Friday, October 08, 2010

This Year's Ig Nobels

ScienceNow does a summary of this year's ignoble prizes.  This year's ceremony was an exception for including a cash prize: A $100 trillion note from Zimbabwe. (The note's actual value: nada.) One prize returns again to work that I have mentioned in a previous post, showing that slime molds can do as good or better a job than humans in designing transport networks. Here is a list of some of the others:
Engineering: Marine biologist Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse of the Zoological Society of London and colleagues for their method of collecting samples of whale snot using a remote-controlled helicopter.

Medicine: Psychologist Simon Rietveld of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and colleagues for discovering that asthma symptoms can be successfully treated with roller-coaster rides.

Physics: Public health researcher Lianne Parkin of the University of Otago in New Zealand and colleagues for proving that wearing socks on the outside of shoes reduces slips on icy surfaces.

Peace: Psychologist Richard Stephens of Keele University in the United Kingdom and colleagues for demonstrating that swearing alleviates pain.

Public health: Microbiologist Manuel Barbeito of the Industrial Health and Safety Office at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and colleagues for determining that microbes flourish in the beards of scientists.

Economics: The executives of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Magnetar "for creating and promoting new ways to invest money--ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof."

Chemistry: Engineer Eric Adams of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and colleagues for disproving the belief that oil and water don't mix.

Management: Social scientist Alessandro Pluchino of the University of Catania in Italy and colleagues for mathematically demonstrating that organizations can increase efficiency by giving people promotions at random.

Biology: Biologist Libiao Zhang of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and colleagues for their study of fellatio in fruit bats.

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