That moment when a Canadian TV News anchor discovered the Ig Nobel Prizes

September 27th, 2016

carusoThis video shows the moment when Maralee Caruso, anchor of the six-o’clock news on CTV News in Winnipeg, discovered the Ig Nobel Prizes. Caruso managed reported on only one of the ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners: Thomas Thwaites, who shared this year’s biology prize, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.

Caruso did not mention the two Ig Nobel Prizes that were awarded this year to Canadians.

A complete list of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize winners (who were introduced a few days ago at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, at Harvard University) is on the Ig Nobel winners section of this web site.

Thanks to Richard Baguley for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS (related): “Waterloo study on BS wins Ig Nobel Peace Prize” reads a headline in the Globe & Mail.

Susanne Åkesson’s Ig Nobel horsefly triumph

September 27th, 2016

Lund University produced this video celebrating the awarding of the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for physics to Susanne Åkesson and her colleagues:

The prize was awarded to Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas, Susanne Åkesson, Péter Malik, and Hansruedi Wildermuth, for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.

They described the experiments in two published studies:

An Unexpected Advantage of Whiteness in Horses: The Most Horsefly-Proof Horse Has a Depolarizing White Coat,” Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas and Susanne Åkesson, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol. 277 no. 1688, pp. June 2010, pp. 1643-1650.

Ecological Traps for Dragonflies in a Cemetery: The Attraction of Sympetrum species (Odonata: Libellulidae) by Horizontally Polarizing Black Grave-Stones,” Gábor Horváth, Péter Malik, György Kriska, Hansruedi Wildermuth, Freshwater Biology, vol. 52, vol. 9, September 2007, pp. 1700–9.

Professor Åkesson journeyed to the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard, where she gave a splendid acceptance speech. Two days later, she joined the other new Ig Nobel Prize winners in giving free public talks at MIT.

The long tail of machine design

September 27th, 2016

Today’s engineering exercise: reverse engineer the machine shown in this video:

Interview with personality-of-rocks Ig Nobel Prize winner Shelagh Ferguson

September 26th, 2016

The 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for economics was awarded to Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.

They documented their research in the study “The Brand Personality of Rocks: A Critical Evaluation of a Brand Personality Scale,” Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, Marketing Theory, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 451-475.

The Otago Daily Times interviewed Shelagh Ferguson (with the headline “Otago University lecturer wins a Ig Nobel prize“), resulting in this video:



Flea distributions on stray cats (updated)

September 26th, 2016

“Osbrink and Rust (1985) reported that there was no significant difference in the mean number of fleas collected from any particular area of the cat.”

Ref. Osbrink, W.L.A., and M. K. Rust. 1985. Seasonal abundance of adult cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) on domestic cats in southern California. Bull Soc Vector Ecol. 1985, 10, 30-5 *

This finding is disputed by Meng-Hao Hsu, Tung-Ching Hsu and Wen-Jer Wu at the Department of Entomology, National Taiwan University. Cat_Fleas_DistributionCounting fleas on 164 stray cats, the team found that :-

“A significantly higher mean number of fleas was found on the area of head plus neck than on the ventral part of the body. More specifically, the mean number of fleas was highest on both of the neck and dorsal areas. However, in terms of the density of fleas, the neck had more fleas than the dorsal area did. The fewest fleas were found infesting the legs and tail.”

See: Distribution of Cat Fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) on the Cat

Also of note: The 2008 Ig Nobel Biology Prize – which was awarded to Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.

Further reading: The Flea Encyclopedia

* Sadly, the online-archive file for the The Bulletin of the Society of Vector Ecology, Volume 10, Issue 1, June 1985 , Osbrink and Rust, appears to be corrupted.