Ig Nobels reward US Government Accountability Office

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Well, it's that time of year again, when the most interesting scientific research - as opposed to the most important or useful - is rewarded.

Yes, the Ig Nobel prizes were dished out last night in a ceremony at Harvard University.

The prizes, say organizers The Annals of Improbable Research, are given for 'achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think'.

This year's recipients include Anita Eerland and her team for their study 'Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller'. Apparently, it's because people have a mental number line, with smaller numbers on the left.

And Craig Bennett, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, picked up a prize for demonstrating that MRI scanners could detect brain activity in a dead fish.

Meanwhile, Rouslan Krechetnikov, also of UC Santa Barbara, picked up a gong for examining why people spill coffee while they walk.

"The sizes of common coffee cups (dictated by the convenience of carrying them and the normal consumption of coffee by humans) are such that the frequency of natural liquid oscillations in the cup is on the order of the step frequency of normal walking," he explains.

Regular TG Daily readers may remember the SpeechJammer, a device that shuts bores up. Fortunately, its inventors, Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada, were able to make their acceptance speech without interruption.

The medicine prize went to Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti, for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.

And the US Government General Accountability Office won the highly-contested Literature prize, for issuing a report about reports about reports - that, in its findings, recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.