Ig®25
September 18, 2015 2:13 AM   Subscribe

The 2015 Ig® Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night at the 25th First Annual Ig® Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre.
About the awards.
previously here

The Winners (who traveled at their own expense and were awarded ten trillion Zimbabwe dollars):
The Chemistry Prize: "Shear-Stress-Mediated Refolding of Proteins from Aggregates and Inclusion Bodies", or to put it simply, How to (Partially) Unboil an Egg.
The Physics Prize: "Duration of Urination Does Not Change With Body Size", demonstrating that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).
The Literature Prize: "Is 'Huh?' a universal word? Conversational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items". Huh?
The Management Prize: "What Doesn't Kill You Will Only Make You More Risk-Loving: Early-Life Disasters and CEO Behavior", how proximity to a natural disaster (with no personal consequences) leads to a fondness for risk-taking in business leaders.
The Economics Prize: The Bangkok Metropolitan Police [Thailand], for offering to pay policemen extra cash if the policemen refuse to take bribes.
The Medicine Prize: To two groups for multiple studies of the biomedical benefits or biomedical consequences of intense kissing (and other intimate interpersonal activities, ifyouknowwhatimean). 1, 2, 3, 4.
The Mathematics Prize: "The Case of Moulay Ismael-Fact or Fancy?" Using mathematical techniques to determine whether and how an Emperor of Morocco managed to father 888 children between 1697 and 1727.
The Biology Prize: "Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion", using weighted sticks attached to the rear ends of chickens to make them walk in a manner similar to how dinosaurs are believed to have walked. Official Video, Obviously Related.
Diagnostic Medicine Prize: "Pain Over Speed Bumps in Diagnosis of Acute Appendicitis: Diagnostic Accuracy Study," or 'A dubious reason for speed bumps in hospital driveways'.
Physiology and Entomology Prize: To two groups for studying the pain of insect stings, 1, 2, creating the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, with special honors to Michael L. Smith, for learning on which locations on the body bee stings are most and least painful, by carefully arranging for honey bees to sting him repeatedly. For the record, the least painful locations are the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm, and the most painful are the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft. Ouch.
full video of the ceremony should be viewable in the next 24-48 hours
posted by oneswellfoop (35 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love the idea of weighing down animal rear ends to see how dinosaurs would have walked and might now enlighten the world about Acatasaurus locomotion by attaching weighed sticks to my cats' butts. For Science!
posted by ChuraChura at 4:07 AM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was in the Northridge Earthquake as a child. When I become CEO you will all need to watch out!
posted by peacheater at 4:16 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I believe cats already have weighted sticks attached to their butts, but more research is probably called for.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:17 AM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Glad to know I'm not the only person who coerces bees to sting their penis shaft.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:04 AM on September 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Look forward to this every year. Thank you!
posted by Melismata at 5:11 AM on September 18, 2015


"....about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds)."

I'm no statistician, but isn't 62% rather a large margin of error?
posted by Paul Slade at 5:25 AM on September 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: the most painful are the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft.
posted by odinsdream at 5:33 AM on September 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


They missed an opportunity to name this one Walk like an Ur-chicken.
posted by pulposus at 5:41 AM on September 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm no statistician, but isn't 62% rather a large margin of error?

That's what HE said!
posted by srboisvert at 5:42 AM on September 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


for learning on which locations on the body bee stings are most and least painful, by carefully arranging for honey bees to sting him repeatedly.

After having his thesis proposal rejected for the tenth time, this winner finally took the advice he received and embarked on a new, bold course of research.
posted by three blind mice at 5:43 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's a margin of error; it sounds like it's a standard deviation
posted by rebent at 6:17 AM on September 18, 2015


The Miss Sweetie Poo video in the first link made me laugh so hard I scared the cats.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 6:18 AM on September 18, 2015


I love the idea of weighing down animal rear ends to see how dinosaurs would have walked and might now enlighten the world about Acatasaurus locomotion by attaching weighed sticks to my cats' butts. For Science!

Yes but your cat is Triceratops so already provides excellent insight into dinosaur locomotion and also dinosaur stretching and paws and cuddliness.

Also, yes, that was my very favorite thing. The ludicrous image of serious, well-educated adults attaching heavy sticks to chickens' butts to try to make them more like dinosaurs might be the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:45 AM on September 18, 2015


Miss Sweetie Poo

That was great. I love how it appears that Mandelbrot basically had to force the emcee into sending her out (because silly award or not, who wants to interrupt Benoit Fucking Mandelbrot?).
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:10 AM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


"What Doesn't Kill You Will Only Make You More Risk-Loving: Early-Life Disasters and CEO Behavior"

I've survived a number of minor earthquakes (including one in the early 1990s, where I stood up and actually enjoyed the sensation of the whole building swaying back and forth), two wildfire evacuations, numerous non-fatal bee stings (despite being highly allergic to bees, I thought I should scoop them out pools with my bare hands), and a close encounter with a whale while kayaking (no, it didn't breach on our kayak, but it was really close). In short, I should be a prime candidate for incorrectly assuming my own invincibility. But here I am, in my mid 30s, still not a CEO. You should all be happy lack the drive to become a self-centered business titan. (Or maybe I should be happy? I'm not sure.)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:11 AM on September 18, 2015


The Moulay Ismael one sounds like a super interesting topic, actually.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:19 AM on September 18, 2015


who wants to interrupt Benoit Fucking Mandelbrot?

