Ig Nobel 2006 Prize in mathematics

Oct 06, 2006
Nic Svenson (left) spoils a rather nice photo of Piers Barnes
Nic Svenson (left) spoils a rather nice photo of Piers Barnes. Credit: CSIRO

The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize in mathematics was awarded to Dr Piers Barnes and Ms Nic Svenson of CSIRO for figuring out how many photographs to take of a group of people to be confident of getting at least one where no-one’s blinking.

CSIRO’s laureates accepted their prize (described by the international science journal Nature as “no cash, but much cachet”) at the traditionally unorthodox ceremony at Harvard University in Boston last night.

“We are proud to have made a gross simplification of complex physiological and psychological factors backed up with no empirical data,” physicist Dr Barnes said.

“Like many other theories, if enough assumptions are made, we are confident that our expression holds,” he said.

For the record: for groups of less than 20, you divide the number of people by three if there’s good light or a decent flash, and two if the light’s bad.

The Sixteenth First Annual [sic] Ig Nobel prizes honour research that first makes people laugh, and then makes them think.

“CSIRO has an ongoing responsibility to help inspire and educate about science,” said writer and sometime photographer Ms Svenson.

“It’s like Isaac Asimov said: ‘The most exciting phrase to hear in science is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...’,” she said.

Source: CSIRO

Explore further: Professor quantifies how 'one thing leads to another'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study drops hints that dogs could get jealous

36 minutes ago

When Shetland sheepdog Maggie comes home from the groomer, her owners praise and pet her shiny coat, much to the chagrin of pit bull Stormy, who will head-butt her until their family cuts out the compliments.

Why aren't campus emergency alerts taken more seriously?

36 minutes ago

Well-publicized tragedies on college campuses across the United States have prompted university officials to implement alert systems that broadcast real-time warnings via text message and e-mail to students, faculty, and ...

Coming soon: Genetically edited fruit?

44 minutes ago

Recent advances that allow the precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, according to researchers writing in ...

Recommended for you

College education not always about what you have

15 hours ago

Students who have books and computers at home, who take extramural cultural classes, and whose parents give advice and take part in school activities are most likely to enroll for a four-year college degree. Also, more American ...

Activists urge EU to scrap science advisor job

18 hours ago

Nine major charities urged the European Commission on Tuesday to scrap a science advisor position it says puts too much power over sensitive policy into the hands of one person.

Organising is the key to efficient purchasing

20 hours ago

A well-functioning purchasing organisation is a powerful tool for companies. Chalmers researcher Ingrid Hessel shows in her thesis that internal purchasing operations affects and is affected by relationships ...

User comments : 0