Sexual appliances have subclass, says the Patent Office

July 28th, 2014

“SEXUAL APPLIANCE” is the official name of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Class 600, Subclass 38Class 600, the broad-ranging general class of which Subclass 38 is a mere part, is for inventions that, in the view of the patent office, have to do with “SURGERY”.

Innovation, as seen by the Patent Office, does not happen willy-nilly. Innovation happens in the real world. In the real world, there are always constraints….

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

Body Composition of Spanish Soccer Referees, Analyzed

July 28th, 2014

The scholarly journal Measurement and Control published a study about a certain class of persons who measure and control the activities of a certain other class of persons:

Body Composition in Spanish Soccer Referees.” J.A. Casajus, A. Matute-Llorente, H. Herrero, and A. González-Agüero, Measurement and Control, vol. 47, no. 6 (2014): 178-184. (Thanks to investigator John Pullin for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Zaragoza and the Royal Spanish Football Federation, report:

[We examined the] body fat of elite Spanish soccer referees and assistant referees by division, role and age group. Participants were 243 males (age 32.4 ± 5.3 years, weight 72.3 ± 6.2 kg, height 179.1 ± 5.9 cm and body mass index 22.5 ± 1.4) who belonged to the Referees Technical Committee of the Royal Spanish Soccer Federation…. they were divided into three age groups as previously described by Castagna: young (Y, 27–32 years, n = 144), average (A, 33–38 years, n = 66) and senior (S, 39–45 years, n = 33)…. These results showed that first- and second-B-division referees presented more healthy values of %BF than first- and second-division assistants. By age group, Y group had the lowest %BF.

BONUS: Playing (not bodily) statistics of the player who in his day, when playing seven years for the Real Zaragoza team. was known as Casajús (real full name: José Antonio Casajús Mallén).

Six baboons overtrained to a computer task, and their moods

July 27th, 2014

“Six baboons (Papio papio) living in a social group had free access to a computerized visual search task on which they were over-trained.”

There must, you say to yourself, be a story behind that. The most direct way to find out whether or not there is such a story, and if there is, what it is, is to read the study in which that sentence appears. The study is:

Baboons’ Response Speed Is Biased by Their Moods,” Yousri Marzouki, Julie Gullstrand, Annabelle Goujon, Joël FagotPLoS ONE 9(7), July 25, 2014: e102562. The authors are at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Marseille, France.

Here’s graphical info, from the study, about personal info pertaining to four of the six baboons. Info about the other two, and info about this info, is in the study.


(Thanks to Eloise Cooper for bringing this to our attention.)

He and they approached hallucinations mathematically

July 27th, 2014

In 2001, Paul Bressloff of the University of Utah, together with four colleagues from elsewhere, made a mathematical assault on the — until then — lack of understanding of what  happens in a so-called “geometric hallucination”. Here’s Bresloff:


Here’s the study:

some-hallucinationsGeometric visual hallucinations, Euclidean symmetry and the functional architecture of striate cortex,” P. C. Bressloff, J. D. Cowan, M. Golubitsky, P. J. Thomas and M. Wiener, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B, 40 :299-330 (2001). [Artistic recreations of the hallucinations are reproduced here, right.] The paper begins by saying:

“This paper is concerned with a striking visual experience: that of seeing geometric visual hallucinations…. This paper describes a mathematical investigation of their origin based on the assumption that the patterns of connection between retina and striate cortex (henceforth referred to as V1) — the retinocortical mapöand of neuronal circuits in V1, both local and lateral, determine their geometry.”

Such hallucinations had been classified, much earlier, by psychologist Heinrich Klüver. The paper cites Klüver’s 1966 book Mescal and Mechanisms of Hallucinations (which was a reprint of things that Klüver had published decades earlier):

Halucinatory images were classified by Kluver into four groups caled form constants comprising (i) gratings, lattices, fretworks, ¢ligrees, honeycombs and chequer-boards, (ii) cobwebs, (iii) tunnels, funnels, alleys, cones and vessels, and (iv) spirals.

(Thanks to investigator J. Muegge for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS: A 1967 review of Klüver’s 1966 book Mescal and Mechanisms of Hallucinations.


“An astonishing 400 tons of dumplings a day”

July 26th, 2014

Nicola Twilley explores many aspects of the history of food refrigeration in China. Twilley’s report “What Do Chinese Dumplings Have to Do With Global Warming?” in the New York Times, ends with a visit to someone who is not thrilled at the culinary prospects of widespread, organized food refrigeration:

Still, not all Chinese people are ready to embrace the refrigeration revolution. Dai Jianjun is the 45-year-old chain-smoking chef of Longjin Caotan, a restaurant on the outskirts of Hangzhou, the scenic capital of Zhejiang province, which serves an entirely locally sourced, anti-industrial cuisine. When I asked him how he liked frozen dumplings, he took off his corduroy cap, rubbed his shaved head with both hands and finally, in a calm voice that carried a distinct undercurrent of anger, said, “If I may speak without reserve, they’re not food.

Twilley assembled ten related, brief documentary videos, on her Edible Geography web site, under the general heading “Ten Landmarks of the Chinese Cryosphere“. Here’s one of those videos, from a factory that makes approx 100,000 dumplings an hour. The video is called “Quick-frozen glutinous rice balls being bagged at the Sanquan factory:

“The first machines could only produce one ball at a time,” factory owner Chen Zemin told Twilley, “whereas today, our machines make it look like it’s raining balls.”

Chen’s company has seven factories, the largest of which, writes Twilley, “employs 5,000 workers and produces an astonishing 400 tons of dumplings a day.”

BONUS [unrelated]: “Dumpling fog in China

BONUS: [unrelated]: The Taiwanese machine that wraps up a robber like a dumpling