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‘Goat Man’ Charles Foster among 2016 Ig Nobel Winners for his creation that makes people laugh, and then think

The Ig Nobel prizes were first awarded in 1991 to highlight bad science but evolved into their current form over time

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Thomas Thwaites, left, prepares to speak after receiving the Ig Nobel prize in biology from Nobel laureate Eric Maskin (economics, 2007) during ceremonies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Thwaites, of the United Kingdom, won for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move like and to roam in the company of goats. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer). VOA

September 23, 2016: Not to be confused with the august Nobel Prize, Thursday night saw the awarding of this year’s Ig Nobel Awards, which are given to scientific studies that “make people laugh, and then think.”

While the studies are certainly offbeat, the science is real, but the awards are intended to “celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.”

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Here are the 2016 winners, awarded Thursday at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater:

The Reproduction Prize went to the late Ahmed Shafik of Egypt, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.

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His 1993 paper documented that rats who wore polyester or polyester-cotton blend pants were less sexually active than those who wore cotton or wool pants or conformed to rat norms and wore no garments of any kind. The paper suggested that “electrostatic fields” created by polyester pants could play a role in impotence.

Ig Nobel Award. Youtube
Ig Nobel Award. Youtube

The Economics Prize went to the British and New Zealand team of Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.

The Physics Prize went to an international team (Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas, Susanne Åkesson, Péter Malik, and Hansruedi Wildermuth), for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.

German company Volkswagen took the Chemistry Prize for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions… whenever the cars are being tested.

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The Medicine Prize went to Germany’s Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas Münte, Silke Anders, and Andreas Sprenger, for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).

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The international team of Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere won the Psychology Prize for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.

The American-Canadian team of Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang took the Peace Prize for their scholarly study called “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bulls–t”.

Two Brits shared the Biology Prize. Charles Foster was honored for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of goats, and spend three days roaming hills in the company of a herd.

Sweden’s Fredrik Sjöberg took the Literature Prize for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.

Japan’s Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi won the Perception Prize for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

The Ig Nobel prizes were first awarded in 1991 to highlight bad science, but evolved into their current form over time.

Winners reportedly win $10 trillion in cash, paid out in a Zimbabwean currency that was abandoned in 2009.

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5 Tips to Start your New Online Business

Well, yes, in an ideal world -- but with the explosion of growth in e-commerce, you still need to make your store stand out from the crowd, grab your customers' attention, hold it and keep them returning for more.

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Online Business
Festivals is a best time to start an online business. Pixabay

Festival is a great time to start your new online business or to take your existing business online.

So what is your next step? You’ve created your online store, taken some amazing photos of your products and activated an appropriate payment platform. Congratulations, you are up and running. Now you just need to sit back and wait for the customers to come pouring in, right?

Well, yes, in an ideal world — but with the explosion of growth in e-commerce, you still need to make your store stand out from the crowd, grab your customers’ attention, hold it and keep them returning for more.

Here are five golden rules to start a successful business this Diwali.

1. Make your Site Clear and Simple to Use

e-commere website
Make your Site Clear and Simple to Use. Pixabay

When a customer reaches your site it should be obvious what you sell. Use a clean and professional template design that is simple in its message. Don’t allow the customer to be distracted by countless and un-needed information. Show your most popular and best-selling products first as a way to draw people in to start exploring your site. Consider using a “carousel” picture collage so that they can easily scroll through the images and see what’s on offer.

2. Little Extras Make a Big Difference

Attract customer Online
Free shipping, great returns policy making use of incentives to attract users. Pixabay

Free shipping, great returns policy (or free returns over a certain purchase value), a toll-free number — making use of incentives to attract users is a great way to encourage loyalty. If you are able to offer these great advantages, make sure you shout about them loud and clear on your homepage.

3. Testimonials and Reviews

Take one of your glowing references and put it somewhere obvious on your homepage. If you can accompany this with a picture, it reinforces the fact that real people trust and use your products and services. Customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than marketing by a company

4. Daily Deals and Discounts

online business
Daily deals are another hugely popular idea. Pixabay

Daily deals are another hugely popular idea. By selling a limited quantity of products for a short amount of time you can generate new interest and increase your client base. Once you have drawn them in — invite them to preview your other products.

