A very special Best of PubMed (#27)

Often it’s mainly the titles of these pieces that are funny, or strange, but in a lot of cases it pays to read the whole article. Today’s entry in the Best of PubMed series dips a bit deeper into two of the articles. The first concerns the effects of laughing gas. In the second, scientists produce a sound from a mummy – apparently in an attempt to bring an ancient Egyptian back to life! I’ve included quotes from the articles and some commentary…

A Strange Freak
Am J Dent Sci. 1876 Jan; 9(9): 427. 
PMCID: PMC6106456

“The New York Herald states that Miss Sarah Ward, aged 28, daughter of Judge Ward, who resides at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, visited a New York dentist on Monday to have some teeth extracted, and took laughing gas. She remained under the influence of the gas for a considerable time, and when she finally recovered the idea seemed to have struck her that it would be a good joke to frighten her folks at home by telegraphing to the Rev. A. N. Stanley, rector of St. Paul’s, that she was dead. She accordingly sent a dispatch to the rector, who was preaching at the time in observance of St. Andrew’s day, that she died from the effects of inhaling laughing gas. The startling announcement caused great consternation among the congregation, the young lady being well known to them all. The services were at once concluded, and word was sent to her father, who hastened to the dentist’s place of business, where he was surprised as well as overjoyed to learn that his daughter had but a short time previously left for home in excellent health. When asked by her parents what induced her to send such a dispatch, she said that she did it for fun.”

Synthesis of a Vocal Sound from the 3,000 year old Mummy, Nesyamun ‘True of Voice’
D. M. Howard, J. Schofield, J. Fletcher, K. Baxter, G. R. Iball, S. A. Buckley
Sci Rep. 2020; 10: 45000.  Published online 2020 Jan 23. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56316
PMCID: PMC6978302

Abstract
“The sound of a 3,000 year old mummified individual has been accurately reproduced as a vowel-like sound based on measurements of the precise dimensions of his extant vocal tract following Computed Tomography (CT) scanning, enabling the creation of a 3-D printed vocal tract. By using the Vocal Tract Organ, which provides a user-controllable artificial larynx sound source, a vowel sound is synthesised which compares favourably with vowels of modern individuals.

In other words, they performed CT scans to establish the positions of the vocal chords, larynx, throat and mouth of a mummy. After that, the article states:

“Following the scans, a 3-D printed tract was created for Nesyamun and designed to be used with the Vocal Tract Organ17 which provides an appropriate acoustic larynx source as a time domain waveform synthesis of the Liljencrants-Fant (LF) larynx source which is commonly employed in speech synthesis18. The fundamental frequency, loudness and vibrato rate and depth can be individually controlled. The tract incorporates a coupler at its larynx end that is designed to fit snugly over the output end of an Adastra model 952-210 (16 ohm, 60 Watt) loudspeaker drive unit.”

I don’t understand all this, but somehow they got the thing to make a sound. The result: a vowel that lies somewhere between what you hear in the words “bed” and “bad.”

Why would someone do all this? Apparently they were trying to bring the mummy back to life. (I am only partly kidding.) Here’s what the authors write:

“…Within ancient Egyptian culture… the name was regarded as essential to an individual as their physical (mummified) body and their soul (ka) and spirit (ba). It was also a fundamental belief that ‘to speak the name of the dead is to make them live again’ (alternatively translated: ‘a man is revived when his name is pronounced’), both by living relatives and by the deceased themselves when appearing before the gods of judgement. Only those able to verbally confirm that they had led a virtuous life were granted entry into eternity and awarded the epithet ‘maat kheru’, ‘true of voice’, as applied to Nesyamun himself throughout his coffin inscriptions. In these texts, Nesyamun asks that his soul receives eternal sustenance, is able to move around freely and to see and address the gods as he had in his working life. Therefore his documented wish to be able to speak after his death, combined with the excellent state of his mummified body, made Nesyamun the ideal subject for the ‘Voices from the Past’ project.

In conclusion, the authors write,

This innovative interdisciplinary collaboration has produced the unique opportunity to hear the vocal tract output of someone long dead by virtue of their soft tissue preservation and new developments in technology, digital scanning and 3-D printing.”

