I gradi di separazione di Facebook

I ricercatori di Facebook rivisitano la teoria dei 6 gradi di separazione analizzando 721 milioni di utenti e 69 miliardi di amicizie. Non scoprono molto di nuovo, rispetto agli studi pionieristici di Milgram e Granovetter e quelli più recenti di Duncan Watts, di cui abbiamo parlato qui da poco: i gradi di separazione sono 4-5 e si vanno riducendo nel tempo; le reti nazionali e di coetanei sono più dense.

La buona notizia è che lo studio (o meglio gli studi, perché gli articoli sono 2) sono stati sviluppati anche da ricercatori italiani in un laboratorio dell’Università degli studi di Milano (la mia alma mater).

Qui il link alla notizia del Facebook Data Team:

Anatomy of Facebook

With the rise of modern computing, social networks are now being mapped in digital form, giving researchers the ability to study them on a much grander, even global, scale. Continuing this tradition of social network research, Facebook, in collaboration with researchers at the Università degli Studi di Milano, is today releasing two studies of the Facebook social graph.

Qui quelli agli articoli scientifici:

J. Ugander, B. Karrer, L. Backstrom, C. Marlow. The Anatomy of the Facebook Social Graph.

L. Backstrom, P. Boldi, M. Rosa, J. Ugander, S. Vigna. Four Degrees of Separation.

La British Library digitale: giornali del 18° e 19° secolo

La British Library rende disponibili online 4 milioni di pagine di 200 giornali dei secoli 18° e 19°.

La ricerca nell’archivio è gratis, ma l’accesso alle singole pagine è a pagamento.

Chissà poi perché: curiosa accezione di “servizio pubblico”.

BBC News – British Library scans 18th and 19th-Century newspapers

Four million pages of newspapers from the 18th and 19th Centuries have been made available online by the British Library.

The public will now be able to scan the content of 200 titles from around Britain and Ireland.


The archive is free to search, but there is a charge for accessing the pages themselves.


Mr King [the British Library’s head of newspapers] said: “Rather than having to view the items on site at the library, turning each page, people across the UK and around the world will be able to explore for themselves the goldmine of stories and information contained in these pages.”The ability to search across millions of articles will yield results for each user that might previously have been the work of weeks or months, in a matter of seconds and the click of a mouse.”


A team has spent a year at the British Library’s newspaper library at Colindale, north London, digitising up to 8,000 pages a day.

They expect to scan up to 40 million pages over the next 10 years.


Punto d’incontro tra chi soffre e chi s’offre.

Gli Stati Uniti non amano la scienza? E l’Italia?

In un articolo comparso sul Financial Times del 25 novembre 2011, Gillian Tett si preoccupa perché molti politici americani si dichiarano apertamentamente contrari o indifferenti alla scienza. E da noi? E che conseguenze può avere sul dibattito e sulle scelte di policy?

Why doesn’t America like science? – FT.com

“We have presidential candidates who don’t believe in science!” [Michael Bllomberg, sindaco di New York] lamented, referring to the current field of people jostling to become Republican candidate for the 2012 elections. “I mean, just think about it, can you imagine a company of any size in the world where the CEO said, ‘oh I don’t believe in science’ and that person surviving to the end of that day? Are you kidding me? It’s mind-boggling!”

It is a comment that many observers might echo, particularly among the ranks of American scientists. For while Bloomberg did not specify whom he considers to be “mind-boggling”, the list of targets is long. Thus far, just three of the eight potential Republican candidates have positively declared that they believe in the scientific basis for evolution. The rest have either hedged, or – like Rick Perry – claimed that evolution is just “a theory that is out there… [but] it’s got some gaps in it”. Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann, another contender, has actively called for creationism to be taught too, since she has similar doubts about the evolutionary science.Newt Gingrich has cast doubt on the virtues of stem cell research, Herman Cain has questioned whether there is any scientific evidence behind homosexuality, and most of the candidates have queried climate change. Indeed, whenever any candidate has defended evidence-based science, they have suffered a backlash: witness the travails of Mitt Romney.

