Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and in Ancient Sculpture, etc.

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

'David'_by_MichelangeloThe 2002 Ig Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to Chris McManus of University College London, for his excruciatingly balanced report, “Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and in Ancient Sculpture.” [That report was published in the journal Nature, vol. 259, February 5, 1976, p. 426; it was in fact the cover story of that issue.]

But some people care more about penis size than testicle asymmetry. For those people, Sara Rense writes about their favorite subject, in a report in Esquire, with the headline “The Real Reason Why Greek Statues Have Such Small Penises.”

BONUS: Here’s video of Chris McManus discussing a rather non-scrotal topic: editing

Tamagotchi, time-wasting, Pokémon Go, and the economy

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

tamagotchiTamagotchi, whose inventors were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for economics in 1997, is celebrated by Jaime Rubio Hancock, writing in El Pais:

Does not anyone remember the Tamagotchi? 6 sets which we found as harmful as Pokémon Go

…This Japanese toy Bandai hooked millions of children in 1996. It was not more than a small oval device with a screen in black and white and three measly buttons to scroll through the menu. That was enough to care for a virtual pet.Since then they have sold more than 79 million units , not far below the 100 million downloads of Pokémon Go . And that was not free Tamagotchi: 2,500 pesetas (about 15 euros)….

After this earthquake and as a perfect conclusion, the creators of the Tamagotchi won an Ig Nobel prize (the parody of the Nobel) in 1997, “for their contribution to the economy through the waste of millions of hours of work”. There is no more noble cause, and I say this without any irony.

Are There Societies Where Lovers Do Not Kiss?

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

v22i4-250wAre There Societies Where Lovers Do Not Kiss? Is any society devoid of osculation?

Those questions are addressed in a study that’s profiled in the special kissing issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

The Ig Nobel Prize that honored dental floss research

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

The 1995 Ig Nobel Prize for dentistry was awarded to Robert H. Beaumont, of Shoreview, Minnesota, for his incisive study “Patient Preference for Waxed or Unwaxed Dental Floss.” The study appeared in the Journal of Periodontology, vol. 61, no. 2, Feb. 1990, pp. 123-5. The study says:


“The purpose of this study was to discover patient preference for waxed or unwaxed dental floss, and to learn more about individual flossing habits. One hundred patients randomly presenting for routine dental examinations volunteered to sample a brand of similar-appearing waxed and unwaxed dental floss. After flossing an anterior and a posterior contact area with both types, the patients indicated whether they preferred the waxed or unwaxed floss. The patients also answered questions concerning their flossing habits. Waxed floss was found to be preferred after sampling by 79% and unwaxed by 21%. An additional 50 patients sampled a different brand of waxed and unwaxed floss in a similar manner. In this group 78% preferred the waxed and 22% the unwaxed type. A final group of 50 patients compared mint flavored waxed floss with plain waxed floss of the same brand. In this group 56% preferred the mint flavored waxed floss, 24% the plain waxed floss, and 20% had no preference. A combined total of only 29.5% of the patients claimed to floss daily, 53.5% floss irregularly but at least once a week, while 17% do not floss even once a week. Waxed floss was purchased for home use by a combined patient total of 57.5%, unwaxed by 32%, and neither type by 10.5%. An unsubstantiated belief in the superiority of unwaxed floss has persisted to the present time. Since both waxed and unwaxed floss have now been shown to be of similar clinical effectiveness, it may be prudent for dental professionals to recommend the often preferred and purchased waxed floss for more patients than unwaxed after evaluating individual needs and preferences.”

This was the first and, thus far, only time an Ig Nobel Prize has been awarded in the category of dentistry.

Here’s a video in which a deep-voiced announcer announces how an unnamed copywriter wrote that people should floss their own teeth:

BONUS (August 2, 2016): The Associated Press reports: “Medical benefits of dental floss unproven

The president’s take on the Ig Nobel session at ESOF

Monday, August 1st, 2016

The following is reprinted from the The University of Manchester:

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

The University of Manchester
President’s Weekly Update
28 July 2016

This week has been dominated by ESOF 2016 (EuroScience Open Forum) of which I was the President and ‘Champion’, along with Professor Luke Georghiou, Vice-President for Research and Innovation, who was co-Champion.

The conference hosted about 3,000 attendees from 83 countries with 700 speakers, over 150 sessions and over 400 science journalists and communicators. It was based mainly at Manchester Central, with many events taking place at the University.  Some delegates also visited the National Graphene Institute, Jodrell Bank Observatory and the headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) at Jodrell….

I attended many fantastic presentations – sometimes trying to be in several places at once – and met many friends from science, business and the press. Certainly the funniest session was about the Ig Nobel prize – a parody of the Nobel Prizes given each year for ten unusual achievements in scientific research and which aim to: “honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” This session included contributions from Professor Sir Andre Geim who has received both an Ig Nobel Prize and Nobel Prize….

— Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor