Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Deep Reflections on the Ig Nobel Awards – I’m Amazed!

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My Deep Reflections on the Ig Nobel Awards – I’m Amazed!
It is not a word that I use often. Perhaps never. But I recognized it immediately.

The word is ‘ignoble’ – meaning 1. Not honorable in character or purpose, 2. Of humble origin or purpose.

I can’t figure why I don’t use it more often. Most of my friends are ignoble and so am I – at least the second part of the definition – the humble part.

But when I was reading the word wasn’t ‘ignoble’ it was ‘ignobel’ or ‘ig nobel’.  The difference caught my eye immediately.  The ‘Nobel’ I recognized right away – but putting ‘ig’ with it twisted my mind.

That is exactly what it was designed to do. Brilliant!

So you haven’t heard of ‘ig nobel’ before? Just like me.

The ‘Ig Nobel’ is actually an award that is presented annually to people around the world for discovering or investigating the usual.  I think that is a great way to explain the concept or the word.

It bears the ‘humble origin or purpose’ thought for sure. It also is ‘not honorable in character or purpose’.

And yet it is very seriously looked at each year in October by certain groups at Harvard University. No kidding.

Wikipedia states the following about “Ig Nobel” – quote –
The Ig Nobel Prizes are an American parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October for ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. The stated aim of the prizes is to "first make people laugh, and then make them think". The awards are sometimes veiled criticism (or gentle satire). End quote.

They spend time on doing all the research and investigation on all the submissions sent their way for a possible Ig Nobel Award. There are only 10 give out each year.

The minute that I hit upon the idea I needed to know more.  What kind of awards are there?

Are you ready for these…?  Here are some of the awards passed out at the ceremony this past week or so.

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Anita Eerland and Rolf Zwaan [THE NETHERLANDS] and Tulio Guadalupe [PERU, RUSSIA, and THE NETHERLANDS] for their study "Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller"

PEACE PRIZE: The SKN Company [RUSSIA], for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds.

ACOUSTICS PRIZE: Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada [JAPAN] for creating the SpeechJammer — a machine that disrupts a person's speech, by making them hear their own spoken words at a very slight delay.

NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford [USA], for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Johan Pettersson [SWEDEN and RWANDA]. for solving the puzzle of why, in certain houses in the town of Anderslöv, Sweden, people's hair turned green.

LITERATURE PRIZE: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.

PHYSICS PRIZE: Joseph Keller [USA], and Raymond Goldstein [USA and UK], Patrick Warren, and Robin Ball [UK], for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail.

FLUID DYNAMICS PRIZE: Rouslan Krechetnikov [USA, RUSSIA, CANADA] and Hans Mayer [USA] for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.

ANATOMY PRIZE: Frans de Waal [The Netherlands and USA] and Jennifer Pokorny [USA] for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends.

MEDICINE PRIZE: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti [FRANCE] for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: We are now, in 2012, correcting an error we made in the year 1999, when we failed to include one winner's name. We now correct that, awarding a share of the 1999 physics prize to Joseph Keller. Professor Keller is also a co-winner of the 2012 Ig Nobel physics prize, making him a two-time Ig Nobel winner.
The corrected citation is: 1999 PHYSICS PRIZE: Len Fisher [UK and Australia] for calculating the optimal way to dunk a biscuit, and Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck [UK and Belgium] and Joseph Keller [USA], for calculating how to make a teapot spout that does not drip.

But the very best one – the greatest Ig Nobel Award in my mind was handed out in 2009 to Dr. Elena Bodnar… as seen below…

Ig Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention (a brassiere that can quickly convert into a pair of protective face masks) assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle (left), Orhan Pamuk, andPaul Krugman (right). Photo credit: Alexey Eliseev, 2009 Ig Nobel Ceremony

The Web Site that has all this information states that the following…
Who organizes the Ig Nobel Prizes?
The Ig Nobel Prizes are organized by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research. The ceremony is co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students, the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, and the Harvard Computer Society.

And today you may well be doing something that could earn you an Ig Nobel if just the right people hear about it.

Go for it!

Murray Lincoln

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