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Don't Rush Me
Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder
A salute to this year's Ig Nobel Award Winners!

by Don Rush

September 18, 2013

Ah, September. I never was really found of the month. Don’t get be wrong, it’s an okay span of time. My mom was born in September, and that was a good thing.. Hmm. What else? When September is given as a name to a girl, it is beautiful. But generally, September just kinda sucks. I never got that lyrical and dreamy song by the Brothers Four (irritatingly, though it is still in my head). “Try to remember the kind of September; When life was slow and oh, so mellow; Try to remember the kind of September; When grass was green and grain was yellow . . .” Blah, blah, blah, was my reaction to this month (and that song). Then something happened that changed my tune. I was introduced to the annals of Improbable Research and Ig Nobel prizes. According to IR’s Marc Abrahams “Our goal is to make people laugh, then make them think. We also hope to spur people's curiosity, and to raise the question: How do you decide what's important and what's not, and what's real and what's not — in science and everywhere else?” The Ig Nobel awards are doled out every September; this year, the awards ceremony was September 12.Prizes were given out for Medicine, Psychology, Biology and Astronomy, Safety Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Archaeology, Peace, Probability and Public Health. I looked forward to this year’s awards, and September did not disappoint. Read on, learn a little and smile. Psychology: A multi-continental team won for their research titled, Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder. Amazingly, they discovered that the more alcoholic drinks people consumed, the more attractive they thought they were. Who woulda thunk it? After consuming beverages, those studied delivered a speech and rated how attractive, bright, original, and funny they thought they were. The speeches were videotaped and rated by 22 independent judges. Oh, and if you don’t believe this study . . . head to any of downtown Oxford’s 9 million adult beverage saloons on any given weekend evening, watch and report back to me your findings. Safety Engineering: An award was given to the late Gustano Pizzo, of the good ol’ US of A, for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers — the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane's specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival. Sheer brilliance, if not a little sexist (can’t chicks be terrorists, too?)! Interestingly, Gustano invented the antiterrorist trap door a long time ago and filed for a US patient on Nov. 2, 1972. Medicine: An Asian team was given the Ig Nobel for assessing the effect of listening to opera on heart transplant patients who are mice. Biology & Astronomy: This joint award was given to a Euro-nation team and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that when lost “African dung beetles orient to the starry sky to move along straight paths. The beetles do not orientate to the individual stars, but to the Milky Way . . . This led us to hypothesize that dung beetles exploit the starry sky for orientation, a feat that has, to our knowledge, never been demonstrated in an insect.” And, soon they will be taking over the Earth. Exoskeletons Rule! The Peace Prize was given to Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding. Don’t know where Belarus is? Neither do I. I think it’s a former Soviet state. Probability: A team of brainiacks from England were awarded for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again. But, that still doesn’t explain where chocolate milk comes from. And finally, Physics: Another Euro-team won for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the moon. I hope you all feel enlightened and are feeling mellow and thankful for September. If you want more improbabilities go to Comments, concerns, ideas or complaints for Rush, email,