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

“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

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

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

At long last: the return of the Best of Pubmed!

This piece continues the long dormant BEST OF PUBMED series, a regular feature of the early days of this blog. All of the following are actual articles that appear in the NCBI’s database of medical literature. In addition to their unusual titles and topics, the contents of the articles are often worth a look, as seen in some of the below.


The Renaissance or the cuckoo clock. Jonathon Pines, Iain Hagan
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Dec 27; 366(1584): 3625–3634.

This one begins:

‘…in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock’. – Orson Welles as Harry Lime: The Third Man

Orson Welles might have been a little unfair on the Swiss, after all cuckoo clocks were developed in the Schwartzwald, but, more importantly, Swiss democracy gives remarkably stable government with considerable decision-making at the local level. The alternative is the battling city-states of Renaissance Italy: culturally rich but chaotic at a higher level of organization. As our understanding of the cell cycle improves, it appears that the cell is organized more along the lines of Switzerland than Renaissance Italy, and one major challenge is to determine how local decisions are made and coordinated to produce the robust cell cycle mechanisms that we observe in the cell as a whole.


Is extinction forever?. Brenda D. Smith-Patten, Eli S. Bridge, Priscilla H. C. Crawford, Daniel J. Hough, Jeffrey F. Kelly, Michael A. Patten
Public Underst Sci. 2015 May; 24(4): 481–495.


Morbidity in assistants at surgical operations. D. Laerum, K. Skullerud
Can Med Assoc J. 1974 Mar 16; 110(6): 632–passim.

(In other words, watch out when the Doctor passes you a sharp instrument!)


Male Weaponry in a Fighting Cricket. Kevin A. Judge, Vanessa L. Bonanno
PLoS One. 2008; 3(12): e3980.  Published online 2008 Dec 24.


Women’s Preferences for Penis Size: A New Research Method Using Selection among 3D Models. Nicole Prause, Jaymie Park, Shannon Leung, Geoffrey Miller
PLoS One. 2015; 10(9): e0133079.  Published online 2015 Sep 2.

(Wonder what type of models they’re referring to…)


Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review. Justin R. Garcia, Chris Reiber, Sean G. Massey, Ann M. Merriwether
Rev Gen Psychol.

Published in final edited form as: Rev Gen Psychol. 2012 Jun 1; 16(2): 161–176.


Frequencies of injuries and causes of accidents during ski touring on ski slopes – a pilot study. [Article in German]. Ruedl G, Pocecco E, Kopp M, Burtscher M.

Erratum in Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2013 May;27(2):100-4.


Based on the findings of this pilot study we recommend abstaining from alcohol and not listening to music during downhill skiing to reduce the injury risk during slope touring.


How frequent and why are skiers and snowboarders falling? [Article in German]. Philippe MRuedl GFeltus GWoldrich TBurtscher M.

Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2014 Dec;28(4):188-92.


The incidence of falls among skiers and snowboarders was substantially lower when compared to that in 2002… We strongly assume that the lowering in fall incidence may positively affect the injury incidence.


“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.


Superhero” boys live to tell the tale—just

BMJ. 2007 May 5; 334(7600): 928.

One UK hospital reported that five boys sustained serious injury while dressed as Spiderman or Superman. At least three of them had tried to fly without a planned landing strategy. Four of the boys sustained fractures and one a minor head injury. Guidance for parents of putative superheroes is available from the American National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Return of the Best of PubMed (part 2)

Spouses with identical residential addresses before marriage: an indicator of pre-marital cohabitation.
Haskey J.
Popul Trends. 1997 Autumn;(89):13-23.

Ventriloquism-an area for research.
Laryngoscope. 1955 Nov;65(11):1065-70.


The complexities of identifying the modern typewriter.
Hilton O.
J Forensic Sci. 1972 Oct;17(4):579-85.

Deep and crisp and eaten: Scotland’s deep-fried Mars bar.
Morrison DS, Petticrew M.
Lancet. 2004 Dec 18-31;364(9452):2180.


