Friday, October 07, 2005

IgNoble Prizes Awarded

Last night the 2005 IgNoble prizes were awarded at a ceremony at Harvard University. The winners:

AGRICULTURAL HISTORY: James Watson of New Zealand, for his scholarly study, "The Significance of Mr. Richard Buckley’s Exploding Trousers."

PHYSICS: John Mainstone and the late Thomas Parnell of Australia, for patiently conducting an experiment that began in the year 1927 -- in which a glob of congealed black tar has been slowly, slowly dripping through a funnel, at a rate of approximately one drop every nine years.

MEDICINE: Gregg A. Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri, for inventing Neuticles -- artificial replacement testicles for dogs, which are available in three sizes, and three degrees of firmness.

LITERATURE: The Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories [...]

PEACE: Claire Rind and Peter Simmons of the U.K., for electrically monitoring the activity of a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected highlights from the movie "Star Wars."

ECONOMICS: Gauri Nanda of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for inventing an alarm clock that runs away and hides, repeatedly, thus ensuring that people DO get out of bed, and thus theoretically adding many productive hours to the workday.

CHEMISTRY: Edward Cussler of and Brian Gettelfinger of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, for conducting a careful experiment to settle the longstanding scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup or in water?

BIOLOGY: To an interenational team for painstakingly smelling and cataloging the peculiar odors produced by 131 different species of frogs when the frogs were feeling stressed.

NUTRITION: Dr. Yoshiro Nakamats of Tokyo, Japan, for photographing and retrospectively analyzing every meal he has consumed during a period of 34 years (and counting).

FLUID DYNAMICS: Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow of Germany and Jozsef Gal of Hungary, for using basic principles of physics to calculate the pressure that builds up inside a penguin, as detailed in their report "Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh -- Calculations on Avian Defaecation."

See the link for more details and to watch the video of the ceremony.

You can also learn more about Roy Glauber, who, for the past 10 years, has had the daunting job of sweeping up the paper airplanes that accumulate on the stage during the IgNoble Prize Ceremony. This week Roy won a real Nobel prize for physics.

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