Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

You’re invited to the Improbable Research show at the AAAS meeting Saturday

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Join us, if you’re in Boston this Saturday night, at the annual Improbable Research session at the AAAS Annual meeting! Here are details:

AAAS Annual Meeting, Sheraton Boston Hotel (in the Prudential Center), in Constitution Ballroom A, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. — February 18, 2017, Saturday, 8:00 pm.  This year’s Improbable Research session will feature:

This evening special session is open free to the public. BUT NOTE: Every year this session fills rapidly, so we suggest you arrive a little early, if you want to get into the room.

This is the research study that introduced the Dunning-Kruger effect:

Achievements in pepper spicelessness: First the jalapeno, now the habanero

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Eighteen years after the creator of the spiceless jalapeno pepper was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize, a different plant-breeding scientist has achieved spicelessness in a different variety of chile pepper, say reports.

Dr. Paul Bosland, director of The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, was awarded the 1999 Ig Nobel biology prize for breeding a spiceless jalapeno chile pepper.

Today, in 2017, NPR’s “The Salt” blog reports about the new, second-spiceless-pepper, achievement:

This Heatless Habanero Packs All Of The Flavor With None Of The Burn

[A] pepper — an aromatic, orange habanero without any heat…

“We selected the habanero for heat because that’s what was coveted. But what if you wanted to experience the melon-like experience of a pepper?” Barber asks. “You can’t do it with a habanero — you can with a Habanada.”

Cornell plant breeder Michael Mazourek created the Habanada as part of his doctoral research. He got the idea after discovering a rogue heatless pepper whose genetics behaved very differently from a naturally sweet pepper like the Bell.

The man behind the Habanada is a Cornell University plant breeder named Michael Mazourek, who created it as part of his doctoral research….


Bernard Vonnegut, Ice-17, Ice-9, chicken-plucking, and tornadoes

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Bernard Vonnegut, that most surprising atmospheric scientist, gets appreciated in an Italian-language essay called “Ice Numbers“, by Franco Bagnoli of the University of Florence, published in Ciencia y Cultura. Here’s a machine translation of bits of Bagnoli’s essay:

At the end of 2016, at the Institute of Complex Systems of the CNR in Florence, Italy, a new solid phase of water was discovered: ice XVII….

The news, and the discussion workshops that followed, reminded me of one of my favorite novels by writer Kurt Vonnegut [which involves a new phase of water, called “ice-nine”]… Who could have given Vonnegut the idea of ​​this new phase of water? Probably his brother. Bernard Vonnegut, who was a scientist of the atmosphere. He discovered that silver iodide can be used as a nucleating agent to induce rainfall. In the clouds, the water is in the form of small supercooled drops….

Bernard Vonnegut became famous in 1997, the year of his death, for having won the Ig Nobel Prize in meteorology for a 1975 article entitled “Chicken Plucking as Measure of Tornado Wind Speed“.

Animation of a man who methodically cracked his knuckles for 60 years

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
A Chinese animation of 2009 Ig Nobel Medicine Prize winner Dr. Donald Unger, who methodically cracked the knuckles on one hand for 60 years:

A Canadian Appreciation of the Canadian Ig Nobel Prize winners

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Andrew Kidd, writing in The Varsity, give a happy nod to the many Canadian Ig Nobel Prize winners. His report begins:

Ig Nobels recognize hilarity in science
Seventeen Canadians have earned this ironic accolade

With more than seven million scientists exploring the world around us, it seems inevitable that some would stray from important scientific theories to the silly, the superfluous, and on rare occasions, the stupid.

For the last 26 years, Annals of Improbable Research, a scientific parody magazine, has awarded researchers with Ig Nobel Prizes, a pun referencing the acclaimed Nobel Prizes, to recognize the most ridiculous scientific work. The awards ceremony takes place at Harvard University — where scientists have won an impressive 49 Nobel Prizes — and recognizes “achievements that first make people laugh, then make [people] think.” The awards are often handed out by Nobel laureates.

Seventeen Canadians have won these somewhat humiliating prizes.

The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize in Physiology and Entomology was awarded to Canada’s Justin Schmidt, who “painstakingly” indexed the relative pain caused by different insect bites and precisely quantified the amount of misery of a bite.

U of T’s own Kang Lee won a Neuroscience Prize in 2014 for studying the brain activity of people who see Jesus in the burn patterns of toast….