Effect of a tight necktie on intraocular pressure
C Teng, R Gurses-Ozden, J M Liebmann, C Tello, R Ritch
Br J Ophthalmol. 2003 Aug; 87(8): 946–948.  doi: 10.1136/bjo.87.8.946
PMCID: PMC1771792

Personality and socks
C H Shaw
Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983 Mar 26; 286(6370): 1056. 
PMCID: PMC1547565

Choosing socks
Colin Douglas
BMJ. 2000 Jun 3; 320(7248): 1549. 
PMCID: PMC1118134

Effects of feet warming using bed socks on sleep quality and thermoregulatory responses in a cool environment
Yelin Ko, Joo-Young Lee
J Physiol Anthropol. 2018; 37: 13.  Published online 2018 Apr 24. doi: 10.1186/s40101-018-0172
PMCID: PMC5921564

Psychosis following stab brain injury by a billiard stick
I Turkalj, S Stojanovic, K Petrovic, V Njagulj, I Mikov, M Spanovic
Hippokratia. 2012 Jul-Sep; 16(3): 275–277. 
PMCID: PMC3738738

Is it better to be smart or stupid?
Kamran Abbasi
BMJ. 2004 Sep 25; 329(7468): 0. 
PMCID: PMC518879

Snappy answers to stupid questions: an evidence-based framework for responding to peer-review feedback
Daniel Rosenfield, Steven J. Hoffman
CMAJ. 2009 Dec 8; 181(12): E301–E305.  doi: 10.1503/cmaj.091164
PMCID: PMC2789163

Artificial Intelligence Is Stupid and Causal Reasoning Will Not Fix It
J. Mark Bishop
Front Psychol. 2020; 11: 513474.  Published online 2021 Jan 5. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.513474
PMCID: PMC7874145

A giant cutaneous horn on the eyebrow
Pan Xu, Lixiong Gu, Xiaodong Yao, Xiaoyan Wu, Xiaodong Chen
JAAD Case Rep. 2015 Sep; 1(5): 295–297.  Published online 2015 Jul 31. doi: 10.1016/j.jdcr.2015.05.011
PMCID: PMC4809224

Characterizing the lateral slope of the aging female eyebrow
Tanya L DeLyzer, Arjang Yazdani
Can J Plast Surg. 2013 Autumn; 21(3): 173–177.  doi: 10.1177/229255031302100302
PMCID: PMC3805639

Techniques of Eyebrow Lifting: A Narrative Review
Nasser Karimi, Mohsen Bahmani Kashkouli, Hamed Sianati, Behzad Khademi
J Ophthalmic Vis Res. 2020 Apr-Jun; 15(2): 218–235.  Published online 2020 Apr
6. doi: 10.18502/jovr.v15i2.6740
PMCID: PMC7151508

Genome-wide association studies and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing identify regulatory variants influencing eyebrow thickness in humans
Sijie Wu et al.
PLoS Genet. 2018 Sep; 14(9): e1007640.  Published online 2018 Sep 24. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007640
PMCID: PMC6171961

Eyebrow Height Changes with Aging: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Malke Asaad, Ahmad Beshr Kelarji, Cham Shaban Jawhar, Joseph Banuelos, Editt Taslakian, Waseem Wahood, Krishna S. Vyas, Basel Sharaf
Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2019 Sep; 7(9): e2433.  Published online 2019 Sep 30. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000002433
PMCID: PMC6908395

The case of the haunted scrotum.
J R Harding
J R Soc Med. 1996 Oct; 89(10): 600. 
PMCID: PMC1295986

Plastic Bag With Holes as an Alternative to Face Shield: Our Experiences
Subramanian Senthilkumaran, S.V. Arathisenthil, Ramachandran Meenakshisundaram, Ponniah Thirumalaikolundusubramanian, V.P. Chandrasekaran
J Emerg Med. 2020 Sep; 59(3): 444–445.  Published online 2020 Aug 16. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2020.06.046
PMCID: PMC7429074

Injuries caused by handcuffs.
P. W. Richmond, L. J. Fligelstone, E. Lewis
BMJ. 1988 Jul 9; 297(6641): 111–112.  doi: 10.1136/bmj.297.6641.111
PMCID: PMC1833797

Is a tattoo the answer?
Clare Polack
BMJ. 2001 Nov 3; 323(7320): 1063. 
PMCID: PMC1121553

(If it is, you have to wonder: what’s the Question?)

Counting angels
Andrew M Mason
Emerg Med J. 2007 Apr; 24(4): 311.  doi: 10.1136/emj.2007.046540
PMCID: PMC2658254

How Many Angels Can Dance on the Head of a Patch Pipette?
Carl E. Stafstrom
Epilepsy Curr. 2020 Sep-Oct; 20(5): 309–311.  Published online 2020 Sep 10. doi: 10.1177/1535759720948440
PMCID: PMC7653648

Searching for Strangely Shaped Cookies – Is Taking a Bite Out of a Cookie Similar to Occluding Part of It?

Eli Brenner, Sergio Sánchez Hurtado, Elena Alvarez Arias, Jeroen B. J. Smeets, Roland W. Fleming
Perception. 2021 Feb; 50(2): 140–153.  Published online 2020 Dec 30. doi: 10.1177/0301006620983729
PMCID: PMC7879225

The Best of PubMed #26

Karaoke can damage singers’ voices and hearing
Roger Dobson
BMJ. 2003 Jul 5; 327(7405): 12. 
PMCID: PMC1150966

Hell is a karaoke cruise
Gregory A Petsko
Genome Biol. 2001; 2(9): comment1011.1.  Published online 2001 Aug 31. 
PMCID: PMC138958

(Those two fall into the category, “Stating the obvious…”)

Dentures and deep time
Kevin Barraclough
BMJ. 2005 Dec 10; 331(7529): 1415. 
PMCID: PMC1309703

Peer review or barbecue? The choice is clear
Paul C. Hébert
CMAJ. 2007 May 8; 176(10): 1389.  doi: 10.1503/cmaj.070506
Cet article est disponible en français: CMAJ. 2007 May 8; 176(10): 1391. 
PMCID: PMC1863532

Cadmium poisoning from a refrigerator shelf used as an improvised barbecue grill
Timothy D. Baker, William G. Hafner
Public Health Rep. 1961 Jun; 76(6): 543–544. 
PMCID: PMC1929634

(Now who hasn’t tried that?)

Scent-sniffing dogs can discriminate between native Eurasian and invasive North American beavers
Frank Rosell, Hannah B. Cross, Christin B. Johnsen, Janne Sundell, Andreas Zedrosser
Sci Rep. 2019; 9: 15952.  Published online 2019 Nov 4. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-52385-1
PMCID: PMC6828808

This one falls into the category: “Problems we didn’t know existed…”:

A procedure for the withdrawal of an infant oral pacifier
W. T. McReynolds
J Appl Behav Anal. 1972 Spring; 5(1): 65–66.  doi: 10.1901/jaba.1972.5-65
PMCID: PMC1310726

The Impacts of the Presence of an Unfamiliar Dog on Emerging Adults’ Physiological and Behavioral Responses Following Social Exclusion
Ilona Papousek, Katharina Reiter-Scheidl, Helmut K. Lackner, Elisabeth M. Weiss, Corinna M. Perchtold-Stefan, Nilüfer Aydin   Behav Sci (Basel) 2020 Dec; 10(12): 191.  Published online 2020 Dec 14. doi: 10.3390/bs10120191
PMCID: PMC7764974

Validation of a Seven-Factor Structure for the Motives for Playing Drinking Games Measure
Byron L. Zamboanga, Shannon Audley, Janine V. Olthuis, Heidemarie Blumenthal, Cara C. Tomaso, Ngoc Bui, Brian Borsari
Assessment. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2020 Jun 1.
Published in final edited form as: Assessment. 2019 Jun; 26(4): 582–603. Published online 2017 Apr 16. doi: 10.1177/1073191117701191

COVID-19 research updates: does wearing tinfoil hats pose neurodegenerative threats to conspiracists and the general public?
I. M. Portant, R. E. Sults
Arch Toxicol. 2021 Apr 22 : 1–4.  doi: 10.1007/s00204-021-03051-x [Epub ahead of print]

Correction in: Arch Toxicol. 2021 May 11 : 1. PMCID: PMC8060683

The squeaky wheel doesn’t get the grease
Douglas Waugh
CMAJ. 1992 Feb 1; 146(3): 392. PMCID: PMC1488257

The squeaky wheel gets the grease
Vicki Brower
EMBO Rep. 2005 Nov; 6(11): 1014–1017.  doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400564
PMCID: PMC1371042

(You’d think they ought to retract the first piece, but I couldn’t find one… )

Imitating Mickey Mouse can be dangerous
Deborah Josefson
BMJ. 2000 Mar 18; 320(7237): 732. 
PMCID: PMC1117755

Strategy to diminish nonresponse
Don Eby
Can Fam Physician. 2017 Oct; 63(10): 753–754. 
PMCID: PMC5638469

(Makes you wonder whether “nonresponse” isn’t already diminished enough…?)

Contemplating annihilation
Theodore Dalrymple
BMJ. 2007 Jan 27; 334(7586): 211.  doi: 10.1136/bmj.39101.510023.B7
PMCID: PMC1782003

Changing attitudes on salivary secretion – a short history on spit.
J. R. Garrett
Proc R Soc Med. 1975 Sep; 68(9): 553–560. 
PMCID: PMC1863991

How to Gargle
Hospital (Lond 1886) 1900 Feb 3; 27(697): 291. 
PMCID: PMC5270052

VOMIT—victim of medical investigative technology
U Shaikh, Huw Lewis-Jones
BMJ. 2008 Jan 5; 336(7634): 8.  doi: 10.1136/bmj.39435.572731.3A
PMCID: PMC2174745

