2015 Ig Nobel prize winners

ig nobelWe are all familiar with the prestigious Nobel Prize which Wikipedia describes as a set of annual international awards bestowed in a number of categories by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of academic, cultural and/or scientific advances. A recipient of this award is more known worldwide as a laureate.

Well, for those who are not aware, we also have an award for another group of laureates ‘honoring their achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.’

I really find this interesting, amusing and educational as well, and the reasons why I am sharing this with you. I hope you will find it entertaining, too.

The awards are called Ig Nobel Prizes, and are given each year for the ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research.

The name is actually a play on the word ignoble (“characterized by baseness, lowness, or meanness”), as opposed to what the Nobel Prize really is.

While the Ig Nobel Prizes are a parody of the Nobel Prizes, it is, however, used to point out that even the most absurd-sounding avenues of research can yield useful knowledge.

Organized by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), they are presented by a group that includes Nobel laureates at a ceremony at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater.

I will just be showing here the list of prize winners under the different branches of learning and what their respective researches are all about:

Chemistry – Callum Ormonde (University of Western Australia) and colleagues, for inventing a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg.

Physics – Patricia Yang (Georgia Institute of Technology, US) and colleagues, for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).

Literature – Mark Dingemanse (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands) and colleagues, for discovering that the word “huh?” (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language – and for not being quite sure why.

Management – Gennaro Bernile (Singapore Management University) and colleagues, for discovering that many business leaders developed in childhood a fondness for risk-taking, when they experienced natural disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and wildfires) that – for them – had no dire personal consequences.

Economics – The Bangkok Metropolitan Police (Thailand) for offering to pay policemen extra cash if the policemen refuse to take bribes.

Medicine – joint award: Hajime Kimata (Kimata Hajime Clinic, Japan) and also Jaroslava Durdiaková (Comenius University, Slovakia) and her colleagues, for experiments to study the biomedical benefits or biomedical consequences of intense kissing (and other intimate, interpersonal activities).

Mathematics – Elisabeth Oberzaucher and Karl Grammer (University of Vienna, Austria) for trying to use mathematical techniques to determine whether and how Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty, the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, managed, during the years from 1697 through 1727, to father 888 children.

Biology – Bruno Grossi (University of Chile) and colleagues, for observing that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked.

Diagnostic medicine – Diallah Karim (Stoke Mandeville Hospital, UK) and colleagues, for determining that acute appendicitis can be accurately diagnosed by the amount of pain evident when the patient is driven over speed bumps.

Physiology and entomology – Awarded jointly to two individuals: Justin Schmidt (Southwest Biological Institute, US) for painstakingly creating the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which rates the relative pain people feel when stung by various insects; and to Michael L. Smith (Cornell University, US), for carefully arranging for honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, to learn which locations are the least painful (the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm), and which are the most painful (the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft).

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