5. Make a Connection

Try to re-think your site as a content site that happens to sell products. Talk to your customers as you would to a friend and engage them so that they keep coming back for more. If you can demonstrate that you are passionate about your products and give tips and ideas on ways to use them, such as a demonstration video or a pinboard using your products, it adds more value to your site. (IANS)

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Excess Optimism Impedes People from Taking Actions: Study

According to the study, people who believe that everything will workout for the best are less likely to take a command on their future

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optimism
Excess optimism can often become a problem. Pixabay
  • Excess optimism often poses a problem for many people as they become less likely to take a command on their future
  • Lead author of the study said the belief in a favourable future may lessen the likelihood that people will take a step to turn it into reality
  • The findings of the study have been published in the journal Psychological Science

August 20, 2017: A new study states that people who are too optimistic and believe in the fact that everything will workout for the best are less likely to take a command on their future. Excess optimism often poses a problem for many people.

Talking to Daily Mail, lead author from Harvard University of the study, Todd Rogers said: there exist people who think that they are so correct that gradually others will come to see the “obviousness of their correctness.” However, the findings of their study showed that the belief in a favorable and bright future may lessen the likelihood that people will take a step to turn it into reality.

Also read: Being optimistic likely to Lengthen your Life: Study

Researchers from the universities of Berkeley, California, and Harvard carried out the study by examining six studies investigating people’s scientific beliefs, political views, and entertainment and product preferences. The results of the study showed that being optimistic and believing others would come around or things will improve made it less probable for people to take a step.

The findings have been published in the journal Psychological Science.

Prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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US to probe into complaint: Does Harvard University discriminate against Indians, Asians?

Harvard University's alleged biased behavior against students from the India and Asia, US will take a look into this.

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Harvard University
Harvard University. wikimedia

August 4, 2017: US President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing to probe a complaint by four Indian-American organizations and other Asian groups that Harvard University discriminates against students from the communities in its admission process.

Justice Department Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said on Wednesday the department wants to investigate the “administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior Administration left unresolved”.

Flores said: “The complaint alleges racial discrimination against Asian-Americans in a university’s admission policy and practices.”

The Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin (Gopio), National Federation of Indian-American Associations, American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin, and BITS Sindri Alumni Association of North India were among the 64 Asian groups that jointly filed the federal complaint.

The complaint said: “Many Asian-American students who have almost perfect SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores, top one per cent GPAs (Grade Point Average), plus significant awards or leadership positions in various extracurricular activities have been rejected by Harvard University and other Ivy League Colleges while similarly situated applicants of other races have been admitted.”

SAT is one of the common entrance exams for college admission.

Also Read: Harvard University Researchers introduce “Bionic Leaf” that will turn Sunlight into Liquid Fuel

Though officially the affirmative action programmes are meant to aid African American and Latino students, in reality, the quota system — similar to reservations in India — has expanded to also helps white students at the expense of Indian and other Asian students.

To ensure diversity, elite universities set academic standards for Asian students that are higher than that for even whites to prevent high-scoring Asians dominating the universities if admissions were based solely on merit.

A study by a Princeton University academic found that Asian-American students had to score 140 points more than whites in the SAT to gain admission to elite universities.

If a comparison is to be made to the Indian situation, Asians would be classified as “most forward” over the “forward” category.

Gopio International Chairman Thomas Abraham said he welcomed the Trump administration’s move to take up the complaint by the Indian and other Asian organizations.

Also Read: “Buddhism Through its Scriptures”: Due to rising demand, now Harvard University has an Online course on Buddhism!

He conceded that there was a need for affirmative action programmes to right the historical injustices done to the African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans and, therefore, he supported it for only those communities.

But “in the general quota for all the others there should not be any discrimination against Indians or Asians,” he added.

“A white kid should not get preferred treatment at the expense of Asians and the general quota should be based solely on merit” and this was the central point in the complaint,” he said.

Under former President Barack Obama, the Education Department dismissed a similar complaint by another organization, while the Justice Department did not follow up on the complaint made to its Office of Civil Rights that is now being taken up for review.

When it became known that the Justice Department was seeking lawyers to investigate the Asians discrimination suit, some major, mainstream American media twisted it and put out fake news that the Trump administration was preparing to sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies that were seen as discriminating against whites.

Flores denied the reports and said it was only the Asian complaint that was being taken up and that the department “has not received or issued any directive, memorandum, initiative or policy related to university admissions in general”.

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“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination,” she added.

A former civil rights official, Vanita Gupta, told The New York Times that the person sought for the investigation will be in “the political front office” and this “suggests that this person will be carrying out an agenda aimed at undermining diversity in higher education without needing to say it”.

Gupta was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in President Barack Obama’s administration and led the civil rights division. She is now the President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. (IANS)