(Roughly) Daily

“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research”*…

It’s that time of year again– a collection of researchers have received the 2022 Ig Nobel Prizes for work that (as the awarding body, Improbable Research, puts it) “first makes us laugh, then makes us think.” Hannah Devlin reports…

It is one of life’s overlooked arts: the optimal way to turn a knob. Now an investigation into this neglected question has been recognised with one of science’s most coveted accolades: an Ig Nobel prize.

After a series of lab-based trials, a team of Japanese industrial designers arrived at the central conclusion that the bigger the knob, the more fingers required to turn it.

The team is one of 10 to be recognised at this year’s Ig Nobel awards for research that “first makes you laugh, then makes you think” – not to be confused with the more heavyweight Nobel prize awards, coming up in Scandinavia next month.

Other awards at the virtual ceremony on Thursday evening include the physics prize for showing why ducklings swim in a line formation, and the economics prize for explaining, mathematically, why success most often goes not to the most talented people, but instead to the luckiest. An international collaboration won the peace prize for devising an algorithm to help gossipers decide when to tell the truth and when to lie.

The winners were presented with a three-dimensional paper gear featuring images of human teeth and a 10tn dollar bill from Zimbabwe, with eight bona fide Nobel laureates, including the British biochemist Sir Richard Roberts, on hand to distribute the prizes…

Great fun with great purpose: “Japanese professor wins Ig Nobel prize for study on knob turning,” from @hannahdev in @guardian. The full list of winners, with accounts of the their award-worthy efforts, is here.

* Albert Einstein

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As we chuckle… then cogitate, we might spare a thought for Ron Toomer; he died on this date in 2011.  Toomer began his career as an aeronautical engineer who contributed to the heat shields on NASA’s Apollo spacecraft.  But in 1965, he joined Arrow Development, an amusement park ride design company, where he became a legendary creator of steel roller coasters.  His first assignment was “The Run-Away Mine Train” (at Six Flags Over Texas), the first “mine train” ride, and the second steel roller coaster (after Arrow’s Matterhorn Ride at Disneyland).  Toomer went on to design 93 coasters worldwide, and was especially known for his creation of the first “inversion” coasters (he built the first coasters with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, loops).  In 2000, he was inducted in the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Hall of Fame as a “Living Legend.”

Toomer with his design model for “The Corkscrew,” the first three-inversion coaster

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“The Corkscrew” at Cedar Point Amusement Park, Ohio

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 26, 2022 at 1:00 am

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