Why Do Hockey Players Score More than Soccer Players?

Julien Blondeau, who researches thermodynamics and fluid dynamics at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, writes us about his most unusual research project: I can now perfectly explain why, for instance, field hockey players score more than football players, although the fields have approximately the same size, the number of players is exactly the same, the goals […]

Innovative Scientists Talk About Their Childhood (6): Olga Shishkov’s Maggots

Here’s Olga Shishkov talking about some maggots, and some numbers that, when she was a child, excited Olga in a way that led to her eventual unusual career. Olga studies how maggots manage to do some of the surprising, impressive things they do. ABOUT THIS LITTLE VIDEO SERIES—This is part of a series of sessions […]

A Million Random Digits [research study, with implied drama]

The book A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates is appreciated in the article “A Million Random Digits,” which is one of the articles in the special Numbers issue of the Annals of Improbable Research, which is one of the 142 issues published so far! The original, digit-laden study was published by the Rand Corporation in […]

How to order a beer [research study, about numbers]

“How to Order a Beer—Cultural Differences in the Use of Conventional Gestures for Numbers,” is one of several studies featured in the article “Numbers Research — research some people think they can count on,” which is one of the articles in the special Numbers issue of the Annals of Improbable Research, which is one of […]

Renewed Interest in Octonions

“There are exactly four normed division algebras: the real numbers (R), complex numbers (C), quaternions (H), and octonions (O). The real numbers are the dependable breadwinner of the family, the complete ordered field we all rely on. The complex numbers are a slightly flashier but still respectable younger brother: not ordered, but algebraically complete. The […]

Umpteen reflections on Indefinite Hyperbolic Numerals

With apologies to our readers who might already know, Indefinite Hyperbolic Numerals* (IHNs) are words like zillion, jillion, and umpteen. Or, to be exact : “Indefinite hyperbolic numerals (IHN) are words that (1) resemble numerals morphologically, and (2) act as numerals morphosyntactically within numeral phrases, yet (3) whose direct numerical referent remains indefinite.” For an […]

Round numbers, sharp numbers, and their perceived credibility

If someone told you that a soap was “99.44% pure” would you be more likely to believe their claim than if they rounded the number to “99% pure”? A 2006 paper in the journal Advances in Consumer Research authored by professors Robert M. Schindler (Rutgers University-Camden) and Richard F. Yalch (University of Washington) entitled: ‘It […]

Counting Things that Could Exist (philosophically)

Professor Tobias Rosefeldt, of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany, counts things that could exist – in particular, he specifically does so in a new paper for The Philosophical Quarterly. “Consider a tailor who works for a company that sells business suits as well as hipster suits. She has two business trousers and two business jackets […]