Off-putting hair / Old Zeppelin / Effect of weight-loss drugs on plastic surgeons / Impossibility results

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has four segments. Here are bits of each of them:

  • Off-putting hair advice — Cutting remarks of a literal kind fill a study called “Off with her hair: Intrasexually competitive women advise other women to cut off more hair”. The research potentially will inspire other kinds of cutting remarks. A team of seven researchers, all women, at Charles Sturt University and Federation University, Australia, asked women to provide “advice to female clients in a hair salon as though they were the hairdresser, as to how much hair the client ought to have cut off”….
  • Zeppelin communiqué — …  [Richard Ives says:] “I only know this because I am really old and, as I didn’t do drugs then, I remember the Sixties. The tendency of authors to make such obscure references is to be regretted as another form of discrimination against young researchers.”
  • A weighty matter — …Feedback fears that these fears themselves might redirect substantial amounts of biomedical research funding: away from the tortoise-ploddy pursuit of better human health, and towards the hippity-hop flight down lightless holes rumoured to contain buried treasure. The problems raised by Ozempic are already raising other problems. Doctors Clinton D. Humphrey and Anna C. Lawrence published an “alert” urging their peers to face up to the “Implications of Ozempic and other semaglutide medications for facial plastic surgeons“.
  • Know thyself — Anything is possible, some of us like to think. Mario Brčić and Roman Yampolskiy say they think otherwise. They present evidence of this in a jargon-packed 24-pager called “Impossibility results in AI: A survey“. Brčić, at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and Yampolskiy, at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, categorise a bunch of mathematical theorems about tasks that – if those theorems are correct – aren’t possible to accomplish using their own intelligence or (in their words) “artificial intelligence, especially the super-intelligent one”….