Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

The Uncertainty Machine

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

NIST has an uncertainty machine. This theme of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony is UNCERTAINTY.

Make of these two facts what you will.

Does the uncertainty machine have a manual. Yes, it does.

(Thanks to Arno Laesecke for bringing the machine to our attention.)

Ig Nobel ceremony on September 14 ( One month from today!)

Monday, August 14th, 2017

The 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony will happen on Thursday evening, September 14.

A few tickets (most of them in the back rows of the balcony) are still available.

The Harvard Box Office handles all ticket sales. The physical ticket office [now in a temporary location in Farkas Hall, 10 Holyoke Street, Cambridge] is open some (but not all!) days from noon to 6 pm. Telephone (+1) 617-496-2222.
The web site is open 24 hours, every day.

Tickets: $75 / $65 / $55 / $35
Student tickets: $70 / $60 / $50 / $30
Ig Glorious tickets: $150. We fund the ceremony (theater rental, and half a zillion other expenses) mainly through ticket revenues. We are offering a few special “Ig Glorious” tickets, for persons who want to be specially supportive. Ig Glorious tickets come with special perks: Excellent seats; A vintage copy of the Annals of Improbable Research, signed by an emissary; Their photo taken at the Ig Nobel lectern on stage (before or after the ceremony, at the discretion of the Stage Manager); Access to our Ig Glorious Liaison, a staff member assigned to the “Ig Glorious” group for the entirety of the event; And a hearty handshake!

THE CEREMONY
WHERE: Sanders Theatre, Harvard University
WHEN: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2017, 6:00 pm.
Ceremony details.

Scientist who uplifted a frog did not support the Chinese brassiere

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

News reports say that Andre Geim (who won an Ig Nobel physics prize for using magnets to levitate a frog, and then won a Nobel physics prize for discovering how to obtain and study the virtually-two-dimensional form of carbon known as “graphene“) — discovered that a Chinese brassiere manufacturer is falsely claiming that he, Andre Geim, endorsed the power of their brassieres.

The Times report begins:

Busted! Makers of miracle bra faked support of Nobel winner Sir Andre Geim

Graphene scientists are used to dealing with exciting claims. The material’s superconductivity could revolutionise electronics and its super-strength could transform aircraft construction. Few industries appear safe from disruption.

Even so Andre Geim, who won a Nobel prize for its discovery, was surprised to hear graphene underwear could renew sexual vigour and enlarge breasts. He was particularly surprised because, when he read about the claims, they were endorsed by one Professor Andre Geim, from the University of Manchester….. Shengquan insists underwear made of graphene boosts breast size and sex lives….

The South China Morning Post carries this headline on its report:

‘I’m not advertising underwear’: UK Nobel laureate in ‘fake claims’ row with Chinese firm

(Thanks to Davide Castelvecchi for bringing this to our attention.)

NOTE: So far as we are aware, the Shengquan bra is not connected in any way with the Emergency Bra (a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.), whose inventor, Elena Bodnar, was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for public health….

Three simple rules for building a tower, if you are a fire ant

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Ig Nobel Prize winner David Hu and colleagues explain the simple rules that fire ants use when they build a tower-of-fire-ants. They explain in a new study:

Fire Ants Perpetually Rebuild Sinking Towers,” Sulisay Phonekeo, Nathan Mlot, Daria Monaenkova, David L. Hu, Craig Tovey,” Royal Society Open Science, vol. 4, 2017, 170475.

In the aftermath of a flood, fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, cluster into temporary encampments. The encampments can contain hundreds of thousands of ants and reach over 30 ants high. How do ants build such tall structures without being crushed? … Here, we present models of the shape of the tower and its rate of growth. In our past work on raft construction, we found ants followed three rules, which yielded accurate predictions for raft growth rate. These rules are as follows:

1. Do not move if ants are on top of you.

2. If atop other ants, repeatedly move a short distance in a random direction.

3. Upon reaching available space adjacent to non-moving ants, stop and link with them.

4. The top layer of the tower is not stable unless there is a complete innermost ring of ants gripping each other around the rod.

We include the fourth rule based on our observations.

Here’s further detail from the study:

Sarah Zielinski has an especially nice writeup of this writeup, in Science News, with added video.

The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Patricia Yang, David Hu, and Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo, for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds). They describe that research, in the study “Duration of Urination Does Not Change With Body Size,” Patricia J. Yang, Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo, and David L. Hu, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111 no. 33, August 19, 2014, pp. 11932–11937.

Ig Nobel Tickets go on sale THURSDAY, JULY 20, at NOON

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Tickets for the 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony go on sale THURSDAY, JULY 20, 2017, at noon (US eastern time). We expect (based on experience) the tickets will get snapped up quickly.

The Harvard Box Office handles all ticket sales. The physical ticket office [now in a temporary location in Farkas Hall, 10 Holyoke Street, Cambridge] is open some (but not all!) days from noon to 6 pm.Telephone (+1) 617-496-2222.
The web site is open 24 hours, every day.

Tickets: $75 / $65 / $55 / $35
Student tickets: $70 / $60 / $50 / $30
Ig Glorious tickets: $150. We fund the ceremony (theater rental, and half a zillion other expenses) mainly through ticket revenues. We are offering a few special “Ig Glorious” tickets, for persons who want to be specially supportive. Ig Glorious tickets come with special perks: Excellent seats; A vintage copy of the Annals of Improbable Research, signed by an emissary; Their photo taken at the Ig Nobel lectern on stage (before or after the ceremony, at the discretion of the Stage Manager); Access to our Ig Glorious Liaison, a staff member assigned to the “Ig Glorious” group for the entirety of the event; And a hearty handshake!

THE CEREMONY
The ceremony will happen at the usual place.
WHERE: Sanders Theatre, Harvard University
WHEN: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2017, 6:00 pm.
Ceremony details.