Posts Tagged 'Ig Nobel Prize winners 2010'

The Ig Nobel Prizes

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

This year, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their experiments with graphene, a two-dimensional, one atom-thick sheet of carbon. Winning the Nobel Prize is arguably the greatest honor for any scientist, but this isn’t the first time Geim has received a Nobel…of sorts. Back in 2000, Geim was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics – for levitating a frog with magnets.

The Ig Nobel Prize, awarded for “research that makes people LAUGH, and then makes them THINK,” isn’t intended to make fun of scientific research, but a lot of the studies are pretty chuckle-inducing at first. Take Geim’s levitating frog, for example. While at first there seems to be no point to the experiment, other than to produce a “hover-frog,” Geim’s research demonstrated a phenomenon called diamagnetism. Objects that are diamagnetic get pushed away by magnetic fields. Water is diamagnetic, and frogs are mostly water. Therefore, surround a frog with a magnetic field and the force of the diamagnetic opposition can levitate a frog.

This year’s winners of the Ig Nobel Prize have been released and, as always, you’ll laugh, and then you’ll think. Here’s a sampling of the research that beat out the competition this year:

Engineering: Collect whale mucus using a helicopter

Medicine: Treating asthma symptoms with roller coaster rides

Physics: Preventing slipping on ice by putting socks over your shoes

Transportation Planning: Using slime mold to plan railroad track routes (hey, we suggested that would be a good idea months ago!)

Peace:  Swearing to relieve pain

Visit Improbable Research to learn more about this year’s Ig Nobel winners, and winners of years’ past. And you never know, a winner of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize may go on to win the Nobel Prize in the future. Or, vice versa.


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