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Archive for 'Improbable Investigators'

Dr. I.C. Notting— A classic case of nominative determinism

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Dr. I.C. Notting, an ophthalmologist at Leiden University, is a classic case of nominative determinism.

Improbable Research at AAAS—Thursday, Feb 11, 2021

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

The AAAS Annual Meeting is happening this week. Join us at the Improbable Research session, on Thursday, February 11, from 2:15 to 3:15. Navigate to the AAAS Meeting live channel <https://virtual.aaas.org/landing>

(NOTE: The Improbable Research session is a public session, which means that you can probably watch it even if you have not paid to attend the entire Annual Meeting. You may have to register (at no cost) first.)

Nobel laureate Frances Arnold (seen here testing an innovatively engineered hat) and Ig Nobel Prize winner Damiaan Denys (seen here munching an apple) are two of the many stars of this year’s Improbable Research session at the AAAS Annual Meeting

Improbability in the Past

In 1996 the AAAS (the American Association for the Advancement of Science) asked us to do a special session—about Improbable Research—at their Annual Meeting. That session drew a crowd, rave responses, and press coverage around the world. We’ve done a special session there at every year since. “There” is a flexible concept here—the AAAS Annual Meeting bounces happily to a different North American city each year. Last year, 2020, it was in Seattle. In this pandemic year, though, the whole meeting is happening online.

This Year’s Session

This year’s Improbable Research session is a special presentation about the current crop of Ig Nobel Prize winners (and a look back at Dr. Elena Bodnar’s 2009 Ig Nobel Prize-winning Emergency Bra).

Adám Lovas-Kiss, Undersung Scientist

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

This month’s Undersung Scientist of the Month is Dr. Adám Lovas-Kiss of the DRI Wetland Ecology Research Group of the Centre for Research Ecology (which has been authorized to use the label “Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence”).

Dr. Lovas-Kiss’ is not entirely unsung, just undersung. His work has achieved some fame, much of it from the study “Whole Angiosperms Wolffia columbiana Disperse by Gut Passage Through Wildfowl in South America,” G.G. Silva, A.J. Green, V. Weber, P. Hoffmann, Á. Lovas-Kiss, C. Stenert, and L. Maltchik, Biology Letters, vol. 14, no. 12, 2018, 20180703. The discovery reported in that paper can be summarized in the slogan “Living Duckweed Gets Air Travel Passage by Internal Passage Through Ducks.”

[CAUTION: One must not mistake Dr. Adám Lovas-Kiss with another too-little-sung Dr. Lovas-Kiss: Dr. Antal Lovas-Kiss, author of the study “How dog owners perceive public space when walking their dogs?” published in: Mental Mapping. The Science of Orientation. New Approaches to Location – Spatial Patterns of the Global Economy Conference, Schenk Verlag, Passau, pp. 137-150.]

In the Footsteps of Shit Fun Chew

This is the first time Dr. Adám Lovas-Kiss has been celebrated as Undersung Scientist of the Month. Dr. Lovas-Kiss now has a chance to follow in the tradition of Dr. Shit Fun Chew, who was celebrated as Undersung Scientist of the Month three times—in 2004, again in 2010, and yet gain in 2011.

Dr. Shit Fun Chew was further celebrated in 2012 for her research study about certain turtles peeing-through-the-mouth.

“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”.

Improbable Research