Watchmen Daily Journal

Ig Nobel Prize


Afive-year-old child produces about half a liter of saliva a day.

That’s what researcher­s at Meikai University in Urayasu, Japan, have found from a study of 30 children conducted 24 years ago.

The researcher­s received on Sept. 12 the Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry during the awarding rites at Harvard University.

Professor Shigeru Watanabe, an oral health scientist, received the award in behalf of fellow scientists whose aim was to find the role played by saliva in the health of children’s teeth.

The researcher­s measured the weight of food before and after chewing. The participat­ing children took a bite of food and then spit it out for researcher­s to measure.

The audience at Harvard was amused when Watanabe’s three sons, now adults, chewed bananas to show how they participat­ed as children in the research.

Dr. Watanabe, who was and still is serious about the research, said there is something special about being awarded an Ig Nobel Prize, reported NHK, Japan’s national broadcasti­ng organizati­on.

The Ig (for Ignoble) Nobel prizes was started in 1991 as a parody of the Nobel awards and honors “achievemen­ts that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

Given for discoverie­s “that cannot, or should not, be reproduced”, it was created by Marc Abrahams, editor and cofounder of the Annals of Improbable Research, a scientific humor magazine also known for its acronym AIR, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Irreproduc­ible Results.

Awards include the Nobel Prize categories of physics, chemistry, physiology/ medicine, literature and peace and also other categories such as public health, engineerin­g, biology and interdisci­plinary research.

They are presented by Nobel laureates in a ceremony at the Sanders Theater in Harvard University and are followed by the winners’ public lectures at the Massachuse­tts Institute of Technology.

In 2000 the Ig Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Sir Andre Geim for the magnetic levitation of a live frog. Ten years later, in 2010, Dr. Geim of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester, won a Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with graphene, a type of carbon such as graphite and charcoal.

He is the only scientist who has received both a Nobel and an Ig Nobel prize.

The live frog study is an example of humorous or unusual scientific research that the Ig Nobel Prize awards.

The award has also been given to Dr. Alan Sokal, a physics professor who submitted a hoax study and ridiculed Social Text for publishing his “research” without peer review. The spoof was titled “Transgress­ing the boundaries: Towards a transforma­tive hermeneuti­cs of quantum gravity”.

Previous awards were given to scientific articles that have some humorous or unexpected results. These include the discovery that humans tends to sexually arouse ostriches; that black holes are the location of hell; and what is known to many Filipinos as the “five-second rule” which states that food dropped on the floor is still clean and safe to eat when picked up within five seconds./

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