The Ig Nobel Prizes

, 1 October 2010

The 21st Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony took place yesterday @ the Sanders Theatre (Harvard), and again the craziest, funniest and most intelligent science jokes & solutions (bat’s oral sex or whale’s snots were some of the winning 2010 discoveries)…

As Nature mag puts them “Last, but not least, there are the Ig Nobel awards. These come with little cash, but much cachet, and reward those research projects that ‘first make people laugh, and then make them think'”… in the end the Ig Nobel Prizes are nothing but an American parody of the Nobel Prizes; they’re organized by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), and are presented by a group that includes genuine Nobel Laureates!!

Ig Nobel award winner Elena N. Bodnar demonstrates her combination bra/gas mask on Nobel prize winner Wolfgang Ketterle (last year)


Ten winners were declared this year, with eight of them on hand to receive their prizes, and the ceremony wa broadcasted on YouTube.

An idea to use a remote-control helicopter to collect whale snot won the Engineering prize for a British-Mexican team, with the project under the authentically geeky title “A Novel Non-Invasive Tool for Disease Surveillance of Free-Ranging Whales and Its Relevance to Conservation Programs”.

Another pair of Dutch scientists won Medicine honours for their discovery that a rollercoaster ride can treat asthma symptoms, while a Japanese team took the Transportation Planning prize for use of “slime mould to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks”.

here’s an extract of the great idea the organizers had to keep speeches short… “Miss Sweetie Poo”!, an 8-year-old girl who tells long-winded speakers to “Please stop. I’m bored”.

Other great researches include…

demonstrating that socks worn outside of shoes reduce slipping on icy paths…, proving that swearing relieves pain…, determining that microbes cling to bearded scientists…, demonstrating mathematically that organisations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random… and many more great, funny but plausible ideas (read the rest on their improbable page).