2014 Ig-Nobel Prizes (oh, and the Nobel Prizes, too...)

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by GarrAarghHrumph, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2001
    Messages:
    15,998
    The Nobel Prizes have begun to be awarded this week. So far:

    Medicine: James Rothman (US), Randy Schekman (US) and Thomas Suedhof (Germany, US), for discoveries on how hormones, enzymes and other key substances are transported within cells.

    From the AP:

    Physics: Francois Englert (Belgium) and Peter W. Higgs (UK), for their research into the Higgs boson particle:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/08/nobel-prize-physics_n_4062030.html

    From the AP:


    Amusingly enough (?), one 2012 winner was deemed non-essential by the US government, and furloughed due to the government shutdown (Thanks to Buzz for posting the link to this article originally):

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/1...n_4063775.html
  2. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2001
    Messages:
    15,998
    On a more comedic note, the Ig-Nobel Prizes were awarded in September. The Ig-Nobels are semi-serious, semi-comedic, and designed to award science that makes you laugh, then makes you think. It's real science... but when seen by outsiders, can seem a bit :confused: or even :eek: What's so cool about them is that many of those who win actually show up, and the awards are given out by Nobel Laureates.

    A sampling of my favorite Ig-Nobel winners for this year. All quoted from the Ig-Nobel website, here: http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2013

    PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Laurent Bègue [FRANCE], Brad Bushman [USA, UK, the NETHERLANDS, POLAND], Oulmann Zerhouni [FRANCE], Baptiste Subra [FRANCE], and Medhi Ourabah [FRANCE], for confirming, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.

    SAFETY ENGINEERING PRIZE: The late Gustano Pizzo [USA], for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers — the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane's specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival. US Patent #3811643, Gustano A. Pizzo, "anti hijacking system for aircraft", May 21, 1972.

    PHYSICS PRIZE: Alberto Minetti [ITALY, UK, DENMARK, SWITZERLAND], Yuri Ivanenko [ITALY, RUSSIA, FRANCE], Germana Cappellini [ITALY], Nadia Dominici [ITALY, SWITZERLAND], and Francesco Lacquaniti [ITALY], for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the moon.

    PEACE PRIZE: Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding. (I imagine Mr. Lukashenko did not actually show up to receive this prize. A pity.)
  3. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,895
    bardtoob and (deleted member) like this.
  4. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2007
    Messages:
    11,089
    Pretty sure BBT has already talked about Higgs-Boson.
  5. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,895
    ^ Of course they have. Many, many times. I'm talking about the part that's new: the Nobel prize. Given that Sheldon's dream is to win a Nobel and that this is his field ... will he be happy or insanely jealous?
  6. beepbeep

    beepbeep Resident Rude Brazilian

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2008
    Messages:
    3,270
    2014!?
    So, we are making predictions now? :D

    I find that the Nobel Prize page has very comprehensive releases.

    Being a former experimental physicist, I very much dislike when the accolade is given just to the people that made the theoretic prediction, leaving out the ones that found the experimental evidence (it wouldn't be exactly practical here, since you'd probably have to include everyone that worked on the LHC experiments, but they could have included the team leader).

    And I am so far behind on my Ig Nobel readings :lol:. I used to be a devoted reader of the site, even after I left Physics, but I haven't checked it in ages...
    My all time favorite was the 2002 Physics prize: proof that beer froth decays exponentially
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  7. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2002
    Messages:
    20,569
    The Nigerian Phd student who proved that homosexuality is unnatural by showing that magnets repel each other should have won the Ig Nobel Prize! :drama:
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  8. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Messages:
    2,685
    I wanna get drunk everyday!:rockstar:
  9. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2001
    Messages:
    15,998
    Chemistry:

    Martin Karplus (US, Australia), Michael Levitt (US, UK), and Arieh Warshel (US, Israel) for "for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems." They developed computer models and programs that simulate chemical processes.

    According to the AFP:
    And from CNN:
  10. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2001
    Messages:
    15,998
    You don't have to. The study confirmed that people who *think* they are drunk also think they are attractive. So all you need to do is think you are drunk, et voila!
  11. allezfred

    allezfred Prick Admin Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2003
    Messages:
    42,751
    Surprised that this hasn't been posted here yet. Canadians, you're slipping. ;)

    Literature:

    Alice Munro

  12. cygnus

    cygnus Liberal Furry

    Joined:
    May 4, 2002
    Messages:
    2,317
    I'm very happy for Alice Munro- she really is a great writer. I would have thought that if they were going to give it to a Canadian female writer, it would have gone to Margaret Atwood though. She seems to have a much higher international reputation.

