Noble Prize in Fun

The Ig Nobel Prizes (an American parody to the Nobel Prizes) are given every year to the most curious, different and even crazy scientific discoveries.

Awarded in Harvard, they were made to show the funny side of science, and to get more people interested in technology, mathematics, and science in general.

This year, the prizes were granted to:

  • Physics: To the creators of ‘The Ponytail Shape Equation’ for calculating the forces that make the ponytail’s shape.
  • Medicine: To the French scientists who advised doctors how to perform a colonoscopy minimizing the chances the patient will explode.
  • Literature: To the US Government General Accountability Office for giving out a report about a report that explains the preparation of a report about the report of a report about reports.
  • Neuroscience: To the brain researchers who detected brain activity in a dead salmon; but ended up being a technical error.
  • Acoustics: To the creators of the SpeechJammer, a machine that repeats the words you say only slightly delayed to confuse the speaker.
  • Chemistry: To the scientists who figured out why people’s hair in a certain Swedish town had turned green.
  • Fluid Dynamic: The researchers that studied how coffee spills when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.
  • Anatomy: The scientists who discovered chimpanzee can recognise each other by a photograph of their backside.

Last of all, my sincere congratulations to the winners, and the committee, for making these hilarious prizes take place, and helping society take interest in science.


Switching ON the junk

Scientists from all around the world may soon be able to read the genetics version of the book of life, detailing everything from the human genetics and DNA structure.

These exciting news start in 2003, when the American research facility, the National Human Genome Research Institute, created the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE for short) a project to find out all they could about the human DNA sequence.

In 2007, the results of the ENCODE were published, listing pages and pages of all the codes of DNA and finding out that about 98.8% of our DNA doesn’t do anything, adopting the name of junk DNA.

Since then, the research has been increased, and very fascinating details have been discovered. Just recently, they have found out that 19% of our DNA, codes for an RNA, that may work as a switch to turn on and off different genes on different parts of the body. The mechanism is still not clear, as not all of it is understood. For example, biologists have yet to comprehend why most of these switches are spread out over the genome, and not just near the gene they control.

Though this discovery is a milestone in genetics, it’s not the end of the story. It has still much to teach us, and researches have still yet to be made to uncover all the secrets lying in the complex structure of our DNA.