© Norman Sperling, Editor, February 5, 2013
JIR always looks for new angles. Longtime contributor Steve Groninger, a voracious reader, sends in several good catches of innumeracy. He finds Copernicus (or his translator?) saying "360° are equal to 2 right angles". Meanwhile, Herschel Knapp at UCLA points out that circles have 360° while triangles only have 180°, so circles are twice as hot as triangles.
Current issues make current articles. Twinkies are famous for not spoiling. Archaeology prof Alex Taub buried a pack at Wenatchee Valley College. Dug up a year later, he found a little spoilage, but not that much. I look forward to the return of Twinkies and especially Hostess cupcakes.
JIR also keeps up with the zombie apocalypse. For a useful indicator, A. L. Holm of the University of Michigan explored counts of websearch finds for "braaains" with various numbers of "a"s. The first supernumerary peak occurs with 3 "a"s, quantities decay till 11, then secondary peaks at 13 and 17, but it takes a surprising number to reach 0. I don't look forward to the return of zombies.
Also up-to-date is our article on texting, as seen by Lehigh prof Brian Pinaire. An idealist, he wants students to pay attention to what he's teaching. For a while I thought this was an age problem, with teenagers self-distracting. Then I saw their middle-aged parents doing the same thing. Should I text my students during class to remind them to pay attention to my lecture?
A longer look at recent trends reveals an accompaniment to several decades of Global Warming: Global Swarming! Pawan Dhar of Yokohama shows that as temperature has risen, so has the invention of new scientific directions.
That generates scads of new scholarly books. Many of us still use actual, physical books. Academic libraries are brimful of them. Longtime librarian Norman Stevens promotes an app for that: leave books anywhere they fit, and guide users to them by GPS.
A much shorter, more specialized form of literature is the "package insert" for drugs. Keenan Bora demonstrates how a treatment could be worse than its disease.
Timeless rather than timely is Andrew Olsen's exploration of the nether end of the spinal cord in human cognition. He indicates that people do often seem to think with their butt. I'm not going to touch that.
Immediately following that conclusion comes an expose of the role of a roll of toilet paper. It doesn't just indicate who's a winner and who's a loser, it determines which is which.
Neither of the 2 previous articles could explain the interview by which Tom Szirtes of Toronto got one of his best jobs.
David J. Burns of Xavier University, Cincinnati, proposes using a "Higgs Vacuum and Mass Transfer Device" for a wonderful particle-physics solution to clinical obesity and the Federal Debt. Higgs bosons confer mass. Extract fat from obese people, and then insert the mass into gold bars.
We are very pleased to publish a further examination of the Dreaded Sock Monster by Elaine Foster, near Melbourne, Australia. We're delighted to learn that she's recovering from some recent setbacks.
A followup of a different character explores the highly-publicized "Mozart Effect". Peter Lefevre of Caltech tested how rats would react to the "music" of the Insane Clown Posse. The lab assistants rebelled. The ethics committee rebelled. And the rats rebelled.
Some people like birds. Some people like cats. Cats prey on birds. Robert Haas summons up a bigger bird - an eagle - that preys on cats.
2 new cartoonists have found us. Sally Mills memorably pronounces on particle physics, and Michael Capozzola has a tasteful take on Star Wars.
For decades, JIR has struggled to find good illustrations. A minority of contributors illustrate their own articles. For the rest, we have to hunt. A new resource is yielding astonishingly appropriate resources: Wikimedia, a "sister project" to Wikipedia. They provided this issue with a leaky bucket, a zombie, boats, medicines, texting, library books, toilet paper, and the surprising picture on page 22. All we have to do is acknowledge the creative-commons sources and terms, and indeed we are very grateful for them. If you have some spare resources, and you also use Wikipedia and Wikimedia, consider enriching their articles, increasing their open media, or sending them some money.