Friday, September 19, 2014

The Ig Nobel Prizes, 2014

Some people perceive religious imagery in things as mundane as a piece of toast:
I don't see it although, I suppose that with a great imagination, one might divine, so to speak, the hint of an outline of an image.
Still, it seems a bit of a leap.
From NBC:
Even seemingly silly science can be useful — for example, it's good to know that if you're experiencing a raging nosebleed, shoving a slice of cured pork up your nose just might save your life. Or that it's normal to see the face of Jesus on a piece of toast. 

Those published scientific findings, and many more, won the highest honors at the 24th annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, conducted at Harvard's Sanders Theater on Thursday. The Ig Nobels are traditionally given out during the buildup to the real Nobel Prize announcements, under the auspices of a humor magazine called the Annals of Improbable Research. 

"Every winner has done something that first makes people laugh, and then makes them think," said Marc Abrahams, the magazine's editor and impresario for the event. 

Some of the winners go on to win honest-to-goodness Nobels — such as the University of Manchester's Andrei Geim, who won an Ig Nobel for his work with levitating frogs and then shared the 2010 Nobel Prize for physics, thanks to his work with graphene. 

The winners of the Ig Nobel Prize for neuroscience may not get a Nobel for their research into what happens in the brains of people who see Jesus' face in toast. But the University of Toronto's Kang Lee, one of the laureates, said the study could provide those people with valuable reassurance. 

"You're completely normal if you see non-existent faces in everyday objects," Lee told the crowd....MORE
And from Harvard's own Improbable Research: 
The 2014 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 18th, 2014 at the 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live.
PHYSICS PRIZE [JAPAN]: Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that's on the floor.
REFERENCE: "Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin," Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, Tribology Online 7, no. 3, 2012, pp. 147-151.

NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE [CHINA, CANADA]: Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, and Kang Lee, for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.
REFERENCE: "Seeing Jesus in Toast: Neural and Behavioral Correlates of Face Pareidolia," Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, Kang Lee, Cortex, vol. 53, April 2014, Pages 60–77. The authors are at School of Computer and Information Technology, Beijing Jiaotong University, Xidian University, the Institute of Automation Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, and the University of Toronto, Canada.

PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, UK, USA]: Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.
REFERENCE: "Creatures of the Night: Chronotypes and the Dark Triad Traits," Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 55, no. 5, 2013, pp. 538-541.

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE [CZECH REPUBLIC, JAPAN, USA, INDIA]: Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlíček and Jitka Hanušova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.
REFERENCE: "Changes in personality profile of young women with latent toxoplasmosis," Jaroslav Flegr and Jan Havlicek, Folia Parasitologica, vol. 46, 1999, pp. 22-28.
REFERENCE: "Decreased level of psychobiological factor novelty seeking and lower intelligence in men latently infected with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii Dopamine, a missing link between schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis?" Jaroslav Flegr, Marek Preiss, Jiřı́ Klose, Jan Havlı́ček, Martina Vitáková, and Petr Kodym, Biological Psychology, vol. 63, 2003, pp. 253–268.
REFERENCE: "Describing the Relationship between Cat Bites and Human Depression Using Data from an Electronic Health Record," David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, 2013, e70585. WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Jaroslav Flegr, David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan
See also:
The 2014 Ig® Nobel Prize Ceremony & Lectures

Here's the Ig Archive page
From our previous coverage of the awards ceremony:
"Announcing: The 2013 Ig Nobel Prize winners"
2011 Ig Nobel Ceremony webcast tonight!"
Last year Nobel prize co-winner in physics, Andre Geim became the first person in history to win both of the prestigious prizes!
 From 2010 which was a great vintage:
"Largest Group Of Nobel Laureates To Remove A Sword From Someone's Throat"
Largest Group Of Nobel Laureates To Remove A Sword From Someone's Throat
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On October 1, 2009, during the 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts, eight Nobel Prize Laureates removed a 22-inch solid steel sword from Ig Nobel Prize Laureate sword swallower Dan Meyer's throat.
The Nobel Laureates involved:
Rich Roberts
- Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine, 1993
Wolfgang Ketterle
- Nobel Prize in Physics, 2001
Dudley Herschbach
- Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1986
Paul Krugman
- Nobel Prize in Economics, 2008
Roy Glauber
- Nobel Prize in Physics, 2005
Frank Wilczek
- Nobel Prize in Physics, 2004
Martin Chalfie
- Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2008
William Lipscomb
- Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1976

- sword swallower must be a legitimate sword swallower officially verified and recognized by the Sword Swallowers Association International
- sword must be a solid steel non-retractable sword with a blade at least 15 inches in length
- Nobel Laureates must be recognized bonafide Nobel Laureates who have actually been awarded an official Nobel Prize