A stimulator for laboratory studies of motion sickness in cats.
Crampton GH, Lucot JB.
Aviat Space Environ Med. 1985 May;56(5):462-5.

A motion sickness device is described which produces motion sickness in about 40% of an unselected population of unrestrained female cats during a 30-min exposure at 0.28 Hz. The apparatus provides a gentle wave stimulus, similar to that provided by an amusement park Ferris Wheel. Two cats may be tested at the same time. This device is useful for studies of putative antimotion sickness drugs or the biochemical basis of the emetic response to motion.


How to get a really bad x-ray report.
Stubbs DM.
South Med J. 1990 Jul;83(7):827.
PMID: 2371605


The central role of the nose in the face and the psyche.
Andretto Amodeo C.
Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2007 Jul-Aug;31(4):406-10. Review.
PMID: 17551776


Undertakers’ sense of humor.
Thorson JA, Powell FC.a
Psychol Rep. 2001 Aug;89(1):175-6.

A group of 60 middle-aged morticians at a professional seminar in the midwestern USA who completed a multidimensional sense of humor scale scored significantly lower than another group of 136 men from other occupations.


Hereditary somnambulism in Dracula.
Altschuler EL.
J R Soc Med. 2003 Jan;96(1):51-2.

Older male vs. younger female: a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Talbot T.

J Mich Dent Assoc. 2010 Dec;92(12):20.


Ideal female brow aesthetics.

Griffin GR, Kim JC.

Clin Plast Surg. 2013 Jan;40(1):147-55. doi: 10.1016/j.cps.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Sep 8. Review.


Breakdancing: a new risk factor for scarring hair loss.
Monselise A, Chan LJ, Shapiro J.
J Cutan Med Surg. 2011 May-Jun;15(3):177-9.


The return of the Best of PubMed: GREATEST HITS

In a few days, I will be publishing the 300th article on this blog!

Running up to that, I’ll be publishing some highlights from over the years, including pieces from the early days that recent followers have probably never seen.

A lot of the early pieces on this site belonged to a series called “The best of PubMed,” lists of, well, shall we say “unusual?” articles from the scientific literature which can be found through the NCBI’s portal  biomedical literature. In the end I had collected several hundred entries, often on themes such as “shoes and socks,” the World Series (baseball), Halloween, etc. Or the “Chicken special”.

In some cases it’s just the titles that are funny, but often it’s worth going into the abstracts and the articles themselves. In some cases it seems clear right away that there’s a really good story behind the paper. For example,

Impact of Yankee Stadium Bat Day on blunt trauma in northern New York City.”

“On being considered an ignorant hillbilly when escorting a patient to a London hospital.” or

“When poisonous darts get involved in arguments.”

Finding such entries is a challenge, a sort of treasure hunt – and for a while it became a sort of minor personal obsession. There are some tricks to it, but just a word of warning: don’t get sucked in! (At least too far.)

To see more of these pieces on the blog, click on “Best of PubMed” on the main menu at the top of the blog.

In some cases the links to the original articles are carried over, another thing I was inconsistent about in the early days; that will be corrected in the future.

Here are some appetizers, some of the very best:


Bulls are faster than they look.

Smith M.

EMS Mag. 2010 Mar;39(3):22.


It bothers sheep, too.

Fraser J.

Pract Midwife. 2009 Jul-Aug;12(7):50



A midwife’s guide to birth fairies.

Wickham S.

Pract Midwife. 2008 Dec;11(11):42.


Music and the small human being.

Lind J.

Acta Paediatr Scand. 1980 Mar;69(2):131-6


Jealousy and mutilation: nose-biting as retribution for adultery

Lancet. 1998 Dec 19-26;352(9145):2010-1.

Okimura JTNorton SA


Acute management of the zipper-entrapped penis.

J Emerg Med. 1990 May-Jun;8(3):305-7.

Nolan JFStillwell TJSands JP Jr

A zipper-entrapped penis is a painful predicament that can be made worse by overzealous intervention. Described is a simple, basic approach to release, that is the least traumatic to both patient and provider.


