The Important Contributions of Mad Scientists


In 2010, Robert G. Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for the development of in vitro fertilization.  His achievement has led to the entire field of medicine dedicated to treating infertility which is said to affect as much as 10% of all couples.

Winning the Nobel Prize was one of my childhood dreams but later when I actually became a scientist, I came to realise 3 truths about winning the Nobel Prize in science.

Truth No 1:  It’s a lot of hard work and takes years of hard work.  With little partying and boozing, I may add.

Truth No 2: You have to make a guess about what people will find useful and interesting in about 30-40 years later and actually make some kind of discovery related to that idea.

Truth No 3:  You have to live long enough for them to consider you for the award some 50 years after you made your initial discovery.

So I have pretty much given up on winning the Nobel Prize in anything and decided to make a career change from scientist to mad scientist.  Thankfully, I discovered the Ig Nobel Prizes  for mad scientists and came close to winning one of those last year but my idea was stolen.  You can read all about how I was cheated of this award here.  But I have not given up.  I will get this Ig nobel award one day.

In the meantime, the Lone Grey Squirrel continues his semi-annual (or when I remember to do it) report on the winners of this award.

LGS comment :  “So now we know that if we ever find ourselves giving a lecture to a crowd of Red-footed Tortoises and they start to yawn, we can’t blame it on contagious yawning.  The practical implication is to avoid speaking to Red-footed Tortoises altogether.”

  • CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami of JAPAN, for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm.

LGS comment:  “Because the wasabi alarm works better than the one that goes ‘WOOOAOAOAOAOA!’  for those who are hard of hearing or who are big sushi fans.  Probably would not work so well outside Japan.  Alternatives such as the sauerkraut alarm, the Limburger cheese alarm and the Madras Hot Curry alarm should be developed for other parts of the world.”

  • MEDICINE PRIZE: Mirjam Tuk (of THE NETHERLANDS and the UK), Debra Trampe (of THE NETHERLANDS) and Luk Warlop (of BELGIUM). and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder and Robert Feldman (of the USA), Robert Pietrzak, David Darby, and Paul Maruff (of AUSTRALIA) for demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things — but worse decisions about other kinds of things‚ when they have a strong urge to urinate.

LGS comment:  “When the U.S. President gives the order to launch a nuclear strike, one of the in-built safety measures should be to ask if his/her bladder is full or empty.”

  • PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo, NORWAY, for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.

LGS comment: “*Sigh* Why can’t I win a prize?”

  • BIOLOGY PRIZE: Darryl Gwynne (of CANADA and AUSTRALIA and the UK and the USA) and David Rentz (of AUSTRALIA and the USA) for discovering that a certain kind of beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle.

LGS comment: “More compelling evidence that alcohol affects sex life.”

  • MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of KOREA (who predicted the world would end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of UGANDA (who predicted the world would end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world will end on October 21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.

LGS comment: “Something just doesn’t add up.”

  • PEACE PRIZE: Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, LITHUANIA, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.

LGS comment: “At last a peacetime use for armoured tanks.”

My Car is Bigger than Your Car!
  • PUBLIC SAFETY PRIZE: John Senders of the University of Toronto, CANADA, for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.

LGS comment: “This was a very important study because highway safety in Canada increased substantially the minute the study stopped.  Thankfully, they did not use an armoured tank for the study.”

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10 thoughts on “The Important Contributions of Mad Scientists”

  1. I’m sure if you keep your squirrely mind to it the prize will not continue to elude you for long…

    And I am all for crushing luxury cars with tanks. Most of them get such bad gas mileage that they deserve a one way trip to the car carcass graveyard.

  2. Joyce,
    Thank you. Thank you. I accept this Abstract and Illusionary award with illusionary humility. Say, is there any non-illusionary prize money that comes with it?

    Riot Kitty,
    Surely no era is too late to pursue one’s mad goals?

  3. Owen,
    There’s always a fly in the ointment. Tanks are big fuel guzzlers too. I think it is way more fun and practical as well as great for social morale to hire some unemployed homeless people and give them a sledgehammer each. It would be cheaper than maintaining a tank and have a lower start up cost. It would also do a lot of good to the mental health of the destitute poor – kind of primal therapy. So I see that as a win-win solution.

  4. Oceangirl,
    Let my experience be a lesson to others. If you don’t act on your crazy idea, someone else will. The air filter bra was my second big idea. My first big idea was when I was a 10 year old kid and I place my cup of black coffee in the freezer to make popsicles. I thought to myself, if we could only shave the frozen ice coffee and add some cream, it would taste great. Unfortunately, I dismissed this as a childish idea and forgot all about it until I came across ice-blended coffee at Coffee Bean a few years ago.

    Mr. Charleston,
    Is it too much to ask to be immortal? I’m not aiming high. I’d settle for a disease to be named after me.

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