Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Celebrating the quirkiness in all of us - 2014 Ig Nobel Prize winners announced

Some people are recognized for achievements in academics, or in the sports arena or in the entertainment business... your "normal" type of accomplishments. Then there are others who strive to be remembered for their unconventional undertakings and leave their mark on the world, be it a quirky train of thought.

Once again as in past years, the Ig Nobel Prizes were handed out with the 2014 ceremony held on September 18. For the uninitiated and those wondering if there's any relationship to the famous Nobel Prizes, these awards, according to the Annals of Improbable Research magazine with the ceremony co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students and the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, are to "celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology." Judge for yourselves.

Physics Prize (Japan), specifically Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that's on the floor.
I mean, do we really need to know the amount of friction when one steps on a banana skin when and/or if one's rear end meets the ground? Perhaps the speed of falling...

Neuroscience Prize (China/Canada), specifically Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, and Kang Lee, for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.
Most of us see your usual, mundane jam, peanut butter and the like, while others see unusual images...

Psychology Prize (Australia, U.S.A. UK) specifically Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning

Public Health Prize (Czech Republic, Japan, USA, India), specifically Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlíček Jitka Hanušova-Lindova, David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.
Perhaps somewhat alienating given the affectionate nature of cats but nothing compared to owning fish and the affection they offer to their care givers, which is relegated to rising to the top of the tank for food but otherwise zilch, nada... But I digress.

Biology Prize (Czech Republic, Germany, Zambia) specifically Vlastimil Hart, Petra Nováková, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Vladimír Hanzal, Miloš Ježek, Tomáš Kušta, Veronika Němcová, Jana Adámková, Kateřina Benediktová, Jaroslav Červený and Hynek Burda, for carefully documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth's north-south geomagnetic field lines.
Most likely few and far between dog owners note or even want to or have thought about which direction their dogs defecate and urinate, being concerned with having to pick up the end result. Right dog owners?

Art Prize (Italy),  specifically Marina de Tommaso, Michele Sardaro, and Paolo Livrea, for measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a powerful laser beam.
Art being subjective, is in the eye of the beholder and what one believes is an ugly painting could be viewed as beautiful by another. Being shot with a laser beam, however, can definitely alter one's view with that of experiencing pain, period.

Economics Prize (Italy: ISTAT) the Italian government's National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.

Medicine Prize (USA, India) specifically Ian Humphreys, Sonal Saraiya, Walter Belenky and James Dworkin, for treating "uncontrollable" nosebleeds, using the method of nasal-packing-with-strips-of-cured-pork.
Just wondering whether cured pork would have more of an impact or effect on nose bleeds than un-cured pork, if for whatever reason, one opted to use it.

Arctic Science Prize (Norway, Germany, USA, Canada), specifically Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestøl, for testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.
Thinking further, it's possible that reindeer, many of whom hope to accompany Santa Claus on his Christmas voyage, would or could recognize humans in disguise and laugh themselves sick. Pure speculation of course...nudge-nudge...wink-wink...

Nutrition Prize (Spain), specifically Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, and Margarita Garriga, for their study titled "Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages." Sure - why not.

There you have the 2014 list of noble and somewhat unconventional thinkers that say, "we're different!" And then some.

1 comment: said...

I think you are incredibly funny! At least in this post I just browsed upon and now want to stay tuned!