Recent Progress in ‘Ratatouille’ Studies

February 18th, 2019

The 2007 publication of the Pixar movie Ratatouille presented a unique set of opportunities for academic study – a challenge which scholars have not ignored. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of published work about the film :

● Man is a Puppet, Soul is a Rat: On Pixar’s Ratatouille in Critical Engagements: A Journal of Criticism and Theory, 2015.

● Ratatouille: An Animated Account of Cooking, Taste, and Human Evolution in Ethnos : Journal of Anthropology, Volume 76, 2011 – Issue 3

● Cooking like a Rat: Sensation and Politics in Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille in Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Volume 31, 2014 – Issue 5

● The Jurisprudence of Ratatouille: The Rat in the Machine, or, the Equivocal Taste of Égaliberté in the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law – Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique, December 2015, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 843–866

● A critical review analysis about the movie Ratatouille and its impact on culinary tourism in the International Journal of Qualitative Research in Services, Volume 3, Issue 1

● Homunculus. Icon of Self, from Paracelso to Ratatuille in H-ermes. Journal of Communication, No.4, 2015

Also see:

Recent progress in ‘My Little Pony’ studies
Recent progress in Wonder Woman studies
Recent progress in Kung Fu Panda studies

Improbable Research tonight in Washington, DC

February 16th, 2019

Join us tonight at the Improbable Research show at the AAAS Annual Meeting, Omni Shoreham Hotel (in the Diplomat Ballroom), Washington DC—The annual Improbable Research session will include:

This session is open free to the public. Bring friends (seating is limited—arrive early if you want a seat) #AAASmtg

Hows and Whys of There’s a Fly in My Wine

February 15th, 2019

Alex Dainis explains videographically the inner workings of the Ig Nobel Prize-winning experiment that demonstrates some people’s ability to tell—by smelling!—whether there was a fly in a glass of wine:

The people-can-sniff-out-a-fly study

The published study is: “The Scent of the Fly,” Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, bioRxiv, no. 20637, 2017.

A fly-by-day public demonstration, in April

The study authors, who shared the 2018 Ig Nobel Prize in biology, will themselves publicly demonstrate their work twice—at the Karolinska Institute on Tuesday, April 9, and at Stockholm University on Wednesday, April 10—as part of this year’s Ig Nobel EuroTour.

Come see them, and talk with them, and smell the fly!


Eye-beam believers – numbers perhaps not as high as previously thought (new study)

February 14th, 2019
According to a new study from the Graziano Lab at Princeton University, US, there has been a sharp drop in the number of US college students who believe that some form of invisible beams are emitted form peoples’ eyes when they look at something (k.a. extramission).

Their research suggests that the figure could now be as low as 5% – falling from around 50% in 2002. This order-of-magnitude drop is not easily explained say the research team.

“Our finding of an ∼5% incidence of extramission beliefs conflicts with previous work suggesting that more than half of US adults, possibly as high as 60 to 70%, explicitly believe in an extramission account. We cannot easily explain this difference. It is possible that education about optics has significantly improved since the 1990s. Another possibility is that our sample was skewed, since it included only participants who could sign up for an online service and complete the study on a computer.”

See: Implicit model of other people’s visual attention as an invisible, force-carrying beam projecting from the eyes in PNAS January 2, 2019 116 (1) 328-333.

The photo is a still taken from a video by Wyatt Scott who ran for parliament as an independent candidate for Mission Matsqui Fraser Canyon, Canada.

Family Name Frequency and Abundance of the Chemical Elements?

February 13th, 2019


by E. R. Schulman and E. A. Schulman, Alexandria, Virginia


Yes (provided radioactive gasses are ignored).

1. Introduction

This year (2019) marks the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev publishing the first recognizable periodic table in his paper “Relationship of Elements’ Properties to Their Atomic Weights” (Mendeleev 1869), the 20th anniversary of AIR publishing “How to Write a Scientific Research Report” (Schulman, Cox, and Schulman 1999), and the year before the next United States decennial census. This paper seeks to combine all three in order to answer the often unasked question: Is American last name frequency inversely proportional to terrestrial elemental abundance?

2. Methods

We searched the U.S. Census Bureau’s file of surnames that occurred 100 or more times in the 2010 Census for last names corresponding to the chemical elements and found twelve that did so. Table 1 shows the name and atomic number of each of the elements, the frequency of occurrence in the 2010 U.S. Census, and the elemental abundance in the Earth’s crust for non-gasses and in the Earth’s atmosphere for gasses….

So begins the study. Download the entire thing (it’s fairly short) as a PDF.

BONUS: Here are two videos about or by Theo Gray, who won the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry for creating the four-legged periodic table table. The first video comes complete with annoying music. The second video comes complete with pleasing music:

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!