EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

September 23, 2012

Shut up! Speech jammer among 2012 Ig Nobel winners

BOSTON (AP) — For anyone who’s ever been tired of listening to someone drone on and on and on, two Japanese researchers have the answer.

The SpeechJammer, a device that disrupts a person’s speech by repeating his or her own voice at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds, was named as a 2012 winner of the Ig Nobel prize — an award sponsored by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine for weird and humorous scientific discoveries.

The echo effect of the device is just annoying enough to get someone to sputter and stop.

Actually, the device created by Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada is meant to help public speakers by alerting them if they are speaking too quickly or have taken up more than their allotted time.

“This technology ... could also be useful to ensure speakers in a meeting take turns appropriately, when a particular participant continues to speak, depriving others of the opportunity to make their fair contribution,” said Kurihara, of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan.

Still, wi

nning an Ig Nobel in acoustics for the device’s other more dubious purpose is cool too.

“Winning an Ig Nobel has been my dream as a mad scientist,” he said.

As usual, the ersatz Nobels were handed Thursday out by real Nobel laureates, including 2007 economics winner Eric Maskin, who was also the prize in the “Win a Date with a Nobel Laureate” contest.

Other winners feted Thursday at Harvard University’s opulent Sanders Theatre included Dutch researchers who won the psychology prize for studying why leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower look smaller; four Americans who took the neuroscience prize for demonstrating that sophisticated equipment can detect brain activity in dead fish; a British-American team that won the physics prize for explaining how and why ponytails bounce; and the U.S. General Accountability Office, which won the literature prize for a report about reports.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
One Dead, 19 Injured in Greyhound Bus Crash Lightning Kills Two in National Park in Colorado Space Station Shipment Launched From Virginia Bull Run Comes to Middle America LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' Tiny Texas Border Town Weathers Migrant Influx Raw: Divers, Snorkelers at Undersea 'Concert' Raw: Kerry Meets With President Karzai Overseas Children Face Deportation Without Attorneys Arizona Mom of Missing Baby Released From Prison Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Proposed Bill to Regulate NY Costumed Characters WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' CDC Addresses Lab Safety Problems Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court LeBron James Says He's Returning to Cavaliers More Immigrants Detained Along Rio Grande Soft Robot Fish Lead New Wave of Robotics Downside of Low Mortgage Rates? Less Selling Law Signed to Create NYC Municipal ID Cards
Latest World News
Raw: German Players Head to World Cup Final Israel Deploys Ground Troops to Gaza Strip Raw: Fans Ready for Final World Cup Match Argentina Playing Germany for World Cup Title Malala Meets 'Bring Back Our Girls' Activists Today in History for July 13th LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' Raw: Wounded Rushed to Hospital in Gaza City Netherlands Beats Host Brazil 3-0 to Finish 3rd Raw: Brazil Fans Arrive for Third Place WC Match Raw: Sirens Blare Over Jerusalem Raw: Airstrike Creates Chaos on Gaza Streets UN Calls for Israeli-Palestinian Ceasefire Israel Widens Attack As Gaza Death Toll Rises Raw: Militants, Israelis Exchange Rocket Fire Raw: Stunning Timelapse of WC Final Host City Raw: Airstrike Creates Chaos on Gaza Streets Raw: Protesters, Israeli Security Forces Clash Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues Man Flees Police in World Cup Scalping Scheme
Photos of the Week