Polka music and semantic dementia.

Boeve BFGeda YE.

Am J Emerg Med. 2005 Jul;23(4):480-2.


Bach, but not heavy metal is good for heart patients

MMW Fortschr Med. 2013 Apr 18;155(7):24. [Article in German]

Stiefelhagen P.


Velocity necessary for a BB to penetrate the eye: an experimental study using pig eyes.

Powley KDDahlstrom DBAtkins VJFackler ML.

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2004 Dec;25(4):273-5.


The conspiracy theory detector. How to tell the difference between true and false conspiracy theories.

Shermer M.

Sci Am. 2010 Dec;303(6):102.


Is talking to an automated teller machine natural and fun?

Chan FY, Khalid HM.

Ergonomics. 2003 Oct 20-Nov 15;46(13-14):1386-407.


The tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the hard core drinking driver.

Chamberlain E, Solomon R.

Inj Prev. 2001 Dec;7(4):272-5.


Flatulence on airplanes: just let it go.

Pommergaard HC, Burcharth J, Fischer A, Thomas WE, Rosenberg J.

N Z Med J. 2013 Feb 15;126(1369):68-74.


A comparison of buttress drumming by male chimpanzees from two populations.

Clark Arcadi A, Robert D, Mugurusi F.

Primates. 2004 Apr;45(2):135-9.


Spontaneous human combustion: a sometimes incomprehensible phenomenon.

Gromb S, Lavigne X, Kerautret G, Grosleron-Gros N, Dabadie P.

J Clin Forensic Med. 2000 Mar;7(1):29-31.


Jumping on bed, mother hears screaming, patient on floor holding left foot.

Swischuk LE.

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2010 Mar;26(3):220-1.


Effects of intensive cell phone (Philips Genic 900) use on the rat kidney tissue.

Koca O, Gökçe AM, Öztürk MI, Ercan F, Yurdakul N, Karaman MI.

Urol J. 2013 Spring;10(2):886-91.


Considering the damage in rat kidney tissue caused by EMR-emitting cell phones, high-risk individuals should take protective measures.


The mummy‘s curse: historical cohort study.

Nelson MR.

BMJ. 2002 Dec 21;325(7378):1482-4.


Drinking grandma: the problem of embalming.

Chiappelli J, Chiappelli T.

J Environ Health. 2008 Dec;71(5):24-8.


When baby’s mother is also grandma–and sister.

[No authors listed] (I wonder why?)

Hastings Cent Rep. 1985 Oct;15(5):29-31.


Ejection of a rear facing, golf cart passenger.

Schau K, Masory O.

Accid Anal Prev. 2013 Oct;59:574-9. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.07.025. Epub 2013 Aug 6.


[When poisonous darts get connected with arguments].

Scholz T.

Krankenpfl Soins Infirm. 2007;100(7):18-20. German. No abstract available.


Lifting spirits with bedpan shuffleboard.

Putre L.

Hosp Health Netw. 2013 Jan;87(1):63. No abstract available.


An unresponsive biochemistry professor in the bathtub.

Mutlu GM, Leikin JB, Oh K, Factor P.

Chest. 2002 Sep;122(3):1073-6. No abstract available.


The ethnobiology of the Haitian zombi.

Davis EW.

J Ethnopharmacol. 1983 Nov;9(1):85-104.


The universal efficacy of the generic glazed donut.

Granchi P.

Pharos Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Med Soc. 2006 Spring;69(2):20-3. Review.


Road rage behaviour and experiences of rickshaw drivers in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Shaikh MA, Shaikh IA, Siddiqui Z.

East Mediterr Health J. 2011 Aug;17(8):719-21.


Impact of Yankee Stadium Bat Day on blunt trauma in northern New York City.

Bernstein SL, Rennie WP, Alagappan K.

Ann Emerg Med. 1994 Mar;23(3):555-9.


Severe burns from inflammable cowboy pants.


J Am Med Assoc. 1946 Apr 6;130:935. No abstract available.


