The mini-Annals of Improbable Research (+quot;mini-AIR+quot;) Issue Number 1994-08 Decembe

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============================================================ The mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR") Issue Number 1994-08 December, 1994 ISSN 1076-500X Key words: science,humor,improbable research,Ig Nobel ------------------------------------------------------------ The mini-journal of inflated research and personalities published by The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) at The MIT Museum ============================================================ ----------------------------- 1994-08-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1994-08-01 Table of Contents 1994-08-02 AIRhead News Flashes and Flushes 1994-08-03 Sad News: Alex Kohn Has Passed Away 1994-08-04 Vos Savant Slated to Sip Soup at Ceremony 1994-08-05 Robin Leach / Rich & Famous / Food 1994-08-05 AIRhead Time Caplet: Contest Winners 1994-08-06 Further Selected Abstracts from AIR vol. 1, no. 1 1994-08-07 AIRhead Project 2000: preliminary results 1994-08-08 Ancient Rocketry? 1994-08-09 May We Recommend... 1994-08-10 Musical Advice to Christmas Shoppers 1994-08-11 Slide Rule Surprise 1994-08-12 AIRhead Events 1994-08-13 Calls for Papers 1994-08-14 What is AIR? (*) 1994-08-15 How to Subscribe to AIR(*) 1994-08-16 How to Receive to mini-AIR, etc.(*) 1994-08-17 AIR's Mailing and Internet Addresses (*) 1994-08-18 Please DO make copies! (*) Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue. ------------------------------------------------------------ 1994-08-02 AIRhead News Flashes and Flushes 1. In the November issue we reported that many readers had pointed out that the October issue of mini-AIR was mistakenly dated 1894 rather than 1894. We apologize for acknowledging our mistake. 2. Time Caplet Update A time caplet was buried in 1914 by followers of Constant Desiree Despradelle (1862-1912). The time caplet was coated with a special anti-aging cream. On December 14, 1994, five Nobel Laureates and their acolytes will unearth & rebury the time caplet. The event is growing in scale, pomp and verisimilitude (see section 1994-08- 04, 1994-08-05, and 1994-08-06 below for details). This gala no- questions-asked occurrence will mar the publication of the first issue of AIR. A copy of this valued Collectible Issue will appear in your home or that of a loved one within the next few weeks, provided that you have remembered to send in your subscription. (See section 1994-08-16 below for details). C. AIR home page is still coming Our World Wide Web home page is patently pending. Our Global Village Idiot, Amy Gorin, assures us that January will be the month when we reveal this home page. It will contain, among other data, an X-ray image from our research project on "The Taxonomy of Barney." Details will be announced. 5. We have nearly completed construction of the official MIT Museum Public High-Vacuum Toilet Facility (there are only three public restrooms in Cambridge). It features six opto-electronic multimedia functions, including a data bank of 250 tatoos. The number will be increased as soon as the Internet drop is installed. Please stop by and try it. 6. Acting on a tip from a reader in Hong Kong, we have obtained a cache of slide rules. (See section 1994-08-12 below for details.) ------------------------------------------------------------ 1994-08-03 Sad News: Alexander Kohn Has Passed Away Last week Alexander Kohn died. Alex was the co-founder and editorial board chairman of AIR. In 1955, together with Harry Lipkin, he founded The Journal of Irreproducible Results, of which he was editor until 1989, and editor emeritus until this year, when we all left that magazine to create AIR. By day, Alex was an eminent virologist at Tel Aviv Medical School. By evening, he was a scholar of the history of scientific fraud. At night, often in the guise of Dr. X. Perry Mental, Alex produced some of the funniest and most literate commentaries, parodies and satires ever written. In coming months, AIR will reprint some of Alex's (and X.P. Mental's) best articles. Alex was loved and admired by many people in many places. Anyone who has read his work, and especially those of us who were lucky enough to know him personally, will miss Alex terribly. -- Marc Abrahams ------------------------------------------------------------ 1994-08-04 Vos Savant Slated to Sip Soup at Ceremony AIR editorial board member Marilyn Vos Savant, possessor of the world's highest IQ, will be present at the ceremony, eating soup. