Observer’s report on the Ig Nobel show in Lausanne

The Why How How blog published this report about the recent Ig Nobel show at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. We re-publish it here with permission — machine-translated from the original French:

Ig Nobel Award Tour Show 

EPFL-ticketAs some still do not know the famous  Ig Nobel Prize. Their founder Marc Abrahams travels the world to present this institution. I had the chance to attend the “Ig Nobel Award Tour Show” organized at EPFL few weeks ago, and it was a great moment of hair-raising science.

The “Show” takes place in two stages. First, Marc Abrahams explains the purpose of prize:

Reward research that makes you laugh, then think

Then he describes the selection mechanism, award ceremony and the famous award prizes to Harvard, to which I give a lot to attend. Meanwhile, the latter is video here. Excellent communicator and tongue-in-cheek, Marc Abrahams illustrates his point with many examples and hilarious documents, all in perfectly understandable English. This part of the evening is much like its visible TED conference in video here.

Secondly, the Ig Nobel past winners present their award-winning works. We had 3 presentations:

  1. Emily Baird of Lund University explained how it determined that “The dung beetle uses the Milky Way for orientation “[1], which earned him the 2013 Prize for biology and astronomy.
    In fact, his team demonstrated that this beetle does not mark is the surrounding landscape to move away online the right of a good steaming dung with a small ball of dung appetizing, but it keeps a constant angle relative to the most intense light source: Sun day, moon night, or failing that, the Milky Way, good light in the nights of the southern African savannas.
  2. Then Elisabeth Oberzaucher of the University of Vienna, winner of the 2015 math Prize calculated “How Moulay Ismail bin Sharif Sultan of Morocco, could generate 888 children? “[2] Now, a harem of 500 women it helps, but despite that, given the relatively random nature of female fertility, Sultan also has the unsavory give himself …
  3. Finally Stephan Bolliger of the University of Zurich responded to the question “Is it better to be smashed his head with a full bottle of beer or empty? “[3] which earned him the 2009 Peace Prize. According to the tests, the two cases are likely to cause a skull fracture, but it takes more force to break up an empty bottle full …

With the latter prize my beautiful country won the IgNobel Peace Prize for two consecutive years since 2008 our Federal Ethics Commission had already been awarded to an official document on the dignity of plants. The little interlude where Marc Abrahams congratulated one by one all the Swiss citizens of the co-recipients of the award assistance was illustrated by this splendid slide quoting the award-winning report [4]:


Excellent evening so I urge you to attend a “IgNobel Award Tour Show” near you (or organize one …). We start with much laughing, but also thinking.


(For the record, I contribute to maintain a list of publications’s award IgNobel on Mendeley )

  1. Mr. Dacke, E. Baird, Mr. Byrne, CH Scholtz, and EJ Warrant, “Dung beetles use the Milky Way for orientation” Curr. Biol., Vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 298-300, Feb. 2013.  doi: 10.1016 / j.cub.2012.12.034
  2. Oberzaucher E. and K. Grammer, “The Case of Moulay Ismael – Fact or Fancy ?,” PLoS One, vol. 9, no.2, p. e85292, Feb. 2014.  doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0085292
  3. Bolliger SA, S. Ross, L. Oesterhelweg, MJ Thali, and BP Kneubuehl, “Are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and Does Their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull ?,” J. Forensic Leg. Med., Vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 138-42, Apr. 2009. DOI: 10.1016 / j.jflm.2008.07.013
  4. Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) ”  The Dignity of Living Beings with regard to plants” 2008 Bern, Switzerland