Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

Legislators propose medal for Gideon (“Hundred trillion dollar bill” Gono

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

New Zimbabwe reports, on February 12, 2015:

legislators proposed that the governor at the time, Gideon Gono be given a medal for his unorthodox efforts to rescue Zimbabwe’s beleaguered economy

Some of those extraordinary efforts led to Dr. Gono being awarded an Ig Nobel Prize. The prize citation reads:

2009 Ig Nobel Prize for Mathematics: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers — from very small to very big — by having his bank print bank notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000).

REFERENCE: Zimbabwe’s Casino Economy — Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Challenges, Gideon Gono, ZPH Publishers, Harare, 2008, ISBN 978-079-743-679-4.

Here is one of those hundred trillion dollar bills:


Why do we pick our nose?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

andrade1Why do we pick our nose?

The BBC looks into the question. The biggest thing it finds is Dr. Chittaranjan Andrade‘s study that won the 2001 Ig Nobel Prize for public health.

Here, at right, is a photo of Dr. Andrade.

And here, below, is detail from Dr. Andrade’s study:


Cheap quasi-repeat of a dear study of cheap-versus-dear fake medicines

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

A new, celebrated medical paper echoes the beloved study that long ago earned an Ig Nobel Prize for medicine. The Los Angeles Times summarizes the new study, with the headline:

‘Expensive’ placebos work better than ‘cheap’ ones, study finds“.

The new study is:

espayPlacebo effect of medication cost in Parkinson disease,” Alberto J. Espay [pictured here], MD, MSc, Matthew M. Norris, MEng, James C. Eliassen, PhD, Alok Dwivedi, PhD, Matthew S. Smith, BS, Christi Banks, CCRC, Jane B. Allendorfer, PhD, Anthony E. Lang, MD, FRCPC, David E. Fleck, PhD, Michael J. Linke, PhD and Jerzy P. Szaflarski, MD, PhD, Neurology, epub January 28, 2015.

The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize was awarded to Dan Ariely of Duke University, Rebecca L. Waber of MIT, Baba Shiv of Stanford University, and Ziv Carmon of INSEAD for “demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine“. The team described their discovery in a 2008 paper:

Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy,” Rebecca L. Waber; Baba Shiv; Ziv Carmon; Dan Ariely, Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 2008; 299: 1016-1017.

The new study does not mention that 2008 prize-winning study, but does mention an earlier paper by Dan Ariely, one of the 2008 study’s authors, about booze:

Try it, you’ll like it: the influence of expectation, consumption, and revelation on preferences for beer,” L. Lee, S. Frederick, D. Ariely, Psychological Science, 2006;17:1054–1058.

Thus does medicine advance, with mutters – if not always mentions – of similar discoveries, made earlier, by other people.

The University of Cincinnati, home of several of the new study’s authors, issued a proud press release, which begins:

Study: Perceptions of Drug’s Cost May Affect How Much Patients Benefit

CINCINNATI—People’s perceptions of the cost of a drug may affect how much they benefit from the drug, even when they are receiving only a placebo, according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC).


Alberto Espay, MD, [pictured here] an associate professor in the UC Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine and director and endowed chair of the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders at the UC Neuroscience Institute, describes the findings in the Jan. 28 online issue of Neurology

“Gay bomb” research facility urges caution about “love hormone”

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

oxytocinThe laboratory facility that long ago won honors for doing research and development on the so-called “gay bomb” is casting a skeptical eye at widespread claims about oxytocin, a substance some people call “the love hormone”.

The Neuroskeptic blog reports:

A new study offers two reasons to be cautious about some of the claims made for the role of the hormone oxytocin in human behavior.

The paper’s out now in PLoS ONE from researchers James C. Christensen and colleagues, who are based at the US Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio. That the military are interested in oxytocin at all is perhaps a testament to the huge amount of interest that this molecule has attracted in recent years. Oxytocin has been called the “hug hormone”, and is said to be involved in such nice things as love and trust. But according to Christensen et al., quite a lot of previous oxytocin research may be flawed.

The 2007 Ig Nobel peace prize was awarded to the Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon — the so-called “gay bomb” — that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.

REFERENCE: “Harassing, Annoying, and ‘Bad Guy’ Identifying Chemicals,” Wright Laboratory, WL/FIVR, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, June 1, 1994.

BONUS: James C. Christensen [pictured below] also is part of a team that says: “We did something that has never been done before. Modifying a car—a 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray—so a qualified quadriplegic driver can safely operate it under racetrack conditions. We call it SAM. A semi-autonomous motorcar.”


A little video essay about the Ig Nobel Prizes

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Khantati produced this short video essay about the Ig Nobel Prizes: