01 October 2011
NOBEL (IG) AWARD FOR OZ BEERBUG WORK
BRAGGING RIGHTS: For a desert eleven times as big as Texas, with only 21 million citizens, Australia does pretty well at many international sports, like drinking, and winning Nobel Prizes. Even former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, a Rhodes Scholar far too busy chasing sheilas to win a Nobel, still holds the record for sinking a yard of ale at Oxford. (He also outdrank Frank Sinatra in an all-night sesh in a hotel room in Melbourne, but that's gilding the lily.)
Ten Nobel Prizes have been awarded to resident Australians. Two more were awarded to Australians working overseas; another four laureates have worked here or moved here.
Those awarded to resident Australians include one for literature, but mainly science: discoveries including penicillin; acquired immunological tolerance; research on how nerves and the brain work; and the discovery of a bacterium and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcers.
Previously, people (particularly Australians - even Bob Hawke) believed that ulcers were caused by stress and/or booze.
Now, after their work lay unrecognized for nearly thirty years, Professors Darryl Gwynne and David Rentz are the first Australians to win an Ig Nobel for their analysis of the sexual relationships between the Australian jewel beetle Julodimorpha bakewelli and the brown beer stubbie.
Although we’re down to only one major Australian-owned brewery (Adelaide's family-owned Coopers) since Fosters flogged its dull suds empire to SAB-Miller, Gwynne and Rentz’s work is as reflective of the nature of the distinctive Australian 375ml. beer stubbie (1981 model) as it is of the relationship between Australian men and beer.
Click the beetle above for a link to the prize-winning paper. The photograph was taken by Professor Gwynne during his extensive fieldwork in the Western Australian desert in the late 1970s and early '80s.
It is important to point out that this work would have been very much more difficult to conduct in South Australia, as this state already had an efficient Beverages Container Legislation in place. This ensures that drink containers carry a deposit, which ensures they are rarely left lying about in the desert, or in public places.
This tragically-belated recognition is considered the most significant since the 2009 award, which went to USA genius Dr. Elena Bodnar (below) for her invention of a brassiere that, within a few seconds, converts to a pair of protective face masks. Demonstrating her discovery are Nobel laureates Wolfgang Kettle, Orhan Pamuk and Paul Krugman. Make mine a 38D, please Elena.
CLICK IMAGE TO PURCHASE EMERGENCY BRASSIERE photo ALEXEY ELISEEV