Friday Fun – Ig Nobel Awards 2013
It’s that time of year again. Scientists have been waiting with bated breath to discover whom among them will be bestowed with one of science’s most ambiguous awards: the Ig Nobel Award.
In grand Harvard tradition, Nobel laureates presented 10 new awards last night to scientists whose research first makes you laugh, then think.
Here are few that I found particularly interesting:
The Probability Prize was given to Bert Tolkamp, Marie Haskell, Fritha Langord, David Roberts and Colin Morgan for their paper “Are cows more likely to lie down the longer the stand?” They discovered that the longer a cow is lying down, the more likely it will stand up, but that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict when it will lay down. I wonder if this research can be extended to goats?
The Peace Prize was given to the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, for making it illegal to applaud in public.
The Archaeology Prize was given to two researchers, Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl. These two brave researchers became the subject of their own research as they parboiled shrews, swallowed them whole and then examined their feces for several days to determine which bones would dissolve in the human digestive tract. I recommend reading their paper, “Human digestive effects on a micromammalian skeleton,” as it is easily digested (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
You will be happy to know that if we lived on the moon and bodies of water existed there, some of us would gain godly powers. The Physics Prize was awarded to Alberto Minetti, Yuri Ivanenko, Germana Cappellini, Nadia Dominici and Francesco Lacquaniti for their paper, “Humans running in place on water at simulated reduced gravity.”
And finally I have to mention a prize that is long overdue. The late Gustano Pizzo won the Safety Engineering Prize for his 1972 US Patent “Anti hijacking system for aircraft.” In true Rube Goldberg fashion, he devised an anti-hijacking system that would drop a hijacker through a trap door, encapsulate him in a package and release the package into the air through a special set of doors into the waiting arms of policemen below (package equipped with a parachute). This was a man who was ahead of his time.