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IgNobel Prize Winners!

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, the IgNobel Prizes wrapped up not too long ago. Scicurious was live blogging the event and there was also a live webcast.

And the winners are:

A group from Europe won the Physiology award for demonstrating that yawns are not contagious in Red-Footed tortoises.

A group from Japan won the award for Chemistry by demonstrating the ideal amount ofwasabi to put in the air in order to wake people up. The purpose? A wasabi fire-alarm!

A couple of studies demonstrating how people make decisions when they really, really have to pee won the award for Medicine.

A group from Oslo won the Psychology prize for studying why people sigh. 

The Literature prize was given to John Perry of Stanford University for his theory of “Structured Procrastination“.

The Biology prize was given to a couple guys hailing from Canada, Australia and the USA for discovering a type of beetle that mates with stubby beer bottles.

A bunch of loons (e.g. Harold Camping) won the Mathematics prize for predicting the world would end and being wrong.

The Peace prize was awarded to Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, for driving over an illegally parked luxury car with an armored tank.

The Public Safety prize was given to John Senders of the University of Toronto for conducting a driving safety study by having someone drive down the highway and have avisor repeatedly hit them in the face.

And finally, (and most importantly!) the Physics prize was given to a group from France and the Netherlands for studying why discus throwers get dizzy, but hammer throwers don’t. Very important with the 2012 Olympics coming up!

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Holy F@#$! That Hurt!

October 6, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been busy the last few days, but I have still been collecting interesting science news. Here’s one that really jabbed me. Pun TOTALLY intended.

A study published last year in Neuroreport found that swearing allowed people to withstand pain significantly longer than those who didn’t swear.

Why am I talking about this now? Because this study won the Ig Nobel Peace Prize, a prize awarded to research “that first make people laugh, and then make[s] them think.”

The researchers thought:

The observed pain-lessening (hypoalgesic) effect may occur because swearing induces a fight-or-flight response and nullifies the link between fear of pain and pain perception.

They did measure the heart rates of the subjects in this study, but they did not monitor any other biological effects. Basically they are saying that it is a complicated combination of  real physical effect (increased adrenaline and heart rate) and a simple placebo effect (decreased pain perception).

Whatever the cause, I let loose quite the string of explicits when I stub my toe on the same damn corner of the coffee table at least once a week! Grrr…