View Full Version : Nobel & Ig-Nobel Prizes 2011

10-03-2011, 02:36 PM
The Nobel Prize for medicine was announced today, and given to US, French, and Canadian scientists for their work related to the immune system:


Sadly, the Canadian scientist, Dr. Steinman, died three days ago:

To quote that article:

Nobel Prizes are typically not given out posthumously. Nobel committee member Goran Hansson said the Nobel committee didn't know Steinman was dead when it chose him as a winner and was looking through its regulations.

As I understand it, the modern rules require that Nobel laureates be alive at the time of the announcement.

10-03-2011, 02:51 PM
On a happier note, the Ig-Nobels, a more comedic take on the Nobel Prize process, were given out last week. Ig-Nobels are given out scientific work that "makes people laugh, then makes them think." They are designed to help spur people's interest in science, and the science is real, even if it seems odd on the surface.

You can find a complete list of Ig-Nobel winners for this year here:

But some of my favorites:

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami of JAPAN, for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm.

MEDICINE PRIZE: Mirjam Tuk (of THE NETHERLANDS and the UK), Debra Trampe (of THE NETHERLANDS) and Luk Warlop (of BELGIUM). and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder and Robert Feldman (of the USA), Robert Pietrzak, David Darby, and Paul Maruff (of AUSTRALIA) for demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things — but worse decisions about other kinds of things‚ when they have a strong urge to urinate.

MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of KOREA (who predicted the world would end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of UGANDA (who predicted the world would end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world will end on October 21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.

PEACE PRIZE: Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, LITHUANIA, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.

Often, the science winners of the Ig-Nobels do attend the ceremony, proving that scientists do, in fact, have a sense of humor.

10-03-2011, 04:00 PM
I really liked the Ig-Nobel prize for peace. Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-fWN0FmcIU

10-03-2011, 04:32 PM
How tragic for Dr. Steinman. :(

10-03-2011, 06:23 PM
I really liked the Ig-Nobel prize for peace. Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-fWN0FmcIU

Yup, that'd certainly discourage illegal parking.

10-03-2011, 06:54 PM
Dr Steinman was not only great scientist but also a very nice and humble man. RIP.

10-03-2011, 09:08 PM
Steiner will get to keep his Nobel prize.


I wish he had lived long enough to experience the honor, but it is good that they are taking into account this unusual situation, and giving him the Nobel prize posthumously.

10-03-2011, 10:04 PM
Oh what a pickle... I am tempted to say yes give the award to him but that could open up a whole can of worms.

10-03-2011, 10:12 PM
Doesn't the Nobel prize include money, perhaps his estate can cash the check?

10-04-2011, 12:42 AM
I strongly endorse the Ig-Noble prize for Peace and suggest it be adopted everywhere, and expanded to include "Smart"Cars and motobikes who take up entire on-street parking spaces.

10-04-2011, 02:42 PM
The physics prize was announced today, and given to three American scientists (one of whom is Australian and American) who proved that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate, rather than slowing as previously thought:


10-07-2011, 04:15 PM
The Peace Prize went to two Liberian women (one of whom, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is the President of the country) and a woman from Yemen.


It will be fascinating to see how all this plays out, especially in Yemen and the Arab world generally.

Johnson Sirleaf is up for re-election on Tuesday.

10-07-2011, 05:14 PM
Tomas Tranströmer won for Literature. Since he lost the power of speech to a stroke in 1990, he'll play the piano as his acceptance speech. Sweet. :)

10-08-2011, 02:14 AM
Hmmpf....no love for the Chemistry Nobel winner? Israeli researcher Dan Shechtman won for his discovery of quasicrystals. These are formed by certain metal alloys and unlike normal crystals, they don't have traditional 3-D repeating unit cells. Instead they have unusual symmetry elements like 5-fold or 10-fold rotational axes, and in order to understand the structure you basically have to analyze it in 4 or 6 dimensions.

When he discovered the first example of a quasicrystal, his boss told him his crystalline sample was crappy and to just ignore the data. And established crystallographers (including Linus Pauling) told him he was crazy.

10-09-2011, 02:44 AM
Prof. Daniel Shechtman is the 10th Israeli to win a nobel prize. :respec:
His discovery (here is a short video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsqdJ2hNZuM) about it) and the struggle for recognition is quite remarkable.
His idea of quasicrystals was ridiculed by most of the scientific world lead by Linus Pauling (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linus_Pauling). He was even banned from a research group.
But he never gave up, and continued to defend his discovery.
Prof. Shechtman's battle eventually forced other scientists to reconsider their conception of the very nature of matter. It took few years once scientists began confirming that Shechtman's discovery of quasicrystals is indeed true.