In some senses, this is not surprising. A recent survey by the National Science Foundation found that 45 per cent of Americans support evolution (barely more than those who actively reject it). There is similar scepticism about climate change.

The views that Bloomberg considers “mind-boggling” are not outliers, or not outside the coastal areas such as New York, where he resides.

But common or not, the spread of this sentiment is leaving many American scientists alarmed. Last month, New Scientist magazine warned in an editorial that science is now under unprecedented intellectual attack in America. “When candidates for the highest office in the land appear to spurn reason, embrace anecdote over scientific evidence, and even portray scientists as the perpetrators of a massive hoax, there is reason to worry,” it thundered. Some 40,000 scientists have now joined a lobby group called Science Debate, which was founded four years ago with the aim of getting more scientific voices into the political arena. “There is an entire generation of students today who have been taught that there is no objective truth – who think that science is just another opinion,” says Shawn Lawrence Otto, co-founder of Science Debate, who told me that the “situation today is much worse than in 2008”.

Science Debate


Temere il meglio [Proverbi pessimisti 13]

Non è mio, ma di Gene Gnocchi (pensate a volte dove va a nascondersi l’arguzia, come la penicillina nella muffa). E a rigore non è nemmeno un proverbio. Ma non è niente male.

Il Financial Times pubblica la classifica dei ministri economici dell’Unione europea

Il Financial Times pubblica (per il sesto anno) la classifica dei ministri dell’economia e delle finanze delle maggiori economie dell’Unione europea.

Naturalmente, per l’Italia c’è ancora Tremonti, che arriva penultimo.

La classifica dei ministri economici


Qui sotto trovate una sintesi dei criteri di giudizio.

FT ranking of EU finance ministers: Striker amid stumblers – FT.com

The FT’s ranking of European finance ministers 2011 is based on political ability, economic performance and credibility in the markets. In each category, the 19 biggest European Union economies and their finance ministers received a ranking from one – the best – to 19. These were combined to give an overall rank.

The political aspect is based on the opinions of seven leading economists who judged the ministers on three criteria: their lucidity, or how well they understood events; their impact on the European stage; and their effectiveness at home.

The economic ranking was modified this year to reflect changes in the demands on finance ministers and their economic stewardship. It was based on seven performance measures: recovery in terms of gross domestic product compared with the pre-crisis peak; growth this year; deficit levels and the change since 2009; debt levels; projected change in unemployment from 2008 to 2013; and, finally, deviation of the country’s current account from balance.

Market credibility is judged by the current yield on outstanding 10-year bonds, as well as an assessment of how this yield has changed.

Neurogastronomia, la scienza del gusto

È noto da tempo che non c’è esperienza del sapore senza olfatto (la lingua è in grado di percepire 4 o al massimo 5 sapori base: salato, dolce, amaro, acido e “glutammico”). Un libro appena pubblicato del professor Gordon M. Shepherd, della Yale School of Medicine, Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters svela i misyteri del nostro sistema olfattivo e delle complesse interazioni tra bocca, naso e cervello. Salon intervista l’autore.

The science of taste – Food – Salon.com

Gordon M. Shepherd, professor of neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, has spent a lifetime researching the brain mechanisms involved in olfaction (our sense of smell) and its impact on flavor perception in the brain. His new book is “Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters,” out this month from Columbia University Press. Shepherd’s work is anchored in a burgeoning field within neuroscience — figuring out the mysteries behind our olfactory system, the ways in which smells are represented and processed in the brain.

Shepherd argues for the quintessential importance of olfaction in our everyday experience of food. Without smell, Shepherd says, there is no flavor. “Neurogastronomy” takes a detailed look at just how smelling in the nose, mouth and brain produces the unique experience of flavor that we associate with eating our favorite or least-favorite foods.

The Science of Taste

Credit: iStockphoto/apomares (salon.com)

Duncan Watts – Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer

Watts, Duncan J.  (2011). Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer. New York: Crown Business. 2011.

