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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Another Great Work of Toilet Literature 

I said that I'd write some reviews of the books I've been reading, of late. So here goes the first:

The Ig Nobel Prizes: The Annuls of Improbable Research
by Marc Abrahams (
Click to buy on Amazon)

Marc Abrahams is the editor of
The Annuls of Improbable Research, a magazine that recognizes our need to laugh at laughable research projects. The magazine gives out yearly awards to some of the best (or worst, depending upon your point of view) research projects that fit their particular criteria. To win an Ig Nobel Prize, first the research project "makes people LAUGH, then makes them THINK."
This book gives a short history of the contest and highlights of some of the funniest ever awarded.

This is a great book to read when you only have a snippet of time, now and then. Each story is only a few pages long and can be read while taking care of business. I put the book down for about a month and was able to pick right back up where I'd left off. No problem!
To give you an idea of the kinds of research considered, I'll show you a few past winners taken from the website:

The 2003 Physics Prize went to:
Jack Harvey, John Culvenor, Warren Payne, Steve Cowley, Michael Lawrance, David Stuart, and Robyn Williams of Australia, for their irresistible report "An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces."
The 2003 Chemistry Prize went to:
Yukio Hirose of Kanazawa University, for his chemical investigation of a bronze statue, in the city of Kanazawa, that fails to attract pigeons.
The 2002 Interdisciplinary Prize went to: Karl Kruszelnicki of The University of Sydney, for performing a
comprehensive survey of human belly button lint -- who gets it, when, what color, and how much.

You get the idea, by now.
Personally, I feel that this book will never be an important classic of literature, though it may actually cure constipation. So I heartily recommend it to anyone who likes to keep track of all research with such global importance.

It's Southern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day!

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