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Research Study Announces: “Where There Are Girls, There Are Cats”

April 8th, 2020

The specific question of whether cats are where girls are is addressed in a new study:

Where There Are Girls, There Are Cats,” Yuhang Li, Yue Wan, Yigui Zhang, Zhaomei Gong, and Zhongqiu Li, Biological Conservation, epub 2020. (Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.) Here are details from the study:

The authors, at Nanjing University, China, explain:

“In this study, we provided robust estimates of free-ranging cat density in 30 universities in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. We found that the population density of free-ranging cats is linearly related to the proportion of female students in the university. An online questionnaire confirmed that human females were more concerned about the living conditions of free-ranging cats than human males in China. By contrast, a socialization test on 27 free-ranging cats suggests that the cats may have the ability to distinguish human sex and adopt a sociable skill to human females.”

But then…

The journal’s publisher published the article online, then removed it, replacing it with this terse notice:

“The publisher regrets that this article has been temporarily removed. A replacement will appear as soon as possible in which the reason for the removal of the article will be specified, or the article will be reinstated. The full Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal can be found at”

Retraction Watch had a few things to say about this.

Deep Learning to Help People Know Your Shit

April 6th, 2020

A new, distinct form of backend processing— a very distant relative of potty training, for computers—is presented in this new study:

A mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta,” Seung-min Park, Daeyoun D. Won, Brian J. Lee, Diego Escobedo, Andre Esteva, Amin Aalipour, T. Jessie Ge, Jung Ha Kim, Susie Suh, Elliot H. Choi, Alexander X. Lozano, Chengyang Yao, Sunil Bodapati, Friso B. Achterberg, Jeesu Kim, Hwan Park, Youngjae Choi, Woo Jin Kim, Jung Ho Yu, Alexander M. Bhatt, Jong Kyun Lee, Ryan Spitler, Shan X. Wang, and Sanjiv S. Gambhir, Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2020. (Thanks to Abhishek Nagaraj for bringing this to our attention.)

The authors, at institutions in the USA, South Korea, Canada, and The Netherlands, explain:

Here, we describe easily deployable hardware and software for the long-term analysis of a user’s excreta through data collection and models of human health. The ‘smart’ toilet, which is self-contained and operates autonomously by leveraging pressure and motion sensors, analyses the user’s urine using a standard-of-care colorimetric assay that traces red–green–blue values from images of urinalysis strips, calculates the flow rate and volume of urine using computer vision as a uroflowmeter, and classifies stool according to the Bristol stool form scale using deep learning, with performance that is comparable to the performance of trained medical personnel. Each user of the toilet is identified through their fingerprint and the distinctive features of their anoderm, and the data are securely stored and analysed in an encrypted cloud server.

Recent progress in ‘IKEA catalogue’ studies

April 6th, 2020

The cultural, artistic and linguistic implications (and more) of the IKEA catalogue have not been overlooked by academia. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of some relevant publications over the last 10 years or so.

• Neoliberalism in your living room: A spatial cognitive reading of home design in IKEA catalogue

• Presupposition based on IKEA catalogue 2017 edition [.pdf ]

• Silent IKEA: The Negativity and Politics of Retail Image in the IKEA catalogue

• The IKEA Catalogue: Design fiction in academic and industrial collaborations [.pdf ]

• The Language of Persuasion in Translation: The Cultural Filter in the English and Dutch IKEA Catalogue [.pdf ]

• Female visibility/representation in Saudi Arabia: a critical multimodal/discourse analysis of the 2013 IKEA catalogue and press discourses on Saudi Arabia [.pdf ]

•  Massification, prescription et singularité : le cas du catalogue IKEA : les intérieurs modèles et l’objet sériel : standardisation des singularités et création des circonstances de projection identitaire dans le catalogue IKEA par la mise en pratique des objets [in French] [.pdf ]

And the latest (May 2020) :

• T/V pronouns in global communication practices: The case of IKEA catalogues across linguacultures

The photo is featured in : The IKEA Catalogue: Design fiction in academic and industrial collaborations.
Research research by Martin Gardiner

Fire Risk in Whisky-based Method of Disinfection of SARS-CoV-2

April 4th, 2020

Protecting against the COVID-19 virus might—might—be able to involve both pleasure and risk, in the method outlined in a new study:

Possibility of Disinfection of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in Human Respiratory Tract by Controlled Ethanol Vapor Inhalation,” Tsumoru Shintake, arXiv 2003.12444. (Thanks to Vaughn Tan for bringing this to our attention.) The author, at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Japan, explains:

How to Sterilize in our Respiratory Tract— As shown in Fig. 1, we inhale the ethanol vapor of alcohol solution at 50~60°C through the nostrils using a tall cup (heat insulating styrofoam, or a wine glass). We fill ~30 ml Whisky, diluting with 30 ml hot water (90°C)….

if we use the spray for ethanol disinfection experiments, the outcomes would fluctuate greatly, and always higher concentration would be required. Also, in practice, the ethanol spray should be avoided, because of possible fire accident. Therefore, the author proposes inhalation of the ethanol vapor through the nose, which then condenses inside our respiratory tract, and thus disinfects the corona virus.

Using Odor to Try to Optimize Learning During Sleep

April 3rd, 2020

“To smell again, perchance to learn better” would be a poetical way to speak of this study about teaching sleeping children in Germany how to read and write better English:

How Odor Cues Help to Optimize Learning During Sleep in a Real Life-Setting,” Franziska Neumann, Vitus Oberhauser, and Jürgen Kornmeier, Scientific Reports, vol. 10, no. 1227, 2020. (Thanks to Hans-Stefan Madlung for bringing this to our attention.)

The authors, at the University of Freiburg, Germany, explain:

All sticks were used in an unlit state, as they already distributed a highly intense fragrance as such. Depending on the experimental condition, the students were instructed to put the incense stick next to them on their desk while they were studying the English vocabulary at home, on their nightstand next to their bed while they were sleeping, and/or on their desk during the vocabulary test itself, which took place seven days after the initial presentation of the vocabulary in school. Having the incense stick on the nightstand during the whole night implied that the rose fragrance was supplied during the complete sleep period and in all sleep cycles….

We had to rely on the students’ reports on their use of the odor cues while studying at home and during their sleep in the seven nights between the initial encoding of the vocabulary material and the final test.

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