Archive for 'Improbable Investigators'

Four people doing what with beer bottles?

Monday, March 18th, 2019

What are these people doing with these beer bottles? Come to the Ig Nobel show at the University of Graz, on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at 6:00 pm, and the answer might become clear.



Dr. Nudge

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

Did Dr. Nudge often nudge?

You will have to decide for yourself whether Dr. Nudge nudged often or seldom or not at all. Perhaps begin by looking up some of Dr. Nudge’s works.

Start, if you like, with the study “Flowering of Dichondra in response to temperature and daylength,” V.B. Youngner, F.J. Nudge, and S. Spaulding, American Journal of Botany, vol. 55, no. 7 (1968): 762-766.

BONUS: A nudge about nudging about nudging

A nice new, short video portrait of Dr. Nakamats

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

Great Big Story made this documentary about Ig Nobel Prize winner Dr. Nakamats.

The producers introduce it by saying: “His best thinking happens during the third movement of Beethoven’s Fifth, in a gold-plated room and when he’s mere moments from death. He writes his name “NakaMats,” but that’s Dr. Nakamatsu to you. He’s dapper, 91 years young and holds over 3,500 patents.”

Dr. Nakamats, you will recall, was awarded the 2005 Ig Nobel Prize for nutrition, for photographing and retrospectively analyzing every meal he has consumed during a period of 34 years (and counting). He has continued the practice of photo-documenting his meals—the streak now extends to 49 years (and counting).

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.

What Does Guy Standing Stand For, and Where?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Professor Guy Standing stands and sits at SOAS University of London, where he develops studies in and for the Department of Development Studies.

Here is a photo of Guy Standing standing:


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