The 2002 award for work on scrotal asymmetry in man and in ancient sculptureref.
The 2004 Medicine gong recognized the relationship between the frequency
of country music played on local radio stations and suicide rates (often
conveys a sense of fatalism and hopelessness. The song themes commonly
revolve around relationship problems that are solved by drink, desertion,
and sometimes, death)ref.
Today, Gunlach is concerned about the impact of Brad Paisley's current
country hit, Whisky Lullaby. The song is played up to 50 times a week on
some US radio stations, and tells of unrequited love, alcoholism and suicidal
thoughts. Gundlach is planning a follow up study in 5 years to assess whether
the song has influenced suicide rates.
the Biology prize rewarded the discovery of herrings who use farts to communicate
in the dark (the fish gulp air from the surface and store it in their swim
bladder, before releasing it from a duct in their anus. Fish at the front
of a shoal may fart to direct other members in a particular direction,
helping to keep the school together and away from predators. The sounds
are not made during the day, when the fish use visual information instead)ref.
Gags are frowned upon, and the closest a scientist can get to humour is
naming a dinosaur after an ageing rock star (Masiakasaurus knopfleri),
or a gene after a computer game (sonic hedgehog).
2004 award for Physics : the paper says, "The Karhunen-Loève decomposition
was applied to the kinematics of the lower limbs in 3 experiments in which
oscillation amplitude and frequency were manipulated." This translates
to: people hula-hooped fast, they hula-hooped slow, scientists videoed
their legs and then did some sums. Their conclusion: if you want to become
hula-hoop champion, move your knees up and down, and your ankles and hips
from side to sideref.
The abstract of the paper may be indecipherable, but the message is delightful.
To keep the hoop spinning, the brain potentially has to think about 18
things at once : the movement of 2 ankles, 2 knees and 2 hip joints in
3D. But the video footage revealed that only 2 types of movement are really
important: the front to back motion of the body controlled by the hips
and ankles, and the vertical motion of the body controlled by the knees.
Those who have mastered hula-hooping tend to keep these 2 modes of action
perfectly in synch
After all, who can fail to be tickled by the 1998 winner and Lancet paper
: A Man Who Pricked his Finger and Smelled Putrid for 5 Yearsref