Notable past Ig Nobel winners…
AGRICULTURAL HISTORY: James Watson (Massey University, NZ), for his scholarly study, “The Significance of Mr. Richard Buckley’s Exploding Trousers.”
PHYSICS: John Mainstone and the late Thomas Parnell (University of Queensland), for patiently conducting an experiment that began in the year 1927 – in which a glob of congealed black tar has been slowly, slowly dripping through a funnel, at a rate of approximately one drop every nine years.
LITERATURE: The Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters – General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others
– each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them.
PEACE: Claire Rind and Peter Simmons (Newcastle University, UK), for electrically monitoring the activity of a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected highlights from the movie “Star Wars”.
ECONOMICS: Gauri Nanda (MIT), for inventing an alarm clock that runs away and hides, repeatedly, thus ensuring that people DO get out of bed, and thus theoretically adding many productive hours to the workday.
CHEMISTRY: Edward Cussler (University of Minnesota) and Brian Gettelfinger (University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin), for conducting a careful experiment to settle the longstanding scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup or in water?
BIOLOGY: Benjamin Smith (University of Adelaide and the University of Toronto), Craig Williams (James Cook University and the University of South Australia), Michael Tyler and Brian Williams (University of Adelaide), and Yoji Hayasaka (Australian Wine Research Institute), for painstakingly smelling and cataloguing the peculiar odours produced by 131 different species of frogs when the frogs were feeling stressed.
NUTRITION: Dr. Yoshiro Nakamats (Tokyo, Japan) for photographing and retrospectively analysing every meal he has consumed during a period of 34 years (and counting).
FLUID DYNAMICS: Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow (International University Bremen, Germany and the University of Oulu, Finland) and Jozsef Gal (Loránd Eötvös University, Hungary), for using basic principles of physics to calculate the pressure that builds up inside a penguin, as detailed in their report “Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh – Calculations on Avian Defaecation.”
2004 – PEACE: Daisuke Inoue (Hyogo, Japan), for inventing karaoke, thereby providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other.
2003 – BIOLOGY: C.W. Moeliker (Natuurmuseum Rotterdam, the Netherlands), for documenting the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.
2002 – INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH: Karl Kruszelnicki (University of Sydney), for performing a comprehensive survey of human belly button lint – who gets it, when, what colour and how much.
2000 – PSYCHOLOGY: David Dunning (Cornell University) and Justin Kreuger (University of Illinois), for their modest report, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.”
1999 – CHEMISTRY: Takeshi Makino (president of The Safety Detective Agency in Osaka, Japan), for his involvement with S-Check, an infidelity detection spray that wives can apply to their husbands’ underwear.
1997 – ASTRONOMY: Richard Hoagland (New Jersey), for identifying artificial features on the moon and on Mars, including a human face on Mars and ten mile high buildings on the far side of the moon.
1995 – PSYCHOLOGY: Shigeru Watanabe, Junko Sakamoto and Masumi Wakita (Keio University), for their success in training pigeons to discriminate between the paintings of Picasso and those of Monet.
1992 – NUTRITION: The utilisers of spam, courageous consumers of canned comestibles, for 54 years of undiscriminating digestion.
WHAT’S YOUR POISIN
In a sign of our online times, the Gold Coast’s new NRL team recently settled on its nickname based on the availability of an internet domain name. Management selected the Gold Coast “Titans” after URLs for the preferred “Pirates” and “Stingers” were already taken. It goes to show that a strong online presence is more important these days than the oversized character who cartwheels for your cause.
STAMP OF AUTHORITY
New Zealand is only the second country in the world (after the United States) to allow people to design and order their own stamps online. Images are uploaded via the internet through Wellington software firm 3months.com. NZ Post reserves the right not to print images it deems offensive, so love letters will retain their mystique … for now. The stamps are delivered by post in two to three days and cost around $20 for a book of twenty 45-cent stamps. Given the digital camera craze, could Australia be next? Stay tuned.
Scientists at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) are currently constructing a world-first industrial plant to transform liquid radioactive waste into synthetic rock. Known as Synroc, the technology traps radioactive waste inside a structure that mimics rock in nature. Synroc will be able to contain the waste for much longer than the thousands of years it takes to shed its radioactivity, meaning that water and other substances will not become contaminated. It is hoped the technology will one day rival Australia’s uranium sales as an export earner.
WINE-IN-A-CAN… how very australian
It had to happen, and it has. Australian company Barokes is taking huge strides into export markets with its premium wine-in-a-can technology (Vinsafe). After six years of R&D and testing, the company was born global in 2002 when it began exporting to Japan. Barokes wine-in-a-can now exports to over a dozen countries, where people can be heard cracking an Aussie tinny, sniffing, swirling, gargling, swallowing and sighing with delight. We wonder how long it will be before Australians toss aside their VBs for a W-i-t-C.