Author Topic: The IgNobel Prizes  (Read 475 times)

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Offline Graybeard

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The IgNobel Prizes
« on: September 13, 2013, 05:30:42 AM »
The IgNobel Prizes for 2013 have been announced:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24061992

The full list of 2013 Ig Nobel winners:

Medicine Prize: Masateru Uchiyama, Gi Zhang, Toshihito Hirai, Atsushi Amano, Hisashi Hashuda (Japan), Xiangyuan Jin (China/Japan) and Masanori Niimi (Japan/UK) for assessing the effect of listening to opera on mice heart transplant patients.

Psychology Prize: Laurent Bègue, Oulmann Zerhouni, Baptiste Subra, and Medhi Ourabah, (France), Brad Bushman (USA/UK/, the Netherlands/Poland) for confirming that people who think they are drunk also think they are more attractive.

Joint Prize in Biology and Astronomy: Marie Dacke (Sweden/Australia), Emily Baird, Eric Warrant (Sweden/Australia/Germany], Marcus Byrne (South Africa/UK) and Clarke Scholtz (South Africa), for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the milky way.

Safety Engineering Prize: The late Gustano Pizzo (US), for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers. The system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the hijacker through the airplane's specially-installed bomb bay doors through which he is parachuted to the ground where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival.

Physics Prize: Alberto Minetti (Italy/UK/Denmark/Switzerland), Yuri Ivanenko (Italy/Russia/France), Germana Cappellini, Francesco lacquaniti (Italy) and Nadia Dominici (Italy/Switzerland), for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond - if those people and that pond were on the Moon.

Chemistry Prize: Shinsuke Imai, Nobuaki Tsuge, Muneaki Tomotake, Yoshiaki Nagatome, Hidehiko Kumgai (Japan) and Toshiyuki Nagata (Japan/Germany), for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realised.

Archaeology Prize: Brian Crandall (US) and Peter Stahl (Canada/US), for observing how the bones of a swallowed dead shrew dissolves inside the human digestive system

Peace Prize: Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, and to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.

Probability Prize: Bert Tolkamp (UK/the Netherlands), Marie Haskell, Fritha Langford. David Roberts, and Colin Morgan (UK), for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.

Public Health Prize: Kasian Bhanganada, Tu Chayavatana, Chumporn Pongnumkul, Anunt Tonmukayakul, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Krit Komaratal, and Henry Wilde (Thailand), for the medical techniques of penile re-attachment after amputations (often by jealous wives). Techniques which they recommend, except in cases where the amputated penis had been partially eaten by a duck.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Mrjason

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Re: The IgNobel Prizes
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2013, 05:52:25 AM »
I love the Public Health Prize, the exception is very specific. I'm assuming that there will be a follow up listing animals that can partially eat a penis and still allow reattachment

Offline neopagan

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Re: The IgNobel Prizes
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2013, 07:33:12 AM »
Joint Prize in Biology and Astronomy: Marie Dacke (Sweden/Australia), Emily Baird, Eric Warrant (Sweden/Australia/Germany], Marcus Byrne (South Africa/UK) and Clarke Scholtz (South Africa), for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the miilky way.

This at least shows fundies are not the only animals whose view of the solar system is colored by their dedication to stupid shit.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 07:41:01 AM by neopagan »
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline Nick

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Re: The IgNobel Prizes
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2013, 07:37:25 AM »
I love the Public Health Prize, the exception is very specific. I'm assuming that there will be a follow up listing animals that can partially eat a penis and still allow reattachment
Yeah, if the family dog uses it was a chew toy...no problem...they can reattach it.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline Willie

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Re: The IgNobel Prizes
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2013, 10:04:07 AM »
Apparently I've been mistaken about what the IgNobel prize is about. I had thought that it was to highlight and ridicule pseudoscience, but from this it appears to be awarded for any endeavor that has some kind of humorous element to it, whether an ill-conceived scheme like the Belarusian ban on public applause, or legitimate science like the dung beetle navigation experiment and several others on the list. Some of those studies are actually pretty cool, even if their topics are mildly humorous.

Offline Dr H

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Re: The IgNobel Prizes
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2013, 08:12:09 PM »
Apparently I've been mistaken about what the IgNobel prize is about. I had thought that it was to highlight and ridicule pseudoscience, but from this it appears to be awarded for any endeavor that has some kind of humorous element to it, whether an ill-conceived scheme like the Belarusian ban on public applause, or legitimate science like the dung beetle navigation experiment and several others on the list. Some of those studies are actually pretty cool, even if their topics are mildly humorous.

The tenor of the Ig Nobels has shifted somewhat over the years .  In their first year they did deal mostly with pseudoscience (Jacques Benveniste), dubious technical achievements (Michael Milken), and general woo (Erich Von Daniken).

Today, they often cite real research that they feel might be portrayed humorously.  Their stated mission is to:

...honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.   http://www.improbable.com/ig/ 

Quite a different outlook, IMO. 

And one which is, unfortunately, also prone to backfire.  It's an unfortunate fact that few people outside of actual scientific research communities understand the concept of "basic research".  Yet that basic research is what lays the foundation for other reserach that the average joe is more likely to find "useful", and ultimately for the technological advances that so many seem to be unable to do without.

There's no predicitng in advance where a particular piece of verifiable knowledge about the world might prove useful as our technology improves and new theories are advanced.  The study of how dung beetles navigate might appear humorous and useless today; 10 or 20 years from now we might find that research has furnished a key piece of information which enables us to achieve an accurate GPS without having to rely on a hundred satellites susceptible to damage from solar flares.

The way the Ig Nobels currently function, they portray any research that doesn't have an immediately perceptible practical goal as frivolous -- which implies that its a waste of time, and therefore not worth funding.

If we insist that all our research be directed only towards practical ends, we will severely limit our ability to increase the depth of our understanding of the physical world.  And eventually, our rate of practical achievement will begin to decline accordingly.

Dr H

"I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry."
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