Spotlight on Award-Winning Research: Nobel and Ig Nobel Prizes
Last fall was prize season, with both prestigious (Nobel) and entertaining (Ig Nobel) prizes being awarded. Read on for a review of the prize winners, and links to their published work.
Selected Nobel Prizes
The Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded jointly to Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, Roger Y. Tsien for their work in the “discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP.”
The Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa. Yoichiro Nambu received half the prize for“the discovery of "the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics,” while Kobayashi and Maskawa split the other half for their discovery “of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature.”
Half of the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Harald zur Hausen for his discovery of “human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer.” The other half of the prize was split between Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus.
Selected Ig Nobel Prizes
The Ig Nobel Prizes are presented by the Annals of Improbable Research for achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” The prizes are presented by Nobel laureates every October and are followed a few days later by free lectures by the winners that explain their research. The 18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was held October 2, 2008 at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. Selected prizes are described below.
The Chemistry Prize was jointly awarded to two different
research groups. The first half of the award was split between Sharee
A. Umpierre, Joseph A. Hill and Deborah J. Anderson for their 1985
discovery of an off-label use of Coca-Cola as an effective spermicide. The other half of the award was split between Chuang-Ye Hong, C.C.
Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang for their 1987 discovery of Coke as
an ineffective spermicide.
1985 letter in New England Journal of Medicine, v.313 no.21 p.1351 Note: can be requested from ARCC W1.NE388
1987 article abstract for Human Toxicology Note: available in TAY per W1.HU465T
The Physics Prize was awarded to Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith
for their elegant mathematical proof that a pile of string or hair or
Christmas lights will unavoidably become tangled in knots.
Article abstract in PNAS (with links to full text and supporting movies)
The Medicine Prize was awarded to Dan Ariely, Rebecca L. Waber,
Baba Shiv, and Ziv Carmon for their recent study that showed
high-priced placebos to be more effective than the cheap generic
Article in JAMA
The Biology Prize was awarded to Marie-Christine Cadiergues,
Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc for their discovery that fleas
living on a dog can jump higher than those that live on a cat.
Article pdf in Veterinary Parasitology
The Nutrition Prize was awarded to Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence. Their research concluded that you can alter how things taste to people by playing different sounds while people eat. As Spence explained, with regards to potato chips, “if we change the sound as they eat, we can actually change how fresh, or how crisp, the Pringle tastes to people.”
Article pdf in Journal of Sensory Studies
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