Everything Is Obvious


Duncan Watts, a differenza di molti scienziati delle generazioni più recenti, ha una storia tutt’altro che lineare. Nato in Canada nel 1971, passato per la Scozia, è poi cresciuto in Australia, in una fattoria del Queensland, dove ha fatto le superiori (alla Toowoomba Grammar School). Racconta che da bambino voleva fare l’astronauta e, più grande, l’astronomo. Ma dopo aver iniziato l’università scoprì che trovava l’astronomia noiosissima e si laureò invece in fisica all’accademia militare (Australian Defence Force Academy), dove divenne anche ufficiale. Dopo un periodo di servizio in marina (nella Royal Australian Navy), si trasferì negli Stati Uniti, alla Cornell University, per il dottorato al Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.

Questo spiega forse perché non abbia per niente l’aria da secchione, ma anzi quella della persona con cui non mettersi a litigare.

Duncan Watts


Il suo tutor alla Cornell è Steven Strogatz, con cui pubblica nel 1998  su Nature un articolo fondamentale di teoria delle reti (è qui, ma per leggerlo dovete pagare; trovate anche una spiegazione esauriente su Wikipedia, oppure potete leggere il libro che lo stesso Watts ha scritto per un pubblico non specialistico: Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age).

Non è esagerato dire che il lavoro di Watts e Strogatz è (insieme a quello di altri, soprattutto di Albert-László Barabási e di Réka Albert) alla base della ripresa d’interesse per la teoria delle reti e, insieme, per il lavoro pionieristico di sociologi come Milgram e Granovetter. Scrivo questo non per sfoggio di cultura, ma perché questo è il ponte che spiega il passaggio di Watts dalla fisica alla sociologia (Watts è tra quelli che, senza alcun cedimento  al postmodernismo alla francese, pensa che le soft sciences siano in realtà più toste delle hard sciences) e anche (insieme probabilmente a una retribuzione annua stratosferica) il passaggio dall’accademia alla posizione di direttore del gruppo Human Social Dynamics alla Yahoo.

Lo stesso Watts ne parla così:

Why did you choose to work at Yahoo?

I see the frontier of social science—especially as it relates to the study of social networks—as being determined by the ability to measure the interactions between people, both at very large scales, and also in very fine-grained detail. Currently there are very few places in the world where such data is available, and Yahoo! is one of them. As (Head of Yahoo! Research) Prabhakar (Raghavan) likes to say, if you want to study particle physics, you need access to a cyclotron—well, Yahoo! is the cyclotron of social dynamics.

What do you like most about working at Yahoo?

It’s great to work with so many smart and friendly people, but I also really appreciate the atmosphere, which is surprisingly relaxed, given the intense focus on research.

Questo nuovo libro riassume molte delle ricerche sviluppate con il nuovo gruppo di ricerca (che gli offre la possibilità di accedere a un’enorme base di dati), ma anche di quelle svolte in ambito accademico. Il connettivo è offerto dalla tesi che il senso comune non è una buona guida per decisioni con pochi precedenti in situazioni complesse, ma devo dire che è un filo conduttore piuttosto tenue. Il libro merita comunque di essere letto, per la documentazione di numerosissimi esperimenti e per molti spunti di riflessione interessanti: è un libro importante.

Prima di passare alla consueta rassegna di citazioni dal libro, penso sia utile proporvi alcuni interventi live di Duncan Watts.

Il primo è molto facile da seguire, perché ci sono anche le slide. Comincia poco dopo il 10° minuto.

In questo secondo (che penso sia parte di un tour di presentazione del libro) Watts racconta un po’ della sua storia e del suo background.

L’ultimo, una polemica con The Tipping Point di Malcom Gladwell, è interessante perché – oltre a rivelare il Watts polemista, su un tema sviluppato anche nel libro – conferma la mia tesi che sia meglio non litigarci!

