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2006 Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded 167

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the best-of-the-worst dept.
davidwr writes "The Ig-Nobel Peace Prize went to Howard Stapleton for his groundbreaking research in teenager-repellent technology. D. Lynn Halpern won an award for research into why fingernails on a chalkboard are almost as annoying as teenagers. Ivan Schwab garnered his award for research into avian headacheology. Two french researchers cooked up a medal for spaghetti research. Read more about these and other prizes here and at the Improbable Research official web site. To those Slashdotters who were expecting an award, better luck next year."
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2006 Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded

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  • Aww... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jello B. (950817) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ollembollej)> on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:02AM (#16332789) Homepage
    I thought my death clock would win this time... Maybe if I make a Smelloscope...
  • bird eyes? (Score:5, Informative)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:13AM (#16332849) Homepage Journal
    His research, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, followed studies of head injuries in woodpeckers from the 1970s. The answer lies in how a woodpecker's skull and brain are arranged: the muscles around the sensitive brain tissues make the woodpecker's head function like a perfect shock absorber.

    shouldn't that be Ornithology?
  • by arun_s (877518) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:17AM (#16332873) Homepage Journal
    electronic teenager repellant: -1, Troll
    work on the mystery of why fingernails being dragged down a blackboard produces an excruciating sound: -1, Stupid
    how woodpeckers avoid headaches: +1, Interesting
    why dry spaghetti breaks into more than one piece when it is bent: -1, Lame
    • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:34AM (#16332975) Homepage
      electronic teenager repellant: -1, Troll

      Unfair mod. Should be +5 fucking brilliant.
      Now, if we can just herf all those thumpmobiles ....
    • by grammar fascist (239789) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:40AM (#16333009) Homepage
      electronic teenager repellant: -1, Troll

      Give it five years, and you'll be wondering how you can possibly get along without one.
    • by gardyloo (512791) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:44AM (#16333029)
      why dry spaghetti breaks into more than one piece when it is bent: -1, Lame

          Apparently someone doesn't know how interesting this problem is. Feynman spent a lot of time on it. It's much, much harder than, say, showing that a tall, skinny brick structure will break 1/3 of the way up from the ground if it's slowly tipped to one side (or if a demolition charge makes it crumble). Though that research certainly isn't Nobel-winning stuff, it's a remarkably difficult problem with a lot of applications (including, methinks, applications to space-station engineering and probably nanostructures).
    • I'd have given it to the person who invented the cell phone ring tone that only kids can hear. Due to frequency types that most adults lose the ability to hear, only children know if their cell phone is ringing. It's supposedly quite useful in the classroom.
      • by arivanov (12034)
        Most, but not all.

        I am approaching 40 and can hear all the way to the 20KHz border. I know at least 5-10 more people who have comparable or better hearing after the age of 35.

        So from my perspective both the ring and the repellent are flawed day one. None of them works as advertised.
        • Yup, me too.
          At 30, I alone among my mates can hear the high pitched whine of a 50 Hz television set, which is fucking annoying. It drives me nuts whenever a TV is on in the vicinity. This is in spite of having gone to way too many loud rock concerts :)
          Another reason to leave the pub when they put a soccer game on. Needless to say I don't own a TV, which is a blessing in more ways than one.

          By the way, does anyone know what frequency that'll be for a Norwegian set?
          I can't seem to find it through Google.
      • by Alioth (221270)
        I can still hear those supposedly only-heard-by-teenagers tones. When Radio 4 played it, a large number of people (some in their 60s!) called in and said they could still hear the 'Mosquito'. Certainly, the percentage of people over a certain age who can hear these frequencies falls off, but for the frequency this ring tone and the 'Mosquito' operates at, anecdotally, at least a third of people over 30 can still hear them perfectly well.
    • +5 priceless
    • by brown-eyed slug (913910) on Friday October 06, 2006 @03:06AM (#16333657) Homepage
      electronic teenager repellant: -1, Troll

      No, it really works! I've seen no electronic teenagers round here...

