Thursday night, we finally found out who won the most exciting awards in science! Well, maybe “exciting” isn’t the best word for the 22nd Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. Perhaps I should say “bizarre,” or even “hilarious.” Every autumn, scientists from all over the world gather at Harvard to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Like the Nobel Prizes, the Ig Nobels include categories such as peace, physics, and chemistry. In fact, Nobel laureates traditionally present the awards during the ceremony.
But that’s where the parallels end. It’s unlikely that the Nobel Peace Prize would go to Russians who turn old ammunition into miniscule diamonds for use in medical imaging. Or that analyzing the motion of a ponytail would earn the prestigious Nobel for physics. Only the Ig Nobel Prizes would reward scientists for studying why coffee sloshes out of the cup, testing the brain activity of dead fish, creating a speech jammer, and writing a report about reports about reports.
If the possibility of a zombie attack keeps you awake at night, rest assured you’re not the only one who’s pondered such an occurence. In fact, researchers have performed a new mathematical analysis that explores how we might best approach a battle with the un-dead.
If zombies actually existed, an attack by them would lead to the collapse of civilisation unless dealt with quickly and aggressively….
[The researchers] say only frequent counter-attacks with increasing force would eradicate the fictional creatures.
Although zombies may be a slightly-less-than-serious topic, there’s a serious side to the study, which was published in a book called Infectious Diseases Modelling Research Progress. A zombie attack could be similar to a plague of infectious disease, the researchers say.
Still, there’s one big difference: Once completely wiped out, diseases don’t come oozing and groaning back from the dead.
Gallery: Zombie Animals and the Parasite That Control Them
Discoblog: Parasitic Plants Steal RNA, Spy on Their Hosts
Discoblog: See It to Believe It: Animals Vomit, Spurt Blood to Thwart Predators
Image: flickr / thivierr