IgNobel Prize

How I Won an IgNobel Prize for Using Physics to Work Out the Best Way to Dunk a Biscuit


128. Penile frostbite: an unexpected hazard of jogging.

Posted on February 13, 2017

The following wonderful letter appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine forty years ago. If the IgNobel Prizes had existed then, it would surely have been a leading candidate for the medicine prize. Who says that scientists don't have a sense of humor?! Penis frostbite reference

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My career in poetry

20th January 2017 I am stimulated to write this post by the news that the “celebrated American poet Joseph Charles McKenzie” has composed a poem to celebrate Donald Trump’s inauguration. The poem contains the immortal lines “With purpose and strength he came down from his tower To snatch from a tyrant his ill-gotten power.” Now I don’t know Mr. McKenzie, although I have no reason to think that he is not a real person. ...

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123. What’s that smell?

What’s that smell? A school playground joke from my childhood concerns a new deodorant called “vanish”. It makes you invisible, so that no one can see where the smell is coming from. But how can we seriously get rid of bad smells? One way, which makes the manufacturers of air fresheners a lot of money, is to mask it with a more pleasant smell. Another, considerably less expensive, is to bind the aroma molecules to a solid surface so ...

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IgNobel or Nobel – which has more value?

Posted on September 23, 2016

It may sound ridiculous to argue that a spoof IgNobel Prize could ever have more value than an actual Nobel. Of course, when it comes to real science, the Nobels are still the pinnacle. But perhaps, as I pointed out in this interview on the BBC World Service recorded on Sep 23, 2016, the IgNobels are actually more valuable when it comes to attracting attention to science and making it more accessible. Here is the interview (all 3 minutes of ...

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What scientists need to know about communicating with journalists

Posted on October 14, 2015

Several colleagues have drawn my attention to a blog by Pete Warden on how scientists should talk to journalists (http://petewarden.com/2015/09/27/how-to-talk-to-journalists/). Having had the experience on many occasions, and having worked out my own set of rules, I was all prepared to do some nit-picking, but Pete has it dead right, and any scientist involved in communicating with the press would do well to read his blog first. There is just ...

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92. The art and science of dunking

Posted on June 5, 2015

June 5th On this National Donut Day in the U.S., here is the first chapter of my prize-winning "How To Dunk a Doughnut": an illustration of how scientists think about the problems of everyday life. One of the main problems that scientists have in sharing their picture of the world with a wider audience is the knowledge gap. One doesn’t need to be a writer to read and understand a novel, or to know how to paint before being able to ...

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Biscuit dunking on ITV Weekend!

Posted on September 15, 2014

http://youtu.be/4g6zpkoG3a8   Watch me biscuit dunking on ITV Weekend! 

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How To Dunk a Biscuit

Posted on January 17, 2014

Live appearance (and demonstration) on BBC TV "One Show" by Skype from my kitchen in Australia, and went without a hitch!

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I’m an IgNobel Prize Winner: Get Me Out Of Here!

BBC Focus Magazine How would you use science to help you escape from a desert island? My solution, which began with using loose change to make a battery, was illustrator James Reekie’s personal favourite. If I were marooned with a group of others, I would set up a small business – corralling the island’s supply of coconut crabs, for example, and hiring them out to open people’s coconuts. As soon as the business started to turn a ...

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Ig Nobel Ceremony Honors Nutty ‘Scientific’ Research

Posted on December 2, 1999

Harvard College Gazette U.S. newspaper story about the IgNobel prizes with pics of what happens on stage, with real Nobel Prize winners (!) sweeping up paper darts that have been thrown by the audience. The ceremony was all great fun, and featured “Miss Sweety Poo”, a charming eight-year-old girl whose job was to come up to speakers who exceeded the thirty second limit and keep saying “Please stop, I’m bored” until the speaker was ...

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