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Archive for 'Improbable Investigators'

“People ask me the strangest questions”

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

“Luckily we found a great collaborator in Australia who studies wombats, and he sent us one through the mail. We opened the intestines up and there were these cubes inside. There are moments when you wonder if your life is real, or if it’s just some big joke.”

—Double Ig Nobel Prize winner David Hu, interviewed by Jamie Durrani in Chemistry World magazine.

Huh? Ig Nobel Prize winner wins Heineken Young Scientist Award

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

Mark Dingemanse was awarded the Heineken Young Scientists Award in Humanities 2020. The official announcement says:

Mark Dingemanse studied African languages and cultures at Leiden University. He carried out research for his PhD in Ghana, receiving his doctorate cum laude in 2011 at Radboud University Nijmegen. That work contributed to a fundamental shift in research on the relationship between form and meaning in language… [He is] an associate professor in the Department of Language and Communication at Radboud University [and] an affiliate research fellow at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in Nijmegen.

In 2015 he and two colleagues were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize “for discovering that the word ‘huh?’ (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language”. The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded for “science that makes you laugh, then think”.

A reminder: How to stimulate the appetite of a medical leech

Monday, May 4th, 2020

The 1996 Ig Nobel Prize for biology was awarded to Anders Barheim and Hogne Sandvik of the University of Bergen, Norway, for their tasty and tasteful report, “Effect of Ale, Garlic, and Soured Cream on the Appetite of Leeches.”

Recently, Bradley Allff, writing in Atlas Obscura, looked at the role medical leeches sometimes play in medicine in the USA. The report does not, however, look at American methods of stimulating the appetite of medical leeches that happen not to be hungry at the moment they are called to action. (Thanks to Scott Langill for bringing this to our attention.)

 

 

Troy and the Grizzly Bear

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

Anyone seeking distraction can find it in this documentary video, “Project Grizzly.” See Troy Hurtubise in his self-mythic quest to personally build and test a suit of armor that he hopes will let him spend time with grizzly bears. Troy was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for safety engineering, in 1998, for the work documented here.

Mathematics and the end of the world, predictably

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

A prize-winning profession confidently confronts a new challenge.

Some professionals—professionals who professionally calculate a date on which the world will end—have calculated that the COVID-19 pandemic is not a goodbye-everyone harbinger. The Washington Post reports, on March 17, 2020:

This is not the end of the world, according to Christians who study the end of the world

The worldwide upheaval caused by the fast-spreading novel coronavirus pandemic has many people reaching for their Bibles, and some starting to wonder: Could this be a sign of the apocalypse?

It sure might feel apocalyptic. But not if you ask Christian writers and pastors who have spent years focusing their message on the Book of Revelation — the New Testament’s final book…. Most of these Revelation-focused prophesiers don’t see coronavirus as heralding the Second Coming and the end of life on Earth as we know it….

A Prize-Winning History for the Profession

The profession as a whole—the profession of calculating when the world will cease—has a celebrated history.

The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize for mathematics was awarded to Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of KOREA (who predicted the world would end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of UGANDA (who predicted the world would end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world will end on October 21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.

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