      Sorry.
    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Friday October 06, 2006 @04:49AM (#16334113) Journal
      why dry spaghetti breaks into more than one piece when it is bent: -1, Lame

      You seem to miss the significance of that research. Note that the article mentioned the physics Nobel price for big bang research. This spaghetti research is of course very related to the question of how the universe was created. After all, we know it was created by the FSM, and surely bending and breaking spaghetti was an integral part of the act of creation.
      • by Shadowlore (10860)
        This spaghetti research is of course very related to the question of how the universe was created. After all, we know it was created by the FSM, and surely bending and breaking spaghetti was an integral part of the act of creation.

        Oh ye unbelievers. When will you glean the insight that is of the Great Green Arkleseizure. You are so close, but miss the real insight. This research is useful to determining the origin of the universe. Yet more specifically it is important in that this research will reveal the l
    • by AndersOSU (873247)
      I can't believe the summary missed this one

      MEDICINE: Francis M. Fesmire of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, for his medical case report "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage"; and Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven of Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, for their subsequent medical case report also titled "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage.
      REFERENCE: "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage," Francis M.

  • by atomicstrawberry (955148) on Friday October 06, 2006 @12:44AM (#16333025)
    The winner of the medicine prize got it for ground breaking research into curing intractible hiccups by sticking his finger up a patient's anus [newscientist.com].

    He also suggests that sex is the most potent cure for hiccups, but that won't really affect anyone on slashdot.
  • by ringmaster_j (760218) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:20AM (#16333215)
    At Bathurst subway/streetcar/bus station in Toronto, they play classical (well, baroque actually) music on the PA to keep teenagers away. It seems to work quite well, actually. It's only at that station, and since classical music is only annoying to teens (at least to the point of forcing them from the building) it doesn't trouble other patrons. One caveat: if you (like me) are one of those Classical Punks- who follow their own rules, and wear all the lead-based makeup and penny loafers they want- it doesn't work.
    • by JamesD_UK (721413) on Friday October 06, 2006 @03:32AM (#16333783) Homepage
      They have one of those teenaged repellent devices at my local shop. It's been several years since I was a teenager and I can hear the noise perfectly well. It's not enough to stop me going into the shop if I really wanted to but it's sufficiently annoying that I now spend my money elsewhere. It doesn't really appear to have had too much effect on the teenagers who hang around on the street either - they don't have anywhere else to go.
      • by njdj (458173)

        the teenagers who hang around on the street either - they don't have anywhere else to go.

        Translation: they're too stupid or unimaginative to think of anywhere else to go, or anything to do except "hang around on the street".

        • by Bertie (87778)
          Or they don't have the means, or the money.

          Hanging around in the street isn't indicative of a lack of imagination. Many a rapper, breakdancer or graffiti artist learned their trade doing just that.
          • Many a rapper, breakdancer or graffiti artist

            You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
    • At Bathurst subway/streetcar/bus station in Toronto, they play classical (well, baroque actually) music on the PA to keep teenagers away. It seems to work quite well, actually.

      In Whangarei, a New Zealand town, they do it by playing continuous Barry Manilow music [tvnz.co.nz], 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Personally I think it's a wonder the local retailers get any customers at all.

  • The answer: ageism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Valacosa (863657) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:26AM (#16333257)
    Why is it something that could be offensive (like sex and violence in movies) is generally regarded as bad, whereas something designed solely to be offensive (The Mosquito) is regarded as a good thing?

    Mr Stapleton deserves the Ig Nobel.
  • Since when are Peace Prizes given out to people who invent phyological/sonic/whateveryouwanttocallit weapons?? What's next, Peace Prize for the nuclear bomb? They certainly bring peace...
    • by nametaken (610866)
      "Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded" != "Nobel Peace Prize Awarded"
      • by bky1701 (979071)
        Erm... I guess this will teach me to RTFA, or at least GTFT (Google The Fucking Topic).
    • Re:Peace Prize? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by myowntrueself (607117) on Friday October 06, 2006 @03:10AM (#16333681)
      What's next, Peace Prize for the nuclear bomb? They certainly bring peace...

