The Ig Nobel Prizes

Last week for the 24th time the yearly Ig Nobel prizes have been awarded. The ceremony took place at the prestigious Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts , USA

The Ig Nobel prizes?

Here is what the supporting foundation for Improbable Research says about it:

IG Nobel prizes are awarded for research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK

This year the Ig Noble prize for physics has been given to the Japanese scientist Kiyoshi Mabuchi of Kitasato University for studying the hazards of stepping on a banana peel!  Here he is, during the official ceremony

Ig Nobel prize


Don’t underestimate his research! Here is the official paper: Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin.

A few more examples of Ig Nobel prizes.

2014 Neuroscience:  to Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, and Kang Lee, for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.

2013 Biology/Astronomy: Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clarke Scholtz, and Eric Warrant, for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.

2012 Medicine: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti, for advising doctors who perform colonoscopy how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode

Click here for the complete list. In the beginning the prizes sometimes had a sarcastic undertone, like for example

1998 Physics: Deepak Chopra of the Chopra Center for Well Being, La Jolla, California, for his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness

But now it has become more serious, the prize winners eagerly travel (at their own expenses) to Harvard to attend the ceremony and the prizes are given by “real” Nobel Prize winners.

There is even one scientist who has won BOTH the Ig Nobel prize AND the Nobel prize! Andre Geim, a Soviet-born Dutch-British (!) physicist, won the Ig Nobel prize for physics in 2000 experimenting with magnets to levitate a frog. Here is a picture of the poor critter. If you are wondering how this is possible, it is because of diamagnetism

Levitating frog

Ten years later, in 2010, Geim received the Physics Nobel prize for his research about the new wonder material of graphene, a two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms.


The way he and his collaborator Novoselov managed to make a single layer of carbon atoms? They used Scotch tape!

Ok, here is one more Ig Nobel prize…:-)

2009 Public Health: Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, US, for inventing a bra that can be quickly converted into a pair of gas masks—one for the wearer and one to be given to a needy bystander


By the way, ever heard about the Darwin Awards?  Maybe a suitable topic for another post…:-)

Elusive Batangsi

In my last Journal I mentioned an unsuccessful hike to a remote waterfall, where we went back because I felt “discomfort”. After my cardiologist had given me a clean bill of health, of course I wanted to go back and give this Batangsi waterfall another try..:-) This time with Aric, Edwin, Janine, Nick and Siang Hui as our guide. We met at Sg Long for breakfast, after which we bought our lunch at the lively pasar pagi.

Before I start the report about our hike, it may be useful to explain first why we are so interested in the mysterious Batangsi waterfall…:-) Here is a Google Map of the region (click to enlarge). At the top you see part of the Semenyih reservoir. The green marker gives the location of the well-known Nirwana Memorial Park and to the right you see the border between Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. And in the middle of nowhere there is a marker for the Batangsi Falls!

Could there really be a waterfall there, or is it just a mistake of the map maker? On the topo map of the region there is no mention of a waterfall.

Google Map

Intrigued by this mysterious fall, we have been exploring the region several times during the last ten (!) years. We found the Batangsi river with a few cascades and small waterfalls. It resulted in a webpage Batangsi Fall on my Waterfalls of Malaysia website. Here are two of the small waterfalls/cascades we found.



Were there more waterfalls upstream? In 2008 I joined Aurelius and his friends, we followed a farm road until the end. From there we river trekked upstream for about three hours. Nice hike but no waterfalls.

Batangsi Aurelius

Here is a Google Map with our hike. Black is the farm road, blue the river trekking.


In 2012 Siang Hui and Harry (†) did another hike, following the river much further. Coming to a split in the river, they decided to follow the right branch and finally found a real waterfall…:-)


Batangsi Fall

During this hike they had come to a split of the Batangsi river and decided to follow the right branch. Could there be another waterfall in the left branch? Studying the contour lines of the topo maps, Siang Hui thought there might be one.

When you look at the first map picture in this blog, you will notice that there are two farm roads leading inland and for our next recce we took the other one. It ends at a temple, from where a clear trail starts. Unfortunately I did not feel well after about one hour hiking , so we turned back. Here is a Google Maps screenshot. The possible waterfall is marked with a red star.

Another Recce

The yellow marker indicates the location of the temple. As you see our hike (green track) brings us quite deep into the interior! On our way back we went down to the river for a bath (brown line)

After this “longish” introduction, here is the report about our latest hike. Again we followed the farmroad, passing flower and vegetable farms, until we reached the impressive Buddhist temple.

