Friday, October 2, 2009

Thinking about "improbable research"

Are you familiar with the Nobel Prize, that wonderful award which caps a great scientist's career? Well, how about the Ig® Nobel Prize?

Yesterday, Improbable Research awarded the 19th First Annual Ig® Nobel Prizes. How were the winners chosen? According to their website, "[i]mprobable research is research that makes people laugh and then think."

Improbable Research finds the most unusual studies in over 20,000 publications and summarizes those most worthy in the Annals of Improbable Research. The best part? Each magazine comes complete with this handy-dandy Teachers' Guide.

This year, one of the Ig® Nobel prize winners was a UK team that discovered named cows produce more milk than unnamed cows. I loved this researcher's response to finding out that her group was a recipient. As reported by the BBC, she said that she was a great fan of the prize. She then praised UK dairy farmers for their humane treatment of their animals. Finally, "Dr. [Catherine] Douglas dedicated the award to Purslane, Wendy and Tina - 'the nicest cows I have ever known'."

If you happen to be in Cambridge, MA this Saturday, head on over to MIT for free seating at the Ig® Informal Lectures and learn more about this year's prize winners.

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