* * *

Citazioni: sono miei personali appunti che non siete obbligati a leggere, ma se siete curiosi qualcosa di utile e stimolante certamente lo troverete. Come di consueto il riferimento è alla posizione sul Kindle:

The paradox of common sense, therefore, is that even as it helps us make sense of the world, it can actively undermine our ability to understand it. [114]

Common sense, in other words, is not so much a worldview as a grab bag of logically inconsistent, often contradictory beliefs, each of which seems right at the time but carries no guarantee of being right any other time. [356]

The large scale and disruptive nature of economic and urban development plans make them especially prone to failure […] [426]

There are also so many more corporations than governments that it’s always possible to find success stories, thereby perpetuating the view that the private sector is better at planning than the government sector. But as a number of management scholars have shown in recent years, corporate plans—whether strategic bets, mergers and acquisitions, or marketing campaigns—also fail frequently, and for much the same reasons that government plans do. In all these cases, that is, a small number of people sitting in conference rooms are using their own commonsense intuition to predict, manage, or manipulate the behavior of thousands or millions of distant and diverse people whose motivations and circumstances are very different from their own. [430]

[…] because we seek to explain these events only after the fact, our explanations place far too much emphasis on what actually happened relative to what might have happened but didn’t. Moreover, because we only try to explain events that strike us as sufficiently interesting, our explanations account only for a tiny fraction even of the things that do happen. The result is that what appear to us to be causal explanations are in fact just stories— descriptions of what happened that tell us little, if anything, about the mechanisms at work. Nevertheless, because these stories have the form of causal explanations, we treat them as if they have predictive power. In this way, we deceive ourselves into believing that we can make predictions that are impossible, even in principle. [503]

[…] common sense is wonderful at making sense of the world, but not necessarily at understanding it. [510]

[È una citazione di James Duesenberry] “economics is all about choice, while sociology is about why people have no choices.” [568]

Finally, people digest new information in ways that tend to reinforce what they already think. In part, we do this by noticing information that confirms our existing beliefs more readily than information that does not. And in part, we do it by subjecting disconfirming information to greater scrutiny and skepticism than confirming information. Together, these two closely related tendencies—known as confirmation bias and motivated reasoning respectively—greatly impede our ability to resolve disputes […] [695]

Rather, just as Paul Lazarsfeld’s imagined reader of the American Soldier found every result and its opposite is equally obvious, once we know the outcome we can almost always identify previously overlooked aspects of the situation that then seem relevant. [775]

[…] in environments where individual contributions are hard to separate from those of the team, financial rewards can encourage workers to ride on the coattails of the efforts of others, or to avoid taking risks, thereby hampering innovation. [830]

So how do we get from the micro choices of individuals to the macro phenomena of the social world? Where, in other words, do families, firms, markets, cultures, and societies come from, and why do they exhibit the particular features that they exhibit? This is the micro-macro problem. [989]

Historically, science has done its best to dodge this question, opting instead for a division of labor across the scales. [998]

When it comes to social phenomena, however, we do speak of “social actors” like families, firms, markets, political parties, demographic segments, and nation-states as if they act in more or less the same way as the individuals that comprise them. Families, that is, “decide” where to go on vacation, firms “choose” between business strategies, and political parties “pursue” legislative agendas. Likewise, advertisers speak of appealing to their “target demographic,” Wall Street traders dissect the sentiment of “the market,” politicians speak about “the will of the people,” and historians describe a revolution as a “fever gripping society.” [1023]

Introducing social influence into human decision making, in other words, increased not just inequality but unpredictability as well. Nor could this unpredictability be eliminated by accumulating more information about the songs any more than studying the surfaces of a pair of dice could help you predict the outcome of a roll. Rather, unpredictability was inherent to the dynamics of the market itself. [1204]

Contagion—the idea that information, and potentially influence, can spread along network ties like an infectious disease—is one of the most intriguing ideas in network science. [1446]

By effectively concentrating all the agency into the hands of a few individuals, “special people” arguments like the law of the few reduce the problem of understanding how network structure affects outcomes to the much simpler problem of understanding what it is that motivates the special people. [1616]

[…] how much these explanations really explain, versus simply describe. [1627]

For problems of economics, politics, and culture—problems that involve many people interacting over time—the combination of the frame problem and the micro-macro problem means that every situation is in some important respect different from the situations we have seen before. [1658]

