The 2015 Ig Nobel awards.

This year’s spoof Nobel prize awards for “improbable research” were for:

  • A chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg.
  • Testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds. (This was in the name of Physics and fluid dynamics.)
  • Discovering that the word “huh?” seems to exist in every human language. (This means you can react to any of these research topics in any language.)
  • An Economics study that offered to pay policemen extra cash if the policemen refuse to take bribes.
  • Experiments that studied the biomedical benefits and consequences of intense kissing. (Does “Duh?” exist in other languages?)
  • A biology experiment that observed that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked.
  • A researcher who let honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body to figure out which parts are the least and most painful. (He let a bee sting his penis in the name of science.)

View the full list of Improbable Research winners, who may one day be researched on themselves.

The imminent death of the open web…

Google has the web, Facebook has its app, and Apple has the iPhone. This is the newest and biggest war in tech going today. And the collateral damage of that war — of Apple going after Google’s revenue platform — is going to include the web, and in particular any small publisher on the web that can’t invest in proprietary platform distribution, native advertising, and the type of media wining-and-dining it takes to secure favorable distribution deals on proprietary platforms. It is going to be a bloodbath of independent media.

Why we regret parting with that old dressing gown…

The Diderot effect is a social phenomenon related to consumer goods that comprises two ideas. The first posits that goods purchased by consumers will be cohesive to their sense of identity, and as a result, will be complementary to one another. The second states that the introduction of a new possession that is deviant from the consumer’s current complementary goods can result in a process of spiraling consumption.

Installing Iceweasel Aurora on Debian.

There are Linux builds of Firefox Aurora available on Mozilla. But if you’re on Debian testing (or like to live dangerously with unstable) and prefer installing/updating via APT, then you’d might want to install Iceweasel Aurora.

I’m on Debian testing and this is what I did:

  1. Run apt-get install debian-keyring and apt-get install pkg-mozilla-archive-keyring (so that APT has signed keys and won’t whine when you update)
  2. Edit the file /etc/apt/sources.list and stick in this line deb experimental iceweasel-aurora
  3. Run apt-get update, followed by apt-get install -t experimental iceweasel-aurora to install Iceweasel Aurora

For other builds of Iceweasel, you can get more instructions here.