Improbable Research Podcast #2: The proper way to make a cup of tea

improbableresearchTea, tea, tea washes through this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

The podcast is all about research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK — research about anything and everything, from everywhere —research that’s good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless. CBS distributes it, both on the new CBS Play.it web site, and on iTunes.

Podcast #2: The Proper Way to Make a Cup of Tea

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This week, Marc Abrahams tells about:

  1. The proper way to make a cup of tea. (“Method for Preparation of a Liquor of Tea for Use in Sensory Tests” is standard number BS 6008., 1980. / British Standards Institution.)
  2. Fingernails on a blackboard. (Halpern, D. Lynn, Randolph Blake, and James Hillenbrand (1986). ‘Psychoacoustics of a Chilling Sound.’ Perception and Psychophysics 39: 77–80. / McDermott, Josh, and Marc Hauser (2004). ‘Are Consonant Intervals Music to Their Ears? Spontaneous Acoustic Preferences in a Nonhuman Primate.’ Cognition 94: B11–B21.)
  3. Your mind could kill you. (Wilkens, A. J., B. Zifkin, F. Andermann, and E. McGovern (1982). ‘Seizures induced by thinking.’ Annals of Neurology 11: 608–12. / Yamamoto, Junji, Isao Egawa, Shinobu Yamamoto, and Akira Shimizu (1991). ‘Reflex Epilepsy Induced by Calculation Using a “Soroban”, a Japanese Traditional Calculator.’ Epilepsia 32: 39–43. / Koutroumanidis, M., M. J. Koepp, M. P. Richardson, C. Camfield, A. Agathonikou, S. Ried, A. Papadimitriou, G. T. Plant, J. S. Duncan, and C. P. Panayiotopoulos (1998). ‘The Variants of Reading Epilepsy. A Clinical and Video-EEG Study of 17 Patients with Reading-Induced Seizures.’ Brain 121: 1409–27. / “Seizures Induced by Nursery Rhymes and Children’s Games,” Enrica Bonanni, Chiara Pizzanelli, Michelangelo Maestri, Monica Fabbrini, Renato Galli and Luigi Murri, Seizure, vol. 13, 2004; pp. 282–3. )
  4. Cutting-edge research. (Horsfall, I., C. Watson, S. Champion, P. Prosser, and T. Ringrose (2005). ‘The Effect of Knife Handle Shape on Stabbing Performance.’ Applied Ergonomics 36 (4): 505–11. / Horsfall, I., P. D. Prosser, C. H. Watson, and S. M. Champion (1999). ‘An Assessment of Human Performance in Stabbing.’ Forensic Science International 102 (2-3): 79–89.)
  5. A man who ate knives. (Marcet, Alex. (1823). ‘Account of a Man Who Lived Ten Years After Having Swallowed a Number of Clasp-Knives, with a Description of the Appearances of the Body after Death.’ Medico-Chirurgical Transactions 12 (1): 52–63. / Witcombe, Brian, and Dan Meyer (2006). ‘Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects.’ BMJ 333: 1285–87.) / Dan Meyer. / Video of the Ig Nobel acceptance speech.)
  6. Cold look at Soviet underwear. (Gurova, Olga (2005). ‘Making of the Body: Cultural History of Underwear in Soviet Russia.’ Paper presented at the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center, University of Illinois at
    Urbana-Champaign, 29 November. / Soviet underwear: between ideology and everyday life, Olga Gurova, Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2008. 288 p. ISBN 978-5-86793-647-1.)
  7. Ministry of clowns. (Richter, Angelika, and Lori A. Zonner (1996). ‘Clowning: An Opportunity for Ministry.’ Journal of Religion and Health 35 (2): 141–48. / Miller Van Blerkom, Linda (1995). ‘Clown Doctors: Shaman Healers of Western Medicine.’ Medical Anthropology Quarterly 9 (4): 462–75.) / The clown ministry video.
  8. The mini-opera “What’s Eating You”,  Act 1. (The opera premiered as part of the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. It starred Maria Ferrante and Scott Taylor, with Patrick Yacono on piano and Thomas Michel on accordion. Karen Hopkin narrates. Also starring the Microbe Chorus: Kelsey Calhoun, Nicholas Carstoiu, Delphine Gabbay, Paul Goodwin, Clia Goodwin, Erika Hutchinson, Andrew B. Jones, Julia Lunetta, Sylvia Rosenberg, Daniel Rosenberg, Abby Schiff, Ted Sharp, and Nobel laureates Carol Greider, Rich Roberts, Frank Wilczek, and Eric Maskin.)

The mysterious Bruce Petschek did the sound engineering.