I must point out for the record that his name is Benoit B. Mandelbrot, and the "B", of course, stands for "Benoit B. Mandelbrot".
posted by Etrigan at 7:26 AM on September 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


I don't think it's a margin of error; it sounds like it's a standard deviation

But it's like saying, if incomes range from $8,000 annually to $34,000, "Everyone makes almost exactly $21,000 a year, give or take, no matter what job you work, it's amazing!" which is a bit misleading. Or, if that's not what the original study says, it's what nearly every Facebook re-quote forward meme Minion-image-thing says.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:26 AM on September 18, 2015


One of the authors of the CEO paper has a colleague who found that CEOs with pilots licenses also tended to implement riskier corporate policies.

I can't find it now but there was another paper in a similar literature that found that the timing of harvard business school reunions helped predict things like mergers and acquisitions.

it's not my field but the subset of finance research that looks at executive behavior seems pretty fun.
posted by dismas at 7:30 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


"....about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds)."

I'm no statistician, but isn't 62% rather a large margin of error?


It's more like: there is substantial variation around the mean, but the variance cannot be explained by differences in body size.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:55 AM on September 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Clocking in at 20 seconds on the dot
posted by rebent at 8:44 AM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


> One of the authors of the CEO paper has a colleague who found that CEOs with pilots licenses also tended to implement riskier corporate policies.

Fascinating. I think this might be the paper you're referring to. One of the co-authors is from the University of Oregon.
posted by noneuclidean at 9:20 AM on September 18, 2015


Clocking in at 20 seconds on the dot

Next time, please use the toilet!
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:25 AM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Chemistry Prize: "Shear-Stress-Mediated Refolding of Proteins from Aggregates and Inclusion Bodies", or to put it simply, How to (Partially) Unboil an Egg.

Um, I know this sounds funny, but this is actually pretty fucking important research.
posted by maryr at 9:29 AM on September 18, 2015


I know this sounds funny, but this is actually pretty fucking important research.
Well, the winners of Ig Nobel Prizes frequently are. After all their goal is to honor "something that makes people laugh then think." (emphasis theirs)

Personally, I was close enough to the epicenters of both the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake and 1994 Northridge Earthquake to have become a lot more successful than I have, so I have some doubts about those conclusions. And the urination duration study missed one important variable, my own timing has increased at least a second or two for every year of age over 50.

But we should not minimize the personal sacrifice of Michael L. Smith, whose self-exposure to bee stings should be considered comparable to Marie Curie's self-exposure to radiation.

It's just too bad Ahmed Muhammed's 'incident' occurred so close to the ceremony - he would've been a shoo-in for a prize, not so much in Physics but in Deviant Psychology for the reaction of the bigoted community.

But in conclusion, huh?
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:38 AM on September 18, 2015


But we should not minimize the personal sacrifice of Michael L. Smith, whose self-exposure to bee stings should be considered comparable to Marie Curie's self-exposure to radiation.

Are you saying that Marie Curie put radium on her....

...well, I guess that would be one way to get a guy to find it. "No, idiot, next to the glowing spot, FFS!"
posted by eriko at 10:52 AM on September 18, 2015


I think of these awards every time I crack my knuckles.
posted by soelo at 10:52 AM on September 18, 2015


After all their goal is to honor "something that makes people laugh then think." (emphasis theirs)

I prefer their other oft-quoted phrase, "The prizes are for achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced."
posted by Melismata at 11:04 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Biology Prize: "Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion", using weighted sticks attached to the rear ends of chickens to make them walk in a manner similar to how dinosaurs are believed to have walked.

Do people who dance or do acrobatics ever consciously orient or manipulate their tail bone (coccyx if you prefer)? It seems to me there could be a placebo effect at least.
posted by bukvich at 11:56 AM on September 18, 2015


Miss Sweetie Poo

Genius! Can't wait to use this technique at my work meeting first thing Monday morning!
posted by cynical pinnacle at 3:59 PM on September 18, 2015


"Pain Over Speed Bumps in Diagnosis of Acute Appendicitis: Diagnostic Accuracy Study," funnily enough I've noticed this and kept track of it over the past couple years.

Not sure how many kids I've seen in urgent cares over the past year for "the worst abdominal pain in my life" but it's probably in the low triple digits. I remember four complain of speed bump pain, all of them got worked up for appendicitis and two of them ended up having it. Unfortunately the overlap with already well validated exam items like "cough tenderness" was pretty universal so I'm not sad that Dr. Ashdown beat me to the publishing punch.
posted by midmarch snowman at 5:16 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Miss Sweetie Poo

As part of this year's ceremony, they invited all former Miss Sweetie Poos to talk about their experiences.

Their tribute to Don Featherstone, inventor of the plastic pink flamingo and 1996 ignobel art prize winner who died earlier this year, was also a nice touch.
posted by effbot at 7:30 AM on September 19, 2015


Ah but Midmarch, it's a screening test with a high sensitivity but not much specificity! So your findings are actually completely in keeping with theirs!

I know it is difficult to get papers accepted when they are just replicating previous groundbreaking studies, but it might be worth writing your case series up nonetheless. Probably BMC Surgery would take it.

Or you could test it against the gold-standard star jump sign, which one of my colleagues managed to convince somebody was a genuine diagnostic test for an acute abdomen.
posted by tinkletown at 4:08 PM on September 19, 2015




I seem to average about 50 seconds. Now I'm worried...
posted by Paul Slade at 3:39 PM on September 20, 2015


« Older Showdown in Stumptown   |   Deception for Journalism's Sake: A Database Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments