Using urine as the main fluid to make flush toilets flush

Sometimes, an answer to a technological conundrum is there, quite literally, under our noses. Take toilet flushes for example. For those involved in water conservation, toilets are a headache. Even specialised ‘low-flow’ flush hardware can use 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush) – that’s approaching 6.1 litres. [Reference leglislation see : 42 U.S.C. § 6295 : […]

“Topical Trends in a Corpus of Persuasive Writing”

If you list everything that’s topical, trendy and persuasive, your list might include things you’d prefer it not to include, suggests this study: “Topical Trends in a Corpus of Persuasive Writing,” Michael Heilman and Nitin Madnani [pictured here], Research Report ETS RR-12-19, October 2012. The authors write, topically and perhaps persuasively: “Many writing assessments use generic […]

mini-AIR May Issue: Pottos, and more pottos

The March issue of mini-AIR (our monthly newsletter — it’s a wee little supplement to the magazine) just went out. You can read it online, too. Topics include: Pottos Putrid-Defect-of-Butter Poet More About Pottos L’Allure du Potto and more It also has info about upcoming events. Mel [pictured here] says, “It’s swell.” mini-AIR is the simplest way to […]

Lacan meets Austin Powers (comedic skin eruptions)

If you’re interested in Lacanian ‘drives’, the philosophical aspects of skin, and Austin Powers, then you can do no better than consult chapter two of  ‘Skin, Culture and Psychoanalysis’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) which explores connections between all three. The chapter, entitled ‘Comedic skin eruptions: A Psychoanalytic reading of Austin Powers’ is authored by Sheila Kunkle, who […]

The caffeine song, performed at TEDx CERN

At TEDx CERN, Maria Ferrante and Alice Martelli perform the song “Caffeine”. The song, part of the mini-opera”Chemist in a Coffee Shop,” premiered in 2011 as part of that year’s Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. See all the parts, Improbable and otherwise, of TEDx CERN at the TEDx CERN web site. This was the third of three officially Improbable parts of TEDx CERN. the first was the […]

Clear Safety Signs: E Germany wins versus W Germany

Safety signs are one area in which, according to this study, East Germany ultimately triumphed over West Germany: “Should I Stay or Should I Go – Cognitive Conflict in Multi-Attribute Signals Probed with East and West German ‘Ampelmännchen’ Traffic Signs,” Claudia Peschke, Bettina Olk [pictured here], Claus C. Hilgetag, PLoS ONE 8(5), May 24, 2013, […]