Ig Nobel Prizes Honor Dubious Engineering Achievements

We’re not ones to toot our own horns here at Engineering on the Edge, but don’t think we weren’t pleased when we saw that several of the topics of our previous posts had achieved a degree of infamy by being named to the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize list.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Ig Nobels, brought to you by the folks at Improbable Research, honor dubious achievements in science; those “that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” We missed the announcements back in September, but it’s never too late to celebrate these obscure, but still relevant, achievements.

The SpeechJammer, one of the recipients of this year's Ig Nobel Prize awards.

One of my very first posts here was about this study by Rouslan Krechetnikov, which examined the fluid dynamics of a sloshing coffee cup, and which took the 2012 Fluid Dynamics Ig. We also previously covered Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada’s fascinating (and frightening) SpeechJammer, sort of a weaponized shusher that disrupts speech by forcing the speaker to hear their own words broadcast back with a slight delay.

Other Igs of interest to engineers include this year’s Peace Prize winner, the SKN Company, which is converting old Russian ammunition into nano-diamonds using high explosives. The Physics Prize went to  a study titled “Shape of a Ponytail and the Statistical Physics of Hair Fiber Bundles,” which developed a “general continuum theory for the distribution of hairs in a bundle.”

But even I’m not sure what to make of the studies that revealed that leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower seem smaller, or the study that revealed meaningful brain activity in dead salmon.

You can watch the ceremony unfold at Harvard in the video below:

Source: Improbable Research


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