According to the BBC Science & Environment site, the 20012 Ig®Nobel Prizes were recently awarded (IgNobel site here). As you may know, these are satirical prizes that honor the most bizarre-sounding research of the year:
Thursday’s Ig Nobel ceremony at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre was the 22nd since the American science humour magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, started the event.
The gala is always attended by real Nobel Laureates, who are tasked with handing out the prizes. Recipients get 60 seconds to make an acceptance speech. If they run over, a young girl will start to shout “boring”. Another tradition is for everyone in the theatre to throw paper planes.
Here’s the list of winners. I must say that I’m distressed to see Frans de Waal (whose work I like a lot) on the list for Anatomy; although the nature of his work sounds funny, it may be valuable to see the way chimps recognize each other in groups. Ditto for the Medicine prize, as people’s colons have been blown out by a combination of a spark in the apparatus and intestinal gas (methane).
But the Literature prize is right on.
Psychology Prize: Anita Eerland and Rolf Zwaan (Netherlands) and Tulio Guadalupe (Peru/Russia/Netherlands) for their study Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller.
Peace Prize: The SKN Company (Russia) for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds.
Acoustics Prize: 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.
Neuroscience Prize: 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 a dead salmon.
Chemistry Prize: Johan Pettersson (Sweden/Rwanada [sic]) for solving the puzzle of why, in certain houses in the town of Anderslöv, Sweden, people’s hair turned green.
Literature Prize: The US Government General Accountability Office for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
Physics Prize: Joseph Keller (US), Raymond Goldstein (US/UK), Patrick Warren and Robin Ball (UK) for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail. Prof Keller was additionally given an Ig for work he contributed to on non-drip teapots in 1999 but for which he had been wrongly overlooked at the time.
Fluid Dynamics Prize: Rouslan Krechetnikov (US/Russia/Canada) and Hans Mayer (US) for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.
Anatomy Prize: 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.
Medicine Prize: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti (France) for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimise the chance that their patients will explode.
The prizes were awarded yesterday at Sanders Theater of Harvard University in this long (>2 hr) ceremony