If you know nothing about Ig Noble Awards, read one of my earlier posts, The Thinker, the Stinker and the Farting as a Defense Against Unspeakable Dread.
As always, the IgNobel Awards of the year ceremony, held on September 12, 2013, is worth all the stink.
“If you didn’t win an IgNobel Prize tonight — and especially if you did — better luck next year.”
My personal favorite Ig Noble winners of 2013 are:
Dung Beetles! (JOINT PRIZE IN BIOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY for “Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation”). I knew those tough critters were special when I admired them and Marie Dacke’s group of researchers in Roll Your Shit And Follow The Stars! If you roll your shit THAT effectively, there is no way you’d remain unnoticed!
Science constantly modifies our views of the word. Take the saying “Beauty is in the eye of beholder”, for instance. Quite recently, thanks to scientific research, it’s been changed to “Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder”. Recipients of the PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE Laurent Bègue, Brad J. Bushman et all proved that, without doubt, People Who Think They Are Drunk Also Think They Are Attractive. And, I should add, the drunker people are — the more attractive they think they are… and the more attractive they think they are — the more reason they have for raising another toast!
ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE went to a pair of really courageous scientific souls — Peter W. Stahl and Brian D. Crandall for their research “Human Digestive Effects on a Micromammalian Skeleton”. They parboiled a dead shrew, then swallowed it whole and then carefully examined what came out from the other side… to see which bones dissolve in the human digestive system and which didn’t.
No monkey business. And no primates were used in the experiment. The two scientists did the cooking, the swallowing, the excretion and the digging themselves. Admirable devotion to the cause! Bravo! With breathless anticipation the world is waiting repeated experiments, using other parboiled inedible creatures.
The winners of the Ig Noble in PROBABILITY discovered that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up, but that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again. (Bert Tolkamp, Marie Haskell and others). Some judges called the research silly, but is was argued that the results can be used to determine health problems in the animals.
Indeed it can, I’d say, and not only in animals destined for a slaughterhouse! On the far horizons of science is the research in probability that a human sitting down to watch TV, remote in hand, after consuming a large hunk of Angus beef will eventually get up, but once he gets up you cannot easily predict where he would be heading — to the bathroom, straight to bed or to a more comfortable chair.
Masanori Niimi, from Teikyo University in Tokyo, conducted and experiment in which a control group of mice with heart transplant survived an average of seven days after a transplant, although those that listened to Verdi’s opera La Traviata survived for an average of 27 days. He won MEDICINE Ig Noble.
Some might argue that La Traviata was an unwise choice. Soothing sounds of Rossini’s operas or flamboyant Donizetti’s melodies could have been even more effective… But then again, Dr. Niimi has her work cut out for her — so many mice, so many operas!
Cheers to the winners! I mention only a few of them. For the full lists of the brilliant fools — IgNoble laureates — see the article in the Scientific American and smile!