A searchable database of Ig Nobel Prize winners

July 22nd, 2014

Our friends at Silk have put together a searchable database of Ig Nobel Prize winners.

Give it a try!

Lots of famous physicists (videos)

July 22nd, 2014

A person named William Kite has been sending us letters—lots of letters— asking that we show more pictures of what he calls “famous physics people”. For the benefit of Mr. Kite (and in truth, merely because of the historical appeal of his name), here are two videos filled with, mostly, moving pictures of famous physicists,  Erwin Schrodinger, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Auguste Piccard, Paul Dirac, Max Born, Wolfgang Pauli, Louis de Broglie, Marie Curie, Hendrik Lorentz, Albert Einstein, Hermann Weyl, Paul Erdos (whom some purists will say was purely a mathematician) and several others:

BONUS: Wellerstein peers at the hair of physicists

Women talk more than men — at least sometimes, sensor study says

July 21st, 2014

Do women talk more than men? A new study used tiny technology to investigate.

Tinier, cheaper, more capable electronics make it possible to sense , record and measure more and more kinds of things. Some sensors are built into conspicuous, please-notice-what-I’m-doing frames — Google Glass is the current great example of that. But tiny sensors can easily be placed where people won’t notice them.

Researchers at Harvard, MIT, and Northeastern had people each wear tiny sensors. (In this case, each of the people involved knew full well that the sensors were there.)…

—so begins another Improbable Innovation nugget, which appears in its entirety on BetaBoston.

Computational gastronomy – part 1 – ‘Food Steganography’

July 21st, 2014

The Varshney twins – Dr. Kush Varshney (currently at IBM) and Professor Lav Varshney (previously at IBM) – have authored a series of papers on the theme of computational gastronomy.

Example 1 : Food Steganography with Olfactory White. (IEEE International Workshop on Statistical Signal Processing, Gold Coast, Australia, June-July 2014)Food_steganography

“Can one hide an averse food in a flavorful food so that the averse food is not perceptible? Here we take a statistical signal processing approach to show how to optimally design a food additive (either using pure flavor compounds or natural ingredients) to act as a steganographic key for this food steganography problem.”

Coming Soon : Computational gastronomy – part 2

His favorite fraud…

July 20th, 2014

This essay appeared in the September 1, 2008 issue of The Scientist (thanks to investigator Carol Morton for bringing it to our attention):

My Favorite Fraud
A paper I read more than 25 years ago taught me a lesson I’ll never forget.

By Steven Wiley

…I was a member of a weekly journal club that discussed the latest papers in the field of cell signaling and growth control. All presenters were to provide an assessment of the technical rigor as well as the importance of papers. In the summer of 1982, however, we encountered a paper that was far out of the ordinary…. Thankfully, fraud this outlandish is rare in biology.

Read the whole thing in The Scientist.