It’s difficult being green (as in vomit)
Carl A Kuschel, Barbara Cormack, Phil Morreau
BMJ. 2006 Jun 24; 332(7556): 1510–1511.  doi: 10.1136/bmj.332.7556.1510-b
PMCID: PMC1482381

THE NEW NIGHT TERROR
L. Vernon-Jones
Br Med J. 1911 Aug 26; 2(2643): 464. 
PMCID: PMC2331455

This last one is a letter written in 1911 (by a Londoner, naturally) about the need for authorities to insist that all of those new-fangled motorized vehicles drive on the left side of the road, rather than honking when they get to intersections. The whole piece is worth reading, and you’ll find it below:

The triumphant return of the “Best of PubMed,” issue #25

If you’ve never noticed this category on the blog before, you’ve missed something! Buried within the biomedical literature are some real doozies – papers which really make you wonder, “Who on Earth would publish this stuff, let alone FUND it??”

All of these entries are real papers that can be found on the PubMed Central website for scientific literature – at least until they get taken down or retracted.

Click the “Best of pubmed” link on the menu on the left for all the past entries in this category…

Today’s theme is “Dubious behavior: maybe I should think twice about doing that…”

Mud wrestling
Mike Fitzpatrick
Br J Gen Pract. 2008 Aug 1; 58(553): 590.  doi: 10.3399/bjgp08X319864
PMCID: PMC2486393

Investigating the welfare and conservation implications of alligator wrestling for American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis)
Casey Riordan, Jennifer Jacquet, Becca Franks
PLoS One. 2020; 15(11): e0242106.  Published online 2020 Nov 13. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242106
PMCID: PMC7665580

Joy of Ping-Pong: Genome-Wide and Phenome-Wide Association Studies
Heung-Woo Park
Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2020 Sep; 12(5): 748–749.  Published online 2020 Jun 4. doi: 10.4168/aair.2020.12.5.748
PMCID: PMC7346994

Pimp my slang
Paul W Keeley
BMJ. 2007 Dec 22; 335(7633): 1295.  doi: 10.1136/bmj.39414.699005.94
PMCID: PMC2151309

Saturday
Erlick A C Pereira
J R Soc Med. 2005 Apr; 98(4): 183–184. 
PMCID: PMC1079451

Sitcoms’ scintillating skin surveyors
Marjon Vatanchi, Daniel E. Zelac
Int J Womens Dermatol. 2019 Sep; 5(4): 271.  Published online 2019 Apr 29. doi: 10.1016/j.ijwd.2019.04.028
PMCID: PMC6831748

Punishing the patient.
D Waugh
CMAJ. 1988 Jul 1; 139(1): 58. 
PMCID: PMC1267990

“To Bluff like a Man or Fold like a Girl?” – Gender Biased Deceptive Behavior in Online Poker
Jussi Palomäki, Jeff Yan, David Modic, Michael Laakasuo
PLoS One. 2016; 11(7): e0157838.  Published online 2016 Jul 6. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157838
PMCID: PMC4934693

Human Wagering Behavior Depends on Opponents’ Faces
Erik J. Schlicht, Shinsuke Shimojo, Colin F. Camerer, Peter Battaglia, Ken Nakayama
PLoS One. 2010; 5(7): e11663.  Published online 2010 Jul 21. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011663
PMCID: PMC2908123

Christmas party games
James Owen Drife
BMJ. 2007 Dec 8; 335(7631): 1214.  doi: 10.1136/bmj.39415.448646.59
PMCID: PMC2128650

The Napoleon Complex: When Shorter Men Take More
Jill E. P. Knapen, Nancy M. Blaker, Mark Van Vugt
Psychol Sci. 2018 Jul; 29(7): 1134–1144.  Published online 2018 May 10. doi: 10.1177/0956797618772822
PMCID: PMC6247438

Confessions of a Superhero Junkie
Anne Dohrenwend
J Grad Med Educ. 2011 Mar; 3(1): 109–110.  doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-10-00197.1
PMCID: PMC3186262

The Ghoul Type of Nurse
Hospital (Lond 1886) 1919 Feb 22; 65(1707): 455. 
PMCID: PMC5243629

Impact of Acute Sleep Deprivation on Sarcasm Detection
Gaétane Deliens, Fanny Stercq, Alison Mary, Hichem Slama, Axel Cleeremans, Philippe Peigneux, Mikhail Kissine
PLoS One. 2015; 10(11): e0140527.  Published online 2015 Nov 4. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140527
PMCID: PMC4633173

“Spidey Can”: Preliminary Evidence Showing Arachnophobia Symptom Reduction Due to Superhero Movie Exposure
Yaakov S.G. Hoffman, Shani Pitcho-Prelorentzos, Lia Ring, Menachem Ben-Ezra
Front Psychiatry. 2019; 10: 354.  Published online 2019 Jun 7. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00354
PMCID: PMC6565891