The Blade Runner: Oscar Pistorius Makes Olympic History, Advances to 400m Semifinals

The Blade Runner: Oscar Pistorius Makes Olympic History, Advances to 400m Semifinals

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa made history on Saturday morning, becoming the first double-amputee runner to compete in the Olympics when he lined up for a first-round heat in the men’s 400 meters at London’s Olympic Stadium. The crowd saluted Pistorius with roars of encouragement; he sprinted to a second place finish in his heat in 45.46 seconds, a season-best time, and advanced to Sunday’s semifinals.

Pistorius reached the finish line after six lomg years of yearning to achieve a qualifying time and five years of scientific and legal arguments about whether his prosthetic legs gave him an unfair advantage over sprinters using their natural legs.

Read more about the amazing achievements of Oscar Pistorius in the New York Times here.

Oscar Pistorius Makes Olympic History, Advances to 400m Semifinals

The Blade Runner: South Africa’s Amazing Oscar Pistorius

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World’s Zaniest Scientists Honored: The 21th First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes

The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes at Harvard University’s Historic Sanders Theatre

Some of the Ig Nobel Prize Winners at the Awards Ceremony

Ig Nobel Prize Winners with Genuine Nobel Prize Laureate Award Presenters

2011 Ig Nobel Prize Closing Ceremony: The Traditional Tearful Goodbye

World’s Zaniest Scientists Honored: The 21th First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes

In the ultimate accolade for the world’s mad scientists, spoof Nobel Prizes were awarded Thursday night for studies into beetle sex, turtles yawning, the desperation of people dying to urinate and other daffy investigations. The Annual Ig Nobel Prizes, now in their 21st year, were given at Harvard University in front of 1,200 spectators, with real Nobel Prize winners handing out the honors.

To win, scientists must “first make people laugh, and then make them think,” according to the Ig Nobel ethos. The Biology Prize, often a good source of humor at the Igs, went to Darryl Gwynne of Canada, Australia and the United States, and David Rentz of Australia, for their groundbreaking paper titled: “Beetles on the Bottle: Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbis For Females.” Which to the layman translates as: beetles tragically attempting to mate with an Australian beer bottle.

Several prizes delved into the extremes of human behavior under stress. Take, for example, the Medicine Prize, won by a Dutch-Belgian-Australian team with “Inhibitory Spillover,” a probe into the age-old challenge of needing to pee at a busy moment. The team investigated why “people make better decisions about some kinds of things, but worse decisions about other kinds of things, when they have a strong urge to urinate,” the awards citation said.

Research into the Psychology and Physiology Prizes must have been a great deal less stressful. The former went to a University of Oslo professor who looked at “why, in everyday life, people sigh?” The second concerned yawning in red-footed tortoises. For those who’ve been wondering, the British-Dutch-Hungarian-Austrian team has finally established that there is “no evidence of contagious yawning” in the creatures.

The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize winners:

Physiology Prize

Anna Wilkinson (of the UK), Natalie Sebanz (of The Netherlands, Hungary, and AUSTRIA), Isabella Mandl (of Austria) and Ludwig Huber (of Austria) for their study “No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise.”

Chemistry Prize

Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami of Japan, for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm.

Medicine Prize

Mirjam Tuk (of The Netherlands and the UK), Debra Trampe (of The Netherlands) and Luk Warlop (of Belgium). and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder and Robert Feldman (of the USA), Robert Pietrzak, David Darby, and Paul Maruff (of Australia) for demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things, but worse decisions about other kinds of things‚ when they have a strong urge to urinate.

Psychology Prize

Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo, Norway, for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.

Literature Prize

John Perry of Stanford University, USA, for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which states: To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that’s even more important.

Biology Prize

Darryl Gwynne (of Canada, Australia and the USA) and David Rentz (of Australia and the USA) for discovering that a certain kind of beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle.

Physics Prize

Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne and Bruno Ragaru (of France), and Herman Kingma (of The Netherlands), for determining why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers don’t.

Mathematics Prize

Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of Korea (who predicted the world would end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of Uganda (who predicted the world would end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world will end on October 21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.

Peace Prize

Arturas Zuokas, Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.

Public Safety Prize

John Senders of the University of Toronto, Canada, for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.

The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony Promo

The 21th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Awards (The Full Ceremony)

Vilnius Mayor A.Zuokas Fights Illegally Parked Cars: Ig Nobel Peace Prize

John Senders Wins 2011 Ig Nobel Public Safety Prize: Pioneer Days on Rt 128

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