If you were to randomly poll adults throughout the world asking if they had heard of the “Nobel Prize” they would say yes. Some may even know as much that prizes are awarded in Literature, Medicine, Physics, Peace, Economics, etc., and that the ceremony is held in Sweden. Ask those same adults if they have heard of the “Ig Nobel” prizes and they will likely be confused and a few may even reach down to scratch their ass.
According to the folks at Improbable Research (www.improbable.com) who host the annual Ig Nobel awards, “improbable research” is real research that first makes people laugh then makes them think. Humor aside, I am amazed that some of these people were granted government grants for their studies. I’m one of these people who gets off on odd trivia, so reading about the 2012 Ig Nobel ceremony and the winners a few days ago on Fox News was right up my alley. The ceremony was held at Harvard University, and several real, past Nobel Laureates handed out the awards.
I present the winners and their studies…and….well….perhaps a few Snorty phrases here and there:
Anita Eerland and Rolf Zwaan from The Netherlands and Tulio Guadalupe from Peru won for their study “Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller.”Really? This is hard science? This reminds me of me and Brother Snort as kids closing one eye and then the other to see how things seemed to “move” slightly. This is an actual goddamn scientific study. I wish I could have seen the researchers in action. What is it about learning to the right that makes the tower seem the same size or larger? And, there is a question I think most people are thinking but won’t ask, so I’ll pony up and do it myself: Were you smoking the marijuana?
I am totally down with this one. SKN, a Russian company, was awarded the Peace Prize for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds. That to me just rocks, because who would love 1) destroying an old weapon 2.) being wowed with that awesome element, Carbon and 3). Getting a diamond. Old ammunition = diamonds. Fucking brilliant.
Two Japanese scientists, Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada, won for creating the “SpeechJammer” which is a machine that disrupts a person’s speech by making them hear their own spoken words at a very slight delay. They just now won that? I thought T-Mobile invented the speech jammer back in 2003 because every so often I ended up having a conversation wth myself.
US scientists Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford were awarded the Neuroscience award for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere—even in a dead salmon. Um…..really? Can this be any dead salmon or a really fresh one? If I go to the seafood case at Fry’s an apply electrodes to the head of a whole salmon will I see it’s dreams? What if the light in the seafood display case flickers pretty bad and the readings go crazy and now I have a dead salmon who dreams and has a mild case of epilepsy? Can I still eat it?
Johan Pettersson (representing both Sweden and Rwanda) was awarded the chemistry prize for discovery why, in some homes in Anderslov, Sweden, people’s hair turned green. I’ll admit this one is kind of cool? Chlorine or mineral problems in the water supply? Something to do with the water pipes in the affected homes? Accidental replacement of V05 with green hair dye? Still cool that he solved the problem.
This was won by the good ol’ US of A and is the perfect example of why our government is so redundant, full of shit, and can’t get anything done the right way. The U.S. Government General Accountability Office (don’t shit yourself laughing–it’s a real office) won the award for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports. I’m not even fucking kidding here. The title of this award winning (gag) report is “Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies.” You know what this reminds me of? Several years ago in someone’s cubicle I saw a cartoon drawing of a rowing race between a Japanese team and an American team. The Japanese team had two people in the boat, one in front and one in the middle, yelling, “STROKE!” to the rowers. The rowers rowed, and they won by a landslide. The American rowers were led by the 4 team rowers who reported to the executive assistant rower, then provided a rowing report to the quality management rower, and the recommendation to “STROKE” finally make it to the bow of the boat where the General Rowing Manager sat waiting on the rest of the Board of Rowers to vote on the recommendation.You get where I’m going with this. The American Government cannot do anything simply.
Two researchers from the USA and two researchers from Great Britian earned the Ig Nobel Physics prize for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail. I’m actually speechless.
FLUID DYNAMICS PRIZE
U.S. scientists Rousian Krechetnikov and Hans Mayer earned an award for studying the dynamics of liquid sloshing: they uncovered what happens when a person walks about while carrying a cup of coffee. I, personally, have participated in this study many times as I shop with a cup of Starbucks.
A researcher from the U.S. and from The Netherlands won for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees by pictures of their butts.
This, I have to admit, is my personal favorite. It did make me laugh, and it did make me think. Congratulations to two French scientists, Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode. Nicely done, fellas! I do wonder what the rate of patient explosion was before the study was conducted, though.