From: (Dennis McClain-Furmanski)

Read this. Laugh at this. This is solid, irrefutable proof that CON taught acedemic aptitude *can* and *does* lead to Slack(tm), given the chance and too little to do. Subscribe to this electronic version; it's free. Pass copies of it around; it's encouraged. And subscribe to the paper version, because the 35 year history of scientific humor publishing depends on it. The world MUST know that we can delve DEEP into the Arcance Sciences and emerge unscathed and GIGGLING. And if you order now, you'll get the issue with my article in it. I get nothing else for it except the chance at blatant pluggism (which the CoSG indubitably encourages), and the chance to wash my hand immediately after shaking hands with the editor (truly -- it's in the copyright transfer form).

================================================================ The mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR") Issue Number 1995-02
February, 1995
ISSN 1076-500X
Key words: improbable research, science humor, Ig Nobel, AIR ---------------------------------------------------------------- A monthly supplement to The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), the journal of inflated research and personalities published by The MIT Museum


1995-02-01 Table of Contents
1995-02-02 AIRhead News Flashes and Flushes
1995-02-03 Valentine's Chocolate Survey: Phase I Results
1995-02-04 Selected Abstracts from AIR 1:2
1995-02-05 In re L. Ron Hubbard
1995-02-06 Studmuffins of Science
1995-02-07 Missing Matter
1995-02-08 AIRhead Project 2000: preliminary results
1995-02-09 May We Recommend...
1995-02-10 AIRhead Events
1995-02-11 Calls for Papers
1995-02-12 Teachers' Guide
1995-02-13 What is AIR? (*)
1995-02-14 How to Subscribe to AIR(*)
1995-02-15 How to Receive mini-AIR, etc.(*)
1995-02-16 AIR's Mailing and Internet Addresses (*)
1995-02-17 Please DO make copies! (*)

Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

------------------------------------------------------------ 1995-02-02 AIRhead News Flashes and Flushes

A. The official AIRhead German language slogan, "Luft, luft, nichts als luft," which was announced in mini-AIR 1995-01, has become the source of disputatious consternation. A typographical error, compounded by the obscurity of the quotation source, infuriated or inspired many readers, especially Dr. W-------f from Munich, who kindly mailed us an autographed sixteen volume set of his German grammar textbooks. Our thanks to him.

B. A photograph of the Pop-Up Medical Thermometer is featured as this month's new poster in Hot AIR, our WWW home page. The thermometer, described in detail in AIR 1:1, is a prime example of technology transfer (in this case, from the poultry industry).

C. We are in dire need of interns, volunteers, and lost souls to assist the editor. If you within driving distance of the MIT Museum, have a few spare hours a month, and would like to impose your mark on science history and yourself on the editor, please contact us.

D. The Gallery of Bearded Men, our project to document nature's full range of bearded men, is now accepting photographs. The Gallery will eventually go on display in our WWW home page, and will become the subject of a scholarly analysis in AIR itself. All bearded men whose photos are included in the Gallery will be invited to be part of the official Bearded Men delegation to this October's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony.

C. We are preparing a report on Improbable Research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. This will be the first in a chronic series of reports devoted to improbable research at the world's great scientific and medical institutions. Each report will be accompanied by a review of the cafeteria.

B. The second issue of AIR will be emerging from our subterranian printing press later this month. In response to questions from several (proudly) confused readers, let us clarify that: Yes, the continuing existence of AIR and mini-AIR depends entirely on paid subscriptions to AIR. We hope you will subscribe, for the sake of future generations.

A. A special thank you to the gentleman at CERN in Geneva who shipped us his collection of autographed socks from members of the European physics community.

B. Please be assured that we DO read all of our incoming correspondence. However, the amount we receive far surpasses our ability to send replies. If you really, really need a response, please so indicate thank you very much yes indeed and please accept our humble apologies sorry about that chief.

------------------------------------------------------------ 1995-02-03 Valentine's Chocolate Survey: Phase I Results

1088 people participated in Phase I of the 1995 AIR St Valentine's chocolate survey. We would like to thank each and every one of you - especially those who were kind enough to vote more than once.

73.27% of respondents were male; 25.42% were female; 1.03% could not or would not reveal their gender; 0.28% claimed to be both.

62.34% prefer dark chocolate, 33.37% prefer milk chocolate, 1.03% voted for white chocolate, 1.78% were undecided. In addition, there was one vote each for light turkey, light beer, dark beer, marzipan and chocolate licorice. One person preferred the white chocolate in the form of a bunny. Two votes were of the X-rated variety. The answer "yes" was given twice.

We also received one Haiku.

