The 2012 IgNobels Are Awesome As Usual

For those unfamiliar, the IgNobel Prize is a not-entirely-serious contest where the annals of scientific research are scoured for what is scientifically referred to as “incredibly goofy research.” Sometimes it’s smartassed, sometimes it’s a criticism of other colleagues, and sometimes it’s dead serious, but patently absurd.

It’s not entirely ridiculous. In the past, for example, they’ve given attention to guys like Troy Hurtubuise, who although his grizzly suit is ridiculous and the man himself is like a bit bonkers, does actually work and has actually advanced safety suit research considerably.

This year, as always, there was actually some notable research included.

As well as some ridiculously goofy research. Here’s the full list of winners, but these are my personal favorites off the list:

Psychology: Leaning To The Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller.

The research is interesting: the study was conducted to demonstrate that body posture can influence how people observe size and quantities, that is, we consciously put larger things to the right and smaller things to the left. It’s a pretty fascinating demonstration of social conditioning. It’s just the most ridiculous title I’ve ever seen and I’ve been following the IgNobels since they started.

Acoustics: SpeechJammer: A System Utilizing Artificial Speech Disturbance with Delayed Auditory Feedback

In other words, Japanese researchers invented the STFU Gun. It works by reflecting your words back at you in a slight delay, which confuses your brain and makes you stop talking. Forget an IgNobel, these guys need a Nobel.

Neuroscience: Neural Correlates of Interspecies Perspective Taking in the Post-Mortem Atlantic Salmon: An Argument For Multiple Comparisons Correction

Basically these guys used incredibly complex techniques and statistics to show a dead fish was still thinking. As you might guess, this wasn’t really about the dead fish. It was about more rigorous application of common sense to data. It also happens to be a hoot, if you’re into this kind of thing.

Chemistry: For Figuring Out What Was Turning Swedes’ Hair Green

Just… read the article. Trust me, the punchline here is worth it.