Saturday, October 07, 2006

And now for something completely different: The ig Nobel Prize

Here's something for a chuckle. This morning's edition of The Age reported on Harvard University's "Ig Nobel Prize" winners for 2006:

WINNERS LIST

The 2006 Ig Nobel winners, awarded by Annals of Improbable Research magazine, Harvard University.

■ ORNITHOLOGY The late Philip May and Ivan Schwab for exploring and explaining why woodpeckers do not get headaches.

■ NUTRITION Wasmia al-Houty and Faten al-Mussalam, for showing that dung beetles are finicky about the dung.

■ PEACE Howard Stapleton, for inventing a teenager repellent, an electronic device that makes annoying noise designed to be audible to teenagers but not adults. The same technology is used to make ringtones audible to teens, but not teachers.

■ ACOUSTICS Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand for experiments to learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.

■ MATHEMATICS Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes, for calculating the number of photographs you must take to ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their eyes closed.

■ LITERATURE Daniel Oppenheimer, for his report "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilised Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly". [My favourite!]

■ MEDICINE Joint winners: Francis Fesmire, for his medical case report, "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage"; and Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven for their subsequent medical case report.

■ PHYSICS Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, for their insights into why dry spaghetti often breaks into more than two pieces when bent.

■ CHEMISTRY Antonio Mulet, Jose Javier Benedito, Jose Bon and Carmen Rossello, for their study "Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature".

■ BIOLOGY Bart Knols and Ruurd de Jong, for showing that female malaria mosquitoes are attracted equally to the smell of Limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet.

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