October 21, 2007

Humourless Scientists at Work

*I offer the following, verbatim, and express my enthusiasm that you watch the ceremony - if purely in the interests of science.*

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October
4, at the 17th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's
Sanders Theatre. Here are the winners.

NOTE: For details see
NOTE: A video recording of the ceremony is, or very soon will be,
viewable at <http://improbable.com/ig/2007/webcast/>.

MEDICINE: Brian Witcombe of Gloucester, UK, and Dan Meyer of
Antioch, Tennessee, USA, for their penetrating medical report
"Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects."
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer

PHYSICS: L. Mahadevan of Harvard University, USA, and Enrique
Cerda Villablanca of Universidad de Santiago de Chile, for
studying how sheets become wrinkled.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, and
Enrique Cerda Villablanca's sister Mariela.

BIOLOGY: Prof. Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk of Eindhoven
University of Technology, The Netherlands, for doing a census of
all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans,
bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds each
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk

CHEMISTRY: Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of
Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin -- vanilla
fragrance and flavoring -- from cow dung.
PRESS NOTE: Toscanini's Ice Cream, the finest ice cream shop in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, created a new ice cream flavor in honor
of Mayu Yamamoto, and introduced it at the Ig Nobel ceremony. The
flavor is called "Yum-a-Moto Vanilla Twist."

LINGUISTICS: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria
Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that
rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person
speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The winners could not travel to the
ceremony, so they instead delivered their acceptance speech via
recorded video.

LITERATURE: Glenda Browne of Blaxland, Blue Mountains, Australia,
for her study of the word "the" -- and of the many ways it causes
problems for anyone who tries to put things into alphabetical

PEACE: The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for
instigating research & development on a chemical weapon -- the
so-called "gay bomb" -- that will make enemy soldiers become
sexually irresistible to each other.

NUTRITION: Brian Wansink of Cornell University, for exploring the
seemingly boundless appetites of human beings, by feeding them
with a self-refilling, bottomless bowl of soup.

ECONOMICS: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taichung, Taiwan, for patenting a
device, in the year 2001, that catches bank robbers by dropping a
net over them.
NOTE: The Ig Nobel Board of Governors attempted repeatedly to
find Mr. Hsieh, but he seemed to have vanished mysteriously.
But... Mr. Hsieh reportedly has seen a news account of the Ig
Nobel ceremony, and contacted the news agency. We hope to be in
touch with him soon.]

AVIATION: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A.
Golombek of Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina, for their
discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters.


posted by Thursday at 4:31 pm


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