mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR")

January 2023, issue number 2023-01. ISSN 1076-500X.


Research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK.





02 IN THE MAGAZINE ITSELF: Super Advanced Theories

03 Pain of the Accordion Player

04 Looking Ahead: The 2023 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

05 Limerick Challenge: Second-Hand Smoke in Accordions

06 Hot Sauce Celebrities Winner

07 MORE IMPROBABLE: Flying Fruits, Auto Flamethrower, Excited

08 Effect of Accordions on Wine


30 — Subscribe to the Actual Magazine! (*)

31 — How to start or stop receiving this little newsletter (*)

32 — Contact Info (*)

33 — Standard Gobbledegook (*)


            Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.


What you are reading at the moment (mini-AIR) is overflow detritus from the magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR).



02 IN THE MAGAZINE ITSELF: Super Advanced Theories


Unstoppably comes the special SUPER ADVANCED THEORIES issue (vol. 29, no. 1) of the magazine, waiting for you to read it and — if you are bold —to subscribe. See the table of contents and selected articles at:


SUBSCRIBE to the MAGAZINE, or get BACK ISSUES (there are more than 150 of them!):


Tables of Contents:


(And looking ahead: a special issue on Super-Advanced Theories is in prep for Jan/Feb.)




03 Pain of the Accordion Player


This month's Haphazardly-Selected Study [HSS] of the month is:


"Pain and Posture of Children and Adolescents Who Learn the Accordion as Compared with Non-Musician Students," Liliana Aparicio, Filipa M.B Lã, and Anabela G. Silva, Medical Problems of Performing Artists, vol. 31, no. 4, 2016, pp. 187-192.

The authors explain:


"This study suggests that children and adolescents who play the accordion have an increased forward head posture and lumbar lordosis and a tendency to report more pain than children and adolescents who do not play a musical instrument."




04 Looking Ahead: The 2023 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony


The 33rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony will happen on THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2023.


As in 2020, 2021, 2022, the 2023 ceremony will again happen exclusively online, due to the combined effects and side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. [Yes, we yearn and plan to return to doing it in the traditional home, Sanders Theatre, as soon as possible. But that will not be this year, alas!]


In the meantime, you can amuse and instruct yourself by watching the 2022 Ig Informal Lecture videos, in which most of the new Ig Nobel Prize winners tried to explain, if they could, what they did and why they did it:


A list of all past Ig Nobel Prize winners is, as always, on the web site at




05 Limerick Challenge: Second-Hand Smoke in Accordions


This month's RESEARCH LIMERICK challenge — Devise a pleasing limerick that encapsulates this study:


"Confessions of an Accordion Cleaner" John F. Garvey, Paul McElwaine, Thomas S. Monaghan, and Walter T. McNicholas, BMJ, vol.  335, no. 7621, 2007, pp. 630-630.

(Thanks to Thomas Michel for bringing this to our attention.) The authors report:


"Haw and Gruer document the reduction in exposure to secondhand smoke since the implementation of smoke-free legislation in Scotland. We report further evidence of reduced exposure to secondhand smoke in Irish pubs since the legislation in the Republic of Ireland….

There is anecdotal evidence that the interiors of accordions played regularly in smoke filled environments are dirtied as a result of the trapping of contaminant particles circulating in the air as it filters through the instrument. We conducted a telephone survey of all workers involved in the cleaning, repair, maintenance, and renovation of accordions in the Republic of Ireland."


Submit your perfectly formed, delightfully enlightening limerick to:



            c/o MARC aaattt IMPROBABLE dddooottt COM




06 Hot Sauce Celebrities Winner


The judges have chosen a winner in last month's Competition, which asked for a limerick to explain this study:


"The Spicy Spectacular: Food, Gender, and Celebrity on Hot Ones," Emily J.H. Contois, Feminist Media Studies, vol. 18, no. 4, 2018, pp. 769-773.


Winning limerickicist RICHARD RAE writes:


Celebrities talk about things

While ingesting a decade of wings.

  They’re progressively hot

  Putting them on the spot

‘Til at some point, the fat lady sings.


This month's take from our LIMERICK LAUREATE, MARTIN EIGER:


YouTube's a feast for the eyes.

Each page packs a wondrous surprise.

  My heart starts to quicken

  With each spicy chicken,

So often devoured by guys.




07 MORE IMPROBABLE: Flying Fruits, Auto Flamethrower, Excited


Recent improbable research bits you may have missed...



* Optimal Wings for Flying Fruits

* A Look Back at the Prize-Winning Anti-Car-Jacking Flamethrower

* Too Much Excitement Under Highway 87

*…and much more





  * Charles DeLorey






TWITTER: @ImprobResearch, @MarcAbrahams, #IgNobel






08 Effect of Accordions on Wine


This month's Other Haphazardly-Selected Study [OHSS] of the month is:


"Situational Awareness: How Accordion Music Boosts Sales of Burgundy—Using Counterintuition to Overcome Social Pressure in Decision Making," Michael J. Mauboussin, Harvard Business Press Chapters, Nov 04, 2009, Prod. #: 5885BC-PDF-ENG

(Thanks to Thomas Michel for bringing this to our attention.) The author explains:


"Chances are, you think of yourself as an objective decision maker: you weigh the facts, consider the alternatives, and select the best course of action. You see yourself as being mostly immune to the influence of others; the facts and your own experience will carry the day. Not true, argues behavioral finance expert Michael Mauboussin. In this chapter, he stresses the crucial role of context in decision making and illustrates, using compelling real-life examples, how the behavior of those around us exerts extraordinary influence on our decisions. The chapter concludes with a list of ideas to help you improve your situational awareness and become a more thoughtful and effective decision maker, especially when the stakes are high. This chapter was originally published as chapter 4 of 'Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition.' "















AAAS Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, USA       Feb 2023


Stanford U, California, USA              March [TBA], 2023


Ig Nobel Euro (and Brexitannia) Tour [MAYBE]     Spring, 2023


American Chemical Society, San Francisco, USA    Aug 15, 2023


33rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony             September 14, 2023



[All live events in 2023 are subject to pandemical constraints and adventures.]


For details and additional events, see




30 — Subscribe to the Actual Magazine! (*)


The Annals of Improbable Research is a 6-issues-per-year magazine,

in PDF form. It's packed with research that makes people laugh, then think.



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31 — How to start or stop receiving this newsletter (*)


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Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)



Cambridge, MA, USA

Twitter: @ImprobResearch




33 — Standard Gobbledegook (*)


EDITOR: Marc Abrahams

CO-CONSPIRATORS: Kees Moeliker, Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Gary Dryfoos, Nan Swift, Stephen Drew

PROOFREADER: Ambient Happenstance

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, Sheldon Glashow, Richard Roberts


Key words: improbable research, science humor, Ig Nobel, AIR, the

(c) copyright 2023, Annals of Improbable Research