Freaky Friday News - September 21, 2012

Ig Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention (abrassiere that can quickly convert into a pair of protective face masks) assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle (left), Orhan Pamuk, andPaul Krugman (right). Photo credit: Alexey Eliseev, 2009 Ig Nobel Ceremony
Tuesday of this week, our Internet mysteriously went away.  (I blame space aliens and solar flares, personally.)   Now that it's back, I apologize for the break and present to you.... Freaky Friday News!!!
  • Leading up this week's Freaky News is an updated on the Ervin McKinness story.  No, this is not the beginning of the zombie apocalypse; he's still dead as are the passengers in his car.  I personally expected this to be the end of the story, but now a much smaller controversy popped up.  Who was really driving the car?  Whomever took over Mr. McKinness' Twitter account started making statements saying that Mr. McKinness was a passenger in the car, and not the driver.  When I first heard this, my exact response went, "Seriously??? Who cares!  They're all dead anyway!!!" Then I realized who cares - the insurance companies.  So now people are arguing over who is responsible for the tragedy, potentially dragging a somewhat innocent person's name through the proverbial mud all in the name of money.  The tragedy in this story seems never-ending.

  • On Wednesday, two elephants from the Circus Benneweis decided it would be a nice day for a walk. So they took a stroll down a street in Copenhagen.  According to Reuters, they only walked about 200 meters (or 605 feet, for us silly Americans) before their trainer caught up to them.  Everyone took the event in stride. (Pun intended.)




  • Yesterday was the 22nd First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes!!  For those who've never heard about these prizes, let me explain.  The organization Improbable Research and several clubs at Harvard look for  current research that "makes people laugh and then think."  The top ones in each of 10 categories get the prize, presented by real Nobel prize winners.  I've copied the winners directly from the website, because I don't really know how to paraphrase "minimize the chance their patients will explode".
    • PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Anita Eerland and Rolf Zwaan [THE NETHERLANDS] and Tulio Guadalupe [PERU, RUSSIA, and THE NETHERLANDS] for their study "Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller"
    • PEACE PRIZE: The SKN Company [RUSSIA], for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds.
    • ACOUSTICS PRIZE: Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada [JAPAN] for creating the SpeechJammer — a machine that disrupts a person's speech, by making them hear their own spoken words at a very slight delay.
    • NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford [USA], for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.
    • CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Johan Pettersson [SWEDEN and RWANDA]. for solving the puzzle of why, in certain houses in the town of Anderslöv, Sweden, people's hair turned green.
    • LITERATURE PRIZE: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
    • PHYSICS PRIZE: Joseph Keller [USA], and Raymond Goldstein [USA and UK], Patrick Warren, and Robin Ball [UK], for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail.
    • FLUID DYNAMICS PRIZE: Rouslan Krechetnikov [USA, RUSSIA, CANADA] and Hans Mayer [USA] for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.
    • ANATOMY PRIZE: Frans de Waal [The Netherlands and USA] and Jennifer Pokorny [USA] for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends.
    • MEDICINE PRIZE: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti [FRANCE] for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode. 
Have a great weekend!!!

Comments

  1. My phone should have won the acoustics prize years ago. It does that to me all the time...very disconcerting and one of the many reasons why I hate to use the phone.

    I think the medicine prize research is actually pretty useful. It's a bummer to ruin a perfectly horrible day not only by having to get a colonoscopy but also by exploding.

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