“Alligator sucking on helium wins parody Ig Nobel Prize”
Scientists are answering a question no one is asking. What would it sound like if an alligator sucked up helium? When a team of international researchers wanted to find out whether a gator’s vocalizations relate to its body size, they devised an experiment that would earn them the 2020 Ig Nobel (a wordplay on “Nobel” and “ignoble”) Prize for acoustics. Researchers captured footage of the snorting alligator in a helium-filled tank. In perhaps one of the biggest letdowns in the history of scientific study, it sounded nothing like a cartoon chipmunk. Now in its 30th year, the annual Ig Nobel Prize awards ceremony, usually presented at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, was conducted remotely due to pandemic restrictions.
Among this year’s other elite competitors, a study which demonstrated that meticulously groomed eyebrows are a reliable indicator of grandiose narcissism took home the prize in psychology. The prize in economics went to an international team of creeps (presumably) who wanted to know whether the rate of French kissing correlated with national income inequality. Based on data from 13 countries across six continents, they found that where kissing was more frequent, income inequality was also more likely to occur. Go figure. American Richard Vetter took home the prize in entomology for his brave study on spiders (which aren’t technically insects) that revealed most of his peers are, allegedly, arachnophobic. And, the award for materials science went deservedly (because it’s gross) to a collaboration between the US and the UK to study whether frozen human feces could be made into usable knives. Spoiler alert: It certainly cannot.
But, who could forget the most Ig Nobel moment in recent history? The medical education prize went to a roundup of sometimes ill-advised world leaders for showing that “politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors can” during the global coronavirus pandemic.
This is, clearly, an obscure word. It sounds like a portmanteau of quantum and condom. Hmmm…Quantum Condoms, for an “out of this world” experience! Whadda ya’ think? Can you make a sentence with this word? ~Vic
I saw this on an afternoon walk. “Only the Shadow knows…” ~Vic
Picture of the Day
Seventy years ago, today, the television anthology series Trapped debuted on WOR-TV in New York. Also known as Trapped: Tales of the Supernatural, the host was John Carradine and some guest actors were Charles Korvin, Elizabeth Morgan, Helen Baron, Rita Gam, Fran Malis, George L. Smith, Stanley Tackney and Harry Townes. There were 57 episodes that were 30 minutes long.
In accordance with Gallop, other hosts who aimed to set a mood of terror at the time included Andy Christopher […] (Mr. Black), James Monks (Tales of the Black Cat […]) and Lee Bowman (Eye Witness […]). Similarly, Jack La Rue (Lights Out), Boris Karloff (The Boris Karloff Mystery Playhouse) and John Carradine (Trapped: Tales of the Supernatural […]) offered external examples of film stars hired for TV hosting roles in which an emphasis was placed on their associations with the horror genre [with] typecasting as villainous and/or monstrous characters as part of their respective series façade. Due to a lack of surviving/missing material associated with some live series pre-1955, in the cases of some hosts, it is not always possible to definitively discern to what extent horror elements were adopted as part of a series persona.
Trapped (1950-1952) (Classic TV Archive)
Stumbled across this on an evening walk. ~Vic
One-hundred, thirty-two years ago, today, inventor George Eastman received a patent (number 388,850) for [the shutter of a roll-film hand camera] and the trademark (number 15,825) for the Kodak name […].
Birth of a Company
In 1879, London was the center of the photographic and business world. George Eastman went there to obtain a patent on his plate-coating machine. An American patent was granted the following year. In April 1880, Eastman leased the third floor of a building on State Street in Rochester and began to manufacture dry plates for sale. Success of the dry plate venture so impressed businessman Henry A. Strong, that he invested some money in the infant concern. On January 1, 1881, Eastman and Strong formed a partnership called The Eastman Dry Plate Company. While actively managing all phases of the firm’s activities, [Eastman] continued research in an effort to simplify photography.
In 1883, Eastman startled the trade with the announcement of film in rolls, with the roll holder adaptable to nearly every plate camera on the market. [By] 1884, the Eastman-Strong partnership had given way to a new firm…the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company with 14 shareowners.
George Eastman History
Building the Foundation
My very first camera was a late 70s Kodak Instamatic with 126 film. It was a gift from my paternal grandmother and it got a lot of use. ~Vic
Additional Reading & Sources:
From The Camera Obscura To The Revolutionary Kodak (Eastman Museum)
Kodak History (Kodak Company)
I can’t determine the species. ~Vic
Flower for the Day
It’s been a good day. ~Vic
The artifacts sold for an astounding $81,250 on September 12, 2020.
“[The] lock of hair and telegram, which provides details of Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, are expected to fetch up to $75,000.”
A lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair wrapped in a telegram stained with the 16th president’s blood is up for auction online. [From RR Auction, based in Boston], [the two} inches of Lincoln’s hair was removed during his postmortem examination after the president was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth.
The hair ended up in the custody of Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd, a cousin of Lincoln’s widow, Mary Todd Lincoln. The doctor was present at the postmortem examination and is believed to have wrapped the lock of hair in the telegram which had been sent to him the previous day by his assistant, George Kinnear. The telegram is stained with what is believed to be the slain president’s blood.
Bidding for the two items closes Sept. 12.
The hair is mounted to an official War Department manuscript telegram sent to Dr. Todd by George H. Kinnear, his assistant in the Post Office at Lexington, Kentucky, received in Washington at 11:00pm on April 14, 1865 […]. [A] typed caption prepared by Dr. Todd’s son reads, in part: “The above telegram […] arrived in Washington a few minutes after Abraham Lincoln was shot.
Next day, at the postmortem, when a lock of hair, clipped from near the President’s left temple, was given to Dr. Todd. [Finding] no other paper in his pocket […] he wrapped the lock, stained with blood or brain fluid, in this telegram and hastily wrote on it in pencil […] ‘Hair of A. Lincoln.’”
Dr. Lyman Beecher Todd‘s own account of the autopsy, now preserved in an 1895 manuscript held in the Ida Tarbell collection of Lincoln papers at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, differs slightly from his son’s, noting that he clipped the lock himself: “When all was over, General Hardin entered and handed me a pair of scissors, requesting me to cut a few locks of hair for Mrs. Lincoln. I carefully cut and delivered them to General Hardin and, then, secured one for myself which I have preserved as a sacred relic.”
Description From The Original Listing
A member of the Acanthaceae family, this could be a Ruellia Simplex or Mexican Petunia, Mexican Bluebell or Britton’s Wild Petunia. It could be a Ruellia Tuberosa or Minnieroot, Fever Root, Snapdragon Root or Sheep Potato. Honestly, they look the same to me. ~Vic
Flower for the Day
“A report warns that fleets of new communication satellites in low-Earth orbit will spoil some astronomical observations, even if all known mitigation strategies are taken.”
Astronomers and the operators of new, thousands-strong […] low-orbiting satellites will have to work together to prevent them from having a devastating impact on ground-based observations of planets, stars and other celestial objects, says a [recent] report […]. Even then, there is no escaping some harm from the fleets of commercial orbiters.
“No combination of mitigation will eliminate their impact,” added astronomer Connie Walker of the U.S. National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory.
The satellites, designed to provide internet access in remote areas, now number in the hundreds. [Following] the launch of the first batch by SpaceX in May 2019, astronomers were alarmed by how bright they appear in the sky. If all the planned [launches] go ahead, the number of satellites will grow beyond 100,000. Since last year, there have been a number of independent studies of [satellites’] possible impact. [The] workshop’s report is the first time the satellite companies, and those who would be affected (astronomers to the agencies that fund them and their telescopes), have pooled their results and worked out a strategy for the future.
The satellite trails are very bright, and out of focus slightly, so they’re wide and cover several pixels on images taken with a test version of the (soon to open Vera C.) Rubin Observatory’s camera, notes Tyson. [Telescopes] that need to work during twilight will also run into problems. Because the satellites are in low orbits, they will often be seen close to the horizon and will be most visible when they are still in sunlight but, the observer is not. If, however, satellite operators choose orbits above 600 kilometers, the situation gets worse because, then, their spacecraft are visible for more of the night, and in [the] summer, all night long. Astronomers should also develop software tools to remove satellite trails from images and the companies should make accurate orbital data available for their orbiters so telescopes can try to avoid them.
The only measure the report could offer to totally eliminate the damage to astronomy was to launch fewer or no low-orbiting satellites…likely not an option given the financial investments the companies are making in the [satellites] and the lucrative market they foresee.
Tyson and his colleagues have been working with SpaceX engineers to modify their satellites to reduce their brightness. His team has also modeled trying to steer the Rubin Observatory telescope to avoid passing satellites but, Tyson says there are simply too many. Astronomers are already actively pursuing image processing solutions but, he says “the jury’s out” on how much that can help.
Report Offers Roadmap (American Astronomical Society)
SATCON Report (NOIRLab)
Satellites Could Spoil View of Giant Sky Telescope (Science Magazine February 27, 2020)