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  1. #1

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

    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:
    The Nobel committee said their research on "vesicle traffic" — the transport system of our cells — helped scientists understand how "cargo is delivered to the right place at the right time" inside cells.

    Disturbances to the system can contribute to diabetes and neurological and immunological disorders, the committee said.

    Physics: Francois Englert (Belgium) and Peter W. Higgs (UK), for their research into the Higgs boson particle:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/1...n_4062030.html

    From the AP:
    Englert and Higgs theorized about the existence of the particle in the 1960s to provide an answer to a riddle: why matter has mass. The tiny particle, they believed, acts like molasses on snow — causing other basic building blocks of nature to stick together, slow down and form atoms.

    But decades would pass before scientists at CERN, the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research, were able to confirm its existence. The European particle physics laboratory announced the news in July of last year.


    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
    And so, dear Lord, it is with deep sadness that we turn over to you this young woman, whose dream to ride on a giant swan resulted in her death. Maybe it is your way of telling us... to buy American.

  2. #2

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    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 or even 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.)
    And so, dear Lord, it is with deep sadness that we turn over to you this young woman, whose dream to ride on a giant swan resulted in her death. Maybe it is your way of telling us... to buy American.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    Physics: Francois Englert (Belgium) and Peter W. Higgs (UK), for their research into the Higgs boson particle:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/1...n_4062030.html
    Predictions as to how long it will take for this to find its way into an episode of The Big Bang Theory?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis@BC View Post
    Predictions as to how long it will take for this to find its way into an episode of The Big Bang Theory?
    Pretty sure BBT has already talked about Higgs-Boson.

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    ^ 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?

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    2014!?
    So, we are making predictions now?

    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 . 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 by beepbeep; 10-09-2013 at 12:31 AM.
    Dá-lhe, Isadora!!
    Lead me not into temptation. I can find it, and eat it, all by myself.

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    The Nigerian Phd student who proved that homosexuality is unnatural by showing that magnets repel each other should have won the Ig Nobel Prize!
    Last edited by Ziggy; 10-09-2013 at 10:59 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    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.
    I wanna get drunk everyday!
    Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them. – Publilius Syrus

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    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:
    The three combined classical physics with quantum physics -- two previously rival worlds -- in computer models designed to predict chemical reactions.
    And from CNN:
    Chemists used to use balls and sticks to make models of complex molecules. That has vastly changed. The Nobel Prize in chemistry rewarded three scientists for work leading to the complex computer programs used today to display detailed structures of complex molecules.
    And so, dear Lord, it is with deep sadness that we turn over to you this young woman, whose dream to ride on a giant swan resulted in her death. Maybe it is your way of telling us... to buy American.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by spikydurian View Post
    I wanna get drunk everyday!
    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!
    And so, dear Lord, it is with deep sadness that we turn over to you this young woman, whose dream to ride on a giant swan resulted in her death. Maybe it is your way of telling us... to buy American.

  11. #11
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    Surprised that this hasn't been posted here yet. Canadians, you're slipping.

    Literature:

    Alice Munro

    Canadian writer Alice Munro has won this year’s Nobel Prize in literature.

    The Swedish Academy, which selects Nobel literature winners, called her a “master of the contemporary short story”.

    Munro is the first Canadian writer to receive the prestigious $1.2 million (€886,000) award since Saul Bellow, who won in 1976 and left for the United States as a boy.

    Munro’s writing has brought her numerous awards. She won a National Book Critics Circle prize for Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, and is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s prize, Canada’s highest literary honour.

    Often compared to Anton Chekhov, the 82-year-old writer has attained near-canonical status as a thorough, but forgiving, documenter of the human spirit.
    To think that fun is simple fun, while earnest things are earnest, proves all too plain that neither one thou truthfully discernest.

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    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.
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  13. #13
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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allezfred View Post
    Surprised that this hasn't been posted here yet. Canadians, you're slipping.
    Some of us were still sleeping. Like Ms Munro was when her daughter phoned her with the news.

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cygnus View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    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.
    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.

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    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"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemis@BC View Post
    Predictions as to how long it will take for this to find its way into an episode of The Big Bang Theory?
    I predict that Amy Farrah Fowler will collaborate with Randy Schekman next season, resulting in jealousy from Sheldon
    Last edited by bardtoob; 10-10-2013 at 05:59 PM.

  19. #19
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    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.)

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    Congratulations, Alice Munro! Love her short stories.
    "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." -- Samuel Beckett

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