The people over at Improbable Research have handed out this years Ig® Nobel Prizes recognize and award “research that makes people laugh, and then makes them think.” The Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students, the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, and the Harvard Computer Society are co-sponsors of the awards ceremony. The prizes, which are handed out by actual Nobel Prize winners, are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology. To summarize the 22nd annual event held at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre:
“It’s like the weirdest f-ing thing that you’ll ever go to… it’s a collection of, like, actual Nobel Prize winners giving away prizes to real scientists for doing f’d-up things… it’s awesome.”— Amanda Palmer
Ig Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention (a brassiere that can quickly convert into a pair of protective face masks) assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle (left), Orhan Pamuk, and Paul Krugman (right). Photo credit: Alexey Eliseev, 2009 Ig Nobel Ceremony
The 2012 Ig Nobel Prize Winners List
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Anita Eerland and Rolf Zwaan [THE NETHERLANDS] and Tulio Guadalupe [PERU, RUSSIA, and THE NETHERLANDS] for their study “Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller: Posture-Modulated Estimation.”
PEACE PRIZE: The SKN Company [RUSSIA], for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds.
ACOUSTICS PRIZE: Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada [JAPAN] for creating the SpeechJammer — a machine that disrupts a person’s speech, by making them hear their own spoken words at a very slight delay. REFERENCE: “SpeechJammer: A System Utilizing Artificial Speech Disturbance with Delayed Auditory Feedback.”
NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford [USA], for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon. REFERENCE: “Neural correlates of interspecies perspective taking in the post-mortem Atlantic Salmon: An argument for multiple comparisons correction.”
LITERATURE PRIZE: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports titled: “Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies.”
PHYSICS PRIZE: Joseph Keller [USA], and Raymond Goldstein [USA and UK], Patrick Warren, and Robin Ball [UK], for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail. REFERENCE: “Shape of a Ponytail and the Statistical Physics of Hair Fiber Bundles.”
FLUID DYNAMICS PRIZE: Rouslan Krechetnikov [USA, RUSSIA, CANADA] and Hans Mayer [USA] for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee. REFERENCE: “Walking With Coffee: Why Does It Spill?”
ANATOMY PRIZE: Frans de Waal [The Netherlands and USA] and Jennifer Pokorny [USA] for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends. REFERENCE: “Faces and Behinds: Chimpanzee Sex Perception.”
MEDICINE PRIZE: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti [FRANCE] for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode. REFERENCE: “Colonic Gas Explosion During Therapeutic Colonoscopy with Electrocautery.”
I am at an age now where the Medicine Prize may actually be useful.
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