There are many award ceremonies covering a plethora of subjects marking some type of accomplishment. Some awards recongize special abilities in a specific milieu that make the world a better and/or a more interesting place to live. Then we have the Ig Nobel Prizes, which "honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology."
These are my type of awards.
Recently, the winners and recipients of the award were announced on September 29 along with a live ceremony of the proceedings, which took place at Harvard University. What makes these achievements so memorable is the nature of the accomplishments. I mean, these are not your ardinary, run-of-the-mill subjects!
The PHYSIOLOGY PRIZE was awarded to Anna Wilkinson (of the UK), Natalie Sebanz (of THE NETHERLANDS, HUNGARY, and AUSTRIA), Isabella Mandl (of AUSTRIA) and Ludwig Huber (of AUSTRIA) for their study "No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise." Not all types of tortoises but merely the Red-Footed Tortoise.
Who knew that there are red-footed tortoises and that they deserved studying for their yawning practises?
REFERENCE: 'No Evidence Of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise Geochelone carbonaria," Anna Wilkinson, Natalie Sebanz, Isabella Mandl, Ludwig Huber, Current Zoology, vol. 57, no. 4, 2011. pp. 477-84.
The prize in CHEMISTRY went to 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.
Another shocker for me. Here I was under the impression that wasabi was merely a very strong horseradish to clean the sinuses. Go figure that somebody would even conceive that it could have another use as a fire alarm. Could be that when word gets out about this, there might just be a run on wasabi at the supermarket.
REFERENCE: US patent application 2010/0308995 A1. Filing date: Feb 5, 2009.
Now the MEDICINE PRIZE given to 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) is somewhat logical (at least in my mind) 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.
If one has to - well - pee badly, the only thought that comes to mind (at least mine) is where is the nearest toilet.
REFERENCE: "Inhibitory Spillover: Increased Urination Urgency Facilitates Impulse Control in Unrelated Domains," Mirjam A. Tuk, Debra Trampe and Luk Warlop, Psychological Science, vol. 22, no. 5, May 2011, pp. 627-633.
REFERENCE: "The Effect of Acute Increase in Urge to Void on Cognitive Function in Healthy Adults," Matthew S. Lewis, Peter J. Snyder, Robert H. Pietrzak, David Darby, Robert A. Feldman, Paul T. Maruff, Neurology and Urodynamics, vol. 30, no. 1, January 2011, pp. 183-7.
The PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE was awarded to Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo, NORWAY, for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.
We think - we sigh. Right?
REFERENCE: "Is a Sigh 'Just a Sigh'? Sighs as Emotional Signals and Responses to a Difficult Task," Karl Halvor Teigen, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, vol. 49, no. 1, 2008, pp. 49–57.
John Perry of Stanford University, USA, was recognized for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which says: to be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that's even more important.
Never could have conceived that procrastination is or could be structured but then I was most likely busy doing other things.
REFERENCE: "How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done," John Perry, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 23, 1996. Later republished elsewhere under the title "Structured Procrastination."
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.
Perhaps certain types of beetles are sight-challenged and Australian beer bottles resemble beetles. It's probably a good thing that the brand of Australian beer was omitted.
REFERENCE: "Beetles on the Bottle: Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies for Females (Coleoptera)," D.T. Gwynne, and D.C.F. Rentz, Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, vol. 22, , no. 1, 1983, pp. 79-80
REFERENCE: "Beetles on the Bottle," D.T. Gwynne and D.C.F. Rentz, Antenna: Proceedings (A) of the Royal Entomological Society London, vol. 8, no. 3, 1984, pp. 116-7.
PHYSICS PRIZE: Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne and Bruno Ragaru (of FRANCE), and Herman Kingma (of THE NETHERLANDS), for determining why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers don't.
This discovery would most likely be of high interest to discus tossers and hammer throwers. Seems it's something to do with motion sickness, accord to the reference supplied. Then again, why would a person who suffers from motion sickness take up these sports, one wonders.
REFERENCE: "Dizziness in Discus Throwers is Related to Motion Sickness Generated While Spinning," Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne, Bruno Ragaru and Herman Kingma, Acta Oto-laryngologica, vol. 120, no. 3, March 2000, pp. 390–5.
So here's an interesting one. The 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.
Mathematics prize? These dates really don't add up.
The PEACE PRIZE was awarded to 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.
So this leads one to wonder how Mayor Zuokas made this discovery. Peace prize?
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.
I mean, why-oh-why would a person drive a car on a major highway while a visor flaps down on his face? More important, who does the flapping?
REFERENCE: "The Attentional Demand of Automobile Driving," John W. Senders, et al., Highway Research Record, vol. 195, 1967, pp. 15-33. VIDEO
I mean, go figure!