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Archive for 'Improbable Investigators'

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”.

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.

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