Study Hints that Low Viagra Price Enlivens Men in Sweden

Cheap thrills save lives, some might infer from this new study: “Sildenafil and Suicide in Sweden,” Ralph Catalano, Sidra Goldman-Mellor, Tim A. Bruckner, and Terry Hartig, European Journal of Epidemiology, epub 2021. (Thanks to Staffan Yngve for bringing this to our attention.) Here’s a plot of data from the study, which comes with the explanation […]

A vivid new telling of the herring farts / Soviet sub history

The story of how the sound of herring expelling gas through their rear ends became mistakenly taken, by Swedish government officials, as evidence of invading Soviet submarines, gets a new, beautifully stylish telling in a new episode of the RadioLab podcast: Red Herring It was the early 80s, the height of the Cold War, when […]

Ig Nobel—Tues at the Karolinska Institute, Wed at Stockholm U

Tuesday afternoon, the Ig Nobel EuroTour arrives in Stockholm, Sweden—featuring cookies, cannibalism, a-fly-in-wine, and all sorts of other prize-winning things that make people LAUGH, then THINK. April 9, Tuesday, 3:00 pm—Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, in the Biomedicum lecture hall—FREE ADMISSION, OPEN TO THE PUBLIC—[PREVIEW]—Marc Abrahams and Ig Nobel Prize winner Len Fisher (the optimal way to dunk a biscuit) […]

The incident of the Suspected-Soviet-Sub, the Swedish Navy, and the Farting Herring

“Fishes caused Sweden to be afraid of being attacked by Soviet submarines in 1982” is a report by VN Express (in Vietnamese) about the secret incident that years later produced the 2004 Ig Nobel Biology Prize. The central figures in the story: farting herring. It is an open question, biologically speaking, whether the herring do […]

Hugging — What Does It Mean? [podcast 77]

A scientifical Swedish attempt to get a mental grasp on hugging — that’s the central thing in this week’s Improbable Research podcast. SUBSCRIBE on, iTunes, or Spotify to get a new episode every week, free. This week, Marc Abrahams  — with dramatic readings by Harvard chemist Daniel Rosenberg — tells about: Hugging and what it means, maybe — “Meanings of hugging: From greeting behavior to touching implications,” […]

A 1912 Olympic shooting mystery math/physics quiz

This week’s math/physics essay quiz is to explain the math and physics underlying these “INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE OFFICIALS AND COMPETITORS AT THE SHOOTING COMPETITIONS” from  THE OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES OF STOCKHOLM 1912, ISSUED BY THE SWEDISH OLYMPIC COMMITTEE. Here is the relevant passage: In addition to the rules and regulations already issued, […]

In the midst of important things: SVT’s Ig Nobel snippets

This year, Swedish live TV coverage of Nobel Week is spiced with (unrelated but delightful) Ig Nobel snippets. Interspersed in their traditional dignified, lengthy coverage of the grand Nobel Week events in Stockholm, the Swedish television network SVT is broadcasting bits of something rather different, unrelated, and delightful-if-not-exactly-pertinent: brief reports about several of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize winners. Take a […]

The curious true tale of the the Swedish prime minister, a Soviet submarine, and farting herring

Professor Magnus Whalberg took part, many years ago, in an odd historic passage that involved the Swedish prime minister (Carl Bildt), a Soviet submarine, and farting herring. Years after the event, in 2004, Whalberg and his colleague Håkan Westerberg were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize — though the Ig Nobel Board of Governors was at the time completely unaware […]