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Friday, September 19, 2014

Whether 'tis Nobler To Get a Prize... or Not



Well, sadly (…or, maybe not) for the third year in a row there was no Ig Nobel Prize given out for pure mathematics last evening at Harvard's annual gala awards ceremony. Last year there was at least an Ig Nobel for "Probability" work, granted for this piece of Scottish research on cows:

http://www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com/article/S0168-1591%2810%2900054-7/abstract?cc=y

The Ig Nobel citation says the paper makes "two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again."
And thus science marches onward!...

To all the pure mathematicians out there, start upping your game (or more likely tamping it down)… and better luck next year! (...actually, the last time a mathematics award was given out, in 2011, it went to 6 non-math individuals who wrongly predicted the world was coming to the end... so maybe we're better off without this prize, and just sticking with those humble MacArthurs, Fields, Abels, Breakthroughs, etc.)

You can visit all the past Ig Nobel winners here: http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2014

And finally here's a search for math-related articles in "The Annals of Improbable Research" (which created the Ig Nobels):
http://tinyurl.com/nnkhfny

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