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Rarely There

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Friday, October 6, 2006

Ig Nobel 2006

The Annals of Improbable Research is a scientific journal dedicated to research that "could not or should not be repeated."

How can I let such an intro go by unexplored?

If the fact that the server hosting Improbable's web site has been crippled this morning is any indication, the public in general finds the scientific wackiness appealing as well.

Some of the honorees include:
  • Nutrition: two gentlemen from Kuwait took this home for noting that the dung beetle is actually very particular about which dung it fancies.
  • Acoustics: a multi-institutional team takes this home for exploring fingernails scraping the blackboard in a paper entitled, "Psychoacoustics of a Chilling Sound."
  • Medicine: not one, but two separate publications explored how otherwise incurable hiccups could be brought to an end with a rectal massage.
  • Literature: the lone winner from Princeton got it for looking into pretentious word choice in the redundantly titled "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly."
  • Physics: two workers in Paris looked into why spaghetti never breaks in half, but instead shatters into multiple pieces.
  • Chemistry: Spaniards reel in the chemistry prize for measuring how the speed of sound in cheddar cheese is influenced by temperature. I checked the abstract, and it's not clear whether we're talking sharp or mild, so a further award in this topic is possible.
  • Biology: continuing the cheese theme, an international team, including a member at the Atomic Energy Agency, take this home for a series of papers on how malaria-bearing mosquitos respond to the aroma of Limburger cheese.

John Timmer says it all here:



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