The facial of technology: If it’s super-complicated, it’s impressive!

[WARNING: What you are about to read is super-complicated.] The most complicated technology is the most impressive technology! That idea fuels some of technology’s most impressive investment and marketing campaigns. You can see it in action, and judge its worth, when you look at Faceception. What is Faception? Faception is a company. Faception is a technology. Faception is an exciting […]

Historical ambulatory monitoring of hot flashes (1979)

A look back at a moment in the technological history of monitoring hot flashes: “Investigation of hot flashes by ambulatory monitoring,” G.W. Molnar, American Journal of Physiology, 1979 Nov;237(5):R306-10. The author reports: “The unpredictability of hot flashes makes their investigation difficult. A method for continuous monitoring of subjective arousals and their objective correlates is here […]

(Video of) A measure of improbability at NIST

Here’s video of the colloquium talk I did a few days ago at NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in Gaithersburg Maryland.  The official description: “A Measure of Improbable Research — haphazardly selected samples of Ig Nobel Prize-winning and other research that makes people LAUGH then THINK”. The talk was  broadcast live to NIST facilities in […]

Slobodchikoff on the imminence of cross-species chit-chatter

A mere eleven years after the inventors of Bow-Lingual were awarded the Ig Noble Peace Prize, Con Slobodchikoff, professor emeritus at Arizona State University and President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., explains how near we are to having computer-aided communications with some animals. Megan Garber interviewed Slobodchikoff for The Atlantic. Here’s a bit of that interview: […]

Modest evidence that Narcissistic CEOs are good for new technology

A press release presents modest evidence about the worth of narcissistic Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) [here is an auto-translated version of the original German text]: The more narcissistic one CEO, the higher his willingness in his or her company to introduce new technologies – especially if these innovations are perceived by the public as “beneficial”, but […]

Updated index of new patents for golfballs (Sept. 2012)

The GolfBall Index maintained headway into positive territory again this month – virtually equalling August’s promising figures. September 2012 ended with almost one dozen new US patents for golfballs. • Golf ball core with soft outer transition volume and negative hardness gradient • Multi-layer core golf ball having opposing hardness gradient with steep gradient outer […]

To fail by looking at all ‘failed’ technology as failure

Maggie Koerth-Baker writes in BoingBoing:  “How the Refrigerator Got its Hum” is an article written by science historian Ruth Schwartz Cowan [pictured here]. It was published in 1985, in a book called The Social Shaping of Technology. The article traces the development of the refrigerator and the story of why we use electricity, rather than natural […]

The epic endurance of nickel-a-bottle Coca-Cola

An economics paper explains, perhaps, the epic endurance of nickel-a-bottle Coca-Cola: “‘The real thing’: nominal price rigidity of the nickel Coke, 1886-1959“, Daniel Levy and Andrew Young, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, (2004). (Thanks to Sandeep Baliga for bringing this to our attention.) Levy and Young write: We report that the price of a 6.5oz […]

Terry Jones takes on technology

Terry Jones, of Monty Python and other fame, interviewed by The Observer on the subject of technology. (The unrelated photo below shows Mr. Jones assisting Dr. Elena Bodnar, inventor of the brassiere that in an emergency can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks. That demonstration happened on the 2010 Ig Nobel […]

Improbable Research