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IgNobels 2013! And the Winners Are…

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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TONIGHT, the 2013 IgNobels Prizes were held in Saunders Theatre at Harvard University! Winners traveled at their own expense, and received the prize from the hands of…real Nobel Prize winners. This year the prizes were accompanied by a new Opera, “The Blonsky Device”.

And the winners are…*drumroll*

“Auditory stimulation of opera music induced prolongation of murine cardiac allograft survival and maintained generation of regulatory CD4+CD25+ cells,” Masateru Uchiyama, Xiangyuan Jin, Qi Zhang, Toshihito Hirai, Atsushi Amano, Hisashi Bashuda and Masanori Niimi, Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, vol. 7, no. 26, epub. March 23, 2012.

REFERENCE: “‘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.

REFERENCE: “Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation,” Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clarke H. Scholtz, Eric J. Warrant, Current Biology, epub January 24, 2013. The authors, at Lund University, Sweden, the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and the University of Pretoria


The late Gustano Pizzo [USA], for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers — the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane’s specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival.
US Patent #3811643, Gustano A. Pizzo, “anti hijacking system for aircraft”, May 21, 1972.

REFERENCE: “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.

REFERENCE: “Plant Biochemistry: An Onion Enzyme that Makes the Eyes Water,” S. Imai, N. Tsuge, M. Tomotake, Y. Nagatome, H. Sawada, T. Nagata and H. Kumagai, Nature, vol. 419, no. 6908, October 2002, p. 685.

REFERENCE: “Human Digestive Effects on a Micromammalian Skeleton,” Peter W. Stahl and Brian D. Crandall, Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 22, November 1995, pp. 789–97.

Alexander Lukashenko, 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.

REFERENCE: “Are Cows More Likely to Lie Down the Longer They Stand?” Bert J. Tolkamp, Marie J. Haskell, Fritha M. Langford, David J. Roberts, Colin A. Morgan, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 124, nos. 1-2, 2010, pp. 1–10.

REFERENCE: “Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam,” by Kasian Bhanganada, Tu Chayavatana, Chumporn Pongnumkul, Anunt Tonmukayakul, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Krit Komaratal, and Henry Wilde, American Journal of Surgery, 1983, no. 146, pp. 376-382.

In the words of the wonderful Marc Abrahams, master of ceremonies and editor of “Annals of Improbable Research,” “If you didn’t win an Ig Nobel Prize tonight — and especially if you did — better luck next year.”

I will be writing individual posts for all winners over the next few days!! Look forward tomorrow to more from the IgNobel Prizes!!!

Scicurious About the Author: Scicurious is a PhD in Physiology, and is currently a postdoc in biomedical research. She loves the brain. And so should you. Follow on Twitter @Scicurious.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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  1. 1. m 9:04 pm 09/12/2013

    I like the cow one
    “Are Cows More Likely to Lie Down the Longer They Stand?”

    firstly you might be thinking, lol. But then you might as I did after a second or two wonder whether there muscle fibers are the type that “fix” in place, so that there is no actual exertion from the muscles. If this is true the answer is no to the question.

    However lets assume the cow has our terrible muscle that requires constant twitching to stay effective and then we can safely say yes the cow will tire and fall down.

    So probability aside this is a test of the cows musculature, for the answer to that dictates the answer to whether the cow will fall over or stand for eternity.

    Then the final point will be purely conscience effort of the cow, perhaps eschewing to the fact the cow may decide to lie down based on some factor, like a change of scenery or a belly rub. In which case this research does not belong in ig nobel prizes, as it ascertains an exact methodology for determination of the conscienceness of a domesticated animal, which could subsequently be used to establish a conscience meter for all animals. Thereby radically changing the landscape for all human understanding of animal.

    All this from something people think is stupid, but then who is the stupider.

    Link to this
  2. 2. qwertyas 3:10 am 09/13/2013

    I’m so dissapointed to see that the piece of research showing an inverse corellation betweeen testes’ size and good fathering missed an IgNobel Prize.

    That’s probably because the article has been published only very recently and didn’t had the time to catch the attention of the scientific community. Maybe next year?

    Link to this
  3. 3. m 4:47 am 09/13/2013

    Yes Qwerty I was to, people with little to no testicles cant have children, have high pitched voices and we know exactly what type of men have high voices…

    Link to this
  4. 4. bucketofsquid 5:09 pm 09/26/2013

    @m – You mean Mike Tyson right?

    Link to this

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