    Still- it's good to see it go to a short story writer- it is a much under-appreciated genre.
  13. Alixana

    Alixana recovering Oly-holic

    Joined:
    May 1, 2004
    Messages:
    1,263
    Also very happy for Alice Munro. Away From Her is one of my favourite short stories; loved the movie with Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent as well.
  14. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,895
    Some of us were still sleeping. Like Ms Munro was when her daughter phoned her with the news. :D

    I'm pretty thrilled about this. There have been past Nobel winners I've read and enjoyed, but she's the first one who's actually on my favourite authors list. She manages to write in a way that's exquisitely "literary" and still entirely accessible. Hugely deserving win.
  15. KCC

    KCC Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Messages:
    939
    I just rounded up all of my Margaret Atwood books to take to the local library. After holding onto some of them for decades, I am finally willing to release them to other readers.
  16. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2009
    Messages:
    4,878
    As far as the Israeli media is concerned, both Warshel and Levitt are Israeli and the rest is secondary ;)

    FWIW, Warshel is Israeli born and raised and completed his PhD here, and Levitt got his PhD here and has lived in Israel on and off ever since.
  17. Corianna

    Corianna Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2012
    Messages:
    398
    Both are fine writers, but Margaret Atwood is a very outgoing person, who espouses worthy causes, speaks out on issues, and travels to literary international events, which is why she is better known.

    Alice Munro is very private, and does only what she can't avoid in regard to publicity,(publishing contract obligations) though she loves reading from her work in quiet venues. She has always preferred to keep her celebrity separate from her "real" life, and goes to great length to protect it. I was her neighbour and friend for many years and only occasionally did she wish to talk about her career or success. Even though she has become quite well off from her writing, she lived very simply.
    I once asked her how she coped with the pressure of being not just the greatest short story writer in Canada but one of the greatest of all time anywhere, and she shrugged... "Oh, you know, you just get on with the work"
    cygnus and (deleted member) like this.
  18. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    7,890
    I predict that Amy Farrah Fowler will collaborate with Randy Schekman next season, resulting in jealousy from Sheldon :D
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
  19. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,895
    I was in Victoria last week. Wish I was there today instead -- I can imagine the fanfare at Munro Books. (Which, quite aside from any connection to the author, is my favourite bookstore in Canada.)
  20. made_in_canada

    made_in_canada INTJ

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Messages:
    4,198
    :cheer2::cheer2: Congratulations, Alice Munro! :cheer2::cheer2: Love her short stories.
  21. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2001
    Messages:
    15,998
    Peace: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is a group charged with enforcing the Chemical Weapons Convention. They have been involved in investigating the situation in Syria, amongst other things.
  22. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2001
    Messages:
    16,768
    Great choice. They do good work.
  23. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,895
    A part of me was rooting for Malala Yousafzai, but think this was the right choice. It's good to see recognition for an organization that didn't previously have much of a public profile -- this will do wonders to let people know about the work they do.
  24. made_in_canada

    made_in_canada INTJ

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Messages:
    4,198
    If you missed it here's Malala on The Daily Show. She's such an inspiration.
  25. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,895
    ^ Her interview on the Daily Show was good, but although Jon treated her and her work with respect it was still a comedy show and he had to get in the requisite number of laughs. (It was fun to see her laugh, though.)

    For a much better interview, I suggest the one she did with Anna Maria Tremonti on The National the other night.
  26. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2002
    Messages:
    20,569
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  27. Simone411

    Simone411 aka IceSkate98

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2007
    Messages:
    7,150
    Thanks for sharing the video. Malala is a truly remarkable young lady.
  28. LilJen

    LilJen Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2006
    Messages:
    9,269
    :rofl: I would be interested to see how this poor person with one arm clapped. Did he clap his hand against his thigh?
    :cheer:
  29. Finnice

    Finnice Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Messages:
    4,993
    Good choices both in peace and literary. It is great that short stories get recognition they don´t often have. I know Munro´s translator in Finnish, she does great work, and her Finnish publishing house was thrilled.