We started our hike from the temple at 9:15 am and were back at 5pm. It was an interesting, tough hike, but we did not reach the waterfall! However, we have now a clear idea how to proceed on our next, and hopefully final hike…:-). Here is our hike (in green) on Google Earth, only the main part is shown  (click to enlarge) and I have numbered a few points of interest. The coloring is a bit different, dark blue is my trip with Aurelius, light blue the hike of Siang Hui and Harry and red our aborted hike.

Our hike

From the temple it took us about one hour plus to reach point (1) where I went back during our last recce. Until there the trail was well kept so we were expecting that from there it would continue. But after another half hour hiking, the trail disappeared (2). We backtracked  to see if we had missed the trail, but it was really gone.

From that point Saing Hui had to do a lot of chopping. After a while we reached a small stream (3) and we decided to follow it back to the Batangsi river. In retrospect that was a mistake, as we were only about 400 meter away from the river split we wanted to reach. After we reached the river (4), we trekked upstream to a small waterfall where we had lunch and a bath (5).

It was already getting late and we decided not to continue, but river trek back. River trekking is fun, but also slow, so when we reached a run-down biker camp (6) near the river, with a trail going uphill, we decided to take that trail.

Also here we lost the trail and it took us quite a long time, after even going in a completely wrong direction (7) for a while, to reach the logging road (8)!

We were very lucky with the weather during this trip. It was only a few hundred meters before reaching the temple that a downpour started. And a real downpour it was…:-)

Siang Hui and Nick had to go back home early, so it was only the four of us who could enjoy a delicious seafood dinner in Semenyih.

A memorable trip. We are thinking about a (hopefully) final attempt. After reaching the small stream (3) not following it but chopping our way to the confluence. From there river trekking. Then basically the same way back. The black line in the map below.

Next recce

Journal 1-9-2014

Time flies. My last journal was published seven weeks ago, just after I came back to Malaysia. After recovering from jet lag (not so difficult this time), I settled down in my usual routine. A morning walk in Bukit Kiara followed by breakfast (RM 1 only!) at IKEA. Spending a lot of time with my laptop, actually too much, especially now that I have become addicted to acomputer game called  Hay Day  🙁

But of course also quite a lot of social activities, like meeting friends and enjoying food. Here is a selection of (food) pictures.

Soon after I was back home and acclimatised, the urge came to visit a waterfall. So I eagerly accepted my friend Siang Hui’s invitation for a recce to a remote waterfall in the Semenyih region. It would be a long hike, we had to leave early. Three of us, my friend Teoh also joined. Maybe because I did not sleep well the night before, but after about one hour on our way, I did not feel well, a tight feeling in my chest. After a discussion with my friends, we decided to go back.

I was worried (and not only I…haha), so I made an appointment with my cardiologist for an echo and a stress test. I could see him only after Hari Raya (the end of Ramadan), so I kept quiet a bit for a while.  Quite relieved when the results were ok!

With Hari Raya we visited Aric’s hometown. It is an old Malay custom to fire impressive coconut palm canons, celebrating the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festival. And impressive it was, I was worried for a while that it might affect my hearing. I wrote a separate blog about it: Boom Boom!!

Hari Raya

After I had received my clean bill of health, I was looking forward to meet Akke and Pim and show them a few nice places in my 2nd home…-).  Akke is the daughter of friend of mine, who, with her future husband, was traveling in Malaysia. We visited the Kanching waterfalls and the Batu Caves and completed it with a delicious dinner, prepared by Aric.

Here are a few recent pictures of Bukit Kiara, where I have my daily exercise. I have written many blog posts about it, you can find them here . I am quite pessimistic about its future, JLN (the National Landscape Department) is trying to transform it into a concentration camp, including barbed wire fencing ..:-(  But still beautiful, along the budding Penchala river I have hidden another of my geocaches.

I am a member of the Taiping Heritage Society. I joined them in May on a trip to Lenggong. A few weeks ago they organised a members night and asked me to give short talk about this trip. Here are some pictures. I had prepared too much material for my talk, so I have published this material in a separate blog post  Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley

On my way back from Taiping, I decided to stop at Pos Dipang to meet my Orang Asli friend Jinnah and his family. Recently he has been our guide to the spectacular Pos Dipang waterfalls.Very nice people. They belong to the Semai tribe, my Bahasa (Malay language) is bad, but we could communicate quite well in broken English.

Jinnah & family

To end this journal, a few pictures of a trip made with Aric to a Hot Springs near Bentong. I had passed the place before several times, the hot springs were not well maintained. But now some renovation had taken place, itr looked a lot better. The water was not too hot and you could use the mud from the bottom to scrub your skin…:-)