Fun_People Archive
15 Dec
More Odd Units, the Kinder Surprise, & what is Ig?

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 96 18:03:26 -0800
To: Fun_People
Subject: More Odd Units, the Kinder Surprise, & what is Ig?

[Two things you need to know:
 + Meriday Beth Komor is a long-time Fun_Person

Excerpted-from: The mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR")
		Issue Number 1996-12
		December, 1996
		ISSN 1076-500X
mini-AIR is a free newsletter of tidbits too tiny to fit in
	The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR),
	the journal of inflated research and personalities
1996-12-04	More Odd Units

Data continues to dribble in for our list of odd but genuine units of
measurement. Here is a further sample.

1. Investigator Bill Smith of Memorial University of Newfoundland reports
on two local units. They are documented in "The Dictionary of Newfoundland
English" by Story, Kirwin and Widdowson.

	GLUTCH -- the amount a person can swallow, typically
	used in such phrases as "a glutch of rum."

	DICKSPRADDLE -- the distance a rooster can traverse
	in one stride.

2. Investigator Jay Nelson reports:
	When I was a post-Doc at the Max Planck Institute fur Exptl. Medizin
in Goettingen, we had an SI unit of screwup named after a former visiting
scientist, "the Ultsch". This unit existed in all powers of ten (i.e.
dripping radioisotopes on the floor was a "nanoUltsch" whereas burning down
the MPI would have been a "gigaUltsch". This unit was used in daily
conversation and was used far more frequently than such esoteric units as

[Yes, yes, wonderful.  But how many ounces in a glutch?  How many inches in
 a dickspraddle?  How many WBs in an Ultsch?  -psl]

1996-12-06	Some Improbable Science Gifts

Last month's call for a list of improbable, desirable science gifts has
yielded a small bounty of suggestions (and a large morass of unwanted hint,
hint, hints from various marketing directors pushing their products on a
weary world). Here are a few of the more intriguing, some of which are old,
some new.

Investigator Linda Sohl:
	My vote goes to the "Owl Pellet Investigation Kit." I've seen it in
	a number of catalogs at this point -- Edmund Scientific describes
	it as follows: " Pellets are compressed balls of teeth, bones, hair
	and feathers that are not digested        but regurgitated by the
	owls. Easily dissected, for use with or without a microscope." A
	bargain at $18.95!. It's on *my* list!

Investigator Kait Mapson:
	I suggest that you look at the JimLand Novelties section of 'The
	Book of Jim' -- a strange and strangely uninsightful collection of
	bizzare comics (by artist Jim Woodring, published by Fantagraphic
	Books circa 1991).  There you will find for sale a strange device
	which, when placed over the face, allows each eye to look into the
	other eye. The comment following the caption goes 'May work, may
	not. $75,' or similar. I know I would dearly like one.

Star Trek investigator Matt Clark:
	My suggestion for a truly special holiday science gift would be the
	replica tricorder that someone is manufacturing. It contains a
	thermometer, spectrophotometer, and a 'hazardous' radiation
	detector. Sorry, I don't know what sort of radiation, or if it
	detects it before it is too late. But it does have lots of flashing
	and whirling lights! My brother's girlfriend would like an EEG. He'd
	like to know if anyone has circuit diagrams for one.

Investigator Barbara Tozier:
	My (possibly) favoritest Science Gift: a Brain Gelatin Mold,
	available from Archie McPhee. (Who, by the way, has the coolest
	catalog going. No, I don't work for them.) It was a tough choice,
	you know, between the jello mold and the stuffed banana slug, but
	the slug just doesn't lend itself to investigative surgery easily
	(i.e. more than once).
[I don't work for Archie either, but Barbara's right.  -psl]

Investigator Arthur David Snider:
	While I was visiting Caltech last year, I purchased a Squirting
	Calculator! Now I see them available at my grocer's.

Investigator Kevin Garlick:
	I was in the store the other day with my son, he's 7yr. and I'm 41
	yrs. and we saw, Sea Monkeys ! These creatures start from some dry
	packages, add water and you have instant life.  It's a miracle !
	There are some web sites about Sea Monkeys.  Here is one,

Investigator Tim Churches:
	I read the story on the decline of Cracker Jacks in the April 1996
	issue of mini-AIR with great interest. We were spared the charms of
	Cracker Jacks here in Australia, but more recently an excellent
	product called "Kinder Surprise" has appeared on supermarket
	shelves. The Kinder Surprise comprises a foil wrapped chocolate egg
	(notable for its bilayered construction with traditional chocolate
	on the outside and white chocolate in the inside) encasing a pink
	plastic capsule. Inside the capsule is an exquisitely engineered
	toy, usually requiring assembly and often with moving parts. A
	pictorial instruction sheet is enclosed, as is a warning which
	points out in an amazing number of languages that the toy is to
	perfect size to asphyxiate your child. Truly a remarkable
	achievement, incorporating as it does marketing science, food
	technology, industrial design, plastic molding technology and an
	ongoing trial of the skills of emergency room physicians at
	recovering small plastic parts from the bronchi of small children.
	Most remarkable of all is the ability of the designers to fit the
	toys inside the capsule - clearly Dr Who was hired to share some of
	the principles of the Tardis with the Kinder Surprise manufacturers.

1996-12-09	AIR Vents

Here are some of this month's random exhalations from readers.

Meriday Beth Komor:
	I keep iguanas ("igs," contracted) and when I saw your
latest mini-AIR Subject line about Ig Prizes, for a moment my
heart lifted as I realized that, at last, you'd come to admire
these threatened creatures at least as much as I had...

(c) copyright 1996, The Annals of Improbable Research

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