The 2013 Ig Nobel Prize Winners – Always a Hoot

Seeing the winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine announced today reminded me that it has been quite some time since I checked in on the other Nobel Prize Winners – those that won the 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes.

A. Lukachenko: No Applause! Please!
A. Lukachenko: No Applause! Please!

So I m going to start with the Ig Nobel Peace Prize because it is simply the best.  Here’s to Alexander Lukashenkopresident of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding (and, by the way, a mute person accused of shouting antigovernment slogans!).  Not sure how this will lead to peace, but then what do I know?

 

The Prizes

The Prize in Medicine went to a group of Japanese investigators who had the simply brilliant idea of assessing the effect of listening to opera on heart transplant patients – who happen to be mice!  It got them a nice publication in the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery with the catchy title:  “Auditory stimulation of opera music induced prolongation of murine cardiac allograft survival and maintained generation of regulatory CD$+CD25+ cells!!! Way to go Messrs Masateru Uchiyama, Xianyuan Jin, Masanori Miimi (and pals).

The Psychology Prize went to a mainly French team…it was for a drinking experiment…but starring beer, not wine as one might presume.  The focus of the experiment was to confirm, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.

Having had the pleasure of observing dung beetles whilst in Africa, this one caught my fancy.  Published in the January 24, 2014 edition of Current Biology, the researchers found that “ Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation.”  This one earned a joint prize in Biology

But he's looking at the ground! (Photo from Shutterstock)
But he’s looking at the ground! (Photo from Shutterstock)

and Astronomy.

This one earns the Yuk Prize (in Archeology).  Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl parboiled a dead shrew, and then swallowedit without chewing.  They later examined everything they excreted during subsequent days so  they could see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system, and which bones would not.

I will finish up with the Probability PrizeTo win this one, the researchers made not one, but two important observations.:  “First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.”  Wow!  My life is richer for that.

To learn about the other winners, get thee over to the Ig Nobel Website – you won’t be sorry you did.

 

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Here is a webcast of the event:

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