Man of Letter

An errant letter has transformed an eminent scientist into a loaf of bread. Investigator Alain Le Faou of the Laboratoire Central de Virologie at the Centre hospitalier et Universitaire de Nancy writes: I feel honored to have received my official Improbable Researcher Card, but I would have been far more honored if I were not […]

Bovine Runners-Up

The Bovine Indecision Limerick Contest has produced a vast herd of runners-up. Here is a tiny selection. (The contest was announced in mini-AIR 2004-01. The winners will be announced in mini-AIR 2004-02) INVESTIGATOR B. ROBSON: Cows are not easily moved By questions of “slotted or grooved?” They’ll think you a bore If you ponder the […]

Hollow Research Bunnies

There are few peer-reviewed papers on the subject of designing and testing an improved packaging for hollow chocolate bunnies. Of these articles, the most bouncily thorough is one called “Designing and Testing an Improved Packaging for Large Hollow Chocolate Bunnies.” So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian. Read it here.

Bureaucratic Hand

“The bureaucratic hand meets with the Bureacracy Club.” So saying, a wishes-to-be-unnamed member of the latter has sent a link to a photograph of the former. See the photo here. The Bureaucracy Club’s home page is, as always, here.


Bureaucracy Club’s New Red Tape

The Bureaucracy Club is abuzz at the discovery of a new red tape taskforce. Investigator Tim Churches sends word of the existence of the GP Red Tape Task Force. A perfectly bureaucratic Task Force PDF can be accessed here. The Bureaucracy Club now hopes to find web pages for additional official Red Tape Task Forces, […]


Numbers Mirror Smoke Hazard

How dangerous is marijuana? Thanks to Dr Peter Maguire and his careful use of basic mathematics, now we know. Details are in a January 21, 2004 news report from Reuters (read the full report here): “Cannabis is a drug that can kill,” Dr Peter Maguire, deputy chairman of the BMA’s board of science told Reuters. […]

Upside-Down, and Diagnosis

The phrase “upside-down, into the void” sums up a report in the BMJ (vol. 328,January 17, 2004, p. 176): A 67 year old man presented with lower urinary tract symptoms and many episodes of near-acute urinary retention, which he found, by trial and error, he avoided by standing on his head for 5-10 minutes each […]

Murphy’s Law at Caltech

George Nichols, who helped give birth to Murphy’s Law, will make an exceedingly rare public appearance tomorrow night (Jan 27) at Caltech. He was head of the project at Edwards Air Force Base in California where, in 1949, he, Colonel John Paul Stapp, and Captain Edward A. Murphy, Jr. jointly, if disjointedly, gave rise to […]

Trinkaus and the Mammoth Cheese

“Ode on the Mammoth Cheese” gained new prominence when John W. Trinkaus accepted his Ig Nobel Literature Prize in 2003. Trinkaus was presented with a special framed copy of the famous 1884 cheese poem, a copy signed by four Nobel Laureates. Read about it in the Nov/Dec 2003 issue of the magazine, or read it […]