    When I am back home from this trip, I reread her short stories. We have several volumes in our library. Congratulations to Canadian literature, too!
  30. Eden

    Eden Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Messages:
    7,171
    The third winner, Australian-American Professor Martin Karplus, has also connections to Israel. Most of his family members made an Aliyah (immigration) to Israel. ;)
    BTW, since 2001, 6 Israelis were among Chemistry Nobel winners:
    Avram Hershko & Aaron Ciechanover in 2001;
    Ada Yonath in 2009;
    Dan Shechtman in 2011;
    Arieh Warshel & Michael Levitt 2013.
  31. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    Messages:
    2,685
    That's great. I don't have to spend $$$ on alcohol to get drunk then. :D

    Congrats to my Canadian friends/FSU posters on Munro's win. Hmmm... I think I will like her as a person - sounds very down to earth. :) I love short stories due to my limited attention span.
  32. orientalplane

    orientalplane Mad for mangelwurzels

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2005
    Messages:
    10,670
    I also did not want to see her receive the Nobel Prize at the age of 16, but can you explain what your first comment about her means?
  33. DAngel

    DAngel Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    672
    She truly is :kickass:

    Yes, please do explain...
  34. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2002
    Messages:
    20,569
    Copied and pasted from Wiki because of laziness. :p

    More importantly, she donated her own copy of "The Alchemist" when opening The Library of Birmingham. I thought she was supposed to be campaigning for education. :drama:
  35. DAngel

    DAngel Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    672
    None of those reasons should lessen the value of what she did/does though...
  36. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2009
    Messages:
    4,878
    This is completely unpersuasive. If rampant militancy is a major negative issue, that only makes Yousafazi's actions more impressive. Education is not a western agenda - Islam has quite a heritage of education and scholarship, and education for women is not contradictory to Islam, either, so in that respect too her advocacy is also valuable. She is not looking for white saviors, she is looking for change from within. And Yousafazi can hardly be held accountable for the suffering of others brought upon by other countries, not to mention that Norway is not exactly an imperialistic power.

    I do think that Yousafazi is more a symbol at this point and perhaps not accomplished enough to warrant such recognition, but then 1. she's only 16 and 2. the same could be said about many Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

    Crappy taste in books isn't a reason to deny anyone a Nobel prize, of course ;)
  37. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2001
    Messages:
    16,768
  38. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2001
    Messages:
    15,998
    They basically, more or less, developed math models and methods that allow the study of trends in things like stocks and housing pricing. To quote the AP, the Academy said:

    So they showed that the prices of assets such as stocks are unpredictable in the short term, but get more predictable as you forecast over years. The three men worked independently, and their work has had an influence on how investments are made. Their work has lead to things like the popularity of index funds (such as are in many 401Ks.)

    Schiller is most famous for having developed the Case-Schiller index, which is pretty famous, relatively speaking. ;) It helps measure US housing prices. But that wasn't what he was honored for. He was honored for working on predictability in stock markets over the long run. Fama's work showed how difficult it is to predict stock prices in the short term. And Hansen developed a statistical model that allows people to test different theories regarding pricing of assets such as stocks. The Academy said that these men's work:

    "Otherwise", indeed. :lol:
  39. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2002
    Messages:
    20,569
    It doesn't. But I do find it problematic. Nothing is ever black or white.

    Not any more. She lives in the UK now. ;)

    She now belongs to the western establishment and time will tell what effect it will have on her views and her work (but I can make a guess :p).

    More importantly, there are plenty of people out there who do valuable work. They just weren't lucky and media-friendly enough to be thrust into the spotlight in the same way.

    And to give some more context to those copied quotes: There is no wonder there's rampant militancy in Pakistan given the amount of drone-strikes and other military operations conducted there by the US. Violence can only breed more violence. What happens to Malala brings more negative light to Pakistan - and white saviours come to the rescue - but this is a mess that the West is also responsible of in the first place.

    Education is important yes - but stability, security and having enough food are needs which are more basic and more pressing and which are still not being fully satisfied there. Malala keeps talking about education but I've never heard her say anything about this wider social context. There's an incredible naivety to her single-issue message and it does sound like something that an outsider who doesn't understand the local situation would say. Black skin, white masks.

    Can you really blame people who send children to work instead of sending them to school if they aren't able to subsist otherwise? An average white westerner would say 'what they are doing is morally wrong' but what other options do they have?
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  40. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2009
    Messages:
    4,878
    Well, we all know why she had to relocate initially.

    She's stated more than once that her intention is to return to Pakistan and do her work there. Whether she'll do it is another matter, but she's been quite clear that her goal is to effect change from within Pakistan.

    And as I wrote earlier, the perception that education is somehow contrary to Islam is a serious problem. And also wrong.