Many know the Nobel Prize but few can be called on to describe the Ig nobel prize, which could very well be the party-animal, younger brother to the Nobel. Ig nobel prizes are expected to make people laugh before making them think. The prize was first organized by the Annals of Improbable Research, a scientific humor magazine that once published an article showing that apples and oranges actually compare very favorably. As it turns out the Ig nobels have actually contributed to society in various ways. In 2006, an Ig nobel was awarded for the finding that mosquitoes are equally attracted to human feet and Limburger or stinky cheese. Such research is being utilized in malaria prone areas where traps are baited with the cheese. One notable Ig nobel was awarded in 2000 to Andre Geim for levitating a frog in a magnetic field. Most recently, Geim and fellow scientist Konstantin Novoselov won the Nobel Prize for their 2004 discovery of graphene.
If you haven’t heard of graphene, have no fear. In the not so distant future, electronics giants such as Samsung will be delivering all sorts of fun electronic devices with this hot new material. But for the time being, graphene is winning praises just for existing. Its claim to fame is that not only is it the thinnest material in the world, it is the strongest. It is a flat form of carbon with the thickness of a single atom. It’s strong like a diamond but is stretchable like rubber. It also conducts electricity very well, which means that though it may not actually cook your breakfast, it makes cooking your breakfast that much easier. In science labs everywhere, researchers are busy at work trying out graphene as a material for everything from computer memory to flexible touch screens to solar cells and even electrical clothes that can charge your cell phone.
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