The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

The 2011 IgNobel Prize Winners

As we start to get the announcements of the 2011 Nobel Prize winners, they were once again beaten to the punch by the 2011 IgNobel Prizes. The IgNobels are given for the stranger side of science, the studies that make you laugh and then make you think.  Here are a few of this year’s “winners”.

  • You have heard yawning is contagious, right? That may only apply to humans. The Physiology prize went to a team that found no evidence that yawning is contagious in the red footed tortoise.
  • The Biology prize was given for discovering that male buprestids (a type of beetle) mistake certain beer bottles for female beetles for mating purposes.
  • For track and field fans, the physics prize was given for discovering why discus throwers get dizzy but not hammer throwers even though both events involve the participant spinning.
  • The Mathematics prize was a joint prize given to many people who made failed doomsday predictions.
  • The Peace Prize was given to the Mayor of Vilnius who showed that the problem of illegally parked cars can be solved by running them over with a tank (the video of this went viral).

Be sure to check out the complete list of winners.  You can even download a copy of the program given out at the ceremony.  They usually post video of the ceremony a week in a week or so. Science Friday airs highlights of the show the Friday after Thanksgiving. The ceremony includes a mini-opera (This year “Chemist in a Coffee Shop”), Win a Date with a Nobel Laureate, the 24/7 lectures an a little girl who makes sure no one gets long winded with their acceptance speeches (a surprisingly large percentage of the honorees show up!)

Oh, and it’s not too early to start nominating people for next year’s awards!




October 3, 2011 - Posted by | Fun Stuff, Weird Science

1 Comment »

  1. Is it really a good thing for scientists to ridicule people? I mean, even if someone does something dumb, is it really the place for scientists to turn themselves into stand-up comics and laugh at people?

    I know there’s that old quote about a horselaugh being appropriate in some cases, but how can people in the general public sort out, really, when a scientist is talking as a scientist and when a scientist is talking as a politician and when a scientist is talking as a CSICOP club member and when a scientist just saying something over a beer without realizing a reporter is standing behind him or her?

    Maybe it would be best for scientists simply to speak as scientists. That wouldn’t shift the burden of “parsing” onto busy people who are still trying to figure out when a reporter is a reporter or a commentator or an editorial writer or a columnist or any of the other genres the modern world has created to give people license to speak with “authority” but still say whatever nonsense they also want to say.

    Comment by Mark | October 3, 2011 | Reply

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