The Good, the Bad, and the … Disturbing

Well, it’s that time of year again. A partial list of this year’s Nobel Prize winners (check for updates when they’re done), as well as the highly-esteemed Ig Nobel Prize honoraries:

 Nobel Prize

Physics – Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg, “for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance”
Chemistry – Gerhard Ertl, “for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces”
Medicine – Mario R. Capecchi, Sir Martin J. Evans, and Oliver Smithies, “for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells”

Ig Nobel Prize

Medicine – Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer, “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects.”
Physics – Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan and Enrique Cerda Villablanca, “Wrinkling of an Elastic Sheet Under Tension”, “Geometry and Physics of Wrinkling”, “Elements of Draping”
Biology – Prof. Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk,”Huis, Bed en Beestjes” [House, Bed and Bugs], “Het Stof, de Mijten en het Bed” [Dust, Mites and Bedding], “Autotrophic Organisms in Mattress Dust in the Netherlands”, “A Bed Ecosystem” (a census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds each night)
Chemistry – Mayu Yamamoto, “Novel Production Method for Plant Polyphenol [vanilla flavoring] from Livestock Excrement Using Subcritical Water Reaction”
Linguistics – Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, “Effects of Backward Speech and Speaker Variability in Language Discrimination by Rats” (showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards)
Literature – Glenda Browne, “The Definite Article: Acknowledging ‘The’ in Index Entries”
Peace – The Air Force Wright Laboratory, “Harassing, Annoying, and ‘Bad Guy’ Identifying Chemicals” (instigating research & development on a chemical weapon — the so-called “gay bomb” — that will make enemy soldiers become irresistible to each other)
Nutrition – Brian Wansink, “Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake”, “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think”
Economics – Kuo Cheng Hsieh, patent for “net trapping system for capturing a robber immediately.”
Aviation – Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek, “Sildenafil Accelerates Reentrainment of Circadian Rhythms After Advancing Light Schedules” (Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters)

 Yes, these are actual topics of academic study.

Random quote of the day: “That [event, person, concept] is … disturbing.” – Sharon


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