      There was this guy named Bertrand Russell.

      At the end of World War 2 when the 'allies' had the nuke and the Soviets didn't, he advocated a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.

      As soon as the Soviets developed their own nukes, he became an anti-nuclear peace activist.

      For him, it was all down to game theory.

      So yeah in a sense nukes may brought peace -- if the Soviets hadn't developed them, Eastern Europe and Russia would quite possibly have been nuked into submission. I think that would have been less 'peaceful' than the cold war.

    • This is what Ignobles are supposed to be for, infact they awarded the 1st ignoble peace price to Edward Teller, the 'father' of hydrogen bomb. Here's the interesting peace prize list: 1991: Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb and first champion of the Star Wars weapons system, for his lifelong efforts to change the meaning of peace as we know it. 1992: Daryl Gates, former police chief of the City of Los Angeles, for his uniquely compelling methods of bringing people together. 1993: The Pepsi-Cola
    • RTFA (Score:3, Funny)

      by njdj (458173)

      Since when are Peace Prizes given out to people who invent phyological/sonic/whateveryouwanttocallit weapons?

      If the teenager-repellent were designed to exterminate teenagers, you'd have a point. But it isn't. It's just designed to persuade them to go somewhere where they don't annoy people. It's not a weapon of any kind.

      You do understand the difference between insecticide and mosquito repellent, don't you?

    • by SamSim (630795)
      I seem to recall the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for the invention of dynamite.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mgblst (80109)
        Close:

        "Nobel's inventions including dynamite and Ballistite led to the death of millions of people, so he created the Nobel Prizes in an effort to make up for these perceived evils."

        from wiki.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SamSim (630795)
          I often find a good way to find out the truth about something is to put a statement online in public which is which is definitely wrong, then wait for somebody to correct you :)
      • I seem to recall the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for the invention of dynamite.
        Not quite, Alfred Nobel who founded the Nobel Prize invented dynamite which was one of the things he made a lot of money of.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) *
      Since when are Peace Prizes given out to people who invent phyological/sonic/whateveryouwanttocallit weapons??

      If I were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize I would consider it a public embaressment. Have you checked out a list of the winners?

      On the other hand, the igNobel Peace Prize is supposed to be a public embaressment.

      KFG
    • Edward Teller won an ig Nobel for his work on the hydrogen bomb, star wars, etc etc etc...
  • by mrcaseyj (902945) on Friday October 06, 2006 @01:35AM (#16333295)
    Don't miss the list of previous winners. It's full of hilarious and sometimes interesting stuff.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by KokorHekkus (986906)
      My favourite past winner is the 2003 Physics Prize: "An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces". Real research... just sounds funny. Imagine being at a party "....interesting, so what kind of research do you do?" "Currently I'm investigating the frictional coefficients of sheep on different surfaces"
  • PC? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, 2006 @02:29AM (#16333509)
    chalkboard
    Is this a politicly correct blackboard or something?
    • Around here blackboards are usually green. I almost bought a black whiteboard untill I saw they don't sell white whiteboard-markers seperate.

      "Blackboard" and "whiteboard" are nearly meaningless terms. I like "chalkboard" (as a term, I hate the boards), but I have no idea what to call "whiteboards".
      • by Fred_A (10934)
        Penboards ?
      • by fruey (563914)
        I believe the ultra-politically correct term would be "dry-wipe board".
        • by David Gould (4938)
          I believe the ultra-politically correct term would be "dry-wipe board".
          Ahem. "Dry-erase board". Potty-mouth.

