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IgNobel or Nobel – which has more value?

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 ...

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57. An Enemy of the People

On November 26th, 1998, I was named by the London Times newspaper as “an enemy of the people” for using physics to work out the optimum way to dunk a biscuit. It was my first venture in using food as a vehicle to help communicate how science works. To date it has also been the most successful - at least, in attracting attention, including the award of a spoof ...

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56. The true story of the levitating frog

When Professor Michael Berry gave a seminar in our department at Bristol on the physics of levitation, the emphasis was all on the physics. And so it should have been, because his profound insight had overturned a belief that physicists had held for more than a hundred years. The belief was that there was no way for stable magnetic levitation to occur. This result ...

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36. All you need is love – mathematical style

Valentine's day, 2015: According to legend, the three saddest mathematical love stories concerned the tangent lines who had just one chance to meet, and then parted forever; the asymptotes who became ever closer but could never get together; and the parallel lines who never got a chance to meet at all. I first heard that one at a mathematics congress, many years ...

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24. Curious letters to scientists I: Cast your bread upon the waters …

Before the days of the Internet, letters were the most common form of communication, and scientists received some very curious letters from people whom they did not know and who they had never heard of. I have myself received some beauties, especially after I received an IgNobel Prize for using physics to work out the best way to dunk a biscuit. My intentions were ...

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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 ...

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