Of plucked chickens and taped windshields

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Of plucked chickens and taped windshields
Of plucked chickens and taped windshields

Of plucked chickens and taped windshields

There is one consolation for most of the scientists who again did not receive a Nobel Prize this year: they have at least not been "awarded" with the Ig Nobel Prize Forgive experiments that cannot or should not be duplicated. In the hallowed halls of Harvard University, the "inaugural" presentation of the annual Ig Nobel Prize took place for the seventh time. However, only one of the ten laureates who were honored was present.

In contrast to the conventional Nobel Prizes, the Annals of Improbable Research award can also be awarded posthumously if required. For example, to Bernard Vonnegut from the State University of New York, Albany (USA). He received the award in meteorology for his investigations into whether the wind speed in tornadoes can be determined using dead chickens. However, in his report, which appeared in the October issue of Weatherwise, he states that this method is unsuitable. The technique, developed between 1842 and 1890, called for shooting dead chickens into the tornado with a cannon. But then it could no longer be proven whether the chickens were actually plucked by the tornado or perhaps by the cannon.

The discovery that background music in elevators appears to boost the immune system brought Carl Charnetski and Francis Brennan of Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre (USA), and James Harrison of Muzak Ltd. in Seattle (USA), earned his laurels in medicine. They had students listen to light jazz for 30 minutes and then measured the amount of immunoglobulin A in the saliva - it was 14 percent higher than without irrigation."It's a very serious and well-conducted scientific investigation," says Charnetski. So could music in the elevator protect against a cold?

The urban ecologist Mark Hostetler from the University of Florida (USA) was the only winner to attend the ceremony in person. The newly graduated researcher indirectly examined 12,000 miles of country roads by scraping from the windshields of intercity buses all the insects that had died and stuck there. His findings can be read in the book That Gunk on Your Car: A Unique Guide to Insects of North America, published by Ten Speed Press. There you will find wonderful color photos - of animals before and after contact with the windscreen - as well as natural history information. Hostetler said at the awards ceremony, "At least these insects didn't die in vain.".

An overview of the 1997 Ig Nobel Prizes


Richard Hoagland (USA) for discovering human forms - e.g. a face - on Mars and mile-high buildings on the far side of the moon.


T. Yagyu and colleagues for their study of human brain waves when chewing gum with different flavors.


Mark Hostetler for his exemplary book on insect sludge on American car windshields.


Harold Hillman for his loving account of The Possible Pain Experienced During Execution by Different Methods.


Sanford Wallace because neither rain nor sleet nor the dark of night could stop the self-proclaimed courier from delivering his stupid electronic mail around the world.


Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, Yoav Rosenberg, and Michael Drosnin for their hair-splitting statistical evidence that the Bible contains a hidden secret code.


Carl J. Charnetski, Francis X. Brennan and James F. Harrison for discovering that background music in elevators stimulates the production of immunoglobulin A and may therefore prevent the common cold.


Bernard Vonnegut for his revealing account of chicken plucking by tornadoes to determine wind speed.


John Bockris for his widespread achievements in cold nuclear fusion, the conversion of other elements to gold, and the electrochemical incineration of household waste.


Akihiro Yokoi and Aki Maita, father and mother of all Tamagotchis for diverting millions of human-hours away from work to caring for a virtual pet.

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