      • For a black whiteboard (Dry-wipe board) you will need to use liquid chalk pens. Google them, you can get them quite easily and they have the benefit of being able to write on any non-porous surface (So blackboard, whiteboard, glass, plastics...)
      • Markerboard? Someone else said penboard but usually on 'whiteboards' dry-erase markers, not pens, are used.
  • by morie (227571) on Friday October 06, 2006 @03:00AM (#16333629) Homepage
    A Dutch group won the IgNobel for their work on malaria mosquitos and limburg cheese. In a more serious experiment, they found the smell of feet is one of the main attractions to malaria mosquitos. They then tried Limburg Cheese because it smells, well, like feet.

    They are one of the leading institutes in mosquito research in the world.
    • Well at least we know which desktop environment mosquitos would use (hint: it's not KDE)
  • Great.. (Score:2, Informative)

    So we give it to a guy who's abusing technology to deal with a social problem? Yes I get that teenagers can be annoying, but using things like this could cause long term damage (don't say it can't, we have a good decade to go before any major signs will show up if it rolls out majorly this year). I can see the use at some places but I can also see it pissing off some kids will will go out of their way to damage any places with one of these things to "get revenge".

    Either way bad invention and even worse for
  • Okay - I'm 30 with averagehearing for my age, so it isn't going to affect me. But it still seems a little unfair to ignore noise poluution if it only affects teenagers - most of whom are not doing any harm, and just want to hang around with mates. Do noise pollution laws only apply if they affect adults?

    So how do we solve it? Nobody is going to listen to a bunch of kids. Could simply disable it. Nobody would know. Any other ways to deal with it?
    • In addition to this, it appears that my hearing is not degrading at the rate these chaps currently claim. As a result, I can still hear these damned frequencies.

      And if they're used on me, I'm calling the police.

      • by Tim Browse (9263)

        And if they're used on me, I'm calling the police.

        It's an interesting question actually - in the UK at least, you're generally not allowed to make as much noise as you like at your home/business. Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act, and all that. The fact that only some people can hear the noise does presumably not excuse it from being subject to the law. So the mosquito is probably illegal in England and Wales, or at least the teenagers affected could report the business owners for the violation and have

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      most of whom are not doing any harm, and just want to hang around with mates.

      As far as I understand, a bunch of kids hanging around the store is the problem. I'm not defending the noise, but I'm not defending the kids either. I don't believe they have any right to hang out at the store.
    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      Any other ways to deal with it?

      I guess ear plugs would do the trick. Headphones may work too - many of the people in that age group have those readily available with their iPods.

      Also it occured to me that maybe there are useful applications, too. Maybe this could be used to prevent little kids to approach areas which are dangerous to them, while not obstructing access to maintenance personnel. Could be handy for a farmer with lots of machinery and a few small children.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Friday October 06, 2006 @03:16AM (#16333705) Homepage Journal
    I don't know what happened to the news-story link, I know it was there when I submitted it. Anyhow, Google News has many more [google.com] stories to choose from.

    The Improbable Results site I linked is very slow due to media attention. I'm sure Slashdot didn't help :).

    Here's a Coral Cache version of the Improbable Results [nyud.net] website and the list of present and past winners [nyud.net].

    If Coral doesn't work, here's a MirrorDot [mirrordot.org] version of the Improbable Results main page.
  • That's some peace (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Friday October 06, 2006 @06:32AM (#16334589)
    If someone intentionally plays high pitched unbearable sounds in attempt to "repel" me like a friggin insect, I'd feel compelled to put some earplugs on and come wreck his shop with my friends.

    That's the kind of peace we're talking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Detritus (11846)
      You, and your friends, are exactly the sort of hooligans that inspire the invention of devices like these.
    • they switch the sound to extremely low pitch and make you shit yourself.
  • by aquatone282 (905179) on Friday October 06, 2006 @07:23AM (#16334865)

    Send in a pair of Army recruiters.

    Works like a champ.

  • If your cube mate can't stop his damn hiccups, a size 10.5 shoe can be used in lieu of a finger...

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