[…] rather than producing doubt, the absence of “counterfactual” versions of history tends to have the opposite effect—namely that we tend to perceive what actually happened as having been inevitable. This tendency, which psychologists call creeping determinism, is related to the better-known phenomenon of hindsight bias, the after-the-fact tendency to think that we “knew it all along.” […] Creeping determinism, however, is subtly different from hindsight bias and even more deceptive. [1681-1687]

The only way to identify attributes that differentiate successful from unsuccessful entities is to consider both kinds, and to look for systematic differences. Yet because what we care about is success, it seems pointless—or simply uninteresting—to worry about the absence of success. Thus we infer that certain attributes are related to success when in fact they may be equally related to failure.
This problem of “sampling bias” is especially acute when the things we pay attention to—the interesting events—happen only rarely. [1706]

[…] narrative sentences, meaning sentences that purport to be describing something that happened at a particular point in time but do so in a way that invokes knowledge of a later point. [1839]

[…] stories that are constrained by certain historical facts and other observable evidence. [1937]

[…] we are bad at distinguishing predictions that we can make reliably from those that we can’t. [2045]

Simple systems are those for which a model can capture all or most of the variation in what we observe. [2075]

Nobody really agrees on what makes a complex system “complex” but it’s generally accepted that complexity arises out of many interdependent components interacting in nonlinear ways. [2086]

Until it is actually realized, all we can say about the future stock price is that it has a certain probability of being within a certain range—not because it actually lies somewhere in this range and we’re just not sure where it is, but in the stronger sense that it only exists at all as a range of probabilities. Put another way, there is a difference between being uncertain about the future and the future itself being uncertain. The former is really just a lack of information—something we don’t know—whereas the latter implies that the information is, in principle, unknowable. The former is the orderly universe of Laplace’s demon, where if we just try hard enough, if we’re just smart enough, we can predict the future. The latter is an essentially random world, where the best we can ever hope for is to express our predictions of various outcomes as probabilities. [2162]

[…] what is relevant cannot be known until later. [2189]

[…] just as commonsense explanations of the past confuse stories with theories—the topic of the last chapter—so too does commonsense intuition about the future tend to conflate predictions with prophecies. [2277]

Predictions about complex systems, in other words, are highly subject to the law of diminishing returns: The first pieces of information help a lot, but very quickly you exhaust whatever potential for improvement exists. [2473]

The one method you don’t want to use when making predictions is to rely on a single person’s opinion—especially not your own. The reason is that although humans are generally good at perceiving which factors are potentially relevant to a particular problem, they are generally bad at estimating how important one factor is relative to another. [2481]

The real problem with relying on experts, however, is not that they are appreciably worse than nonexperts, but rather that because they are experts we tend to consult only one at a time. [2491]

According to Raynor, the problem with most companies is that their senior management, meaning the board of directors and the top executives, spends too much time managing and optimizing their existing strategies—what he calls operational management—and not enough thinking through strategic uncertainty. [2623]

The Mullet Strategy is also an example of “crowdsourcing,” a term coined in a 2006 Wired article by Jeff Howe to describe the outsourcing of small jobs to potentially very large numbers of individual workers. [2727]

Facebook, meanwhile, publishes a “gross national happiness” index based on users’ status updates […] [2770]

[…] the shift from “predict and control” to “measure and react” is not just technological—although technology is needed—but psychological. [2805]

[…] sometimes even a bad plan is better than no plan at all. [2927: o no?]

According to Scott, the central flaw in this “high modernist” philosophy was that it underemphasized the importance of local, context-dependent knowledge in favor of rigid mental models of cause and effect. As Scott put it, applying generic rules to a complex world was “an invitation to practical failure, social disillusionment, or most likely both.” The solution, Scott argued, is that plans should be designed to exploit “a wide array of practical skills and acquired intelligence in responding to a constantly changing natural and human environment.” This kind of knowledge, moreover, is hard to reduce to generally applicable principles precisely because “the environments in which it is exercised are so complex and non-repeatable that formal procedures of rational decision making are impossible to apply.” In other words, the knowledge on which plans should be based is necessarily local to the concrete situation in which it is to be applied. [2934]

