Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

Interview with Dr. Knuckle-cracker

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

2009 Ig Nobel Medicine Prize winner Dr. Donald Unger gave an in-depth interview on KCAL-9 TV. Dr. Unger won his Ig for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand — but never cracking the knuckles of his right hand — every day for more than sixty (60) years:

Hell-raising prof inspired by Ig Nobel winner

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

A professor who contractually condemned his students to hell was inspired by an Ig Nobel Prize winner. WKRN reports:

Frustrated over cheating allegations, one professor at Middle Tennessee State University took the idea of a traditional honor code in a controversial direction. Suspecting that one of his MBA candidates had just cheated on an exam, Professor Thomas Tang had each of them sign a pledge that said if they had cheated, they’d be condemned to an eternity in Hell. The pledge went on to say if the student cheated they will “be sorry for the rest of [their] life and go to Hell.”…
Tang said he based his pledge on an academic study showing students who read the Ten Commandments before an exam were less likely to cheat.

The academic study that inspired Professor Tang was performed by Dan Ariely. Professor Ariely, a polymath, was awarded the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize in medicine for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.
News Channel 5 put Professor Tang’s contract on line, where you may draw inspiration reading it.

Mark the date: 2010 Ig Nobel ceremony

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony (the 20th 1st Annual!) will happen on Thursday night, September 30, and Sanders Theatre, Harvard University. Tickets will go on sale August 1.
Please mark the dates in your calender, and spread the word.

Paxton on sea monsters in London, Nov. 7

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

On November 7th 2009, the Centre For Inquiry in London is hosting a one-day event titled Monsters From the Deep!
The day kicks off at 11am and will include both talk and workshop sessions. Charles Paxton of the University of St. Andrews, well known for his work on statistical ecology, will be giving a talk titled ‘Anecdotes, statistics and sea monsters’. The belief that anecdotal data (in this case, reports of sea monsters) can be dismissed wholesale is naïve, as analysis can still reveal meaningful inferences (make sure you see Paxton (2009) for more on this). Charles will also be leading a workshop on ‘Ecology of aquatic monsters’. A very belated congrats to Charles, incidentally, for his 2002 Ig Nobel Prize for Bubier et al. (1998).

So writes Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology.

Ig Nobel Prize winner: $711 million

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Sanford (“Spamford”) Wallace, winner of the 1997 Ig Nobel Prize for communications (“neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night have stayed this self-appointed courier from delivering electronic junk mail to all the world”), is in the news again. Reuters reports, on October 30, 2009 that:

Facebook gets $711 million damages in anti-spam case
Social networking website Facebook was awarded $711.2 million in damages relating to an anti-spam case against Internet marketer Sanford Wallace, court documents show….

[Fun fact from 1997: Sanford Wallace did not attend the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. Concerned for the safety of Mr. Wallace’s person, the organizers did not invite him.]

Mice Levitated in Lab

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Ig Nobel Prize-winningwork of Andre Geim and Michael Berry, Yuanming Liu, Da-Ming Zhu, Donald M. Strayer and Ulf E. Israelsson have used magnets to levitate mice. Their study in the journal Advances in Space Research tells all, or at least much, or what they did. Called “Magnetic levitation of large water droplets and mice“, it says:

In a years-later follow on the We report successful levitation of large water droplets and mice using a newly built variable gravity simulator. The simulator consists mainly of a superconducting magnet with a room temperature accessible experimental levitating space. The superconducting magnet generates a field and field gradient product that is large enough to levitate water and many other common liquids. The warm bore of the magnet has a diameter of 66 mm, large enough to levitate small mammals. We demonstrate that water drops up to 50 mm in diameter and young mice can be levitated in the system.

Livescience has a report about the report, and reproduces one of its photos.
(Thanks to investigator Hugh Henry for bringing this to our attention.)

Dr. Bodnar shows her bra/mask in Chicago

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

This video shows Dr. Elena Bodnar, winner of the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize in public health, demonstrating her invention (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.) on the Nick Digilio Show on WGN in Chicago.

Meet the press: dicey Q&A

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Around Ig Nobel time we receive many inquiries from the press. Here’s one that unfolded by email over two days:
First email:

QUESTION: Please teach me about Ig Nobel Prize. Why is this year’s theme “risk”?
ANSWER: Every year we choose a different theme. This year, in honor of the
world economic crisis, we chose RISK.
QUESTION: Why is the trophy presented to the winner of this year’s prize a
design to which two yellow dice lead?
ANSWER: Because it is symbolic of the concept of risk.

Second email:

QUESTION: Thank you for your reply. I have another two questions.
Why are two dice necessary?
Why is the color of dice yellow and red?

(NOTE: The photo here shows the 2009 Ig Nobel Physics Prize winners delivering their acceptance speech. Their Ig Nobel Prize rests atop the lectern. Photo: David Holzman.)

Logarithms! Ig winner Moon marries more

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Ig Nobel Prize winner Reverend Sun-Mung Moon added slightly to his record-setting mass-marriage achievement. ABC News reports:

Thousands Tie the Knot in Worldwide Mass Wedding
SEOUL, South Korea, Oct. 14, 2009 — An estimated 34,000 brides and grooms around the world tied the knot today in a mass wedding organized by the Unification Church. Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon, 89, officiated the ceremony…

Reverend Moon was awarded the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in economics

for bringing efficiency and steady growth to the mass-marriage industry, with, according to his reports, a 36-couple wedding in 1960, a 430-couple wedding in 1968, an 1800-couple wedding in 1975, a 6000-couple wedding in 1982, a 30,000-couple wedding in 1992, a 360,000-couple wedding in 1995, and a 36,000,000-couple wedding in 1997.

Like 2009 Ig Nobel Mathematics Prize winner Gideon Gono (who had the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe print bank notes in denominations ranging from one cent to one hundred trillion dollars), Reverend Moon has helped people appreciate why mathematicians and engineers like to use logarithms.

The 100-trillion-dollar book

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Gideon Gono, author of the new book Zimbabwe’s Casino Economy – Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Challenges, displays a rare, perhaps unique, kind of scholarly reserve. He is a scholar with a PhD from Atlantic International University. The US-based institution, which has mostly distance-learning courses, proclaims on its website: “Atlantic international university is not accredited by an accrediting agency recognised by the United States secretary of education.” And he has reserve, or rather Reserve, with a capital “R”. Since December 2003, Gono has been the governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank.
Two weeks ago, Gono was awarded the 2009 Ig Nobel prize in mathematics. The Ig Nobel citation lauds him 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 banknotes with denominations ranging from one cent to 100 trillion dollars….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.

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