Induction of an illusory shadow person.

Arzy S, Seeck M, Ortigue S, Spinelli L, Blanke O.

Nature. 2006 Sep 21;443(7109):287.


On being treated as an ignorant hillbilly when escorting a patient to a London hospital.

Chellel A.

Nurs Stand. 1991 Dec 18-1992 Jan 7;6(13-14):42.


Long-term trends in human eye blink rate.

Monster AW, Chan HC, O’Connor D.

Biotelem Patient Monit. 1978;5(4):206-22.


The uses of hopelessness.

Bennett MI, Bennett MB.

Am J Psychiatry. 1984 Apr;141(4):559-62.

Best of PubMed #21: Shoes and socks

This week’s entry: A “shoes and socks” special. For those of you who are new to this column, you can often find abstracts of the articles or a link to the full text by cutting and pasting the PMID number into the search box at the following site:



Please, sir, pull down your socks!
Bonucchi D, Piattoni J, Ravera F, Savazzi AM, Cappelli G, Pimpinelli N, Modesti PA.
Intern Emerg Med. 2007 Dec;2(4):287; comment 287-90.
PMID: 18043875


Helping families get past the missing socks.
Nicholson M, Manchester A.
Nurs N Z. 2007 Mar;13(2):16-7.
PMID: 17427370


Choosing socks
Douglas C.
BMJ. 2000 Jun 3;320(7248):1549A.
PMID: 10834918


Buttered bread, odd socks and knotted rope–urban myths or scientifc fact?
Rowe RC.
Drug Discov Today. 2002 Jun 1;7(11):595-6.
PMID: 12047866


Perceptual responses while wearing an American football uniform in the heat.
Johnson EC, Ganio MS, Lee EC, Lopez RM, McDermott BP, Casa DJ, Maresh CM, Armstrong LE.
J Athl Train. 2010 Mar-Apr;45(2):107-16.
PMID: 20210614


Please pass me the onions and the socks–lidocaine toxicity.
Mack RB.
N C Med J. 1983 Aug;44(8):485-6.
PMID: 6579356


High heels as a cause.
Bajer D.
Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2013 Apr;110(17):296. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2013.0296.
PMID: 23671477


Interference of high-heeled shoes in static balance among young women.
Gerber SB, Costa RV, Grecco LA, Pasini H, Marconi NF, Oliveira CS.
Hum Mov Sci. 2012 Oct;31(5):1247-52. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2012.02.005. Epub 2012 Jun 27.
PMID: 22742722


Effect of shoe type on descending a curb.
George J, Heller M, Kuzel M.
Work. 2012;41 Suppl 1:3333-8. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2012-0601-3333.
PMID: 22317224


Break dancing: a new risk factor for scarring hair loss.
Monselise A, Chan LJ, Shapiro J.
J Cutan Med Surg. 2011 May-Jun;15(3):177-9.
PMID: 21561588


Toxic sock syndrome.
Mueller KK, Pesqueira MJ, Cobb MW.
Cutis. 1996 Nov;58(5):337-8.
PMID: 8934073

A new perspective on spontaneous blinks.
Pult H, Riede-Pult BH, Murphy PJ.
Ophthalmology. 2013 May;120(5):1086-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.11.010. Epub 2013 Feb 8.
PMID: 23399377


Preference for newspaper size.
Tsang SN, Hoffmann ER, Chan AH.
Appl Ergon. 2013 Aug 26. doi:pii: S0003-6870(13)00157-9. 10.1016/j.apergo.2013.07.015.
PMID: 23987982


The uses of hopelessness.
Bennett MI, Bennett MB.
Am J Psychiatry. 1984 Apr;141(4):559-62.
PMID: 6703135



Best of PubMed #20: CHICKEN special!

This week’s special topic: The science of chickens!


Birth lessons from a chicken
Remer M.
Midwifery Today Int Midwife. 2009 Spring;(89):49.
PMID: 19397165


Strange sensation after a chicken stew.
Kaemmerer D, Hörsch D.
Dis Esophagus. 2012 Feb;25(2):177. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2050.2010.01132.x. Epub 2010 Nov 12.
PMID: 22335202


Is chicken soup an essential drug?
Ohry A, Tsafrir J.
CMAJ. 1999 Dec 14;161(12):1532-3.
PMID: 10624412


Funky chicken.
Taylor DA.
Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Jan;112(1):A50.
PMID: 14714546


Social change and health law: the court as can-opener; the legislature as soup.
Curran WJ.
Am J Public Health. 1971 Dec;61(12):2518-9.
PMID: 5128622


Passage of feed through the adult rooster.
Sibbald IR.
Poult Sci. 1979 Mar;58(2):446-59.
PMID: 530908


Hatching headless chickens from rational eggs.
Taylor I.
Lancet Oncol. 2001 Mar;2(3):131.
PMID: 11902560


The headless chicken syndrome.
Dickson N.
Nurs Times. 1989 Feb 22-28;85(8):24-5.
PMID: 2928235


Making the headless chicken squawk.
[No authors listed]
Lancet. 1988 Oct 22;2(8617):941-2.
PMID: 2902385


A surgical procedure for devocalizing the rooster.
Madsen DE.
Vet Med Small Anim Clin. 1967 Feb;62(2):114-8.
PMID: 5182625


[Penetration of light through the head of the Golden Comet rooster].
Viggiani E, Salzarulo L.
Boll Soc Ital Biol Sper. 1978 Mar 30;54(6):565-9. Italian.
PMID: 743474


Ocular injury from a rooster attack.
Kronwith SD, Hankin DE, Lipkin PH.
Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1996 Apr;35(4):219-20. Review.
PMID: 8665758


Cryopreservation of rooster sperm.
Buss EG.
Poult Sci. 1993 May;72(5):944-54.
PMID: 8502616


[Rooster on top even in woe – a hen below even in excellence: patriarchy, spousal relations, and the table of duties].
Eilola J.
Hist Ark. 2002;116:100-27. Finnish.
PMID: 17352057


Rooster attacks in childhood.
McGregor RS, Kavle E, Urbach AH.
Pediatr Emerg Care. 1992 Aug;8(4):216-7.
PMID: 1513733

Best of PubMed – Christmas Special!

“Here comes Santa Claus“: what is the evidence?
Highfield ME.
Adv Emerg Nurs J. 2011 Oct-Dec;33(4):354-8. doi: 10.1097/TME.0b013e318234ead3.
PMID: 22075686

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus“.
Angelica JC.
J Pastoral Care Counsel. 2011 Spring-Summer;65(1-2):10.1-2.
PMID: 21928502

Visiting Santa: an additional look.
Trinkaus J.
Psychol Rep. 2007 Dec;101(3 Pt 1):779-83.
PMID: 18232433

Hemoglobin’s moving around (to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”).
Ahern K.
Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2007 Nov;35(6):478. doi: 10.1002/bmb.118.
PMID: 21591150

Santa Claus and staff retention.
Olivi PM.
Radiol Manage. 2005 Sep-Oct;27(5):10-1.
PMID: 16294580

Visiting Santa: an informal look.
Trinkaus J.
Psychol Rep. 2004 Oct;95(2):587-8.
PMID: 15587225

[Is Santa Claus still needed?].
Tamminen T.
Duodecim. 2003;119(23):2317-22. Finnish.
PMID: 14768260

Do reindeer and children know something that we don’t? Pediatric inpatients’ belief in Santa Claus.
Cyr C.
CMAJ. 2002 Dec 10;167(12):1325-7.
PMID: 12473618

The tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the hard core drinking driver.
Chamberlain E, Solomon R.
Inj Prev. 2001 Dec;7(4):272-5.
PMID: 11770650

[Why is Santa Claus bowed?].
Leirisalo-Repo M.
Duodecim. 1998;114(23):2481-6. Finnish.
PMID: 11757148

Neurogenetics: three wishes to Santa Claus.
Coutinho P.
Arch Neurol. 2000 Jan;57(1):59.
PMID: 10634444

