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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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2004 Ig Nobel Prizes Announced
1 October 2004 (All day)
Amid hula-hooping Nobel Laureates, the Annals of Improbable Research last night awarded 10 Ig Nobel Prizes for research or activities that "cannot or should not be reproduced." Award recipients traveled from as far away as Japan to attend the lavish, chaotic 14th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University.
Sociologist James Gundlach of Auburn University in Alabama received the Medicine Ig Nobel for finding an association between listening to country music and suicide in the early 1990s. He says the connection no longer exists because the genre has become much more optimistic since then.
Speaking of optimists and music, the Peace prize went to Daisuke Inoue of Hyogo, Japan, for inventing karaoke and providing what the Ig Nobel committee called "an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other." After Inoue's acceptance speech, the laureates sang him a touching rendition of Frankie Valli's classic "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," which devolved into a large karaoke sing-along when the entire audience joined in.
Other notables included the youngest recipient in the history of the awards. High school graduate Jillian Clarke received the Public Health prize for demonstrating the scientific validity of the Five-Second Rule--if food falls on the floor, it can safely be eaten if recovered within 5 seconds.
And the biology prize went to an international collaboration of scientists who found that fish communicate by farting (ScienceNOW, 7 November 2003). "They do this to bond. They are just doing what preadolescent boys have done for millennia," says recipient Lawrence Dill of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. One of the most popular hairstyles for balding men also made the list of winners--the prize for Engineering went to the late Frank Smith of Orlando, Florida, for his 1977 patenting of the comb-over, a way to cover up a bare palate using one's own hair.
Physicists Ramesh Balasubramaniam of the University of Ottawa and Michael Turvey of Yale University received the Physics prize for exploring the dynamics of hula hooping. The two vowed to take on another fad next--swallowing goldfish, which they predict has benefits for cardiovascular health.
The Psychology award went to Daniel Simons at the University of Illinois and Christopher Chabris at Harvard for demonstrating "just how oblivious people can be to the world around them" (not noticing a person in a gorilla suit, for example).
Each winner received a medal that appeared to be an aluminum pie tin and a box of "Ig Nobel O's" cereal. Only the winners in Chemistry (the Coca-Cola Co., for purifying Thames River water in such a way that the resulting water contained twice the legal limit of bromate, a carcinogen) and Economics (the Vatican, for outsourcing prayers to India) were unable or unwilling to send representatives to pick up their prizes.