There was one person who reported being born on Valentine's Day, and one person who reported being lactose intolerant and who considers milk chocolate to be the spawn of Satan. Seven people pointed out that we confused sex with gender and one gave the following reference: "Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn of the Millenium," by Judith Martin, page 192. One person suggested an age factor be brought into the study, and two people recommended we examine the gender of the chocolate, i.e. with or without nuts.

As you may have noticed, we added white chocolate into the survey even though it was omitted from the original questionaire. This was suggested by a number of individuals, not all of whom voted for white chocolate. On the other hand, we recieved the following comment "White chocolate is an aberrant albino abomination which I'm glad to see you're ignoring."

The detailed results of Phase I:

64.34% preferred dark chocolate
31.25% went for milk
01.10% for white chocolate
01.84% split their vote in favor of a dark milk chocolate 00.64% were undecided or other

62.37% preferred dark chocolate
34.31% preferred milk chocolate
01.02% preferred white chocolate
10.2% split for dark milk
00.64% were undecided or other

66.67% went for dark chocolate
33.33% chose milk chocolate

9.09% went for dark and milk respectively 27.27% opted for dark milk
54.44% were undecided or other

We leave it to educated readers to perform their own chi-square tests.

Phase II of the survey is being conducted by ABC-TV's World News Now program, and on a continuing basis via our WWW home page. Results will be reported in a future issue of mini-AIR.

------------------------------------------------------------ 1995-02-04 Selected Abstracts from AIR 1:2

Selected abstract from articles published in the March/April 1995 issue (vol. 1, no. 2) of The Annals of Improbable Research. For details and accompanying photographs and data, see the issue itself.

"Effectiveness of Chinese Fortune Cookies, " by Robert Feldman. The author conducted experiments to determine the effectiveness of Chinese fortune cookies at predicting the future. The results were conclusive, and unexpected.

"Xerox Enlargement Microscopy (XEM)," by David P. Cann and Phillip Pruna. A revolutionary new microscopy technique makes it possible to achieve subatomic resolution levels by using standard copying machines. The process consists of iterative enlargements of enlargements. The authors present several examples, including a 15,392 magnification image of ferroelectric barium titanate and a 1,367,481 X image of a deuterium ion.

"The Dead in the Classroom," by Stephen Rushen. To an early morning freshman economics class of thirty live students, fifteen dead students were added. Performance of both live and dead students was observed through the course of the semester. Data are presented in the categories of: attendance; behavior; participation; and exam scores. In three of the four areas, the dead students' performance was the equal of, if not superior to, that of their living peers.

"Cindy Crawford Discovers," a new regular column written by Alice Shirrell Kaswell. Kaswell reports on the scientific efforts and achievements of supermodel Cindy Crawford and her ilk, as documented in published works in the research journals "Vogue," "Cosmopolitan," "Elle," etc. This premiere column concerns certain of Cindy Crawford's recent discoveries in chemistry, and more.

------------------------------------------------------------ 1995-02-05 In re L. Ron Hubbard

We recently received this letter, dated 2/1/95, concerning a recent Ig Nobel Prizewinner. The letter is reproduced here in its entirety:

"I recently learned that L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, received an 'award' from the Annals of Improbable Research and the MIT Museum last October.

"Few men in history have had so positive an influence upon the lives of others through their writings as has L. Ron Hubbard.

"Millions of individual men and women have achieved greater abilities, success and happiness through his work.

"Because of this workability in improving the lives of others L. Ron Hubbard's books have been published in 32 languages and distributed in 103 countries. To date, his works have sold a total of 116,000,000 copies, making him one of the most acclaimed and widely read authors of all time.

"For more information on his works readers can feel free to personally contact me by correspondence to The Church of Scientology, 448 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02115 or phone me at 617-266-9500."

Kit Finn
Community Services Director
Church of Scientology

------------------------------------------------------------ 1995-02-06 'Studmuffins of Science' Calendar

by Karen Hopkin

Attention, afficionados of the academic Adonis. The curators of the all-new Studmuffuns of Science Calendar seek photos and biographical blurbs on the hottest young scientists from astrophysics to zoology. Designed to give female students and faculty members something to ogle while they run their gels or prepare their grants, the calendar will feature a dozen of the smartest and sexiest science studs around. We'll show these brainy boys at work and at play... and reveal their intimate secrets... their favorite board games, bacterial media, ftp sites, and pasta recipes.

Nominate yourself. Nominate your chairman. Nominate the poor unsuspecting slob slaving away at the lab bench next to you. Remember, if you have a Y chromosome and a PhD, you could be Dr. December.

We anxiously await your entries. Please send calendar candidate photos to: Studmuffins of Science Calendar, c/o Karen Hopkin, Producer, Talk of the Nation: Science Friday, WNYC Radio, One Centre Street, New York, NY 10007 or c/o The Annals of Improbable Research (address given below). If you have any recommendations or would be interested in getting your hands on a copy of the steamiest science calender ever conceived, drop us a line at

------------------------------------------------------------ 1995-02-07 Missing Matter

This space intentionally left nearly blank.

------------------------------------------------------------ 1995-02-08 AIRhead Project 2000: preliminary results

As announced in mini-AIR 1994-02-03 (June, 1993), we are compiling a list of studies, projects, and products that involve the number two thousand. Randomly selected items from the list include:

ITEM # 406 (Contributed by investigator Richard Ehrenkaufer)
"Seafood 2000." A seafood (actually mostly shelfish, clams, etc.) shack on route 24 in Swansboro, NC, run by a nice guy named Bobby.

ITEM # 407 (Contributed by investigator Dudley A. Horque)
"Towards 2000." Predecessor to the Australian television programme (i.e., program) "Beyond 2000."

ITEM # 408 (Contributed by investigator Gayle Smith-Whittington)
"MISSION2000." Volume Services's corporate initiative to be the best food service company in the US by the year 2000.

ITEM # 410 (Contributed by investigator Greg Erwin)
"Defence 2000." Video promoting the Dept of Defence's [the 'c' indicates that this is Canadian] plan for dealing with budget cuts. According to radio reports, the video presents 'characters' composed of faces, drawn on fingers and thumbs, who explain how the department will fire personnel and eliminate military bases.

ITEM # 411 (Contributed by investigator Michael Fath)
"Biosphere 2000," edited by D.G. Kaufman and C.M. Franz, HarperCollins, College Publishers. 1993. A college textbook on environmental science. [Note: investigator Fath wrote the case study that appears on pp. 334-336.]

ITEM # 412 (Contributed by investigator Stephen C. Trier)
"NCIC 2000," National Crime Information Computer 2000. The FBI's plan to provide data communications equipment procurement specifications.

ITEM # 414 (Contributed by investigator David Baron)
"Systematics Agenda 2000." An ambitious, if vague, project of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the Willi Hennig Society to catalog the world's biodiversity.

ITEM # 415 (Contributed by investigator Ian Young)
"Linhof Master Technika 2000." Modern large format technical camera.

ITEM # 416 (Contributed by investigator Doug Lindholm)
"Gladiators 2000." Children's TV program that is promoted as being "American Gladiators for kids."

----------------------------------------------------------- 1995-02-09 May We Recommend...

Research reports that merit a trip to the library:

"Cannabis in the Ear--the Legal Aspects," by S.R. Saeed, M.S. Timms, and T. J. Woolford, "Journal of Laryngology & Otology," vol. 107, no. 10, 1993, p. 979. (Thanks to John Carne for bringing this to our attention.)

"Optimal Replacement of GMC Bus Engines: An Empirical Model of Harold Zurcher," by John Rust, "Econometrica," vol. 55, no. 5, Sept. 1987. The research concerns the replacement of internal combustion engines, not of Mr. Zurcher. The author's name is apparently genuine. [NOTE: This paper won the 1992 Frisch medal given by the Econometric Society, announced on p. 1443 of the Nov. 1992 issue of "Econometrica," vol. 60, no. 6, Nov. 1992, p. 1443. (Thanks to Arthur Lewbel for bringing this to our attention.)

"Data manipulation: Dr. Factifuge Meets the Three Stooges," by P.F. Dillon, "Perspectives in Biology and Medicine," vol. 33, 1990, pp. 231-236. The paper concerns how to deal with a changing baseline. (Thanks to Joe Clark for bringing this to our attention.)

(We welcome your suggestions for this column. Please include full citations. If possible, please send us a photocopy of the paper.)

----------------------------------------------------------- 1995-02-10 AIRhead Events

ABC-TV WORLD NEWS NOW 2 am - 5 am weekdays
AIR's editor and various other AIRheads present regular and irregular research reports on ABC's live insomniac news program. Dates and times are scheduled haphazardly, if at all. Call your local ABC television station for details.

NEW ENGLAND SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION Sat, Feb 18, 1:30 Keynote address / improbable research seminar / slide show. Sheraton Tara, Framingham, MA
Info: Deb Geisler 617-625-2311 (

MENSA OF CENTRAL NJ Sat, Mar 4, 7:30
Keynote address / improbable research seminar / slide show. Sheraton, Woodbridge, NJ
Info: 908-297-5492


Keynote address / improbable research seminar / slide show. Stouffer Harborplace Hotel, Baltimore, MD Info: (518) 387-7942

*** If you would like to host an
*** improbable research seminar / slide show *** please get in touch with us.

--------------------------------------------------------------- 1995-02-11 Calls for Papers

CALL FOR PHOTOMICROGRAPHS of cells and other microscopic structures and substructures that resemble African predators (lions, tigers, giraffes, wildebeest, etc.).

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS for the 1995 Ig Nobel Prizes. Prizes are awarded for achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced. Nominations may be submitted, anonymously or otherwise, by e-mail or by standard mail. Please include documentation.

1995-02-12 Teachers' Guide *

[We might repeat this section in future issues. Then again, we might not. Please pass it on to any teacher friend who would find it useful.]

Three out of five teachers agree: curiosity is a dangerous thing, especially in students. If you are one of the other two teachers, AIR and mini-AIR can be powerful tools. Choose your favorite hAIR-raising article and give copies to your students. The approach is simple. The scientist thinks that he (or she, or whatever), of all people, has discovered something about how the universe behaves. So:

* Is this scientist right -- and what does "right" mean, anyway? * Can you think of even one different explanation that works
as well or better?
* Did the test really, really, truly, unquestionably, completely
test what the author thought he was testing? * Is the scientist ruthlessly honest with himself about how well
his idea explains everything, or could he be suffering from wishful thinking?

Kids are naturally good scientists. Help them stay that way.

--------------------------------------------------------------- 1995-02-13 WHAT IS AIR? (*)

The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) is a splendid educational magazine produced by the entire former editorial staff (1955-1994) of "The Journal of Irreproducible Results." AIR's co-founders are Marc Abrahams, who edited the Journal from 1990-1994, and Alexander Kohn, who founded the Journal in 1955 and was its editor until 1989. AIR is published by the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA. The editorial board consists of more than 40 distinguished scientists from around the world including seven Nobel Laureates and a convicted felon. Each October, AIR produces the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony at MIT, honoring people whose achievements cannot or should not be reproduced.

1995-02-14 How to Subscribe to AIR(*)

Amaze your colleagues. Delight your friends. Impress yourself. Subscribe to The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)!

Put more AIR in the lab, the classroom, the office, the waiting room, the library, the living room, the restroom, ...the detention center. And it makes a lovely gift of the most unexpected kind.

=========================================================== =========================================================== Please send a subscription to The Annals of Improbable Research for a period of (check one):
___ 1 year (six issues) ___ 2 years (twelve issues)

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(If you prefer not to send your credit card number via email, please fax, phone or mail in your order. We do accept PGP-encoded order forms.)


1995-02-15 How to Receive mini-AIR, etc.(*)

mini-AIR is an monthly electronic supplement to The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). It is available over the Internet, free of charge. To subscribe, send a brief E-mail message to:
The body of your message should contain ONLY the words
(You may substitute your own name for that of Madame Curie.) ------------------------------------------------------------ To stop subscribing, send the following message:
To obtain a list of back issues, send this message:
To retrieve a particular back issue,
send a message specifying which issue you want. For example, to retrieve issue 94-00006,send this message:
GET MINI-AIR 94-00006

To obtain a somewhat complete list of gopher sites that maintain mini-AIR, email us a request.

::::: Hot AIR on the World Wide Web
The URL is:

::::: AIR extracts on USENET

The USENET news group clari.feature.imprb_research presents a syndicated weekly column of reports extracted from The Annals of Improbable Research. The material presented there is different from what appears here in mini-AIR. [Please note: The newsgroup is available to you if and only if your Internet site subscribes to the Clarinet newsgroups.]

1995-02-16 AIR's Mailing and Internet Addresses

The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
The MIT Museum
265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139 USA

Subscriptions: (617) 253-4462 fax:(617)253-8994 Editorial: 617) 253-8329

PLEASE include your Internet address
in all printed correspondence.

1995-02-17 Please make copies! (*)

We urge you to distribute copies of mini-AIR or excerpts from it. The only limitations are:
A) Please indicate that the material appeared in mini-AIR and is
reprinted with permission.
B) You do NOT have permission to copy or excerpt this document
for commercial purposes.

------------------------------------------------------------ (c) copyright 1995, The Annals of Improbable Research ------------------------------------------------------------

Editor: Marc Abrahams (
WWW Editor/Global Village Idiot: Amy Gorin ( Associate Editors: Mark Dionne, Stanley Eigen, Jane Patrick Technical Difficulties: Diego Garcia, Francesca Thurston Co-conspirators: Gary Dryfoos,Chip LaChien Authority Figure: Barbara Linden

============================================================ IMPORTANT -- The Annals of Improbable Research is IN NO WAY associated with the name "The Journal of Irreproducible Results" or with the publisher of "The Journal of Irreproducible Results"

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