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 »


Through millions of years of evolution, the shape of an egg has evolved to an optimum – at least from a hen’s point of view.
For some humans though, this shape is less than ideal –  there are those who prefer instead the aesthetic appeal of a cuboid rather than ovoid.

For technical (and ethical) reasons, this shape modification must necessarily be performed after laying rather than before. Prompting inventor Masashi Nakagawa to devise his
‘Apparatus for deforming boiled egg’  – for which he received a US patent (4,092,093) in May 1978.

If one were to overturn a tortoise, would it be more likely to right itself (i.e. get back on its feet) to the right or to the left?

To find out, a joint research team from the Comparative Psychology Research Group, University of Padova, Italy and the B.R.A.I.N. Centre for Neuroscience, University of Trieste, Italy, performed a unique set of experiments with 34 overturned tortoises.

For the first time, a peer-reviewed comprehensive discography of US-based apical musical recordings has been assembled. (Think : bees, hives, honey, buzzing, stingers, &etc). Professor William Lewis Schurk (Sound Recordings Archivist of the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, US) and colleague professor B. Lee Cooper, (presently at the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement, US) have co-authored ‘Bumble Boogie: 100 Years of Bee Imagery in American Sound Recordings—A Discography’. (Popular Music and Society, Volume 34, Issue 4, 2011)

'A peculiar Scottish disorder' is described in the Scottish Medical Journal (SMJ), August 2011 vol. 56 no. 3, pp. 164-166 (by Doctor I. B. McIntosh.)

 “A highly contagious behavioural affliction is now endemic in highland areas of Scotland. Pretravel advice ought to include a health warning to sport-lovers venturing north into wild, highlands of Gaeldom. It particularly affects young adults and predominates in men, although women are affected. The disorder can be acute or chronic and when severe, it can threaten one’s life and limbs. Acute attacks may bring spontaneous recovery in months, but the chronic state can last for a life-time. Death will overtake some before it runs its inevitable course.”
“Cotton buds are commonly used to clean the ears, remove wax, in case of itching in the ear, aural toilet in discharging ears and some time as a habit.” – explain Suresh Kumar and  Shamim Ahmed  of the Department of ENT, at Liaquat University of Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Pakistan. They go on to warn that :

They supposedly represent a safe means of cleaning the ear and nose. Insertion of cotton tips is not only unnecessary but also potentially dangerous.

The conclusion of their study, which tracked cotton bud usage in 100 patients at the ENT Department, of Sir Syed Medical College& Hospital Karachi, (July 2005 to January 2007) is that

In the award-winning children’s book ‘Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus’ by Mo Willems, (Hyperion Books for Children, 2003) a persistent pigeon ‘asks, pleads, cajoles, wheedles, connives, negotiates, demands and uses emotional blackmail in attempts to get behind the wheel’.