Each year after the Nobel Prizes are awarded, an equally scientific, if not infinitely more entertaining, prize ceremony is held at Harvard University. Ig Nobel.
I just finished watching the live web-cast of the Ig Nobel Prizes: Annals of Improbable Research. What a blast. Never fails to tickle me. This year was no exception and there was an interesting Star Wars connection to boot.
The Ig Noble prize for PEACE went to two researchers (Claire Rind, et al. of Newcastle University Upon Tyne, UK) who monitored the brain activity of locusts watching Star Wars.
The locusts were strapped to little seats and shown (forced to watch) an abbreviated version of Star Wars (1977), mostly the battle scenes. Since locusts can't shut their eyes they don't have much choice in the matter...sounding a lot like A Clockwork Orange!
The locusts were being observed for their reactions to the quickly approaching objects. The scientists found that locusts have an Iobula giant movement detector which sets off an evasive action response trigger. ...the run-you-stupid-bastard nerve cell :p
This might sound a little frivolous as far as research is concerned but there is a practical application. The scientists built a robot which has the very same capabilities (as those locusts) and it manages to stay clear of objects 90% of the time. With a little more work that technology could be applied to cars and other transit vehicles to avoid major or minor collisions.
Talk about the science of Star Wars....good thing it wasn't the Star Wars Holiday Special...or the research may have been labeled cruelty.
Other funny prizes went to the inventor of fake dog testicles (Neuticles, which I had heard of before...oddly enough), a Japanese man who photographed every single meal he was about to eat for the last 32 or 33 years (taking your time extends your life was his theory), the pressure build-up of penguins...before...ahem...defecation, deciphering the smell of frogs under stress and much more.
The award ceremony will be archived online at some point. Certainly worth the time to watch or listen to. HERE