Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ig Nobel awards for people who accomplish cool...stuff

Every year the Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements, which are supposed to make people laugh and then make them think. The prizes, according to the Ig Nobel site, "are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine and technology."

It's really interesting to note the imagination and thought process that goes into the creation and conception of the ideas. So without further ado, here is the full list of 2012 Ig Nobel winners and their distinction:

We start out with the Psychology Prize, won by Anita Eerland and Rolf Zwaan of the Netherlands and Tulio Guadalupe (Peru/Russia/Netherlands), who were recognized for their study, "Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller." As a person who has visited the tower, never really gave it much consideration as to whether or not leaning left or right actually made it appear smaller. I mean, the only thing noticeable is that the tower is tall. Period. One - me  - wonders the amount of leaning the team did to arrive at this conclusion.

Following this interesting and thought-provoking conclusion, the Peace Prize was won by the SKN Company (Russia), for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds. The word "diamonds" caught my attention. I'm thinking here...what type of ammunition did they use in order to obtain diamonds? Also, who were the recipients of said diamonds and how does one apply to get a free sample?

The prize for Accoustics was awarded to 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. Now this just could be something that the world has been waiting for, in that it would be a perfect tool when listening to politician's speeches. More to the point, making the politicians actually listen to the...interesting promises they make. But I digress.

Nothing fishy when it comes to the Neuroscience Prize, which went to Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller and George Wolford (US), for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere - even in dead salmon. So this makes me wonder: why one would want to see if there is brain activity in a dead salmon. Why not just eat it, don't you think?

Seems that some people really have bad hair days as Johan Pettersson (Sweden/Rwanada) awarded the Chemistry Prize for solving the puzzle of why, in certain hosues in the town of Anderslov, Sweden, people's hair turned green. Maybe - pure speculation - somebody added green coloring to certain people's water as an April Fool's joke or something, or perhaps they just liked green hair. Go know, but Johan Pertersson seems to feel he had the right answer and has been rewarded for announcing it.

The US Government General Accountability Office won the Literature Prize no less, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports. One - me - wonders what was in the report that recommended the report, etc. etc....

This accomplishment is something we all have been waiting to hear. For calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail, Joseph Keller (US), Raymond Goldstein (US/UK), Patrick Warren and Robin Ball (UK) were recognized for noting this. Seems that Prof. Keller was also given an Ig for his work and study on non-drip teapots in 1999, but for which he was wrongly overlooked. Now this is a very important study, people! Non-drip teapots could be a real discovery for tea drinkers everywhere. Imagine pouring a cup of tea and not having to worry whether or not it will stain the table cloth. It's good that Prof. Keller was eventually recognized for his contribution.

Another interesting award, Fluid Dynamics Prize, was given to Rouslan Krechetnikov (US/Russia/Canada) and Hans Mayer (US) for their study of the dynamics of liquid sloshing, to learn the results of what happens while carrying a cup of coffee. Now why would this study focus strictly on coffee and not tea, for example? Or soft drink? Or juice...etc.? This leads one - me - to wonder whether the chemical makeup of coffee has an affect on sloshing? Sloshing by the way, is the what happens to liquids as they move from side-to-side while being carried. Now you know.

The Anatomy Prize was given to Frans de Waal (Netherlands/US) and Jennifer Pokorny (US) for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends.

Last but certainly not least, Emmanuel Ben Soussan and Michel Antonietti was received the Medicine Prize for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies, how to minimize the chance their patients will explode. People who have had colonoscopies will be happy that their odds of exploding. have been minimized. Imagine the mess.

So there we have it, this year's Ig Nobel distinctions. How could we have existed the entire year without knowing about them? Definitely food for thought - or something.

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