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Prize-winning British specification: The proper way to make a cup of tea

June 25th, 2020

The 1999 Ig Nobel Literature Prize was awarded to The British Standards Institution, for its six-page specification (BS-6008) of the proper way to make a cup of tea.

BS-6008 is now, in the year 2020, available for sale at a price of ?110.00 per copy from the British Standards Institution, which now calls itself BSI.

Cross About Tea

There seems to be disagreement, newly flaring, as to the proper British way to make a cup of tea. The Guardian reports on this, with the headline:

US woman sparks transatlantic tea war with brutal online brew
Michelle from North Carolina shared her recipe for ‘British tea’. An international incident followed

Michelle from North Carolina made this video, which was the butterfly that caused the potted tea tempest:

Podcast Episode #213: “The 29th 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony”

June 24th, 2020

The 29th 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony of 2019

In episode #213, Marc Abrahams presents the 29th 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony which took place at the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University in 2019. This is a truncated form of the full ceremony to make for better radio, but the full event can be viewed here.

Remember, our Patreon donors, on most levels, get access to each podcast episode before it is made public.

1. We all encounter:

Ceremony details are online at Improbable Research.

Bruce PetschekAudio Engineer

Jon ShedlerAudio Engineer

Seth GliksmanProduction Assistant

Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Google Podcasts, AntennaPod, BeyondPod and elsewhere!

COMING ATTRACTION: The next Ig Nobel Prize ceremony—the 30th First Annual, on September 17, 2020—will be a little different from its 29 predecessors.

Respecting the prize-winning dignity of plants, in Barcelona

June 23rd, 2020

Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house perhaps demonstrated, better than has ever been demonstrated, a principle that is part of the legal system in Switzerland: the principle that plants have dignity. We strongly urge you to watch the performance.

CNN reports:

Barcelona opera house reopens with performance to 2,292 plants

It’s not uncommon for performances at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house to be sold out, but musicians played to an unusual audience on Monday to mark Spain’s lifting of lockdown — as thousands of plants filled its seats….

A total of 2,292 plants were packed into the theater, while the string quartet performed Puccini’s “Crisantemi,” according to a statement from the [organizers].
Although humans were not present in the audience, spectators could watch the “Concierto para el bioceno” via livestream….

EuroNews presents this video report:


The Legal Principle that Plants Have Dignity

The 2008 Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland, for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.

The committee documented its research, in a study called “The Dignity of Living Beings With Regard to Plants. Moral Consideration of Plants for Their Own Sake

The Barcelona Concert

The concert in Barcelona is truly moving, whether you are a plant (and yes, plants do move, as demonstrated by Jagadish Chandra Bose) or an animal. Here is video of the full performance:


Connections: Persian Rugs and Morton Feldman’s music [study]

June 22nd, 2020


Does listening to Morton Feldman’s ‘Crippled Symmetry’ suite (above) remind you of a Persian rug? If not, you may not be attuned to Feldman’s repetitions and variations – which, on closer inspection, may, it’s said, in some senses, resonate with patterns on rugs. But, academically speaking, possible common threads have not been studied in much detail – until now.

“Repetition and variation are the main strategies in Feldman’s music. These are the features he extracted from observation of a rug design and connected Oriental weaving rug pattern to Western music notation, which are rarely studied by researchers.”

– explain A.A. Javadi, M. Fujieda of the Faculty of Design, Kyushu University, Japan in a paper for the International Journal of Music Science, Technology and Art (IJMSTA) – Vol. 2 – Issue 1 – January 2020

The researchers asked themselves :

“Are the elements and principles in music (repetition and rhythm) related to the same elements and principles in weaving Persian rug design?”

And, to find out, the team performed a close reading of several rugs (see illustration below) making comparisons with Feldman’s music (e.g.‘Crippled Symmetry’) – and conclude that, yes, they are.

“Our studies reveal the relationship between repetition and symmetry in both the pattern of Persian rugs and the Feldman musical approach in his composition.”

See : A Study on the Rug Patterns and Morton Feldman’s Approach

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Bagpiper Thumb Drive

June 21st, 2020

US design patent 720760S1 for a?“Bagpiper Thumb Drive,” was granted to Thomas Paul Caldwell and Thomas Paul Caldwell, on January 6, 2015.

The patent document explains: “[This drawing of the] ornamental design for a bagpiper thumb drive… [shows] a lower section disconnected to reveal a Universal Serial Bus (‘USB’) connector protruding from beneath a kilt and housable interior to a pair of legs”

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