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The Spiral Stair or Vice in Medieval Stone Castles

March 4th, 2021

Steps have been taken to better, more straightforwardly, understand the stair or vice. Read all about it, in:

The Spiral Stair or Vice: Its Origins, Role and Meaning in Medieval Stone Castles,” Charles Ryder, doctoral thesis, University of Liverpool, 2014.

Ryder writes: “This thesis addresses a neglected area of castles studies – the spiral stair. It studies the origins, evolution, placing, structure, role, significance and meaning of spiral stairs in medieval stone castles between 1066 and 1500, so covering the rise, zenith and decline of the castle in England and Wales. Although focussed upon England and Wales, it has a wider geographical spread across Ireland, Scotland, Europe, the Middle East and Japan with particular regard to castles and on even wider when searching for the origins of the spiral stair, encompassing the whole globe.”

Lemmy Del Cid joins the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Social Scientists

March 3rd, 2021

Lemmy Del Cid has joined the The Luxuriant Flowing, Former, or Facial Hair Club for Social Scientists™ (LFFFHCfSS), sibling club of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS). He says:

I knew from the very beginning of my life, when I was a baby, that I wanted to grow my hair out. My father had long, flowing, curly, black hair from the time he was very young and I was always fascinated by it growing up. As I became older, I wanted my hair to be as long as possible because, of course, my idols were rock stars. They were Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and many more famous scientists who had long, extravagant hair. These men were champions for science and rebelled against societal norms in their respective times. By the time I reached my freshman year of college, I knew having long hair was more than a symbol of beauty and rebellion, it was a statement of who I am as a person. My hair is a part of my cultural identity that tells a lot about my personality. I’m not just that professor that has long, flowing hair. I am a quirky, goofy, funny, and groovy dude, but I am also very intellectual, analytical and introspective. As I continued to learn about the powers of hair from studying indigenous peoples, I discovered I have ancestral roots of the Mayan people from my father’s side. In the Mayan culture, hair is sacred and promotes self-esteem, self-respect, a sense of belonging, and a healthy sense of pride because hair is an extension of yourself. So moral of the story is don’t cut your hair short or else you’ll lose your powers!

Lemmy Del Cid, M.S., LFFFHCfSS
Anthropology Instructor
Department of Social Sciences
Long Beach City College
Long Beach, California, USA

Gently Rocking Fruit Flies to Sleep

March 2nd, 2021

Innovation seldom ceases in the global effort to learn better ways to get flies, and perhaps people, to get to sleep.

Sleep Induction by Mechanosensory Stimulation in Drosophila,” Arzu Ozturk-Colak, Sho Inami, Joseph R. Buchler, Patrick D. McClanahan, Andri Cruz, Christopher Fang-Yen, and Kyunghee Koh, Cell, vol. 33, no. 108462, 2020.

The authors, at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Pennsylvania, report:

“People tend to fall asleep when gently rocked or vibrated. Experimental studies have shown that rocking promotes sleep in humans and mice. However, the mechanisms underlying the phenomenon are not well understood. A habituation model proposes that habituation, a form of non-associative learning, mediates sleep induction by monotonous stimulation. Here, we show that gentle vibration promotes sleep in Drosophila in part through habituation.”

(Thanks to Mark Benecke for bringing this to our attention.)

Podcast Episode #1057: “Fifty Shades, by Gray”

March 1st, 2021

In Podcast Episode #1057, Marc Abrahams shows an unfamiliar research study to physicist Melissa Franklin. Dramatic readings and reactions ensue.

Remember, our Patreon donors, on most levels, get access to each podcast episode before it is made public.

Melissa Franklin encounters:

The Science of Style: In Fashion, Colors Should Match Only Moderately,” Kurt Gray, Peter Schmitt, Nina Strohminger, Karim S. Kassam, PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 7, 2014, e102772. 

Seth GliksmanProduction Assistant

Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Google Podcasts, AntennaPod, BeyondPod and elsewhere!

The use of woodcutting ants as characters in Brazilian Nativity-scenes [study]

March 1st, 2021

Ants were in use as miniaturized characters in Brazilian nativity scenes until at least the 1960s.

“Present in Brazil since the beginning of Portuguese colonization, crèche nativity scenes were soon adapted to local reality, a propitious circumstance for the appearance of heterodox conceptions and the use of exotic elements of the fauna and flora peculiar to each region. As records about insects are very uncommon, it is noteworthy that females of leaf-cutting ants, Atta sp. (Hymenoptera, Formicidae), were used to compose crèche nativity scenes in São Paulo State.”

The authors of a research paper on the subject, which was published in Anais do Museu Paulista: História e Cultura Material, 16(2), 105-127, suggest that the custom of Nativity-scene ant-dressing may have links with the work of Jules-Victor-André Martin (1832 – 1906) the painter, teacher, architect, lithographer, cartographer, draftsman, builder and Brazilian businessman of French origin, who had a penchant for depicting dressed-up ants in his artworks.

See; Teixeira, D. M., Papavero, N., & Monné, M. A. (2008). Insetos em presépios e as” formigas vestidas” de Jules Martin (1832-1906): uma curiosa manufatura paulistana do final do século XIX. [mainly in Portuguese, with photos]

(Many thanks to investigator Phillip Schuster of the Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brasil, for bringing the paper to our attention.)

 

Improbable Research