October 7, 2011

Torah Kachur

The Nobel season is now finished with awards for discoveries in the immune system, quasicrystals and the expanding universe.  All laureates are icons in their fields and deserving of the highest honors...except they will never get one of the most prized posessions in science, an Ig Nobel.


The Ig Nobel prizes are awarded to pioneering scientists who revolutionize the field of ridiculous research.  These brilliant minds tell us how the most insignificant parts of our world work, they answer burning questions that no one has and they, most of all, get grant money to do it.  The iconic statuette that competes with the Oscar or the Stanley Cup for prestige and beauty pays homage to the most important question in science today...what came first - the chicken or the egg?


             Ig Nobel prize




This year's winners include:

Ig Nobel in Biology - My fellow countryman - Darryl Gwynne and Aussie David Rentz for discovering that a type of beetle in the Land Down Under prefers to mate with stubbies, or short brown beer bottles, because they accidentally mistake them for a female of their species.  Not only does this research seek to explain mating patterns and behaviours, it also has made many men super envious of the beetles' willingness to fornicate with an ice cold brewski. 


Ig Nobel in Mathematics - This prize was awarded to a group of renegade mathematicians/prophets/crazies who predicted that the world would end in 1954, 1990, 1992 and/or 1999.  They were clearly always wrong but a double shout-out goes to Harold Camping who predicted that the world would end in 1994 and, when that didn't work, revised his theories to show that the world would, indeed, end on Oct 21st, 2011.  So Harold, you have 14 more days to be either the laughing stock of world (again) or a prophet no one will remember.  The contribution to the world from these 'researchers' - be wary of statistics.


Ig Nobel in Physiology - And the award goes to..... a group out of Austria and the UK that showed that Red-footed tortoises don't exhibit contagious yawning.  Phew, that solved a longstanding bet I've had with several people, now time to cash in.


The Ig Nobel superstars get to travel to the ceremony at their own expense, are awarded their prizes by real (and now outshone) Nobel Laureates and get to endure shockingly twisted scientists who undoubtably have participated in a few too many LSD experiments of the '60's.  Who ever said science wasn't funny?




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