[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]This year’s Ig Nobel prizes
were awarded on September 12 at a meeting of nerds at Harvard University. The prizes are given for genuine scientific research that “first makes people laugh and then makes them think.”[/FONT][/COLOR]
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]So, at first glance, the research may strike you as somewhat baffling, surreal or even downright ridiculous. But science is rarely frivolous. None of the experiments awarded an Ig Nobel will have been the result of casual whims or unplanned notions, like the cast of TV series ******* being set loose in a laboratory. If any of the prize-winning experiments really are “mad,” it is a determined, dedicated, thorough sort of madness that is probably a lot more worrying in the long run.[/FONT][/COLOR]
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]Like the Nobels, the Ig Nobels are awarded for individual categories.
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]The Ig Nobel for psychology went to Laurent Bčgue and colleagues for showing through experiment thatdrunk people consider themselves more attractive
. With alcohol such a common intoxicant the world over, analysis of its effects on human behavior is never not-relevant. People may think it’s obvious that drunk people find themselves more attractive, but that’s never been objectively demonstrated. And with alcohol having so many knock-on effects for society, assessing how it affects people’s behavior is always potentially useful.[/FONT][/COLOR]
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]This award must be doubly welcome after the original experiment about whether drunk people are more aggressive if you spill their drinks had to be abandoned due to the hospitalization of several post-docs.
Biology and Astronomy
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]It’s unusual that a science paper combines both biology and astronomy, unless it’s the discovery of alien life, but we’d probably have heard more about that if it had happened.[/FONT][/COLOR]
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]This Ig Nobel winning study by Marie Dacke and colleagues showed that dung beetles use the milky way for navigational orientation
. Previously it was believed they use the moon, but this study reveals it’s not just that. Studying how small creatures like the dung beetle function could prove valuable when constructing small robots and similar devices that have to navigate distances. And if these robots are responsible for collecting astronaut poo, then this study will have been doubly useful.[/FONT][/COLOR]
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]The safety engineering prize went to the late Gustavo Pizzo
for inventing an elaborate system to foil airline hijackers which involved activating a trapdoor they fall through where they’re sealed in a special container, which is then dropped from the plane (with a parachute) to be collected by pre-warned police on the ground.[/FONT][/COLOR]
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]Air safety is still a major concern, and attempts to make airlines less vulnerable to hijackers are always going to be important. This “through the trapdoor” method seems designed to be used by planes flown by Bond-like super villains. Follow-up studies may look into making it safer to fly planes while stroking a large white cat.
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]This prize was won by S Imai and colleagues who showed that the process which makes humans cry whencutting onions is more complex
than first thought. The reaction was found to be due to a previously unknown enzyme. If this enzyme could be removed via genetic modification then it could be possible to have normal onions that only make you cry when cutting them if you’re worryingly emotionally attached to vegetables.
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]Kasian Bhanganada and colleagues were awarded this prize for their investigation into surgical methods to repair ***** amputation in Siam, except in situations where the ***** has been partially eaten by a duck
[*******#263034][FONT=Arial]This one is largely self-explanatory. Although it’s worth pointing out that, due to the hand motions involved, “feeding the ducks
” is sometimes used as a metaphor for *********ion. It’s possible that someone in Siam may have gotten the wrong idea upon hearing this.[/FONT][/COLOR]