Monday, September 16, 2013

Ig Nobel 2013

"Science that first makes you laugh, and then makes you think": this is the motto for the Ig Nobel prizes, which spoof the much more serious Nobel prizes.

The tradition involves giving odd but valid scientific studies prizes. And while many of the winners are for things that seem hilarious, the science is done with a purpose.

Some winners, past and present, have included:

  • Ponytail physics, where the winners produced an algorithm for determining the shape of a ponytail based on hair type, thickness, etc.
  • A great way to collect whale snot, where scientists used a mini-coptor with a petri dish to hover over a whale's blow-hole to collect exhalation samples (for analyzing the health of the whale, of course; what else would you use whale snot for?)
  • Teen repellent, or a type of particularly annoyingsound that teens can hear but most adults cannot
  • Management probability, in which scientists determined that a company's efficiency could be improved by promoting people at random
  • Dissolving shrew bones by stomach acid, in which scientists swallowed boiled shrews whole and then analyzed the, er, results to see which bones dissolved and which did not

This year's winners can be found here.

What candidates would you nominate for an Ig Nobel award?

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