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Archive for 'Improbable Investigators'

The Duck Guy gets yet another honor

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

A new honor awaits Kees Moeliker, who in 2003 was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for biology, for documenting the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.

Here is the official announcement of the new honor:

Kees Moeliker to receive the 54th Laurens Medal

The 54th Laurens Medal is being awarded to Kees Moeliker, biologist and director of the Natural History Museum Rotterdam. The Laurenspenning Foundation expresses its appreciation for the unremitting enthusiasm with which Moeliker draws attention to urban nature in all its manifestations – within the walls of his museum, but also in books, newspapers and magazines and on radio and television.

Biologist Kees Moeliker (9 October 1960) receives the Laurens Medal on Thursday 18 November at 5.30 pm in the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk in Rotterdam. The celebration speech will be given by Auke-Florian Hiemstra, who, as a biologist at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, conducts research into urban nature (such as the use of plastic waste for nests by coots). The ceremony will be graced with performances by Anne Vegter, Conny Janssen Danst and Arie van der Krogt.

In the photo: Kees Moeliker with a duck call in 2016. Photo (c) Maarten Laupman.

Ig Nobel Prize-winning Gadgeteer Ron Popeil has finished inventing

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Gadgeteer Ron Popeil, who was awarded the 1993 Ig Nobel Prize for consumer engineering, has died, according to press reports. The famed inventor was cited, in winning that Ig Nobel prize, for “redefining the industrial revolution with such devices as the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone, and the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler.”

Here is a report, by TMZ, about his passing:

Behold video recordings of a few of the many television commercials in which Ron Popeil and his minions promoted his inventions, many of which were marketed under the name “Ronco”:

Dual Wiggle/Wriggle Nominative Determinism Corrections

Monday, May 10th, 2021

It should be noted that the author of ‘The Physiology of Insect Metamorphosis’ (1954) was Sir Vincent Brian Wigglesworth CBE MD FRS [pictured] . . .

. . . and not V. B. Wrigglesworth, as Cambridge University Press might suggest.

(Neither was he V. P. Wigglesworth, as Google Books might have you believe)

Research research by Martin Gardiner


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

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

Doctor 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 <>

(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).

Improbable Research