Breakthroughs in science: Bums, coffee and dead fish
Fri September 21, 2012 2:08pm
NEXT month is the Nobel Prize but today the glory belongs to quirky science through the annual Ig Nobel awards.
Other breakthroughs recognised in this year’s Ig Nobel awards include why you spill your coffee when you walk around with it, the discovery that brain activity can be detected even in dead salmon, and the complicated mathematics that determine how your ponytail swooshes (or not).
The awards also honoured what is possibly the world’s most annoying invention – the SpeechJammer. This machine acts like a dodgy phone line and repeats your own voice back to you with a delay of a few hundred milliseconds.
The Ig Nobels are a spoof of the real (and utterly worthy) Nobel Awards, which are on next month. They’re put on by the Annals of Improbable Research. The ‘Igs’, as they’re affectionately known by geeks with a sense of humour, exist to “honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”
“The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology,” according to the website.
The Improbable Research mob also run the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists, the Luxuriant Former Hair Club for Scientists, and the Luxuriant Facial Hair Club for Scientists.
Last year’s winners included Australians who were part of a team that demonstrated that “people make better decisions about some kinds of things — but worse decisions about other kinds of things‚ when they have a strong urge to urinate”.
Rouslan Krechetnikov, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, was the winner of the fluid dynamics prize for his examination of spilled coffee. He told The Guardian:
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