Artists and their difficulties with gaits

September 17th, 2014

Even the most accomplished artists sometimes have difficulty in accurately portraying human anatomy. Paul Cezzane, for instance, had trouble with hands (examples [1] [2] [3] ). Another persistently tricky area is highlighted (or, if you prefer, highlit) by Professor Julian Meltzoff of La Jolla, California,in a recent article for Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. see: ‘Errors in the Making and Perception of Art Images of Human Gait: Psychological Explanations.’ He points out that:

“Paintings, drawings, and sculptures from ancient art to the present reveal a curious error in the portrayal of human gait. In natural human gait the arm and leg on 1 side of the body swing in opposite directions to each other—contralaterally. The error is to depict the arm and leg on the same side of the body as if swinging in the same direction— homolaterally.“

Gait-ErrorThe professor draws particular attention to (presumably unintentional) portrayals of gait errors in ‘how to draw’ publications, which he says, “ […] has been largely unnoticed by art historians and nonexpert viewers”

For example (pictured) Des Circkels und Richtscheyts auch der Perspectiva und Proportion der Menschen und Rosse kurze doch gründtliche underweisung des rechten gebrauchs: (by Heinrich Lautensack, 1618)


The Ig Nobel Cookbook (volume 1), in the flesh

September 17th, 2014

TheIgNobelCookbook_Cover_250wOur newest new book — The Ig Nobel Cookbook (volume 1) — is now available in the flesh, so to speak and so to read, in one of the world’s great bookstores.

Harvard Bookstore has a print-on-demand machine. If you walk into the store, smile, and demand a copy of the book, they will print it for you, tout de suite. You can also order from Harvard Bookstore online, and by telephone.

Peggy Hernandez reviewed the book today in The Boston Globe, under the headline ”

CanBeSmart Curry and other unusual recipes from ‘Ig Nobel Cookbook’

The Ig Nobel Cookbook (volume 1) is also available from, and soon in other good places.

The Ig® Nobel Cookbook

Volume 1

Corky White, Gus Rancatore, and Marc Abrahams
illustrations by Marian Parry

Delicious and other recipes invented, inherited, devised, and/or improvised by
winners of the Ig Nobel Prize
• Nobel laureates
• and organizers of the Ig Nobel Ceremony

BONUS: Our almost-newest new book, This Is Improbable Too, is on sale at those places, too, as is the predecessor book, This Is Improbable.

Press at the Ig: Glimpses of the Russian TV coverage

September 16th, 2014

Every year, at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, Sanders Theatre is jammed not only with Ig Nobel winners, Nobel winners, opera singers, and 1100 audience members, but also with journalists who come from afar to document the doings.

Channel One Russia is among the many international TV networks sending crews to this year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony on Thursday, September 18. Here are three of Channel One Russia’s reports about previous Ig Nobel ceremonies:




Further past investigations of spaghetti

September 16th, 2014

Investigating how and why a strand of uncooked spaghetti breaks after bending — well that’s a complicated undertaking, with a rich history. One man’s take appears in this writeup:

The dynamics of linear spaghetti structures — how one thing just leads to another,” RWD Nickalls, 14 June, 2006. The author is at the Department of Anaesthesia, Nottingham University Hospitals, City Hospital Campus, Nottingham, UK.

The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize in physics centered on this very topic. The prize was awarded to Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, in Paris, for their insights into why, when you bend dry spaghetti, it often breaks into more than two pieces. [REFERENCE: "Fragmentation of Rods by Cascading Cracks: Why Spaghetti Does Not Break in Half," Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, Physical Review Letters, vol. 95, no. 9, August 26, 2005, pp. 95505-1 to 95505-1.]

This year’s 24/7 Lecturers

September 16th, 2014

Here’s the lineup of 24/7 Lecturers at this year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. You’ll see them Thursday evening, September 18, if you come to the ceremony at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, or if you watch the live webcast.

What, you ask, are the 24/7 Lectures?

This:  several of the world’s top thinkers each explains her or his subject twice:
FIRST : a complete technical description in TWENTY-FOUR (24) SECONDS**
AND THEN: a clear summary that anyone can understand, in SEVEN (7) WORDS

This year’s 24/7 Lecturers:

  • Martin Chalfie (Nobel laureate, chemistry): BIOLUMINESCENCE
  • Carol Greider (Nobel laureate, physiology or medicine). Topic: TELOMERES
  • Eric Maskin (Nobel laureate, economics): INCOME INEQUALITY
  • Rob Rhinehart (founder, Soylent). Topic: METABOLISM
  • Corky White (Professor of Anthropology, Boston University). Topic: FOOD

The history of the 24/7 Lectures is full of surprising people and ideas you may know, and others you might like to get to know.

** Time limits will be enforced by the the referee, Mr. John Barrett

Here’s video of three 24/7 Lecture from the past — Eric Lander (GENOME), Dany Adams (BIOLOGY), and Benoit Mandelbrot (FRACTALS):