The 2011 Ig Nobel Awards
The Ig Nobel Awards are given annually by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (or AIR; readers are -- yup! -- AIRheads). The awards are presented by actual Nobel Prize laureates for ...well... research that does more to make you wonder about the scientific process, rather than truly advance human knowledge.
The Winners of the 2011 Ig Nobels, given last week at Harvard are:
- Anna Wilkinson (of the U.K.), Natalie Sebanz (of the Netherlands, Hungary, and Austria -- she really gets around), Isabella Mandl (of Austria), and Ludwig Huber (of Austria) for their study "No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise."
REFERENCE: 'No Evidence Of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise Geochelone carbonaria," published in Current Zoology, vol. 57, no. 4, 2011. pp. 477-84.
- Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami of Japan, for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm. No, really.
REFERENCE: US patent application 2010/0308995 A1. Filing date: Feb 5, 2009.
- Mirjam Tuk (of the Netherlands and the U.K.), Debra Trampe (of the Netherlands) and Luk Warlop (of Belgium), and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder and Robert Feldman (of the USA), Robert Pietrzak, David Darby, and Paul Maruff (of Australia) for demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things -- but worse decisions about other kinds of things‚ when they have a strong urge to urinate.
REFERENCE: "Inhibitory spillover: Increased Urination Urgency Facilitates Impulse Control in Unrelated Domains," published in Psychological Science, vol. 22, no. 5, May 2011, pp. 627-633. Also published as "The Effect of Acute Increase in Urge to Void on Cognitive Function in Healthy Adults," in Neurology and Urodynamics, vol. 30, no. 1, January 2011, pp. 183-7.
- Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo, Norway, for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.
REFERENCE: "Is a Sigh 'Just a Sigh'? Sighs as Emotional Signals and Responses to a Difficult Task," published in Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, vol. 49, no. 1, 2008, pp. 4957.
- John Perry of Stanford University, USA, for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which says: To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that's even more important.
REFERENCE: "How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done," published in Chronicle of Higher Education, February 23, 1996. Later republished elsewhere under the title "Structured Procrastination."
- Darryl Gwynne (of Canada and Australia and the USA) and David Rentz (of Australia and the USA) for discovering that a certain kind of beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle.
REFERENCE: "Beetles on the Bottle: Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies for Females (Coleoptera)," published in Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, vol. 22, 1983, pp. 79-80.
- Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne and Bruno Ragaru (of France), and Herman Kingma (of the Netherlands), for determining why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers don't.
REFERENCE: "Dizziness in Discus Throwers is Related to Motion Sickness Generated While Spinning," published in Acta Oto-laryngologica, vol. 120, no. 3, March 2000, pp. 3905.
- Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of Korea (who predicted the world would end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of Uganda (who predicted the world would end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world will end on October 21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.
Public Safety Prize
- John Senders of the University of Toronto, Canada, for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.
REFERENCE: "The Attentional Demand of Automobile Driving," published in Highway Research Record, vol. 195, 1967, pp. 15-33.
- Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.
Posted October 3, 2011