Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ig Nobel Awards

In the midst of the Nobel Prize season, it the midst of our laughter and glee, it is appropriate that we take a more sobering look at the state of human accomplishment. The Harvard Ig Nobel awards (that’s "ignoble" for the Pittsburgh Steeler fans) were announced last week.

"The Ig Nobel awards are given to achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think," said Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research that co-sponsors the event.

Among the winners were:

PEACE PRIZE: Howard Stapleton for his "electromechanical teenager repellant," a device that produces a sound audible only to those 30 or younger. The device was made famous last May when it was discovered that teenagers had adopted the sound as a ring tone, so that teachers couldn't hear them receiving calls in class.

ACOUSTICS: Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand for their study of why people hate the sound of fingernails scratching a chalkboard. They concluded that the sound shares the same frequency as nonhuman primate calls and, therefore, humans subconsciously fear the sound as they fear the primal scream. "Thanks for ensuring that this disquieting work will not be silenced," Lynn Halpern quipped in her acceptance speech.

BIOLOGY: Bart G. J. Knols and Ruurd de Jong for showing that the female malaria mosquito Anopheles Gambiae is attracted equally to the smell of Limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet.

ONITHOLOGY: Ivan R. Schwab and the late Philip R.A. May who studied why woodpeckers do not get headaches.

MEDICINE: Francis Fesmire for his discovery that "digital rectal massage" is a sure cure for the hiccups. The recipient accepted his award wearing one latex glove.

PHYSICS: Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch for their insights into why, when you bend dry spaghetti, it often breaks into more than two pieces.

MATHEMATICS: Nic Svenson for calculating the number of photographs you need to take to ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their eyes closed.

LITERATURE: Daniel M. Oppenheimer for his report "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly."

SOCIOLOGY: Dr. David Young and Dr. William Lama for their landmark study of the liberal brain. Their publication “The Liberal Brian: An Oxymoron” won the Bud Lite award for literature that makes you pee.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Steeler fan appreciates this--I plan to read some of these in my Science and Math classrooms.

Best regards,

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wondering if woodpeckers get hiccups?

Also, wondered about de meaning of your Steeler fan remark. Has anyone ever done a comprehensive comparison between Steeler and Raider fans?

Good blogging, Bill (two thumbs up)


9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Dad. Love it.

BTW, did you intend to misspell "Brain" in your award? If not, I sense some irony.


9:45 PM  
Blogger fetching jen said...

Or do liberal woodpeckers have smelly feet?

funny post Bill.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi dad,

Electromechanical teenager repellant... I am sure Christy will be very interested!!

~ Carolynne

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Please tell me what does FFF stand for?

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In some order....Foley, Florida, Fag

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,

Was that last entry a joke, did you actually win, or is there another Dr. William Lama?



4:28 PM  

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