[Santa Claus as a consultant. “Then we together will rejoice, children’s eyes will shine with joy”].
Puumalainen AM, Vapalahti M.
Duodecim. 1997;113(23):2467-70. Finnish.
PMID: 10892154

Santa Claus: good or bad for children?
Nelms BC.
J Pediatr Health Care. 1996 Nov-Dec;10(6):243-4.
PMID: 9052114

Perhaps there is a Santa Claus.
Van Eldik DT.
J Fla Med Assoc. 1994 Dec;81(12):795-6.
PMID: 7861106

Encounter with reality: children’s reactions on discovering the Santa Claus myth.
Anderson CJ, Prentice NM.
Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 1994 Winter;25(2):67-84.
PMID: 7842832

Do you believe in Santa Claus?
Atkinson J.
Nurs Stand. 1988 Dec 31;3(13-14):20-1.
PMID: 3068551

Epidemiology of reindeer parasites.
Halvorsen O.
Parasitol Today. 1986 Dec;2(12):334-9.
PMID: 15462756

A letter to Santa Claus.
Shusterman C.
Am Laund Dig. 1985 Dec 15;50(12):14-6.
PMID: 10275266

In the absence of Santa Claus.
Tebben MP.
Public Health Rep. 1985 Jul;100(4):355.
PMID: 19313171

Picture Reports: Influenza virus, Santa Claus, or a mouse playing tennis?
Getty B.
Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1984 Dec 22;289(6460):1744.
PMID: 20742372

Children’s belief in santa claus: a developmental study of fantasy and causality.
Prentice NM, Schmechel LK, Manosevitz M.
J Am Acad Child Psychiatry. 1979 Autumn;18(4):658-67.
PMID: 541471

Imaginary figures of early childhood: santa claus, easter bunny, and the tooth fairy.
Prentice NM, Manosevitz M, Hubbs L.
Am J Orthopsychiatry. 1978 Oct;48(4):618-28.
PMID: 707613

Santa Claus will probably be coming.
Ammer DS.
Hosp Purch Manage. 1977 Dec;2(12):2-3.
PMID: 10305079

A note on the absence of a Santa Claus in any known ecosystem: a rejoinder to Willems.
Baer DM.
J Appl Behav Anal. 1974 Spring;7(1):167-9.
PMID: 16795462

The d.a. Who was Santa Claus?
Peyraud AP.
CAL. 1972 Dec;36(6):26-30.
PMID: 4510978

Santa Claus drawings by Negro and white children.
Coyle FA Jr, Eisenman R.
J Soc Psychol. 1970 Apr;80(2):201-5.
PMID: 4924834

Barefoot in the hospital park or yes Virginia, there is a Mrs. Santa Claus known as the administrator’s wife.
Spencer V.
Hosp Manage. 1967 Dec;104(6):33-7.
PMID: 6063631

Charlie’s Santa Claus.
Stollard ML.
Nurs Times. 1965 Dec 24;61(52):1762.
PMID: 5849676

The northwest Santa and Mrs Claus–the real thing!
Copeland JA.
Caring. 2008 Dec;27(12):26-9.
PMID: 19278113

A visit from the Candy Witch: factors influencing young children’s belief in a novel fantastical being.
Woolley JD, Boerger EA, Markman AB.
Dev Sci. 2004 Sep;7(4):456-68.
PMID: 15484594

Why Rudolph‘s nose is red: observational study.
Ince C, van Kuijen AM, Milstein DM, Yürük K, Folkow LP, Fokkens WJ, Blix AS.
BMJ. 2012 Dec 14;345:e8311. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e8311.
PMID: 23247980

Song: the E. coli song (to the tune of “rudolph the red-nosed reindeer“).
Ahern K.
Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2006 Nov;34(6):426. doi: 10.1002/bmb.2006.494034062569.
PMID: 21638738


Best of PubMed #19

The cheerleader who won’t shake her pom pons.

Tremblay P.

