The Ig Nobel Prize Brings Humor to the World of Innovation.

박근후. Mak Hao Yang, 정해윤l승인2018.11.30l수정2018.11.30 11:44l366호 1면

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 Have you ever had a crazy idea? From the past to the present, many inventions have their roots in what was first considered a ridiculous idea. For example, Velcro was inspired when its inventor Georges de Mestral was hunting in the mountains of Switzerland and his trousers were gripped by the tiny burs of a plant called the Mountain Burdock. Fascinated with them, he examined them under a microscope and then designed a similar sticky device for the marketplace. Initially the product didn’t see much success, however, as technology advanced, Velcro began to gain attention and today, it is used almost everywhere.

▲ Inventors demonstrating their product at the 2018 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. (Photo from ArsTechnica)

 Many people agree with the potential power of ignoble things, so the Ig Nobel Prize was created by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research to recognize the efforts of things that were at first deemed, unlikely achievements. There are many other examples of unusual research featured as Ig Nobel Prize winners such as the idea that frogs can be levitated through magnets, and in order to deal with restricted budgets, the British Royal Navy should order its sailors to stop using ammunition and instead shout “Bang!". As improbable as these sound, they do make us laugh, and think.

So, what is the Ig Nobel Prize and when did it begin? The Dankook Herald will take a look at this award given by the Harvard University Humor Science Magazine called the “Annals of Impossible Research” since 1991. The ceremony is held every October in the Harvard Sanders Theater on campus. First of all, the official standard for Ig Nobel Prize is the "one who has achieved something that cannot or should not, be reproduced." Like the previous invention of Velcro, it is often given unimaginable ideas that have the possibility of shining in the future. However, in some cases, it is presented with the aim of alerting the person or group of people of their bad behavior. For example, a man named Davila won the Ig Nobel Economic Award in 1994. He in charge of trading minerals for Chile's state-run copper company. However, he bought at the time he had to sell and sold at the time he had to buy. His deliberate action resulted in a total loss of $27 million or, 0.5% of Chile's GNP (Gross National Product). After he was caught, the term Davila took hold and it meant "to mess things up very well". The humorous economics award from the Ig Nobel Prize Association was intended to show people how not to act.

▲ Ig Nobel Prize was founded by Marc Abrahams about improbable research since 1991. (Photo from medpagetoday.com)

 The Ig Nobel Prize is currently being awarded in 10 categories. The Ig Nobel Prize winners are decided that after the final vote with a stranger vote on the road every year. At the 2018 award ceremony, winners were said to receive about 10 trillion Zimbabwe dollars which is equivalent to about 4,000 Korean Won. As you can the Ig Nobel Prize is filled with absurd and sometimes silly ideas that may seem irrelevant and even awkward, however, a few ideas were able to contribute more to us than we ever imagined. At this year’s Ig Nobel Prize, Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger were awarded the prize for medicine for their research on the effects of roller coaster rides on kidney stones. Through their experiment on Walt Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Florida, they found out that by rattling passengers from side to side as well as up and down kidney stones are more easily passed through the urinary tract. Rear seats also offered the best results. Although the benefits are not high, it still proves that a patient of kidney stones can try this method out. Another idea worth remarking able is our habit to use saliva to wipe on dirty surfaces clean. Researchers Paula Romão, Adília, Alarcão, and César Viana proved scientifically that human saliva is a good cleaning agent for paintings and historical artifacts because of an enzyme it possesses. It breaks down starch into simple sugars and effectively cleans delicate materials like paintings and sculptures.

 Searching through the history of the ‘Ig Nobel Prize’, there are many Koreans who won this prize. First was Kwon Hyuk-ho an assistant manager at Kolon Industries. He made a ‘scented suit‘ by inserting, small scent capsules between the cloth. As a result, when a person wearing the suit moved, the tiny capsules would pop, giving off an up, pleasant scent. He received the 1999 ‘Environmental Protection’ award for blocking the smell of sweat. In 2000, Moon Sun-myung, founder and also religious leader of the Unification Church won the Economics prize for bringing efficiency and steady growth to the mass marriage industry. According to his own reports, he completed 36 weddings in 1960, 430 in 1968, 1,800 in 1975 and 36,000,000 weddings in 1997. However, those figures are not official information, just his estimation. That number appeared to lack credibility. Lastly, Korean Han Ji-won won the Fluid Dynamics prize in 2017. He studied the dynamics of liquid-sloshing to learn what happens when a person walks backward while carrying a cup of coffee. He earned the award for his thesis ‘‘A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime’ that he wrote when he was a high school student. In the thesis, he argued that when people walk, generating 4 Hz vibration, a cylindrical mug does not take long for the liquid to splash aggressively against the cup and ultimately spill and when people change the way they hold a mug, like holding the top part of it, they may not spill their coffee.

▲ Han Ji-won who award fluid dynamics prize in ig noble prize 2017(Photo from chosun.com)

 The philosophy of the Ig Nobel Prize is ‘First, make people laugh, and then make them think.’. Therefore, any person with a novel invention or fresh ideas can qualify for this prize. Ideas that not only make people laugh but also make them think can sometimes change the world.

 


박근후. Mak Hao Yang, 정해윤  dankookherald@gmail.com
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