Improbable Research Review: Microwaves, Human Fat, and Don Juan


(Image credit: CSIRO)

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

Improbable theories, experiments, and conclusions
compiled by Dirk Manley, Improbable Research staff

Effect of Microwave Ovens on Astronomy
“Identifying the Source of Perytons at the Parkes Radio Telescope,” E. Petroff, E. F. Keane, E. D. Barr, J. E. Reynolds, J. Sarkissian, P. G. Edwards, J. Stevens, C. Brem, A. Jameson, S. Burke-Spolaor, S. Johnston, N. D. R. Bhat, P. Chandra, S. Kudale, and S. Bhandari, arXiv:1504.02165, April 9, 2015. The authors, at many institutions in Australia, the UK, the USA, and India, report:

“Perytons” are millisecond-duration transients of terrestrial origin, whose frequency-swept emission mimics the dispersion of an astrophysical pulse that has propagated through tenuous cold plasma. In fact, their similarity to FRB 010724 had previously cast a shadow over the interpretation of “fast radio bursts,” which otherwise appear to be of extragalactic origin. Until now, the physical origin of the dispersion-mimicking perytons had remained a mystery. We have identified strong out-of-band emission at 2.3--2.5 GHz associated with several peryton events. Subsequent tests revealed that a peryton can be generated at 1.4 GHz when a microwave oven door is opened prematurely and the telescope is at an appropriate relative angle. Radio emission escaping from microwave ovens during the magnetron shut-down phase neatly explain all of the observed properties of the peryton signals.

[Ed. note: See also: Microwave Oven Baffled Astronomers for Decades.]

Energy in All the Excess Human Fat in the USA
“How Much Energy is Locked in the USA? Alternative Metrics for Characterising the Magnitude of Overweight and Obesity Derived from BRFSS 2010 Data,” Daniel D. Reidpath, Mohd Masood, and Pascale Allotey, International Journal of Public Health, vol. 59, no. 3, 2014, pp. 503-507. (Thanks to Frédéric Darboux for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Monash University in Selangor, Malaysia, and the Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia, report:

About 144 million people in the US need to lose 2.4 million metric tonnes. The volume of fat is 2.6 billion litres—1,038 Olympic-size swimming pools. The energy in the fat would power 90,000 households for a year and is worth around 162 million dollars.... 2.4 million metric tonnes of human lard, 1,038 Olympic-size swimming pools of human tallow, enough human cellulite to power 90,000 homes for a year, or USD$162 million of human dripping seems to have all the makings for some very confronting ways of talking about a nation with a serious overweight and obesity problem. Whether they are useful for motivating policy changes with real impact is an empirical question that remains to
be tested.

The Case of the Don Juan Fracture
“ ‘Don Juan-Fracture’ as a Hint to Aortic Isthmus Rupture,” Sirilak Suksompong and Benno von Bormann, Case Reports in Emergency Medicine, epub November 18, 2014.

We report a case of thoracic aortic rupture after blunt trauma in a 23-year-old male patient.... “Don Juan” is a legendary, fictional libertine since 1630 (Lord Byron, Mozart, Moliere, and others). A calcaneus (Don Juan) fracture is the fracture a lover could get by jumping down from the balcony of his mistress.... [Our] 23-year-old male patient was admitted late on a Sunday night into a University Hospital after car accident with frontal impact.

The History of Don Juan, Etc.
“Musculoskeletal Colloquialisms: How Did We Come Up with These Names?” Patrick Lee, Tim B. Hunter, and Mihra Taljanovic, Radiographics, vol. 24, no. 4, 2004, pp. 1009-1027.

Detail from the study “Musculoskeletal Colloquialisms: How Did We Come Up with These Names?”

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The article above is from the July-August 2015 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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