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Other Einsteins

The following is a series of articles from The Annals of Improbable Research.

by A.S. Kaswell, with Jessica Girard, AIR staff

People say “There is only one Einstein,” but of course that is not so. In 2005, the official, “Einstein Year,” when everyone celebrates Albert Einstein, let us not forget some of the other Einsteins.

Einstein’s Pork Carcass Composition Equations
Albert Einstein has a signature equation, e=mc2, which predicts how energy relates to mass. M.E. Einstein of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, has a whole set of equations, which predict pork carcass composition. M.E. and several collaborators published a series of studies -- seven of them so far -- in the Journal of Animal Science. Their “Evaluation of Alternative Measures of Pork Carcass Composition” appeared in 2001. It is a minor classic in the history of pork production prediction literature.

Einstein’s Turkey Sperm Quality Analyser
Einstein is also known, of course for the doubly-seminal “Utilisation of a Sperm Quality Analyser to Evaluate Sperm Quantity and Quality of Turkey Breeders.” It was published in 2002 in the journal British Poultry Science.

The Pot of Einstein
Anyone with access to a good library can check out Einstein on cannabis. Albert Einstein never published any research papers about cannabis, at least not formally. But Rosemarie Einstein did. In 1975, she and two colleagues at the University of Leeds investigated the use of cannabis -- and alcohol and tobacco, too -- by 300 young persons at a university.

Rosemarie Einstein and her team carefully protected the students’ confidentiality. In their study, which appeared in the British Journal of Addiction, no student is named. Even the university is not identified. The report speaks of it only as “a provincial university,” leaving readers to speculate, perhaps feverishly.

The scientists discovered how many of the students used pot, alcohol, tobacco, or any combination of the three. Or, to be more specific, they discovered what the students said they used. According to the survey forms, some students smoked their cannabis, others ate it, still others drank it. Many said they avoided cannabis altogether. Only a minority claimed to smoke tobacco; and none reported eating or drinking it. “Only two students had never tried alcohol,” the report says, “although a total of 13 do not currently drink.”

This scientists also discovered something they had expected: that students cannot be relied upon to answer surveys. And here, in this element of the research, one can see some interesting mathematics at work. The team says it sent questionnaires to exactly 1000 students, and that exactly 300 of those questionnaires were returned. This, Einstein and colleagues report, this 1000/300, is a return rate of 33 percent.

The citation is: “Patterns of Use of Alcohol, Cannabis and Tobacco in a Student Population,” Rosemarie Einstein, Ian. Hughes and Ian Hindmarch, British Journal of Addiction (to Alcohol & Other Drugs), vol. 70 no. 2, June 1975, pp.145-50.

Obsession, Danger, Perfection
Danielle A. Einstein is obsessed, in a professional way, with obsession, compulsion, inflated personal responsibility, exaggerated danger expectancies, and perfectionism. Einstein is Head (with a capital “H”) of the Anxiety Management Clinic in Wentworthville, Australia. Together with Ross G. Menzies of the University of Sydney, she wrote the provocative report “Role of Magical Thinking in Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms in an Undergraduate Sample.” It appeared in 2004 in the journal Depression and Anxiety. Einstein’s experimental conclusion is worded in the lingo of her profession. It can be memorized for use as a conversation starter at cocktail parties:

A general magical thinking tendency may underpin previous observed links between superstitiousness, thought action fusion, and obsessive–compulsive disorder severity. In 2000, Einstein, Ross, and two other colleagues published a study called “The Relationship Between Inflated Personal Responsibility and Exaggerated Danger Expectancies in Obsessive-Compulsive Concerns” in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy. Einstein has also researched and written about perfectionism. Her best-known work on this topic is “Relationship Between Perfectionism and Emotional Symptoms in an Adolescent Sample,” published in 2000 in the Australian Journal of Psychology.

When Hans Met Sally
Dr. Hans E. Einstein is professor emeritus of clinical medicine at Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles, California. In 2003, he and television actress Sally Struthers were honored at a gala dinner at which each of the other diners each paid $250. Dr. Einstein is co-author of the poetically titled research report “Tempest from Tehachapi Takes Toll on Coccidioides Conveyed Aloft And Afar,” which was published in 1978 in the Western Journal of Medicine. Dr. Einstein should not be confused with the H.E. Einstein who co-wrote the paper “Design of Bipolar, Flowing-Electrolyte Zinc-Bromine Electric-Vehicle Battery Systems,” which was presented at the Society of Automotive Engineers Congress in Detroit, Michigan on February 28, 1983.

Einstein on Performance Appraisal
Walter O. Einstein is an authority on performance appraisal. One of his best-known studies is: “Leadership and Outcomes of Performance Appraisal Processes,” David A. Waldman, Bernard M. Bass and Walter O. Einstein, Journal of Occupational Psychology, vol. 60 no. 3, September 1987, pp. 177-86. Einstein is a professor of management at Southeastern Massachusetts University (which  has since become University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, thanks to a restructuring).

Einstein’s Small-Bowel Experiment
David M. Einstein of The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio, is immersed in knowledge of the small bowel. Einstein fans recommend especially his report: “Comparison of Two Barium Suspensions for Dedicated Small-Bowel Series,” Jon C. Davidson, David M. Einstein, et al., American Journal of Roentgenology, vol. 172, no. 2, February 1999, pp. 379-82.

Einstein on Bizarreness
Albert Einstein studied things that strike people as bizarre. Gilles O. Einstein takes this a step further. He studies how bizarreness strikes people. Gilles O. Einstein is a professor of psychology at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. He and his collaborators have published a series (five so far) of reports about bizarreness. G.O. Einstein fans in the know recommend two above all others:

“The Bizarreness Effect: It’s Not Surprising, It’s Complex,” Mark A. McDaniel, Gilles O.
Einstein, et al, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, vol. 21, no. 2, March 1995, pp. 422-35. “Bizarre Imagery, Interference, and Distinctiveness,” Gilles O. Einstein, Mark A. McDaniel and Scott Lackey, Journal of  Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, vol. 15, no. 1, January 1989, pp. 137-46.


This article is republished with permission from the January-February 2005 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research and all the other issues of 2005. You can purchase back issues of the magazine or subscribe to receive future issues, in printed or in ebook form. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift! Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.

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