Friday, September 30, 2011

2011 Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded at Harvard -- From Structured Procrastination to Why You Should Use the Bathroom to the Wasabi Alarm

The Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded annually at Harvard for 21 years. They are given out shortly before the Nobel prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden. They are given out by actual Nobel prize winners.

The research that the Ig Nobels recognize makes you laugh and think and then laugh again.

This year's awards were announced at ceremonies last night in Cambridge and they made me laugh out loud so I think that you will enjoy them too.

There are several with a transportation theme and one on mathematics.

Some of my favorites: the Ig Nobel for structured procrastination; for the wasabi (the horseradish that you eat with your sushi) alarm to wake up solid sleepers; for teaching humankind to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations; for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, momentarily blinding him; for research on discus throwers getting dizzy, and perhaps the funniest: for research and separate papers demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things, but worse decisions about other kinds of things, when they have to go to the bathroom.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a full list of recipients along with links to their scientific articles. The procrastination essay first appeared in The Chronicle in 1996 and, as appropriate, it took a decade and a half to be recognized.