Hairy Ball Theorem Updated

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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 »

Many may jump to the conclusion that ‘Uninformative Advertising’ simply provides a route by which a manufacturing corporation can ‘burn its money’ – but this may not always be the case, as explained in a recent paper from the Yale School of Management.

 Professors Dina Mayzlin and Jiwoong Shin have identified ways in which advertising that is deliberately devoid of any attribute information can (sometimes) help to promote sales.

• The problem – How to tell if a banana is senescent (old).
• The solution – Apply fractal Fourier analysis to the banana spots.

The computational method was jointly developed by the Department of Science and Food Technology, Universidad de Los Lagos, Chile, along with the Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and the Departamento de Graduados e Investigación en Alimentos, Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico.

In order to clear any doubts regarding the comparative growth rates of the whiskers of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) and Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), researchers at the Institute of Marine Science, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Mystic Aquarium, CT, U.S.A. performed a series of experiments in 2001.

The whiskers of participant seals and sea lions were stable-isotope-labeled with Carbon 13 and Nitrogen 15, and whisker growth rates were measured over a period of  more than two years.

The results:
Cross-disciplinary  academic progress in vagueness has recently been augmented  with a paper from Prof. PhDr. Jarmila Tárnyiková CSc. at Palacký University, in Olomouc, Czech Republic.

The professor has authored one of the very few papers to examine and compare English and Czech Non-numerical Vague Quantifiers (also known as Vague Non-numerical Quantifiers – VnQs).
Some examples from the paper :

• Piles of
• Oodles of
• Mountains of
• A Smidgen of
• A Dash of
• A Pinch of

“…there is no authoritative definition of the sense of humor, and it is also not yet clear what ‘laughing at oneself’ is, or if it even actually occurs in people’s everyday behavior.”

Dr. Timothy Elbert Wise  is not only a joint-program leader of both the Popular Music and Recording and Popular Musicology degrees at the University of Salford, UK, but is also one of the world’s foremost authorities on the history and physiology of yodeling. 

He has published a number of scholarly papers on the subject, (full publications list here). Take for example Yodel Species: A Typology of Falsetto Effects in Popular Music Vocal Styles (published in the journal Radial Musicology, Volume 2, 2007)