Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Flaccid Mechanics: A Systematic Study of Penis Sizes
Scholars from King's College and other UK institutions have just published a new study with the scintillating title of Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15521 men. The first sentence of the paper's introduction sums things up rather nicely: "The measurement of penis size may be important either in the assessment of men complaining of a small penis or for academic interest." My first thought about the article was: But did they also measure elastic constants (to determine stiffness, under the assumption that the object is elastic) and other Lamé parameters? My second thought was: Up to 15521 men? Where is the uncertainty? Despite the odd article title, this item turns out to have a simple explanation: there were multiple studies and that is the number of men involved in the largest one. In the authors' own words, their objective was "To systematically review and create nomograms of flaccid and erect penile size measurements." Among other things, their methods included a simulation of 20000 observations of penis size from a normal distribution, though it may also have been interesting to consider a heavy-tailed distribution in case of extreme events. (Tip of the cap to IFLS.) Update (3/10/15): Here is the modified version of this entry that I wrote for the Improbable Research blog. Update (3/10/15): Here is a snarky comment that I wish I had thought of earlier: Remember that "soft matter" is an important subject in condensed-matter physics.