The bright-spot approach is also similar to what political scientist Charles Sabel calls bootstrapping […] three practices—identifying failure points, tracing problems to root causes, and searching for solutions outside the confines of existing routines— […] [2998-3006]

[…] the formal rules that officially govern behavior in organizations and even societies are rarely enforced in practice, and in fact are probably impossible to enforce both consistently and comprehensively. […] Yet the rules nevertheless serve a larger, social purpose of providing a rough global constraint on acceptable behavior. [3114-3121]

Oliver Wendell Holmes used to defend freedom of speech—not because he was fighting for the rights of individuals per se, but because he believed that allowing everyone to voice their opinion served the larger interest of creating a vibrant, innovative, and self-regulating society. [3130]

Unlike regular markets, which are characterized by large numbers of buyers and sellers, publicly visible prices, and a high degree of substitutability, the labor market for CEOs is characterized by a small number of participants, many of whom are already socially or professionally connected, and operates almost entirely out of public scrutiny. The result is something like a self-fulfilling prophecy. [3348]

[…] arguments about the so-called redistribution of wealth are mistaken in assuming that the existing distribution is somehow the natural state of things, from which any deviation is unnatural, and hence morally undesirable. In reality, every distribution of wealth reflects a particular set of choices that a society has made: to value some skills over others; to tax or prohibit some activities while subsidizing or encouraging other activities; and to enforce some rules while allowing other rules to sit on the books, or to be violated in spirit. All these choices can have considerable ramifications for who gets rich and who doesn’t—as recent revelations about explicit and implicit government subsidies to student lenders and multinational oil companies exemplify. But there is nothing “natural” about any of these choices, which are every bit as much the product of historical accident, political expediency, and corporate lobbying as they are of economic rationality or social desirability. [3406]

Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night: God said, Let Newton be! and all was light. [3518: citazione di Alexander Pope]

It was Spencer, in fact, not Darwin, who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.” [3546]

[…] homophily principle—the idea that “birds of a feather flock together.” [3651]

[…] homogeneous social circles can also lead to a more balkanized society in which differences of opinion lead to political conflict rather than exchanges of ideas among equals. [3681]

[…] scientific procedures—of theory, observation, and experiment—that incrementally and iteratively chip away at the mysteries of the world. [3751]

One way to understand the entire project of what Rawls called political liberalism (Rawls 1993), along with the closely related idea of deliberative democracy (Bohman 1998; Bohman and Rehg 1997), is, in fact, as an attempt to prescribe a political system that can offer procedural justice to all its members without presupposing that any particular point of view—whether religious, moral, or otherwise—is correct. The whole principle of deliberation, in other words, presupposes that common sense is not to be trusted, thereby shifting the objective from determining what is “right” to designing political institutions that don’t privilege any one view of what is right over any other. [4546]

[Max Weber] effectively defined rational behavior as behavior that is understandable […] [4582]

The definition of “methodological individualism” is typically traced to the early twentieth century in the writings of the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter (1909, p. 231); however, the idea goes back much earlier, at least to the writings of Hobbes, and was popular among the thinkers of the Enlightenment, for whom an individualistic view of action fit perfectly with their emerging theories of rational action. See Lukes (1968) and Hodgson (2007) for a discussion of the intellectual origins of methodological individualism, as well as a scathing critique of its logical foundations. [4665]

[Metis] meaning the collection of formal decision procedures, informal rules of thumb, and trained instinct that characterized the performance of experienced professionals. [4782]

[…] disorganized and organized complexity (Weaver 1958), where the former correspond to systems of very large numbers of independent entities, like molecules in a gas. Weaver’s point was that disorganized complexity can be handled with the same kinds of tools that apply to simple systems, albeit in a statistical rather than deterministic way. By organized complexity, however, he means systems that are neither simple nor subject to the helpful averaging properties of disorganized systems. [4840]

Raynor actually distinguishes three kinds of management: functional management, which is about optimizing daily tasks; operational management, which is focused on executing existing strategies; and strategic management, which is focused on the management of strategic uncertainty. (Raynor 2007, pp. 107–108) [4929]

