Did you know that elevator music may help prevent the common cold Companies like Enron, Global Crossing, Tyco, Waste Management and WorldCom shared an award for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world A man from Lithuania created an amusement park called Stalin World To save money, the British Royal Navy has barred trainees at its top gunnery school from firing live shells and ordered them to shout bang It has been determined that, biochemically, romantic love may be indistinguishable from severe obsessive compulsive disorder A college professor from Pennsylvania fed prozac to clams at the cellular level, clams and humans show remarkable nervous system similarities , resulting in a whole lot of reproducing going on A man from France is the only winner of two Ig Nobels, for demonstrating that water has a memory, and that the information can be transmitted over the phone and the Internet.
Then there are the classics, like the scientific investigation of why toast often falls on the buttered side an Australian man who patented the wheel, and the Australian Patent Office who granted it a man from Arizona who invented software that detcts when a cat is walking across your keyboard the Southern Baptist Church of Alabama for their county by county estimate of how many Alabama citizens will go to hell if they don t repent the sociology of Canadian donut shops, and the optimal way to dunk a biscuit Last but not least, a solution has been found to the age old problem of how to quickly start a barbecue It can be done in less than four seconds with charcoal and liquid oxygen.
This book is hilarious It s humor of a slightly highbrow variety, designed to make people laugh, then think It s highly recommended for everyone, even those who think that they hate science.
WHAT The Ig Nobel Prize Honours Individuals Whose Achievements In Science Cannot Or Should Not Be Reproduced Prizes Are Given To People Who Have Done Remarkably Bizarre Things In Science Over The Previous Year WHY The Igs Are Intended To Celebrate The Unusual, Honour The Imaginative And Shine A Spotlight Onto The Weird Corners Of Laboratories Around The World PAST WINNERS Peter Fong S Experiment In Which He Fed Prozac To Clams On The Basis That If They Chilled Out They D Taste Better Harold Hillman S Report On The Possible Pain Experienced During Execution By Different Methods If you get a chance to read this book, read it for it contains a lot of chuckles while referencing funny awarded prizes Virtually all of the topics treated are a hoot to read, though this sometimes owes to the comedic skill of the writers than the to the nature of each subject itself.
Case in point Because of the tall coconut tree in our backyard in Kahuku, Hawaii, the first topic I read was the study of the physics of falling coconuts, finding it humorously presented while still of serious importance Most people, not living near coconut trees, and even some natives in the tropics, seem not to take falling coconuts seriously, but one fell from our tree, rolled down one of the long leaves, carrying it far enough from the tree to leave an 8 diameter hole in the roof of a sturdy gazebo, which could just as easily have been our neighbor s shed or head To me, one of the interesting accounts was of Dr Cecil Jacobsen, a noted fertility researcher with whom I attended church for years in northern Virginia, who had decided to use his own sperm to impregnate many dozens of women, while telling them the semen was from other anonymous donors The IgNobel Prize given to Dr Jacobsen may not have seemed humorous to Cecil or his unwitting sperm recipients You ll find a treasure trove of wacky and fascinating matters wittily presented in this collection, and you ll probably find yourself reading it aloud to your friends and watching them crack up or maybe just watching their jaws drop Some of the material is appropriate for all ages My 10 year old grandson loved the study of Nosepicking Among Adolescents.
I have kept up with the Annals of Improbable Research for several years, and must say that this book reflects the best of the highbrow, yet offbeat sense of humor found in AIR.
For those unfamiliar, the Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded every year for achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced in an elaborate spectacle of a ceremony at Harvard University Among the participants are many genuine Nobel Prize winners, proving beyond doubt that scientists do have a sense of humor.
There is something for everyone in this book, even for those who hate science in fact especially for those who hate science The subjects coast gracefully from the bizarre Elevator Music Prevents the Common Cold to the absolute fringe of science The Effects of Ale, Garlic, and Soured Cream on the Appetites of Leeches the sour cream was the biggest appetite stimulant, by the way There are subjects you would have never thought of unless you are a scientist with way too much time and Federal grant money on your hands from levitating frogs to Chicken Plucking as Measure of Tornado Wind Speed The subject matter is dizzying and amusing.
I eventually settled on a four star rating for a couple of reasons First, in a majority of cases, these studies are supported through tax dollars, and I generally resent the glorification of wasted money, which this book surely is in great, if unintentional, part only a small percentage of these studies have genuine follow on benefits most were clearly done for square filling publication in the publish or perish world of academia Second, the politically motivated selection of some recipients, notably Edward Teller, is an undeserved slap at scientists who did and do work on defense projects where a huge number of genuine scientific advances actually occur by what is an obviously smug class of academics, who clearly seek to advance their own political agenda I find that to have tarnished what would have otherwise been a superior work of science reporting and humor.
Despite my reservations, I overall recommend the book, as it does generally meet its stated goals of making a person laugh and think.