Ig-Nobel-winning Peter Principle paper remains Physica A’s most popular

“That paper, published in Elsevier’s Physica A, remains the most popular of any paper in the journal on social media, according to the data analytics company Altmetric…. In September 2010, the paper also won the Ig Nobel Prize for Management, and after that it became increasingly popular.” So says the journal’s publisher, also saying: in […]

Modelling heat loss from a semi-spherical cow udder

Theoretical physicists are sometimes accused of making over-simplifications for mathematical models. This has lead to many variations on the spherical cow story, where a physicist claims to be able to cure a sick cow, but only if it is a spherical cow in a vacuum. Oddly, most iterations of this tale ignore heat radiated from […]

Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep Over Various Surfaces

“An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces” is a research study that won the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize in physics for its co-authors — Jack Harvey, John Culvenor, Warren Payne, Steve Cowley, Michael Lawrance, David Stuart, and Robyn Williams, of Australia. John Culvenor, one of the authors, has just boarded an airplane (that’s him, there, […]

Soap Film Opera, fluid dynamically, in France

A series of musico-visual treats — in a new genre called “soap film opera” — are being produced by Florence Elias and her colleagues at Laboratoire Matière et Sytèmes Complexes, Université Paris Diderot and at CNRS. The genre marries soap film, fluid dynamics, music, and videography. Here are three samples — “Habañera” from Carmen, “Lucilla”, and […]

Do Frogs in Helium Get Squeaky Voices? (Podcast #94)

Do frogs get all high-voiced when they breathe in some helium, the way people do? A research study explores that very question, and we explore that study, in this week’s Improbable Research podcast. SUBSCRIBE on Play.it, iTunes, or Spotify to get a new episode every week, free. This week, Marc Abrahams discusses a published helium-filled study, with dramatic readings from Dany Adams, a biology professor at Tufts University […]

Blais sings, in parallel, of quantum gravity

Timothy Blais acted out his master’s thesis (which is called “A new quantization condition for parity-violating three-dimensional gravity“) in a manner unusual for a physicist. He sang it, in n-part harmony, to the tune of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”: (Thanks to Andrea Rapisarda for bringing this to our attention.) BONUS: An older, printer-performed version of the song, which […]