Sunday, September 16, 2018

Well, Another Year's Ig Nobel Prize Awards Are In The Can and the Winners Are...

"The Ig Nobel awards are arguably the highlight of the scientific calendar.
From Harvard's own Improbable Research.
First up, this year's presenters:
The winners will physically receive their prizes, and a handshake, from genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel laureates:
And this year's winners:

The 2018 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2018 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded at the 28th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, on Thursday, September 13, 2018, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast.
MEDICINE PRIZE [USA] — Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger, for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones.
REFERENCE: "Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster," Marc A. Mitchell, David D. Wartinger, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, vol. 116, October 2016, pp. 647-652.

ANTHROPOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, ROMANIA, DENMARK, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, UK, INDONESIA, ITALY] — Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, for collecting evidence, in a zoo, that chimpanzees imitate humans about as often, and about as well, as humans imitate chimpanzees.
REFERENCE: "Spontaneous Cross-Species Imitation in Interaction Between Chimpanzees and Zoo Visitors," Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, Primates, vol. 59, no. 1, January 2018, pp 19–29.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc

BIOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, COLOMBIA, GERMANY, FRANCE, SWITZERLAND] — Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, for demonstrating that wine experts can reliably identify, by smell, the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine.
REFERENCE: "The Scent of the Fly," Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, bioRxiv, no. 20637, 2017.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Peter Witzgall

CHEMISTRY PRIZE [PORTUGAL] — Paula Romão, Adília Alarcão and the late César Viana, for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces.
REFERENCE: "Human Saliva as a Cleaning Agent for Dirty Surfaces," by Paula M. S. Romão, Adília M. Alarcão and César A.N. Viana, Studies in Conservation, vol. 35, 1990, pp. 153-155.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The winners delivered their acceptance speech via recorded video.

MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Akira Horiuchi, for the medical report "Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy."
REFERENCE: "Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy by Using a Small-Caliber, Variable-Stiffness Colonoscope," Akira Horiuchi and Yoshiko Nakayama, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, vol. 63, No. 1, 2006, pp. 119-20.

LITERATURE PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, EL SALVADOR, UK] — Thea Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, for documenting that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual.
REFERENCE: "Life Is Too Short to RTFM: How Users Relate to Documentation and Excess Features in Consumer Products," Alethea L. Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, Interacting With Computers, vol. 28, no. 1, 2014, pp. 27-46.
...MORE (Nutrition, Peace, Reproductive Medicine, Economics, the usual)

And speaking of Econ, here's Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman at 2009's ceremony wearing a bra as an emergency facemask:
Ig Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention 
assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle (left), Orhan Pamuk, and
 Paul Krugman (right). Photo credit: Alexey Eliseev, 2009 Ig Nobel Ceremony

And here he is as part of the largest group of Laureates to remove a sword from someone'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.
I'm beginning to suspect he is something of a ham.
In addition there is video of the awards and their version of TED Talks, the Ig Informal Lectures up the river at MIT.

There are also the 24/7 Lectures:

Each year at the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, we invite some of the world's top thinkers to tell us what they are thinking about.

            Each 24/7 Lecturer explains their topic twice:
                  First, a complete, technical description in 24 seconds
                  Then, a clear summary that anyone can understand in 7 words

But I didn't see this years contributions. Here are a couple from the 2017 vintage:

Topic:  Bots

Lecturer:  Aleksandra Przegalinska    (Professor of Artifical Intelligence and the Philosophy of Technology at Kozminski University In Poland, and a researcher at MIT)
Aleksandra Przegalinska, 2017 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony
In 24 Seconds:  "We presented a study of human-bot interaction based on an experiment that consisted of two parts: measurement of psychophysiological reactions to chatbot users and a detailed questionnaire that focused on assessing willingness to talk to a robot or chatbot. Our particular focus was on the "Uncanny Valley" effect, and in the experiment, we juxtaposed the EDA channel with a digital input channel, and the data indicated a very strong positive correlation between the uncanny valley effect and negative affect evaluation. " [Time called by the Referee]

In 7 Words:  "Robots that talk are perceived as stupid"

[Actual Number of Words Used:  7]
When in the ceremony video:  0:38:00

Topic:  Uncertainty

Lecturer:  Eric Maskin    (Nobel Laureate and Professor of Economics at Harvard University)
Eric Maskin, 2017 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony
In 24 Seconds:  "Uncertainty is the heart of economic life. What do oilmen, poker players, and bond traders have in common? Oilmen drill their wells, poker players look for tells, and traders time their sells in order to exploit other people's uncertainty. A party who does this well will earn a profit. Then the other parties will cry if they want to." [Within the time limit]

In 7 Words:  "Uncertainty is the only sure thing - perhaps"

[Actual Number of Words Used:  7]
When in the ceremony video:  0:39:23