lördag 3 oktober 2009

2009 års Ig Nobel-vinnare utsedda

Ig Nobel-priset, "for achievements that first make people LAUGH then make them THINK", har delats ut för 2009 - vinnarna (referenser finns på Ig Nobel-sidan):

VETERINARY MEDICINE PRIZE: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK, for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless.

PEACE PRIZE: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle. (Ur resultatet: Full bottles broke at 30 J impact energy, empty bottles at 40 J.)

ECONOMICS PRIZE: The directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic banks — Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir Bank, and Central Bank of Iceland — for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly transformed into huge banks, and vice versa — and for demonstrating that similar things can be done to an entire national economy.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for creating diamonds from liquid — specifically from tequila.

MEDICINE PRIZE: Donald L. Unger, of Thousand Oaks, California, USA, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand — but never cracking the knuckles of his right hand — every day for more than sixty (60) years. (Resultatet, enligt Dr. Van Antwerp: "After analyzing the difference between his left and right hand, he found no noticeable differences and no arthritis had developed.")

PHYSICS PRIZE: Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, USA, Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard University, USA, and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas, USA, for analytically determining why pregnant women don't tip over. (Resultatet: "Here we show that human females have evolved a derived curvature and reinforcement of the lumbar vertebrae [ländkotan] to compensate for this bipedal obstetric load.")

LITERATURE PRIZE: Ireland's police service (An Garda Siochana), for writing and presenting more than fifty traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country — Prawo Jazdy — whose name in Polish means "Driving License".

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.

MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers — from very small to very big — by having his bank print bank notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000).

BIOLOGY PRIZE: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas. (Det kan även noteras att råvaran här tydligen är luktfri.)

Tidigare vinnare finns listade på Ig Nobel-sidan, men är kanske mer överskådliga hos Wikipedia. Grunderna till priset känns inte särskilt konsekventa, men några exempel:

1993: Medicine - Presented to James F. Nolan, Thomas J. Stillwell, and John P. Sands, Jr., medical men of mercy, for their painstaking research report, "Acute Management of the Zipper-Entrapped Penis."

1996: Public Health - Presented to Ellen Kleist of Nuuk, Greenland and Harald Moi of Oslo, Norway, for their cautionary medical report "Transmission of Gonorrhea Through an Inflatable Doll."

1999: Biology - Presented to Dr. Paul Bosland, director of The Chili Pepper Institute, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, for breeding a spiceless jalapeño chili pepper.

1999: Literature - Presented to the British Standards Institution for its six-page specification (BS 6008) of the proper way to make a cup of tea.

2000: Biology - Presented to Richard Wassersug of Dalhousie University, for his firsthand report, "On the Comparative Palatability of Some Dry-Season Tadpoles [grodyngel] from Costa Rica".

2000: Computer Science - Presented to Chris Niswander of Tucson, Arizona, for inventing PawSense, software that detects when a cat is walking across your computer keyboard. (Tröga tangenter upptäckte jag för övrigt just via katthjälp.)

2001: Physics - Presented to David Schmidt of the University of Massachusetts, for his partial explanation of the shower-curtain effect: a shower curtain tends to billow inwards while a shower is being taken. (Mer om den effekten här.)

2005: Chemistry - Presented jointly to Edward Cussler of the University of Minnesota and Brian Gettelfinger of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for conducting a careful experiment to settle the longstanding scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup or in water? It was found that swimmers in the experiment reach comparable velocity in both media. (Mythbusters har för övrigt tagit sig an det experimentet: del 1, del 2.)

2006: Physics: Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, for their analysis that explains why spaghetti breaks into several pieces when it is bent. ("We have shown that releasing an elastic brittle rod from a bent configuration is sufficient to make it break.")

2008: Medicine: Rebecca Waber and Dan Ariely for demonstrating that expensive placebos are more effective than inexpensive placebos.

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