The once-criticized excellent research adventures of David Hu

Two-time [2015 and 2019] Ig Nobel Physics Prize winner David Hu has already had more pubic adventures because of his research—including being attacked in print by a U.S. senator—than most scientists get in a lifetime. Good things, for him and for the world, have come from that. Some of those good things initially looked, to some people, like bad things.

David Hu wrote an essay, published in The Xylom, about those adventures. The essay begins:


Wombat poo, here encased in lucite for display purposes. David Hu’s second Ig Nobel Prize honored the research as to how and why wombat poo typically has a cuboid shape. Photo: Alex Ip.

David Hu: “Wasteful Research”? Nah.

“I think I’ve learned my lesson.”

[The Xylom Editor’s note: This is adapted from a speech, Cube-shaped Poo and Georgia Tech’s Second Ig Nobel Prize, by David L. Hu, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biology and Adjunct Professor of Physics of Georgia Institute of Technology on October 8, 2019.]

About two years after I published this study, I came upon a surprise.

My university told me to watch this show, Fox and Friends, and I’ll show a brief segment here:

So this is a TV show called Fox and Friends, and [then-Senator] Jeff Flake had highlighted twenty of the US’ most “wasteful studies”. It turns out that I was responsible for one-eighth of the list, three of those twenty studies.

[ Crowd laughter ]

My Three Most Wasteful Studies for 2016 were