Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

Maggots, and the aftermath of your meals

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

“Can maggots devour all our food waste?” and convert the food bits we wasted into something again useful to us humans? Ig Nobel Prize winner David Hu and colleagues—led by master maggot-mystery solver Olga Shishkov— explore that question, in their lab, and in this Science Friday video:

Brian Soash writes about the question, for Science Friday, in a special report called “Hungry, Hungry Hermetia.” Hermetia illucens is the name of the fly that’s involved, hungrily, in these convert-the-food-waste experiments. Hermetia illucens gets called other names, one of which is “black soldier fly.”

Last weekend, Olga Shiskov explained and demonstrated her work, assisted on stage by several rabidly donut-eating audience members, in the Improbable Research session at the AAAS Annual Meeting, in Washington, DC.

Improbable Research tonight in Washington, DC

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Join us tonight at the Improbable Research show at the AAAS Annual Meeting, Omni Shoreham Hotel (in the Diplomat Ballroom), Washington DC—The annual Improbable Research session will include:

This session is open free to the public. (Seating is limited—arrive early if you want a seat.) #AAASmtg

Hows and Whys of There’s a Fly in My Wine

Friday, February 15th, 2019

Alex Dainis explains videographically the inner workings of the Ig Nobel Prize-winning experiment that demonstrates some people’s ability to tell—by smelling!—whether there was a fly in a glass of wine:

The people-can-sniff-out-a-fly study

The published study is: “The Scent of the Fly,” Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, bioRxiv, no. 20637, 2017.

A fly-by-day public demonstration, in April

The study authors, who shared the 2018 Ig Nobel Prize in biology, will themselves publicly demonstrate their work twice—at the Karolinska Institute on Tuesday, April 9, and at Stockholm University on Wednesday, April 10—as part of this year’s Ig Nobel EuroTour.

Come see them, and talk with them, and smell the fly!


John Senders has driven off into eternity

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Sad news. John Senders has taken his last gleeful spin through the universe. He died this week, just a few days shy of his 99th birthday. John, a clever, funny, kind scientist who was also an ace showman with an astoundingly resonant voice, won the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize for public safety, for conducting a series of safety experiments in which he drove an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flapped down over his face, blinding him. John is on display doing that in this old TV news report:

The photo here shows John delivering his acceptance speech at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. The historic helmet is by his side.

There’s considerably more detail about that driving-the-highways-while-something-repeatedly-flaps-over-your-eyes research, published in the study “The Attentional Demand of Automobile Driving,” John W. Senders, et al., Highway Research Record, vol. 195, 1967, pp. 15-33.

And there was considerably more to John Senders than that one experiment. Dip into the compendium at the John Senders web site. And if you like, read the small essay about John I wrote five years ago, for Beta Boston.

John’s death will in not the slightest impair his clever plan to infect the peoples of the earth with curiosity and a really deep sense of humor.

In-depth examination of the Ig Nobel Prizes, for German doctors

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

Ärtze Zeitung, the German newspaper for doctors, has a loving, long appreciation of the Ig Nobel Prizes. It begins [here translated into English]:

Winking and improving the world

The research results, for which the Ig Nobel Prize is awarded annually, often tease the laughing muscles – and then make you think. Many results are now available in the collective memory. An overview of what has been awarded so far….

The essay finishes with this:

… The sophistication of the decisions of the Ig Nobel Prize Committee illustrates hardly any work better than the study “From junior to senior Pinocchio” by the Belgian psychologist Evelyne Debey and colleagues, who did not receive the award alone, 1000 liars according to their frequency To have questioned lying, but above all their willingness to “believe their answers”.

Some of Cambridge’s acknowledged findings are now anchored in the collective consciousness. These include insights into Murphy’s Law (1996 and 2003), the exposition of the Dunning Kruger Effect, which states that the difficulty of perceiving one’s own incompetence leads to exaggerated self-assessment (2000), and the related phenomenon that people who believe to be drunk, also believe that they are particularly attractive (2013).

On April 12, 2019, German doctors—and anyone else who is in Berlin that night—will be able to explore firsthand the world of the Ig Nobel Prizes, at the Ig Nobel Night in Berlin event at Tempodrom Berlin. Tickets are available online.



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