Hairy Ball Theorem Updated

The Hairy Ball Theorem  (HBT) was first postulated (and then proved) by Luitzen Egbertus...

"Graunching" A Review Of The Literature

One of the first technical papers to reference ‘Graunching’ was ‘Railway Noise: Curve Squeal...

Head Bobbing In Birds - The Science

The question : ‘Why do some*(see note below) birds bob their heads when walking?’ has perplexed...

'Groucho Running' The Science

Please observe the following unusual locomotive behavior which begins at around 55 seconds into...

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Martin GardinerRSS Feed of this column.

I specialise in beachcombing the scholarly journals and university websites for uncommonly intriguing academic articles by uncommonly intriguing people. Articles such as moustache transplants, the... Read More »


Here is a (partial) overview of (some of) the recent academic literature on the subject of 'Humming'


Humming-based human verification and identification

“The experimental results show that linear prediction cepstral coefficients and perceptually linear prediction coefficients are conducive to verification and identification, respectively.”


“… everyday, spontaneous sexual behavior is a quintessentially private activity not open to public scrutiny.“

But not always.

As evidenced by the work of an investigatory team from the Facultad de Psicología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, where Jose-Miguel Fernández-Dols, Pilar Carrera and Carlos Crivelli “… analyzed the facial behavior of 100 volunteers who video-recorded their own expressions while experiencing an episode of sexual excitement that concluded in an orgasm, and then posted their video clip on an Internet site.”
What do a coffee machine, a mosquito, a fridge, gastric ‘flu and silence have in common?
One answer is sounds. Or lack thereof. And all have been researched by Dr. Salomé Voegelin, who is Sound Arts Course Leader, and member of CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice) at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London.
“taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vIqeInIS.” – the translation of which, as speakers of Klingon will know, is “To be or not to be; that is the question.” 

The Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project has received considerable attention from academia – see for example: ‘Adapting Shakespeare for Star Trek and Star Trek for Shakespeare: The Klingon Hamlet and The Spaces of Translation‘ (Studies in Popular Culture, vol 32, no. 2, pp. 35-55.)
A longstanding puzzle has been solved.

How do northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus) locate truffles (Gautieria monticola) – bearing in mind that the truffles are a subterranean and ephemeral but primary food source?

Sanjay Pyare (Assistant Professor of GIS and Landscape Ecology, at the University of Alaska Southeast, ) and colleague William S Longland (at the Agricultural Research Service, Reno, NV) investigated this question back in 2001, and published the results of their observations in the Canadian Journal of Zoology, 2001, 79:1007-1015.
“Every day workers take time to shower, style their hair, select clothes and get dressed. Others spend additional time to shave, trim nails, apply makeup, polish shoes and iron clothes.”

Should they bother?

For, until recently, it was “…unclear whether such time-consuming activities are valuable in the labor market.” – explains Steve DeLoach, PhD., professor of economics at the The Love School of Business, Elon University, who has investigated the subject, and has published a paper entitled : ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall: The effect of time spent grooming on earnings’ (in the Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 40, Issue 1, February 2011, Pages 26-34.)