Int J Orthod Milwaukee. 2008 Spring;19(1):37.

PMID: 18512662

Why Barbie is perceived as beautiful.

Magro AM.

Percept Mot Skills. 1997 Aug;85(1):363-74.

PMID: 9293600

Why Barbie feels heavier than Ken: the influence of size-based expectancies and social cues on the illusory perception of weight.

Dijker AJ.

Cognition. 2008 Mar;106(3):1109-25. Epub 2007 Jun 27.

PMID: 17599820

Math is hard, Barbie said.

Begley S.

Newsweek. 2008 Oct 27;152(17):57.

PMID: 18972952

Mathematicians talk tough to new barbie.

[No authors listed]

Science. 1992 Oct 16;258(5081):396.

PMID: 17833126

Can we keep up with Barbie?

Lamacki WF.

CDS Rev. 2009 May-Jun;102(3):48.

PMID: 19530471

Slip an extra locust on the barbie?

Delamothe T.

BMJ. 2013 May 20;346:f3293. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f3293.

PMID: 23690504

The young and the clueless.

Bunker KA, Kram KE, Ting S.

Harv Bus Rev. 2002 Dec;80(12):80-7, 133.

PMID: 12510540

Older male vs. younger female: a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Talbot T.

J Mich Dent Assoc. 2010 Dec;92(12):20.

PMID: 21291087

Ideal female brow aesthetics.

Griffin GR, Kim JC.

Clin Plast Surg. 2013 Jan;40(1):147-55. doi: 10.1016/j.cps.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Sep 8. Review.

PMID: 23186765

Are there pit bulls with lipstick in your midst?

Briles J.

Tar Heel Nurse. 2009 Jul-Sep;71(3):13-4.

PMID: 19637643

NIH peer review reform–change we need, or lipstick on a pig?

Fang FC, Casadevall A.

Infect Immun. 2009 Mar;77(3):929-32. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01567-08.

PMID: 19168745

Do cosmetics enhance female Caucasian facial attractiveness?

Mulhern R, Fieldman G, Hussey T, Lévêque JL, Pineau P.

Int J Cosmet Sci. 2003 Aug;25(4):199-205. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-2494.2003.00188.x.

PMID: 18494902 [PubMed]

Improving lip wrinkles: lipstick-related image analysis.

Ryu JS, Park SG, Kwak TJ, Chang MY, Park ME, Choi KH, Sung KH, Shin HJ, Lee CK, Kang YS, Yoon MS, Rang MJ, Kim SJ.

Skin Res Technol. 2005 Aug;11(3):157-64.

PMID: 15998326

Lipstick and pearls.

Perrier ND.

Surgery. 2002 Jun;131(6):663-4.

PMID: 12075179

Being Barbie: the size of one’s own body determines the perceived size of the world.

van der Hoort B, Guterstam A, Ehrsson HH.

PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20195. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020195. Epub 2011 May 25.

PMID: 21633503


A classical question in philosophy and psychology is if the sense of one’s body influences how one visually perceives the world. Several theoreticians have suggested that our own body serves as a fundamental reference in visual perception of sizes and distances, although compelling experimental evidence for this hypothesis is lacking. In contrast, modern textbooks typically explain the perception of object size and distance by the combination of information from different visual cues. Here, we describe full body illusions in which subjects experience the ownership of a doll’s body (80 cm or 30 cm) and a giant’s body (400 cm) and use these as tools to demonstrate that the size of one’s sensed own body directly influences the perception of object size and distance. These effects were quantified in ten separate experiments with complementary verbal, questionnaire, manual, walking, and physiological measures. When participants experienced the tiny body as their own, they perceived objects to be larger and farther away, and when they experienced the large-body illusion, they perceived objects to be smaller and nearer. Importantly, despite identical retinal input, this “body size effect” was greater when the participants experienced a sense of ownership of the artificial bodies compared to a control condition in which ownership was disrupted. These findings are fundamentally important as they suggest a causal relationship between the representations of body space and external space. Thus, our own body size affects how we perceive the world.