People-calculating: open doors and closed doors

Whether one person holds a door open for another is not simply a question of etiquette, says a study by Joseph P Santamaria and David A Rosenbaum [pictured here] of Pennsylvania State University. No, they say. Nothing simple about it. Santamaria and Rosenbaum worked to pursue the answer through a tangle of belief, logic, probability, perception […]

Beach study suggests tourists like good weather

Do not assume that tourists prefer good weather when they visit a beach. A study published in the International Journal of Biometeorology in 2013 challenges that easy-to-make assumption. The researchers gathered evidence – rather than relying on mere guesses and assumptions – as to what kind of weather brings beachgoers to the beach. Here is […]

Pippa Middleton’s backside – the Freudian and Marxist interpretations

The scholarly community, a portion of it anyway, is diving ever-deeper in the analysis of the rear end of the sister of the wife of the man whose father’s mother sits on the throne of the United Kingdom. The interest has spread westward, to the Republic of Ireland. Ireland has no monarch, and thus does […]

Toppling of the Pops: A sometimes fatal quest for soda pop

We all know that fizzy drinks can affect the health of people who drink them, especially in super-size quantities, but – even worse – fizzy drinks in a vending machine sometimes bring immediate violent death when the machines are attacked. This is documented dramatically by Dr Michael Q Cosio in a 1988 research study published in […]

Bird-feather counters exhibited pluck, tediously

Many humans have spent days, months or years counting feathers. Here are exciting highlights from some of their reports. In 1936 Alexander Wetmore, of the US National Museum in Washington, gathered all the published reports he could find about someone or other counting how many feathers were on particular birds. “The work of feather counting […]

To deal with climate change… make people smaller

The plan to engineer a shorter, smaller human race to cope with climate change is almost as big and bold as the schemes of people working to convince themselves climate change won’t affect them. The plan, at this point still sketchy, has three engineers. S Matthew Liao [pictured here] is a professor of bioethics at New York University. Anders Sandberg and Rebecca […]

Watson and Crick and Pippa Middleton’s bottom

A three-page study called “And Bringing Up the Rear: Pippa Middleton, Her Derrière and Celebrity“, written by a Birkbeck, University of London scholar, Janet McCabe, marks Britain’s instant new status as top dog and intellectual driver of an entire academic field. It is, in that respect, as mentally electrifying as was a one-page study called A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic […]

First attempts to model bipolar patients as harmonic oscillators

People with bipolar disorder swing between mood extremes. A team of mathematicians decided to see how much of that swinging they could describe mathematically. Mason Porter, then at the Georgia Institute of Technology and now at Oxford University, with several US colleagues, published a study in 2009, Mathematical Models of Bipolar Disorder. It appeared in the journal Communications […]