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Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

Wood or Poo, Against Tradition? A Cutting Tale of Two Knives

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

Would wood ever be a better choice than the metals generally used to make commercial table knives? Alternatively, what about using frozen human feces? The first of those questions has a new answer, delivered in a study called “Hardened Wood as a Renewable Alternative to Steel and Plastic,” by Bo Chen, Ulrich H. Leiste, William L. Fourney, Yu Liu, Qiongyu Chen, and Teng Li, published in the journal Matter, 2021. The authors, at the University of Maryland, report:

We demonstrate a potential low-cost and sustainable hard material made from natural wood. Through a simple and effective approach, bulk natural wood can be processed into a hardened wood (HW) with a 23-fold increase in hardness. To demonstrate the potential applications of HW, we show that an HW table knife can be made nearly three times sharper than commercial table knives. An HW nail can be as functional as a steel nail with comparable performance but is immune from rusting, a key failure mechanism of steel nails.

Further details are plumbed and videologized in Jennifer Ouellette’s article about the study, in Ars Technica.

Wood or Poo?

An attempt to answer the metal-versus-frozen-poo question, done by researchers at Kent State University, not only answered that question but also won the 2020 Ig Nobel Prize in physics. That prize was awarded to Metin Eren, Michelle Bebber, James Norris, Alyssa Perrone, Ashley Rutkoski, Michael Wilson, and Mary Ann Raghanti, for showing that knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work well.

They documented that research, in the study “Experimental Replication Shows Knives Manufactured from Frozen Human Feces Do Not Work,” Metin I. Eren, Michelle R. Bebber, James D. Norris, Alyssa Perrone, Ashley Rutkoski, Michael Wilson, and Mary Ann Raghanti, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 27, no. 102002, October 2019.

Obesity of Politicians, Corruption in Countries: 2021 Ig Informal Lecture

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK.

In the Ig Informal Lectures, some days after the ceremony, the new Ig Nobel Prize winners attempt to explain what they did, and why they did it. We are releasing these lectures one at a time.

The 2021 Ig Nobel for Economics was awarded to Pavlo Blavatskyy, for discovering that the obesity of a country’s politicians may be a good indicator of that country’s corruption.

REFERENCE: “Obesity of Politicians and Corruption in Post‐Soviet Countries,” Pavlo Blavatskyy, Economic of Transition and Institutional Change, vol. 29, no. 2, 2021, pp. 343-356.

Webcast: Discussion About Writing About Weird Science

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Join us — Tuesday night, October 19, 2021, Tuesday, 6:30-8:00 pm. (US Eastern time) — for a livestreamed discussion by Marc AbrahamsCara Giaimo, and Jessica Boddy about “Reporting Weird Science—from fluorescent wombats to the Ig Nobel Prizes”.

 

The event, for students in the Science, Health & Environmental Reporting program (SHERP) at New York University (NYU), is part of a series called the Kavli Conversations on Science Communication (KCOSC) at NYU.

The talkers, together with SHERP students, will be gathered in pandemically fairly safe conditions at Caveat NYC, a spacious cabaret-style speakeasy theater thought to be 75% resistant to acronyms.

 

 

Another TV Show ‘Inspired’ by the Ig Nobel Prizes

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Zaobao reports, on October 11, 2021:

In recent years, many Chinese variety shows have been draft talents. Zhejiang Satellite TV has taken a different approach. In mid-August, it launched a real-life show “Hi Release”. Wang Jiaer, Ren Jialun and Chen Feiyu served as “Hi Release Explorers”. Li Ronghao ( Participated in the fifth period of recording), Wei Daxun (joined in the fifth period) is the “Hi Broadcast Specialist”. Artist guests include Li Chen, Zheng Kai and Jike Junyi. “Hi” is inspired by the “Ig Nobel Prize“, which is dedicated to exploring scientific research that “makes people laugh at first glance, but is thought-provoking after thinking about it”. The program uses life as the soil and science as the entry point, revealing unexpected scientific conclusions through some seemingly nonsensical experiments.

UPDATE (October 15, 2021): And today, there’s a report by Giaoduc about a law school competition in Vietnam: “Happy Law Competition (abbreviated as ‘Ig Law’) is inspired by the Ig Nobel Prize

Inverted Rhino Translocation: 2021 Ig Informal Lecture

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK.

In the Ig Informal Lectures, some days after the ceremony, the new Ig Nobel Prize winners attempt to explain what they did, and why they did it. We are releasing these lectures one at a time.

The 2021 Ig Nobel for Transportation was awarded to Robin Radcliffe, Mark Jago, Peter Morkel, Estelle Morkel, Pierre du Preez, Piet Beytell, Birgit Kotting, Bakker Manuel, Jan Hendrik du Preez, Michele Miller, Julia Felippe, Stephen Parry, and Robin Gleed, for determining by experiment whether it is safer to transport an airborne rhinoceros upside-down.

REFERENCE: “The Pulmonary and Metabolic Effects of Suspension by the Feet Compared with Lateral Recumbency in Immobilized Black Rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis) Captured by Aerial Darting,” Robin W. Radcliffe, Mark Jago, Peter vdB Morkel, Estelle Morkel, Pierre du Preez, Piet Beytell, Birgit Kotting, Bakker Manuel, Jan Hendrik du Preez, Michele A. Miller, Julia Felippe, Stephen A Parry; R.D. Gleed, Journal of Wildlife Diseases, vol. 57, no. 2, 2021, 357–367.

Improbable Research