulsing at that slow rate. It is somewhat like one of these vibrations:




The important technical fact is that no matter what form of Om one chants at whatever speed, there is always a basic Omness to it. 8)

Ajay Anil Gurjar and Siddharth A Ladhake published their first OM paper, Time-Frequency Analysis of Chanting Sanskrit Divine Sound "OM", in 2008 in the International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security.

Ladhake is the principal at Sipna's College of Engineering and Technology in Amravati, India. Gurjar is an assistant professor in that institution's department of electronics and telecommunication. Both specialise in electronic signal processing. They now sub-specialise in analysing the one very special signal.

In the introductory paper, Gurjar and Ladhake explain (in case there is someone unaware of the basics): "Om is a spiritual mantra, outstanding to fetch peace and calm. The entire psychological pressure and worldly thoughts are taken away by the chanting of Om mantra."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/201 ... e-research
Midges ‘prefer big targets’
Fat women and tall men are the most likely to suffer bites, according to survey
Stuart MacDonald and Kate Foster

IT MAY not rank among the world’s most illuminating discoveries but scientists have found that fat and tall people are more likely to be bitten by midges — because they present a bigger target.

This less-than-sensational finding has come from a wide-ranging study into the feeding habits of the Highland midge. It follows similarly questionable scientific revelations, such as that men with body odour are less attractive to the opposite sex, and people with low self-control tend to be fatter.

The research, partly funded by the Scottish government, set out to identify those at greatest risk from the midges plaguing our countryside.

Academics from Aberdeen University and Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire asked 300 people in the Highlands how often they had been bitten, and information was also gathered about their health and lifestyle.

All the women who were overweight or obese had been bitten. There was no such correlation between fat men and the frequency of bites.

Among men, height was the main factor. Of those who were taller than 6ft, 90% had been bitten, compared with just 70% of those under 5ft 8in.

The study, published in the journal BioMed Central Public Health, concluded: “Midges are known to rest in trees after they have emerged from pupae and are found in greater numbers with increasing height. It is, therefore, possible that midges searching for a suitable host would be descending from above and would encounter taller people, within a group, first.

“Additionally, larger people would provide a more substantial visual target for host-seeking midges as well as greater amounts of heat, moisture and attractant chemicals such as carbon dioxide.”

While the findings may seem obvious to lay observers, the scientists behind the study believe it could help them develop an effective repellent for midges and mosquitoes.

“This helps us understand how midges interact with us and gives us clues about how to find people who are naturally repellent,” said Dr James Logan, an honorary research fellow at Aberdeen University and lead author of the study.

“We undertook the research as an extension of work to develop a midge repellent. Some people never seem to get bitten and we have isolated them and are working on developing a product.”

Only 14% of those questioned as part of the study said they had never been bitten. The scientists believe that the likelihood of being targeted by the insects is at least partly hereditary.

Contrary to popular belief, people who consume alcohol, garlic, chilli or onions are no less likely to be bitten. Smoking, exercise and diet were also ruled out as factors.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 140245.ece
This is interesting:

Scorn over claim of teleported DNA
12 January 2011
by Andy Coghlan
Magazine issue 2795.

A STORM of scepticism has greeted experimental results emerging from the lab of a Nobel laureate which, if confirmed, would shake the foundations of several fields of science. "If the results are correct," says theoretical chemist Jeff Reimers of the University of Sydney, Australia, "these would be the most significant experiments performed in the past 90 years, demanding re-evaluation of the whole conceptual framework of modern chemistry."

Luc Montagnier, who shared the Nobel prize for medicine in 2008 for his part in establishing that HIV causes AIDS, says he has evidence that DNA can send spooky electromagnetic imprints of itself into distant cells and fluids. If that wasn't heretical enough, he also suggests that enzymes can mistake the ghostly imprints for real DNA, and faithfully copy them to produce the real thing. In effect this would amount to a kind of quantum teleportation of the DNA.

Many researchers contacted for comment by New Scientist reacted with disbelief. Gary Schuster, who studies DNA conductance effects at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, compared it to "pathological science". Jacqueline Barton, who does similar work at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, was equally sceptical. "There aren't a lot of data given, and I don't buy the explanation," she says. One blogger has suggested Montagnier should be awarded an IgNobel prize.

Yet the results can't be dismissed out of hand. "The experimental methods used appear comprehensive," says Reimers. So what have Montagnier and his team actually found?

Full details of the experiments are not yet available, but the basic set-up is as follows. Two adjacent but physically separate test tubes were placed within a copper coil and subjected to a very weak extremely low frequency electromagnetic field of 7 hertz. The apparatus was isolated from Earth's natural magnetic field to stop it interfering with the experiment. One tube contained a fragment of DNA around 100 bases long; the second tube contained pure water.

After 16 to 18 hours, both samples were independently subjected to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a method routinely used to amplify traces of DNA by using enzymes to make many copies of the original material. The gene fragment was apparently recovered from both tubes, even though one should have contained just water.

DNA was only recovered if the original solution of DNA - whose concentration has not been revealed - had been subjected to several dilution cycles before being placed in the magnetic field. In each cycle it was diluted 10-fold, and "ghost" DNA was only recovered after between seven and 12 dilutions of the original. It was not found at the ultra-high dilutions used in homeopathy.

Physicists in Montagnier's team suggest that DNA emits low-frequency electromagnetic waves which imprint the structure of the molecule onto the water. This structure, they claim, is preserved and amplified through quantum coherence effects, and because it mimics the shape of the original DNA, the enzymes in the PCR process mistake it for DNA itself, and somehow use it as a template to make DNA matching that which "sent" the signal (arxiv.org/abs/1012.5166).

"The biological experiments do seem intriguing, and I wouldn't dismiss them," says Greg Scholes of the University of Toronto in Canada, who last year demonstrated that quantum effects occur in plants. Yet according to Klaus Gerwert, who studies interactions between water and biomolecules at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, "It is hard to understand how the information can be stored within water over a timescale longer than picoseconds."

"The structure would be destroyed instantly," agrees Felix Franks, a retired academic chemist in London who has studied water for many years. Franks was involved as a peer reviewer in the debunking of a controversial study in 1988 which claimed that water had a memory (see "How 'ghost molecules' were exorcised"). "Water has no 'memory'," he says now. "You can't make an imprint in it and recover it later."

Despite the scepticism over Montagnier's explanation, the consensus was that the results deserve to be investigated further. Montagnier's colleague, theoretical physicist Giuseppe Vitiello of the University of Salerno in Italy, is confident that the result is reliable. "I would exclude that it's contamination," he says. "It's very important that other groups repeat it."

In a paper last year (Interdisciplinary Sciences: Computational Life Sciences, DOI: 10.1007/s12539-009-0036-7), Montagnier described how he discovered the apparent ability of DNA fragments and entire bacteria both to produce weak electromagnetic fields and to "regenerate" themselves in previously uninfected cells. Montagnier strained a solution of the bacterium Mycoplasma pirum through a filter with pores small enough to prevent the bacteria penetrating. The filtered water emitted the same frequency of electromagnetic signal as the bacteria themselves. He says he has evidence that many species of bacteria and many viruses give out the electromagnetic signals, as do some diseased human cells.

Montagnier says that the full details of his latest experiments will not be disclosed until the paper is accepted for publication. "Surely you are aware that investigators do not reveal the detailed content of their experimental work before its first appearance in peer-reviewed journals," he says.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2 ... d-dna.html?

Best thing since sliced bread, or quackery? Time will tell! 8)
Long long time ago...

I worked in lab that served patients waiting for bone marrow and renal transplants. The consultant for my department was actually a very renowned immunologist, as such, we had a reasonable research budget. At the time, we were looking at ways to speed up the pcr process. Although my role was very minor, we had a 'lucky team' vibe going on, in that when an organ came into the lab from a donor, it would be a perfect match, rather than a very close match. This translates as the recipient having less immuno-suppresant drugs, which is a much better option for the patient. I digress, but as a member of the 'lucky team' I spent some time working on the pcr research (at a very low level) The big joke in the department was that the lucky team wore nylon knickers, producing a clearer pcr result.

Mmmm :?:
Who hasn't talked to someone, long distance on the phone, sometimes in a different country, who's suffering from the flu, only to catch it oneself, very shortly thereafter?

I've always found that quite curious.
Coming straight from the University of Toomuchtime Ontheirhands....
(I'm sure there are many other such pointless 'science' coming out of that university)

Skimming stones? Try a heavier, curvier rock, scientists say.
Want to make an impression the next time you're trying to skim a stone off water? Ignore the usual thin, flat candidates and try a fatter, curvier rock to get the biggest possible bounce, scientists are saying.
He's taking the piss.
And turning it into fuel.

Northeastern researcher helps convert astronauts’ wastewater into alternative fuel for use in outer space
Researchers have successfully figured out how to extract energy from wastewater in outer space. The findings will give astronauts an alternative fuel source to power future trips to the moon, Mars or beyond.
Who hasn't talked to someone, long distance on the phone, sometimes in a different country, who's suffering from the flu, only to catch it oneself, very shortly thereafter?

I've always found that quite curious.
These things whip around the world in no time. They put Ariel to shame.