It’s time for the Ig Nobel Awards! Thank heavens for the eccentrics and maladjusted nut cases that thought up the Ig Nobel Awards which provide such wonderful blog fodder material and rescues us, just as we run out of ideas for blog posts.
Harvard-based journal Annals of Improbable Research hands out the ‘Ig Nobel’ awards every year. Some research is just so strange, so goofy, that according to Harvard University, it just shouldn’t be repeated. Ig creator and Master of Ceremonies, Marc Abrahams, was more charitable by saying that the improbable research “first make people laugh, and then make them think.”
One of the highlights of the evening was when Dr. Elena Bodnar, a 2009 Ig Nobel Prize winner, demonstrated on stage the use of her winning invention – a bra which can be converted into two functional gas masks. Much laughter ensued when prominent scientists and celebrities proved that they couldn’t un-hook a bra even if their lives depended on it . The picture below shows the gas-bra-mask in action.
Now, I’m not jealous but I think I deserve part of that Ig Nobel Prize (since I have had no luck with the Nobel Prize either). The Lone Grey Squirrel suggested virtually the same idea more than 4 year earlier. Proof of this is is with the following photo which was first posted on this very blog in 2006.
For those of you who are curious, remember, that’s how the cat was killed. Nevertheless here are some of the other winners for 2010;
- The Medicine Prize was given to psychologists Simon Rietveld and Ilja van Beest of the University of Amsterdam who discovered that asthma can be alleviated by riding on a roller coaster.
- The Physics Prize to Lianne Parkin and associates at the University of Otago in New Zealand for demonstrating that people who wear their socks outside their shoes are less likely to slip on icy sidewalks.
- The Biology Prize to Gareth Jones of Bristol University and his team from China for showing that, at least in the short-nosed fruit bat, “females who performed oral sex on their mates copulated for longer. ‘ It is said that “it is the first documented case of fellatio by adult animals other than humans, and opens questions about whether female animals can manipulate males via sexual activity”. (LGS ponders: “Is this really a new idea?”)
- Peace Prize winner Richard Stephens et al of Keele University confirmed that swearing relieves pain.
- The Engineering Prize was awarded to Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and collaborators at the Institute of Zoology in London for designing small, remote-controlled helicopters to collect “whale snot” ejected from whales’ blowholes. In her acceptance speech, Acevedo-Whitehouse modestly admitted that had been a lifelong obsession.
- The Transportation Prize to Mark Fricker and Dan Bebber at Oxford University who showed that slime mold could be used to model an effective railway network.
- The Management Prize was given to Alessandro Pluchino and collaborators at the University of Catania for demonstrating mathematically that companies work more efficiently if staff are promoted at random. (LGS: “Ha! I knew it!)
- The Public Health Prize to Manuel Barbeito at the Industrial Health and Safety Office in Maryland for studies showing that because microbes cling to beards, bearded scientists are potential laboratory hazards.
- The Chemistry Prize to Eric Adams of MIT and others, including researchers at BP for proving that oil and water do mix after all.
- The Economics Prize was awarded jointly to the executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, AIG and Magnetar for “creating and promoting new ways to invest money – ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.
It’s nice to know that I am not the only mad scientist in the world. Sometimes it gets a little lonely.