Life’s too short to be depressing all the time, dudes.
With that in mind, let’s talk some astonishingly odd science instead of contemplating the onrushing death awaiting every dude at the end of his life. There, I went and got all depressing again. Sorry.
Back to science. Every year, we hear about the Nobel Prizes, which honor the most groundbreaking, amazing scientific achievements that come to the attention of the Nobel committee. These are the ones we hear about: quantum reality abnegation, new theories for rational prediction of stock market action, finding a way to avert a way. You know, the usual.
But I’m almost certain you dudes didn’t know there is a sister/brother/ugly cousin award to the Nobel Prize. It’s called the Ig Nobel Prize and it honors the year’s strangest–but also very good!–scientific research, in 10 different categories. Past recipients have honored research on remote-controlled whale snot harvesting and why you don’t spill your coffee. Thanks to Popular Science for the write up since my comp ticket to the event must have become lost in the mail.
The Psychology Prize was given for confirming, by experimentation, that people who are drunk believe themselves to be better looking than they, in reality, are. The folks behind this also should receive a special award for best use of a bad pun in a scientific paper.
“‘Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder’: People Who Think They Are Drunk Also Think They Are Attractive,” Laurent Bègue, Brad J. Bushman, Oulmann Zerhouni, Baptiste Subra, Medhi Ourabah, British Journal of Psychology, epub May 15, 2012.
Eye of the beer holder, get it? Beer holder. Beholder. Yeah. It’s just that bad.
The Physics Prize went to a study that determined that a person could run across the surface of a lake unassisted. If, and I believe this to be an important caveat, that person and that lake both were situated on the moon. I’m guessing some hypothetical atmosphere and a heating element would be involved.
“Humans Running in Place on Water at Simulated Reduced Gravity,” Alberto E. Minetti, Yuri P. Ivanenko, Germana Cappellini, Nadia Dominici, Francesco Lacquaniti, PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 7, 2012, e37300.
So, that’s the sort of good scientific work, albeit a bit on the esoteric side, that gets honored at the Ig Noble Prizes. However, to my mind, the best part of the entire event is the description that precedes each of the prizes. These are works of genius.
Take, for instance, the Peace Prize: (To the president of Belarus) For: “making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.”
The Probability Prize brings back memories of far too late-night idiocapades in college: For: “making two related discoveries: 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.”
To my mind, however, the capstone of the Ig Nobel awards and the description that might make it into the all-time list of best descriptions, comes out of the Archeology Prize. Which was given for, well, I can’t do this justice. I think I’ll let the organizers tell you what it was given For: “parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing the shrew without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days — all so they could see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system, and which bones would not.”
Dudes and dudettes, I give you science!