Big Prize Day

This week Harvard U hosted the Ig Nobel Prize awards ceremony in their Sanders Theater (1,2). The awards are highly prized by they scientists who win them (well by and large) and the science is fun to read about.

Anna Wilkinson and her team for their work on the lack of contagious yawning among their tortoises, but not their students won the Ig Nobel Award for Physiology. My blog post on their paper was on May 3rd this year.

My personal favorite was the winners of the Biology prize. Daryl Gwynne and David Rentz from the land of barbies and the amber fluid scooped this one for their papers on the confusion of the male Buprestid beetles who try to make love with the empties after the party’s over. They restrict their amorous advances to the stubbies on brown beer bottles. The bottles have to be empty, of course, as full ones would be ice-cold in the cooler.

The Chemistry Prize went to the guys at Shiga U for their work on using aerosolized wasabi to wake the deaf in case of fire.

The prize for Medicine was shared this year between Tuk of Twente and Snyder of Brown. Their issue was self-control. Mirjam Tuk asked people to make decisions when they were needing to urinate very urgently. The better able you are to hang on and not rush off to the bathroom, the better you can control your other impulses – while using your mind for cognitive tasks, that is, rather than on giving a piece of your mind to those preventing your access to relief.

The other prizes are all equally exciting, but the bravest must surely be John Senders’ Prize for Public Safety by sending his “lab rat" driving cars down a freeway with a loosened visors flapping in their face and completely obscuring their vision (3).


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