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Ms. Vos Savant will hand out crackers to all audience members who desire them. ------------------------------------------------------------ 1994-08-05 Robin Leach / Rich & Famous / Food Robin Leach, host of the noted science television programs "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" and "Robin Leach Talking Food," has created and sent us a special videotape (duration: 43 seconds) and two other items for entombment in the Time Caplet. We do not know why. ------------------------------------------------------------ 1994-08-06 AIRhead Time Caplet Contest Winners, etc. CAPLET CONTEST WINNERS Our contest was to determine "What/who should be placed into the time caplet when we re-bury it?" A frighteningly large number of readers felt compelled to submit entries. Winners will receive nothing, because this contest was devised by AIRheads. However, their names and winning entries will be included in the AIR home page; space does not permit its inclusion here. One of the winning items, submitted by reader Donald Turnblade, represents the Internet: it is a half naked Barbie doll with fiber optic cables instead of doll hair. RESEARCH MINI-PRESENTATIONS Several pieces of outstanding improbable research will be mini- presented at the event: "Politically Correct Cardiology." "QI of IQ: A Quantum Interpretation of the Intelligence Quotient." "The Taxonomy of Barney" ATTENDING THE EVENT The event will take place at the MIT Museum, on Wednesday, December 14, at 6:30 pm. For details on attending the event, see section 1994-08-13.) ------------------------------------------------------------ 1994-08-07 Further Selected Abstracts from AIR vol. 1, no. 1 Following are further selected abstracts from vol. 1, no. 1, of The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). For full details, including lurid photographs and data, see the issue itself. "The Paradigm Paradox," Bill Schweber. The word "paradox" has appeared frequently in the standard literature since its use in a 1965 book by Thomas Kuhn. Occurrences are tracked year by year, and presented in chart form. Literature citations of the word (known as "citings of sightings") have decreased by 75% during the past year. "Einstein's Shoes" (poem), by Heather Rypkema. "I would not live in Einstein's Shoes, despite his noted name./ For as I walked, each shoe would move in someone else's reference frame..." The author pursues this thought and reaches a logical conclusion. Sleep Research Update (who is sleeping with whom in the lab) Scheduled UFO Appearances "The Pop-Up Medical Thermometer," by Stephen Drew. The pop-up medical thermometer is inserted into the skin or into existing body apertures. The inner cylinder pops up when the patient's fever subsides, indicating that it is time for the patient to go home. The technology was originally developed for the poultry industry. This is its first application to biomedicine. [Includes photo] "Book Review: The Nairobi Telephone Directory," by Tim Healey. This reference work has been deliberately constructed so as to encourage the contemplative life. Some, but by no means all, names are listed by forename rather than surname. Alphabetical order is enhanced in new ways (A,B,C,D,E,S,E,M,E,F,G,...). The Classified Section headings invoke long chains of "see also" references, often ending with nonexistent sections. ------------------------------------------------------------ 1994-08-08 AIRhead Project 2000: preliminary results As announced in mini-AIR 1994-02-03 (June, 1993), we are compiling a list of studies, projects, and products that involve the number two thousand. Randomly selected items from the list include: ITEM #0000A-71 (submitted by investigator Dave Bell) Infantryman AD 2000. "Jane's Military Review" reports that: "as visualised by Scicon Computer Systems, he would be armed with a two-shot vertical-launch missile system and a twin-barrel personal defence weapon." COLLECTION #309 (submitted by investigators Earle Spamer and Richard Clark): ITEM #SC908 "Wildlife 2000," edited by Jared Verner, Michael L. Morrison, C. John Ralph, University of Wisconsin Press. ITEM #SC909 "Sky Catalogue 2000.0, Vols. 1 and 2," by Hirshfeld and Sinnott, Cambridge University Press and Sky Publishing Corporation. ITEM #SC9902 "Sky Atlas 2000.0," by Wil Tirion, Sky Publishing Corporation. ITEM #SC4192 "Norton's Star Atlas 2000." ITEM #SC4189 "Uranometria 2000.0, Vols. 1 and 2," by Tirion, Rappaport and Lovi. ITEM #26 (Submitted by Investigator Roger H. Goun) Shopping2000, by ContentWare. "The largest audio and graphically enriched electronic mall as Internet shopping content." ----------------------------------------------------------- 1994-08-09 Ancient Rocketry? Dervishes Not the Only Scientific Pioneers in Turkey by Bill Higgins Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, IL mini-AIR 1994-07 (Nov. 94) mentioned[1] a Turkish scholar[3] named Dr. Celaddin B. Celebi, who explained the significance to physics of the Whirling Dervishes: "Contemporary science definitely confirms that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve." His name rang a bell, so I went scampering for my history references. Could he be a relative of a seventeenth- century commentator, Evilya Chelebi? An issue of "Aerospace Historian" (Fall/September 1988) had "Birdmen of the Middle East: Early Attempts at Human Flight," by Gary Leiser, a USAF historian specializing in Islamic history. Leiser quotes, and so will I, from a seventeenth-century account by Evilya Chelebi. This supposedly happened around 1633 in Istanbul. (Native speakers, please pardon my slaughter of the transliterations!) "This Lagari Hasan had fabricated a seven-cylinder rocket using 50 okkas [about 64 kg] of gunpowder compound. When the Sultan was at Saray Point, he got on the rocket and his apprentices lit the fuse of the rocket. Saying, 'My Sultan, I have recommended you to God. I am going to speak with the Prophet Jesus,' and, praising and glorifying God, he made his ascent to the highest heaven... At the roof of the heavens, the powder of the great rocket was exhausted and when it descended toward the earth, he opened the eagle wings that he had in his hands and landed in the water in front of the mansion of Sinan Pasha. He swam from there and came naked to the Sultan. He kissed the ground and began to joke, saying. 'My Sultan, the Prophet Jesus sends you his regards.'" Leiser doesn't believe a word of this, but he says, "Evilya's account does show that the Turks had the ability to make large rockets, that some Turks had contemplated human flight by means of rockets as early as the seventeenth century, and that they may have even experimented with such a flight." EDITOR'S NOTE: 1. One incensed reader[2] sent us a letter objecting, in highly colorful, ethnically oriented language, to the original report, which was a verbatim quotation from a Turkish ethnomusicologist. This reader informed us that we should not identify any reports concerning improbable research from Turkey as being from Turkey. 2. No pun intended. 3. We were unable to identify the nationality of this researcher. ----------------------------------------------------------- 1994-08-10 May We Recommend... Research reports that merit a trip to the library: "Three cases of disputed paternity in dogs resolved by the use of DNA fingerprinting," I.F. Hermans, J Atkinson, JF Hamilton and GK Chambers, "New Zealand Veterinary Journal," vol 39, no. 2, pp. 61- 64. (Thanks to Doug Freckelton for bringing this to our attention.) "The Orthogonal-Random Waveform Dichotomy for Digital Personal Communications," Andrew J. Viterbi, "IEEE Personal Communications," vol 1, no 1, Q1, 94, pp. 18-24. (Thanks to Pat O'Leary for bringing this to our attention.) "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. (Thanks to Scott Osborne for bringing this to our attention.) (We welcome your suggestions for this column. Please include full citations. If possible, please send us a photocopy of the paper.) ----------------------------------------------------------- 1994-08-11 Musical Advice to Christmas Shoppers[1] by Harry Lipkin Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel Make out your Chopin Liszt early before Debussy season, when you have time to check out Verdi good bargains are, can still get gifts Faure good price, not have to Handel large crowds and have time to give Bach thins you decide you don't want. NOTE 1. No pun not intended. ----------------------------------------------------------- 1994-08-12 Slide Rule Surprise We have obtained a stash of genuine 12" slide rules. They are logarithmic in nature. They can be ordered via email ( or telephone (617-253-4462). The price is $19.95 plus $4.50 shipping/handling. The primary use of this instrument is to produce the following speech from your father, the engineer: "When I was your age, we didn't have one of them fancy-ass computers, we had to do all the calculations by hand, and I'll bet you don't even know what the square root of 369.72 is, but I can find it using this here stick, you see, now how was it these things worked anyway, you are supposed to line up, uh, something and something else, uh, well, we were real engineers back then, I tell you." Don't say you weren't warned. ----------------------------------------------------------- 1994-08-13 AIRhead Events AIRhead TIME CAPLET UNEARTHING/BURIAL Wed., Dec 14, 6:30-7:45 The event will take place at the MIT Museum. A VERY limited number of tickets (they are free!) will be available at the Student Center Museum shop ONLY the week of the event ONLY ONLY ONLY. SCIENCE WRITERS OF NY (SWINY) Thurs, Feb. 2, 6:30 New York Academy of Science, 2 E. 63rd St., NYC SCIENCE DISCOVERY MUSEUM, Acton MA Tues Feb. 7, 3:30-4:30 A hyperinteractive presentation for kids and other scientists. Info:617-264-4200 NEW ENGLAND SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION Feb. 17-19 Sheraton Tara, Framingham, MA MENSA OF CENTRAL NJ Sat., Mar 4, 1995, 7:30 Sheraton, Woodbridge, NJ Info: 908-297-5492 INTERSOCIETY POLYMER SOCIETY October 10, 1995 Stouffer Harborplace Hotel, Baltimore, MD The society recommends early reservations. Info: (518) 387-7942 *** If you would like to host an Improbable Research Event *** at your conference, university, research center, company, *** hospital, high school, or scenic mountain vacation home, *** please get in touch with us. ------------------------------------------ 1994-08-14 Calls for Papers CALL FOR PAPERS on the topic: "Chocolate Research." Reports of your research RESULTS are preferred to speculative essays. CALL FOR NOMINATIONS for the 1995 Ig Nobel Prizes. Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded for achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced. Nominations may be submitted, anonymously or otherwise, by e-mail or by standard mail. ****************************************************************** 1994-08-15 WHAT IS AIR? (*) AIR is a new magazine produced by the entire former editorial staff (1955-1994) of "The Journal of Irreproducible Results (JIR)". The new magazine's co-founders are Marc Abrahams, who edited JIR from 1990-1994, and Alexander Kohn, who founded JIR in 1955 and was its editor until 1989. AIR is published by the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA. The editorial board consists of more than 40 distinguished scientists from around the world including seven Nobel Laureates. Each October, AIR and the MIT Museum produce the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, honoring people whose achievements cannot or should not be reproduced. --------------------------- 1994-08-16 How to Subscribe to AIR(*) Stay way ahead of what you need to know: The Taxonomy of Barney * A Natural History of the Articulated Lorry * Effectiveness of Chinese Fortune Cookies * A Review of the Nairobi Telephone Directory * The Aerodynamics of Potato Chips * The Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony * Scientific Gossip * Nobel Thoughts (offbeat interviews with Nobel Laureates) * Elegant Results (reviews of cosmetics ads) * Hot Air (exhalations from our readers) * X-Rays of the Rich and Famous * and then some! The first issue of AIR will appear in December, 1994. Join us as a subscriber, and as a collaborator! =========================================================== =========================================================== Please send a subscription to The Annals of Improbable Research for a period of (check one): ___ 1 year (six issues) ___ 2 years (twelve issues) Name: Addr: Addr: City: State: ZIP: Country: Phone (voice): FAX: Email address: Payment method: ___ Mastercard ___ Visa ___ American Express Card #: Exp. date: (If you prefer not to send your credit card number via email, please fax, phone or mail in your order.) ___Check (drawn on US bank) or int'l money order is enclosed. ___ This is a gift from: Name: Addr: Addr: City: State: ZIP: Country: Phone (voice): FAX: Email address: ___Send renewal notice to me. ___Send renewal notice to my beneficiary. Rates (in US dollars) USA 1 year - $19.95 2 years - $34.95 Canada/Mexico 1 year - $27 2 years - $45 Overseas 1 year - $40 2 years - $70 Total payment enclosed: Send payment to the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), via Email: FAX: (617) 253-8994 Mail: The MIT Museum 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 USA Phone: (617) 253-4462 --------------------------- 1994-08-17 How to Receive to mini-AIR, etc.(*) mini-AIR is an electronic publication, available over the Internet, free of charge. It is distributed as a LISTSERV application. We publish approximately 12 issues per year. To subscribe, send a brief E-mail message to either of these addresses: LISTSERV@MITVMA.MIT.EDU or LISTSERV@MITVMA The body of your message should contain ONLY the words "SUBSCRIBE MINI-AIR" followed by your name. 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[Please note: The newsgroup is available to you if and only if your Internet site subscribes to the Clarinet newsgroups.] --------------------------- 1994-08-18 AIR's Mailing and Internet Addresses The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) The MIT Museum 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 USA Subscriptions: (617) 253-4462 fax:(617)253-8994 Editorial: 617) 253-8329 PLEASE include your Internet address in all printed correspondence. --------------------------- 1994-08-19 Please make copies! (*) We urge you to distribute copies of mini-AIR or excerpts from it. The only limitations are: A) Please indicate that the material appeared in mini-AIR and is reprinted with permission. B) You do NOT have permission to copy or excerpt this document for commercial purposes. ------------------------------------------------------------ (c) copyright 1994, The Annals of Improbable Research ------------------------------------------------------------ ------------- mini-AIRheads ------------- Editor: Marc Abrahams ( WWW Editor/Global Village Idiot: Amy Gorin ( Associate Editors: Mark Dionne, Stanley Eigen, Jane Patrick Technical Difficulties: Diego Garcia, Francesca Thurston Authority Figure: Barbara Linden ============================================================ IMPORTANT -- The Annals of Improbable Research is IN NO WAY associated with the name "The Journal of Irreproducible Results" or with the publisher of "The Journal of Irreproducible Results" ============================================================


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