It’s kind of a parody of the Nobel Prize, the stated goal is to make you laugh, then think.
We’re brought up with this concept of the Scientist as a sort of Warrior/Priest battling space alien buggy things (or making them) and inventing wizzy bang death rays and such, clad in their mystic lab coat ($21 in any Work Clothing/Uniform catalog). Well, maybe not personally, usually there’s a whole puddle of corpses before the climax of the story when the Scientist is destroyed by his creation (or nemisis) so the hero can get the girl who’s been emotionally conflicted (or mind controlled) up to his timely demise. The End.
Science is nothing at all like that and is in fact mostly about measuring things and writing down numbers.
Let’s say you’re a swashbuckling Archeologist. You’ll be stuck in a jungle or desert sure, but you’ll spend all day every day digging, measuring, writing and for every hour in the field you’ll have to work 20 or more to figure out what exactly you found.
Let alone what it means, about which you’re almost sure to be totally, completely wrong.
And that’s if you’re a Lion Tamer, if you’re an Accountant you’ll work your entire lifetime on some quirky subject that nobody understands or appreciates. Better love it, you’ll be spending a looong time with it.
The thing about the Ig Nobels is that they are, for the most part, genuine typical science. The subjects may seem odd and funny (see 4 penised Echidnas below. Relax, only 2 ejaculate at a time) but like the Golden Fleece the projects generally relate to larger and more important goals of which the named research is only a small part.
For instance unboiling eggs, that is so silly.
The chemistry prize went to American and Australian researchers who managed to partially unboil an egg with a vortex fluid device, a high speed machine that converts unfolded proteins into folded proteins.
Their results, published in ChemBioChem, show that the team was able to refold proteins thousands of times faster than previous methods. In theory, the device has far greater application than resetting eggs: it could do everything from revolutionize the manufacturing of cancer treatments to overhaul the industrial production of cheese.
Yup. So remember that as you consider the 2015 winners.
2015 Ig Nobel prizes: dinosaur-like chickens and bee-stings to the penis
by Alan Yuhas, The Guardian
Thursday 17 September 2015 23.31 EDT
Entomologist Justin Schmidt and Cornell researcher Michael Smith jointly won for their painstaking experiments charting how painful insect stings are, and where the stings hurt worst. Smith pressed bees up against different parts of his body until the insects stung him, five stings a day, a total of 25 different locations, for 38 days. He rated the pain one to 10, and published.
The most painful parts: the nostril, the upper lip, the shaft of the penis.
Smith was joined onstage by Schmidt, who has also sacrificed various parts of his body for science in his decades specializing in stinging insects. Schmidt’s “sting pain index” rates only on a scale of one to four, but also features the entomologist’s descriptions of 78 sorts of stings, written with the flair of a sommelier in a wine cellar with something to prove.
The bald-faced hornet, for instance, is in Schmidt’s estimation: “rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.” Yellowjackets, on the other hand, sting “hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.” Both rate a two.
The four-plus-rated bullet ant, in contrast, punishes a victim with “pure, intense, brilliant pain, like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch rusty nail grinding into your heel”.
Science Oriented Video
The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.
–Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)
Science News and Blogs
- Coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish can be killed with vinegar, scientists find, by Oliver Milman, The Guardian
- Meteorite from birth of solar system to go on display, by Ian Sample, The Guardian
- Google charges advertisers for fake YouTube video views, say researchers, by Ben Quinn, The Guardian
- Enceladus Is Home To A World-Wide Ocean, by Andrew Liptak, io9
- Human evolution hasn’t been a process of gradual fine-tuning – as finds like Homo naledi in South Africa make plain, by Ian Tattersall, Salon
- How to Not Get Attacked by a Bear, By Christine Dell’Amore and Todd Wilkinson, National Geographic
- The sisters who spoke to spirits: How two mischievous girls gave birth to a religion, by Ada Calhoun, Narratively
- Scientists just smashed the distance record for quantum teleportation, By Rachel Feltman, Wasington Post
- Echidnas’ ‘bizarre’ mating no longer obstacle to successful breeding program, Australian Associated Press
- Edward Snowden: we may never spot space aliens thanks to encryption, by Nicky Woolf, The Guardian
- How the Higgs boson is born and how it dies: the most precise picture so far, by Jon Butterworth, The Guardian
- How different are your online and offline personalities?, by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, The Guardian
- The secret to being a convincing liar? Tell your fibs on a full bladder, by Stuart Heritage, The Guardian
- The nudge theory and beyond: how people can play with your mind, by Nick Chater, The Guardian
- Linking brains: UW scientists say they’ve done it, By Katherine Long, Seattle Times
- We’ve Discovered a Lost World of Snow Dinosaurs, by Maddie Stone, Gizmodo
- Bizarre Giant Hexagon on Saturn May Finally Be Explained, by Charles Q. Choi, Space.com
Obligatories, News and Blogs below.
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This Day in History
- After Volkswagen Revelation, Auto Emissions Tests Come Under Global Scrutiny, By DANNY HAKIM and KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times
- UK, France and Germany lobbied for flawed car emissions tests, documents reveal, by Arthur Neslen, The Guardian
- Military Analyst Again Raises Red Flags on Progress in Iraq, By MARK MAZZETTI and MATT APUZZO, The New York Times
- Native America’s Team: four Onondaga brothers shatter records and perceptions, by Danielle Elliot, The Guardian
- Disaster capitalism is a permanent state of life for too many Americans, by Steven W Thrasher, The Guardian
- A defining moment in modern health care, By Carolyn Johnson, Washington Post
- Oh Canada! Four in 10 Americans Want Wall on Northern Border, by John McCormick and Arit John, Bloomberg News
- Syrian Kurd offensive against Islamic State has stalled, By Mitchell Prothero and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy
- More than 700 dead in Hajj stampede, Saudi Arabia authorities say, Al Jazeera
- Group Denounces DOJ’s Inaction Nine Months After Torture Report, by Jenna McLaughlin, The Intercept
- NYPD Kicks The Homeless Out From Encampment Ahead Of Pope’s Visit, by Alan Pyke, Think Progress
- After Beheading 100 People This Year, Saudi Arabia Joins UN Human Rights Council With US Support, by Justin Salhani, Think Progress
- DOJ Insists That There Is No Proof Verizon Wireless Shared Phone Data With NSA, by Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt
- The Trend Of Killing News Comment Sections Because You ‘Just Really Value Conversation’ Stupidly Continues, by Karl Bode, Tech Dirt
- Senate Intelligence Committee Forced To Drop ‘Terrorist-Activity’ Reporting Requirements For Social Media Platforms, by Tim Cushing, Tech Dirt
- The Real Story Behind 2014 Indictment of Chinese Hackers: Ben Rhodes Moves the IP Theft Goal Posts, by emptywheel
- Will Senator Whitehouse Renew His Call for RICO Prosecution of Climate-Denying Companies like Exxon?, By Gaius Publius, Naked Capitalism
- The Wall Street Journal gets whacked: How its Bernie Sanders hit piece completely backfired, by Thom Hartmann, AlterNet
- The most important lesson from Volkswagen’s shocking mega-scandal, by Marcy Wheeler, Salon
- Why Big Tech May Be Getting Too Big, Robert Reich