Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

New penis survey follows in footsteps of Ig Nobel Prize-winning study

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

A new British survey of international penis size builds on — and cites — an earlier, Ig Nobel Prize-winning Canadian study.

The 1998 Ig Nobel Prize for statistics was awarded to Jerald Bain of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto and Kerry Siminoski of the University of Alberta for their carefully measured report, “The Relationships Among Height, Penile Length, and Foot Size.” That study was published in Annals of Sex Research, vol. 6, no. 3, 1993, pp. 231-5.)

davidvealephotoThe new study is:

Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men,” David Veale [pictured here], Sarah Miles, Sally Bramley, Gordon Muir and John Hodsoll, BJU International, epub March 2, 2015. The authors are at The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London Medical School, King’s College London,South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK. The study takes its data from earlier studies done in many nations.

BONUS FACT (possibly unrelated): The number 15221, if treated as a postal zip code, identifies the city of Alum Bank, Pennsylvania, which is immediately south of Blue Knob State Park.

BONUS FACT (certainly related): The press officer for King’s College London Medical School, to whom all inquiries are directed, in the press release about this new study, is named Tom Bragg.

Tyco’s ‘Piggy,’ Ig Nobel Prize winner, profiled

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Dennis Kozlowski, who shared the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize for economics, is profiled in the March 1, 2015 issue of The New York Times.

That Ig Nobel Prize was awarded to the executives, corporate directors, and auditors of Enron, Lernaut & Hauspie [Belgium], Adelphia, Bank of Commerce and Credit International [Pakistan], Cendant, CMS Energy, Duke Energy, Dynegy, Gazprom [Russia], Global Crossing, HIH Insurance [Australia], Informix, Kmart, Maxwell Communications [UK], McKessonHBOC, Merrill Lynch, Merck, Peregrine Systems, Qwest Communications, Reliant Resources, Rent-Way, Rite Aid, Sunbeam, Tyco, Waste Management, WorldCom, Xerox, and Arthur Andersen, for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world. [NOTE: all companies are U.S.-based unless otherwise noted.]

Here are a few excerpts from the Times profile:

Tyco’s ‘Piggy,’ Out of Prison and Living Small

… In a two-bedroom rental on the 35th floor of a building overlooking the East River, L. Dennis Kozlowski lives with his new wife, Kimberly, in relative modesty — at least compared with his previous life as the extravagant chief of Tyco International….

Ten years and a lifetime ago, Mr. Kozlowski reigned as the archetype of avarice. This helped lead to his conviction in 2005 for looting nearly $100 million from Tyco, for which he served six and a half years in prison. [A $6,000 gold-and-burgundy] shower curtain was in his corporate residence on Fifth Avenue — paid for with Tyco funds — and came to symbolize a life of unabashed excess….

Then, it was over, swiftly. Mr. Kozlowski’s indictment for evading 8.25 percent sales tax on $14 million of artwork resulted in a broader Tyco internal investigation.

That led to new criminal charges, for which he was convicted of taking unauthorized bonuses, abusing corporate loan programs, falsifying records, and conspiracy. In addition to jail, Mr. Kozlowski had to pay $167 million in restitution and fines….

Today, he acknowledges making mistakes…. Even so, he maintains he was unfairly convicted, especially in light of how few big names were brought to trial in the most recent period of Wall Street malfeasance. “After 2008,” he said, “nobody was prosecuted.”

The sword swallowers and their day

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Ig Nobel Prize winner Dan Meyer is the originator and prime mover behind International Sword Swallowers Day, which is today, which means that most of the world’s approximately 55 (somewhat) organized, professional sword swallowers are or will be swallowing swords in public, which is something they would do pretty much every day if they had their druthers.

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Brian Witcombe the UK, and Dan Meyer of the US, for their penetrating medical report “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects” (published in the British Medical Journal, December 23, 2006, vol. 333, pp. 1285-7). Here’s video of their one-minute-long acceptance speech at that year’s Ig Nobel ceremony:

Time Magazine is celebrating the day with an essay about the professionals who use large, pointed objects to practice catch-and-release fishing with themselves. The essay features Dan Meyer, and a portion of the talk Dan gave one year at the Improbable Research session at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science”

“When I put the sword in my mouth, I will repress the gag reflex in the back of the throat. Then I have to go behind my Adam’s apple, my prominentia laryngea, behind the voice box, the larynx, down about through the crichopharyngeal sphincter, up in the upper part of the mouth here. Then down into the esophagus, repress the peristalsis reflex, [muscular contractions] that swallow your food. From there relax the esophageal muscles, relax the lower esophageal sphincter, and slip the blade down into my stomach, repress the wretch reflex in my stomach.”

BONUS FACT: Dan Meyer and his sword will stage a triumphant return appearance at this year’s Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony — the 25th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony — on September 17, 2015, at Harvard University.

BONUS: In this video, Dan Meyer, sword in throat, presents his personal answer to the seldom-asked question: How many pushups would a sword swallower do if a sword swallower did do pushups while swallowing a sword?

The formal advance of the research on beer-vs-coffee spilling

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

dressaireThe research on why foamy liquid (such as beer or latte) is less likely to slosh out of a cup than non-foamy liquid (such as black coffee), has now been formally published. The study is:

Damping of liquid sloshing by foams,” A. Sauret, F. Boulogne, J. Cappello, Emilie Dressaire [pictured here] and H.A. Stone, Physics of Fluids, vol. 27, 022103 (2015).

The slosh team presented their work in public a few months ago, at the Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics.

A few years, earlier, that annual meeting went gaga, to a very limited degree, for a research presentation about why a cup of coffee is so very easy to spill (or, looked at from the other direction, why it’s so difficult to NOT spill a cup of coffee). That coffee-spill research was eventually honored with the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize for fluid dynamics. Here’s the Ig Nobel citation for that prize:

Rouslan Krechetnikov and Hans Mayer for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.

REFERENCE: “Walking With Coffee: Why Does It Spill?” Hans C. Mayer and Rouslan Krechetnikov, Physical Review E, vol. 85, 2012.

In 2013, that coffee-spill research was the subject of a dramatic demonstration by Karolinska neuroscientist Gustav Nilsonne, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Here is an action photo from that demonstration:


A month from now, Gustav Nilsonne will perhaps repeat that demonstration, with both coffee and beer, when the 2015 Ig Nobel Eurotour descends on the Karolinka Institute, on Monday afternoon, March 30. (There will be a second show in Stockholm, at Boulevardteatern, in the evening.)

(Thanks to investigator Mason Porter for bringing this to our attention.)

Belgian TV Ig Nobel highlights

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Lieven Scheire of the Belgian TV program Nerdland produced these highlight compilations of the 2013 and 2014 Ig Nobel Prize ceremonies: