Friday, October 12, 2007

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

For a little fun, below follows the list of the 2007 Ig Nobel Prizes awarded by the Improbable Research, whose lemma is: "For the achievements that first make people LAUGH then make them THINK".

Medicine: Brian Witcombe of Gloucester, UK, and Dan Meyer of Antioch, Tennessee, USA, for their penetrating medical report "Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects."
Reference: "Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects," Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer, British Medical Journal, December 23, 2006, vol. 333, pp. 1285-7.

Physics: L. Mahadevan of Harvard University, USA, and Enrique Cerda Villablanca of Universidad de Santiago de Chile, for studying how sheets become wrinkled.
References: "Wrinkling of an Elastic Sheet Under Tension," E. Cerda, K. Ravi-Chandar, L. Mahadevan, Nature, vol. 419, October 10, 2002, pp. 579-80.
"Geometry and Physics of Wrinkling," E. Cerda and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, fol. 90, no. 7, February 21, 2003, pp. 074302/1-4.
"Elements of Draping," E. Cerda, L. Mahadevan and J. Passini, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 101, no. 7, 2004, pp. 1806-10.

Biology: Prof. Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, for doing a census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds each night.
References: "Autotrophic Organisms in Mattress Dust in the Netherlands," B. van de Lustgraaf, J.H.H.M. Klerkx, J.E.M.H. van Bronswijk, Acta Botanica Neerlandica, vol. 27, no. 2, 1978, pp 125-8.
"A Bed Ecosystem," J.E.M.H. van Bronswijk, Lecture Abstracts -- 1st Benelux Congress of Zoology, Leuven, November 4-5, 1994, p. 36.

Chemistry: Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin -- vanilla fragrance and flavoring -- from cow dung.
Reference: "Novel Production Method for Plant Polyphenol from Livestock Excrement Using Subcritical Water Reaction," Mayu Yamamoto, International Medical Center of Japan.

Linguistics: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.
Reference: "Effects of Backward Speech and Speaker Variability in Language Discrimination by Rats," Juan M. Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, vol. 31, no. 1, January 2005, pp 95-100.

Literature: Glenda Browne of Blaxland, Blue Mountains, Australia, for her study of the word "the" -- and of the many ways it causes problems for anyone who tries to put things into alphabetical order.
Reference: "The Definite Article: Acknowledging 'The' in Index Entries," Glenda Browne, The Indexer, vol. 22, no. 3 April 2001, pp. 119-22.

Peace: The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon -- the so-called "gay bomb" -- that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.
Reference: "Harassing, Annoying, and 'Bad Guy' Identifying Chemicals," Wright Laboratory, WL/FIVR, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, June 1, 1994.

Nutrition: Brian Wansink of Cornell University, for exploring the seemingly boundless appetites of human beings, by feeding them with a self-refilling, bottomless bowl of soup.
Reference: "Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake," Brian Wansink, James E. Painter and Jill North, Obesity Research, vol. 13, no. 1, January 2005, pp. 93-100.

Economics: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taichung, Taiwan, for patenting a device, in the year 2001, that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them.
Reference: U.S. patent #6,219,959, granted on April 24, 2001, for a "net trapping system for capturing a robber immediately."

Aviation: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek of Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina, for their discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters.
Reference: "Sildenafil Accelerates Reentrainment of Circadian Rhythms After Advancing Light Schedules," Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 104, no. 23, June 5 2007, pp. 9834-9.

Adapted from

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New flow cytometry website

The Flow Cytometry Core Facility of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg has just launched a new interesting website with many downloadable resources, such as software, hardware designs, teaching tutorials and how-tos and educational resources (e.g., video tutorials).

It is certainly worth a look and as the developers of the website intend to regularly update it with new information and resources, one should return to read the latest contents.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The first week of the forum and blog

Since the publicity of the forum a week and some days ago, we have received a nice feedback from the plant FCM community with 22 new members, totalling 26 members from diverse locations around the world (see figure).

More importantly, there has been some posting activity from some newly registered members. Below you can find the link to each of the topics started by the new members:
- Calibrating plant standards for flow cytometry (by alaacraddock);
- Substituting PVP (by pkron);
- DNA content using PI on FACScan (by georgina);
- The application of flow cytometry to count pollen grains (by scastro).

The questions that were posed are all very interesting, but members feedback/answer is still reduced.

Also, a new forum "Troublesome Plant Material" has been created and it is expected that members post the name of plant species which were impossible to analyse by FCM. Therefore, if other members had some previous experience with any of the posted species, some advice and solutions can be given.

This blog itself has received many visits, once again from the whole world (see image above). I hope that the blog is a nice complement to the forum and we promise to post any interesting news when appropriate. So please be aware of new posts and visit us regularly. Also, if you want you can comment any of the posts made so far. It is always nice to have some feedback from the readers.