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This is improbable too: synchronized cows, speedy brain extractors and more WTF research

This is improbable too: synchronized cows, speedy brain extractors and more WTF research

Abrahams, Marc, author

Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, offers an addictive, wryly funny exposé of the oddest, most imaginative, and just plain improbable research from around the globe

Paperback, Book. English.
Published London: Oneworld, 2014

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Statement of responsibility: Marc Abrahams
ISBN: 1780743610, 9781780743615
Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Physical Description: xi, 317 pages : illustrations (black and white) ; 20 cm
Subject: Popular Science.; Science Miscellanea.; Popular Science and Mathematics.


  1. Contents
  2. Prologue, Between the Second and Fourth Digits
  3. 1. The Brain's Behind
  4. 2. High, Brainy Mindedness
  5. 3. Ears, Tongues, Noses and All That
  6. 4. Bones, Foreskins, Armpits, Slime
  7. 5. Thinking, on Your Feet and Fingers
  8. 6. Navel Gazing, Curious Consuming
  9. 7. Some Things Stick Out
  10. 8. What Comes after the Colon?
  11. 9. Stuff in the Air (and Elsewhere)
  12. 10. Soft Is Hard
  13. Acknowledgments
  14. Extra Citations
  15. Illustration Credits

Author note

Marc Abrahams writes the "Improbable Research" column for the Guardian and is the author of This Is Improbable. He is an editor of the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research and a founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, which are presented annually at Harvard. A monthly guest on NPR's nationally syndicated Science Friday, Abrahams and the Igs have been covered by The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Scientific American, and numerous other outlets. He and his wife, Robin, a columnist for The Boston Globe, live in Cambridge, MA.


"In This Is Improbable, Marc Abrahams made addictive, laugh-out-loud, literary art from the world's oddest and most unlikely research projects. As the "Improbable Research" columnist for the Guardian and founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, Abrahams has amassed a fresh collection of screwball scientific and technological oddities serious enough to pique the intellectual curiosity of the average Joe. In This Is Improbable Too, he introduces readers to the engineer who used mathematical calculations to pinpoint the antichrist (he claims it's Mikhail Gorbachev, by odds of 710,609,175,188,282,000 to 1) and an Italian economist whose theory of human stupidity ("ignorance is bliss") was confirmed by Cornell scientists.

Abrahams also discovers evidence that crime doesn't pay ("an industrious robber can expect, statistically, to work steadily at his trade for only about a year and a half before being caught and canned"), that "nasal packing" with cured salt pork can stop nosebleeds, and that Botox reduces armpit odor. His final research stops include the old question of breast versus buttocks preferences for men in "Islands of Interest" and the role beans play in flatulence in "Overblown Beans."

The examples Abrahams highlights are so bodaciously "out there" and salacious that they seem to defy reality, escalating the reader's random chuckles into gut-wrenching guffaws. Like Uncle John's Bathroom Reader or an episode of Jeopardy, This Is Improbable Too delivers science as it might be most easily ingested--in small doses, one chapter of disbelieving hilarity at a time. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant
Discover: A collection of the world's oddest scientific and technological accomplishments by the world's foremost expert on improbable research." - Shelf Awareness for Readers

"This book, packed with wordplay, will appeal to lovers of puns, curious anecdotes, and those who like their social and scientific research leavened with humor." Cate Hirschbel, Iwasaki Library, Emerson College, Library Journal

"A detailed map of the most arcane byways down which members of the scientific community have travelled." - Independent on Sunday

"Abrahams is doing vital work here… From this deeply improbable book, you will learn that male chess players take more risk in their play when they are playing attractive female opponents, and that British bank robbers don’t make as much money as you might think."— Daily Mail

Praise for Marc Abrahams’ This Is Improbable:

“Science nerds and comedy junkies unite! Your book has arrived.” —Reader’s Digest

“Hilarious... You'll never look at scientists in the same way again.” —Terry Jones, Monty Python

"Marc Abrahams is a perfectly calibrated filtration system into which all of science is poured and out of which comes pure, giddy goofball delight... A delicious, addictive treat." —Mary Roach, author of Gulp and Stiff

"Delightful... A pleasure to read in the bathroom and in the bedroom, and the kind of book that makes you seem smarter when you share it with your friends (just make sure you wash your hands first)." —Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational

"Human beings are weird, the world is weird, and human beings—just can't stop 'em—like to research the world. The result is a triple-rainbow of weirdness, all compiled with wit and aplomb by Marc Abrahams, the world's leading impresario of strange-ass science." —Amanda Palmer

"Rationalism taken to intoxicating extremes." —Guardian