See Heath and Heath (2010) for their definition of bright spots. See Marsh et al. (2004) for more details of the positive deviance approach. Examples of positive deviance can be found at http://www.positivedeviance.org/. [5018]

Possibly this disconnect between espoused and revealed preferences implies only that people do not understand the consequences of their actions; but it may also imply that abstract questions about “privacy” are less meaningful than concrete tradeoffs in specific situations. A second, more troubling problem is that regardless of how people “really” feel about revealing particular pieces of information about themselves, they are almost certainly unable to appreciate the ability of third parties to construct information profiles about them, and thereby infer other information that they would not feel comfortable revealing. [5196]

Pubblicato su Recensioni. 3 Comments »

L’invidia del pene assume nuovi significati

Secondo Freud (i 3 saggi sulla sessualità? – che Morgana mi aiuti) l’invidia del pene interviene in una fase dello sviluppo sessuale delle bambine, quando scoprono che il papà ce l’ha e loro no.

I maschietti, Freud compreso, sono sproporzionatamente orgogliosi della loro appendice, mentre alcune donne sostengono che c’è ben poco da invidiare. Non si può negare, però, che il pene consente cose che la sua mancanza rende difficili.

Alcuni di voi ricorderanno il post, su questo blog, a proposito delle mosche di Schipol (Amsterdam). Da qualche tempo, sempre negli aereoporti, sono comparsi degli schermi LCD che trasmettono clip pubblicitari, che sfruttano il fatto che la maggior parte degli uomini guarda fisso davanti a sé mentre orina in pubblico (penso perché guardare verso il basso potrebbe essere interpretato come un interesse omosessuale ai genitali dei vicini),

Ora, un pub di Londra, The Exhibit, ha installato nei suoi bagni dei videogiochi che sono controllati dal getto della pipì.

The Exhibit


Come funziona è abbastanza intuitivo:

Come funziona


Il resto della storia lo trovate seguendo il link qui sotto.

World’s first pee-controlled video game opens in London bar

In most pubs and bars, going for a pee involves just that – emptying your bladder, washing your hands and returning to your table. However, take a pee in The Exhibit bar in south London and you’ll have an altogether different experience.

You see, The Exhibit has taken it upon itself to install in its men’s bathroom a number of pee-controlled video games; games with carefully thought up names such as Clever Dick and On The Piste. The system is thought to be the first of its kind in the world, and besides making a trip to the bathroom more entertaining, it will also be an opportunity for advertisers to promote their products.

Developed by UK-based Captive Media, the high-tech urinals come with 12-inch LCD screens fitted just above them. Ads play on the screens until a punter approaches the urinal. Detecting that the punter is in position and ready to pee, the system then switches into gaming mode.

Come mangiarsi un indumento

Un fisico inglese, Jim Al-Khalili, ha dichiarato pubblicamente che si sarebbe mangiato i boxer in diretta televisiva se fosse alla fine risultato che i neutrini sono più veloci della luce.

I am happy to eat my boxers on live TV. It would be a small price to pay for the thrill of so much new physics. But let’s not be too hasty just yet, eh?

La promessa fa venire in mente – oltre a Bart Simpson, che dice “Eat my shorts!”, anche se noi siamo abituati alla traduzione “Ciucciati il calzino!” – le scommesse di Rockerduck con Zio Paperone, di mangiarsi la bombetta [in omaggio al grandissimo Carl Barks arrischio un’immagime, anche se conosco la grettezza della Disney con il copyright: l’immagine l’ho presa da fb].



Len Fisher, premio ig Nobel per la fisica nel 1999, ha consigliato ad Al-Khalili (con una lettera pubblicata sul Guardian del 25 novembre) come farlo in maniera corretta.

Improbable Research » Blog Archive

If neutrinos can travel faster than light, Jim Al-Khalili will eat his boxer shorts (Comment, 23 November). As a scientist who has advised leading chefs, the correct way to eat boxer shorts is to heat them to carbonisation in a closed, oven-proof dish and then sprinkle the ash on a rare porterhouse steak. At least, the charcoal will help to cure the indigestion that can arise from having to eat one’s words.
Len Fisher
Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire