Ig® Nobel Prize Winners
then make them THINK
2015 : 2014 : 2013 : 2012 : 2011
2010 : 2009 : 2008 : 2007 : 2006
2005 : 2004 : 2003 : 2002 : 2001
2000 : 1999 : 1998 : 1997 : 1996
1995 : 1994 : 1993 : 1992 : 1991
“The Ig Nobel awards are arguably the highlight of the scientific calendar.” — Nature
|Ig Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention (a brassiere that can quickly convert into a pair of protective face masks) assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle (left), Orhan Pamuk, and Paul Krugman (right). Photo credit: Alexey Eliseev, 2009 Ig Nobel Ceremony|
The 2022 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
APPLIED CARDIOLOGY PRIZE [CZECH REPUBLIC, THE NETHERLANDS, UK, SWEDEN, ARUBA]
Eliska Prochazkova, Elio Sjak-Shie, Friederike Behrens, Daniel Lindh, and Mariska Kret, for seeking and finding evidence that when new romantic partners meet for the first time, and feel attracted to each other, their heart rates synchronize.
REFERENCE: “Physiological Synchrony is Associated with Attraction in a Blind Date Setting,” Eliska Prochazkova, Elio Sjak-Shie, Friederike Behrens, Daniel Lindh, and Mariska E. Kret, Nature Human Behaviour, vol. 6, no. 2, 2022, pp. 269-278.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Eliska Prochazkova, Mariska Kret
LITERATURE PRIZE [CANADA, USA, UK, AUSTRALIA]
Eric Martínez, Francis Mollica, and Edward Gibson, for analyzing what makes legal documents unnecessarily difficult to understand.
REFERENCE: “Poor Writing, Not Specialized Concepts, Drives Processing Difficulty in Legal Language,” Eric Martínez, Francis Mollica, and Edward Gibson, Cognition, vol. 224, July 2022, 105070.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Eric Martínez, Francis Mollica, Edward Gibson
BIOLOGY PRIZE [BRAZIL, COLOMBIA]
Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, for studying whether and how constipation affects the mating prospects of scorpions.
REFERENCE: “Short- and Long-Term Effects of an Extreme Case of Autotomy: Does ‘Tail’ Loss and Subsequent Constipation Decrease the Locomotor Performance of Male and Female Scorpions?” Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, Integrative Zoology, epub 2021.
REFERENCE: “Fitness Implications of Nonlethal Injuries in Scorpions: Females, but Not Males, Pay Reproductive Costs,” Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, American Naturalist, vol. 197, no. 3, March 2021, pp. 379-389.
REFERENCE: ” ‘Tail’ Autotomy and Consequent Stinger Loss Decrease Predation Success in Scorpions,” Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, Animal Behaviour, vol. 169, 2020, pp. 157-167.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Solimary García-Hernández, Glauco Machado
MEDICINE PRIZE [POLAND]
Marcin Jasiński, Martyna Maciejewska, Anna Brodziak, Michał Górka, Kamila Skwierawska, Wiesław Jędrzejczak, Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Grzegorz Basak, and Emilian Snarski, for showing that when patients undergo some forms of toxic chemotherapy, they suffer fewer harmful side effects when ice cream replaces one traditional component of the procedure.
REFERENCE: “Ice-Cream Used as Cryotherapy During High-Dose Melphalan Conditioning Reduces Oral Mucositis After Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation,” Marcin Jasiński, Martyna Maciejewska, Anna Brodziak, Michał Górka, Kamila Skwierawska, Wiesław W. Jędrzejczak, Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Grzegorz W. Basak, and Emilian Snarski, Scientific Reports, vol. 11, no. 22507, 2021.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Marcin Jasiński, Anna Brodziak, Kamila Skwierawska, Wiesław Jędrzejczak, Emilian Snarski
ENGINEERING PRIZE [JAPAN]
Gen Matsuzaki, Kazuo Ohuchi, Masaru Uehara, Yoshiyuki Ueno, and Goro Imura, for trying to discover the most efficient way for people to use their fingers when turning a knob.
REFERENCE: “How to Use Fingers during Rotary Control of Columnar Knobs,” Gen Matsuzaki, Kazuo Ohuchi, Masaru Uehara, Yoshiyuki Ueno, and Goro Imura, Bulletin of Japanese Society for the Science of Design, vol. 45, no. 5, 1999, pp. 69-76.
REFERENCE: “Experimental Studies on the Rotary Control of Columnar Knobs — The Number of Fingers used at the Time of starting Rotary Control,” Gen Matsuzaki, Goro Imura, and Maseru Uehara, Proceedings of the Third Asia Design Conference, 1998, pp. 37-40.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Gen Matsuzaki
ART HISTORY PRIZE [THE NETHERLANDS, GUATAMALA, USA, AUSTRIA]
Peter de Smet and Nicholas Hellmuth, for their study “A Multidisciplinary Approach to Ritual Enema Scenes on Ancient Maya Pottery.”
REFERENCE: “A Multidisciplinary Approach to Ritual Enema Scenes on Ancient Maya Pottery,” Peter A.G.M. de Smet and Nicholas M. Hellmuth, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 16, no. 2-3, 1986, pp. 213-262.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Peter de Smet, Nicholas Hellmuth
PHYSICS PRIZE [CHINA, UK, TURKEY, USA] [AWARDED JOINTLY TO TWO GROUPS]
Frank Fish, Zhi-Ming Yuan, Minglu Chen, Laibing Jia, Chunyan Ji, and Atilla Incecik, for trying to understand how ducklings manage to swim in formation.
REFERENCE: “Energy Conservation by Formation Swimming: Metabolic Evidence from Ducklings,” Frank E. Fish, in the book Mechanics and Physiology of Animal Swimming, 1994, pp. 193-204.
REFERENCE: “Wave-Riding and Wave-Passing by Ducklings in Formation Swimming,” Zhi-Ming Yuan, Minglu Chen, Laibing Jia, Chunyan Ji, and Atilla Incecik, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, vol. 928, no. R2, 2021.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Frank Fish, Zhi-Ming Yuan, Laibing Jia, Chunyan Ji, Atilla Incecik
PEACE PRIZE [CHINA, HUNGARY, CANADA, THE NETHERLANDS, UK, ITALY, AUSTRALIA, SWITZERLAND, USA]
Junhui Wu, Szabolcs Számadó, Pat Barclay, Bianca Beersma, Terence Dores Cruz, Sergio Lo Iacono, Annika Nieper, Kim Peters, Wojtek Przepiorka, Leo Tiokhin and Paul Van Lange, for developing an algorithm to help gossipers decide when to tell the truth and when to lie.
REFERENCE: “Honesty and Dishonesty in Gossip Strategies: A Fitness Interdependence Analysis,” Junhui Wu, Szabolcs Számadó, Pat Barclay, Bianca Beersma, Terence D. Dores Cruz, Sergio Lo Iacono, Annika S. Nieper, Kim Peters, Wojtek Przepiorka, Leo Tiokhin and Paul A.M. Van Lange, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, vol. 376, no. 1838, 2021, 20200300.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Junhui Wu, Pat Barclay, Bianca Beersma, Terence Dores Cruz, Sergio Lo Iacono, Annika Nieper, Kim Peters, Wojtek Przepiorka, Leo Tiokhin, Paul Van Lange
ECONOMICS PRIZE [ITALY]
Alessandro Pluchino, Alessio Emanuele Biondo, and Andrea Rapisarda, for explaining, mathematically, why success most often goes not to the most talented people, but instead to the luckiest.
REFERENCE: “Talent vs. Luck: The Role of Randomness in Success and Failure,” Alessandro Pluchino, Alessio Emanuele Biondo, and Andrea Rapisarda, Advances in Complex Systems, vol. 21, nos. 3 and 4, 2018.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Alessandro Pluchino, Alessio Biondo, Andrea Rapisarda
[NOTE: This is the second Ig Nobel Prize awarded to Alessandro Pluchino and Andrea Rapisarda. The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize for Management was awarded to Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.]
SAFETY ENGINEERING PRIZE [SWEDEN]
Magnus Gens, for developing a moose crash-test dummy.
REFERENCE: “Moose Crash Test Dummy,” Magnus Gens, Master’s thesis at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, published by the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 2001.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Magnus Gens
The 2021 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
BIOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN]:
Susanne Schötz, Robert Eklund, and Joost van de Weijer, for analyzing variations in purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, growling, and other modes of cat–human communication.
REFERENCE: “A Comparative Acoustic Analysis of Purring in Four Cats,” Susanne Schötz and Robert Eklund, Proceedings of Fonetik 2011, Speech, Music and Hearing, KTH, Stockholm, TMH-QPSR, 51.
REFERENCE: “A Phonetic Pilot Study of Vocalisations in Three Cats,” Susanne Schötz, Proceedings of Fonetik 2012, Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
REFERENCE: “A Phonetic Pilot Study of Chirp, Chatter, Tweet and Tweedle in Three Domestic Cats,” Susanne Schötz, Proceedings of Fonetik 2013, Linköping University, Sweden, 2013, pp. 65-68.
REFERENCE: “A Study of Human Perception of Intonation in Domestic Cat Meows,” Susanne Schötz and Joost van de Weijer, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody, Dubin, Ireland, May 20-23, 2014.
REFERENCE: “Melody in Human–Cat Communication (Meowsic): Origins, Past, Present and Future,” Susanne Schötz, Robert Eklund, and Joost van de Weijer, 2016.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Susanne Schötz
ECOLOGY PRIZE [SPAIN. IRAN]:
Leila Satari, Alba Guillén, Àngela Vidal-Verdú, and Manuel Porcar, for using genetic analysis to identify the different species of bacteria that reside in wads of discarded chewing gum stuck on pavements in various countries.
REFERENCE: “The Wasted Chewing Gum Bacteriome,” Leila Satari, Alba Guillén, Àngela Vidal-Verdú, and Manuel Porcar, Scientific Reports, vol. 10, no. 16846, 2020.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Leila Satari, Alba Guillén, Àngela Vidal-Verdú, Manuel Porcar
CHEMISTRY PRIZE [GERMANY, UK, NEW ZEALAND, GREECE, CYPRUS, AUSTRIA]:
Jörg Wicker, Nicolas Krauter, Bettina Derstroff, Christof Stönner, Efstratios Bourtsoukidis, Achim Edtbauer, Jochen Wulf, Thomas Klüpfel, Stefan Kramer, and Jonathan Williams, for chemically analyzing the air inside movie theaters, to test whether the odors produced by an audience reliably indicate the levels of violence, sex, antisocial behavior, drug use, and bad language in the movie the audience is watching.
REFERENCE: “Proof of Concept Study: Testing Human Volatile Organic Compounds as Tools for Age Classification of Films,” Christof Stönner, Achim Edtbauer, Bettina Derstroff, Efstratios Bourtsoukidis, Thomas Klüpfel, Jörg Wicker, and Jonathan Williams, PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 10, 2008, p. e0203044.
REFERENCE: “Cinema Data Mining: The Smell of Fear,” Jörg Wicker, Nicolas Krauter, Bettina Derstorff, Christof Stönner, Efstratios Bourtsoukidis, Thomas Klüpfel, Jonathan Williams, and Stefan Kramer, Proceedings of the 21th ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, pp. 1295-1304. 2015.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Jörg Wicker, Nicolas Krauter, Bettina Derstroff, Christof Stönner, Efstratios Bourtsoukidis, Achim Edtbauer, Jochen Wulf, Thomas Klüpfel, Stefan Kramer, Jonathan Williams
ECONOMICS PRIZE [FRANCE, SWITZERLAND, AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, UK]:
Pavlo Blavatskyy, for discovering that the obesity of a country’s politicians may be a good indicator of that country’s corruption.
REFERENCE: “Obesity of Politicians and Corruption in Post‐Soviet Countries,” Pavlo Blavatskyy, Economic of Transition and Institutional Change, vol. 29, no. 2, 2021, pp. 343-356.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Pavlo Blavatskyy
MEDICINE PRIZE [GERMANY, TURKEY, UK]:
Olcay Cem Bulut, Dare Oladokun, Burkard Lippert, and Ralph Hohenberger, for demonstrating that sexual orgasms can be as effective as decongestant medicines at improving nasal breathing.
REFERENCE: “Can Sex Improve Nasal Function? — An Exploration of the Link Between Sex and Nasal Function,” Olcay Cem Bulut, Dare Oladokun, Burkard M. Lippert, and Ralph Hohenberger, Ear, Nose & Throat Journal, 2021, no. 0145561320981441.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Olcay Cem Bulut, Dare Oladokun, Ralph Hohenberger
PEACE PRIZE [USA]:
Ethan Beseris, Steven Naleway, and David Carrier, for testing the hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from punches to the face.
REFERENCE: “Impact Protection Potential of Mammalian Hair: Testing the Pugilism Hypothesis for the Evolution of Human Facial Hair,” Ethan A. Beseris, Steven E. Naleway, David R. Carrier, Integrative Organismal Biology, vol. 2, no. 1, 2020, obaa005.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Ethan Beseris, Steven Naleway, David Carrier
PHYSICS PRIZE [THE NETHERLANDS, ITALY, TAIWAN, USA]:
Alessandro Corbetta, Jasper Meeusen, Chung-min Lee, Roberto Benzi, and Federico Toschi, for conducting experiments to learn why pedestrians do not constantly collide with other pedestrians.
REFERENCE: “Physics-based modeling and data representation of pairwise interactions among pedestrians,” Alessandro Corbetta, Jasper A. Meeusen, Chung-min Lee, Roberto Benzi, and Federico Toschi, Physical Review E, vol. 98, no. 062310, 2018.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Alessandro Corbetta, Jasper Meeusen, Chung-min Lee, Roberto Benzi,, Federico Toschi
KINETICS PRIZE [JAPAN, SWITZERLAND, ITALY]:
Hisashi Murakami, Claudio Feliciani, Yuta Nishiyama, and Katsuhiro Nishinari, for conducting experiments to learn why pedestrians do sometimes collide with other pedestrians.
REFERENCE: “Mutual Anticipation Can Contribute to Self-Organization in Human Crowds,” Hisashi Murakami, Claudio Feliciani, Yuta Nishiyama, and Katsuhiro Nishinari, Science Advances, vol. 7, no. 12, 2021, p. eabe7758.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Hisashi Murakami, Claudio Feliciani, Yuta Nishiyama, Katsuhiro Nishinari
ENTOMOLOGY PRIZE [USA]:
John Mulrennan, Jr., Roger Grothaus, Charles Hammond, and Jay Lamdin, for their research study “A New Method of Cockroach Control on Submarines”.
REFERENCE: “A New Method of Cockroach Control on Submarines,” John A. Mulrennan, Jr., Roger H. Grothaus, Charles L. Hammond, and Jay M. Lamdin, Journal of Economic Entomology, vol. 64, no. 5, October 1971, pp. 1196-8.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: John Mulrennan, Jr.
TRANSPORTATION PRIZE [NAMIBIA, SOUTH AFRICA, TANZANIA, ZIMBABWE, BRAZIL, UK, USA]:
Robin Radcliffe, Mark Jago, Peter Morkel, Estelle Morkel, Pierre du Preez, Piet Beytell, Birgit Kotting, Bakker Manuel, Jan Hendrik du Preez, Michele Miller, Julia Felippe, Stephen Parry, and Robin Gleed, for determining by experiment whether it is safer to transport an airborne rhinoceros upside-down.
REFERENCE: “The Pulmonary and Metabolic Effects of Suspension by the Feet Compared with Lateral Recumbency in Immobilized Black Rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis) Captured by Aerial Darting,” Robin W. Radcliffe, Mark Jago, Peter vdB Morkel, Estelle Morkel, Pierre du Preez, Piet Beytell, Birgit Kotting, Bakker Manuel, Jan Hendrik du Preez, Michele A. Miller, Julia Felippe, Stephen A Parry; R.D. Gleed, Journal of Wildlife Diseases, vol. 57, no. 2, 2021, 357–367.
WHO TOOK PART IN THE CEREMONY: Pete Morkel, Mark Jago, Robin Gleed, Robin Radcliffe
The 2020 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
ACOUSTICS PRIZE [AUSTRIA, SWEDEN, JAPAN, USA, SWITZERLAND]
Stephan Reber, Takeshi Nishimura, Judith Janisch, Mark Robertson, and Tecumseh Fitch, for inducing a female Chinese alligator to bellow in an airtight chamber filled with helium-enriched air.
REFERENCE: “A Chinese Alligator in Heliox: Formant Frequencies in a Crocodilian,” Stephan A. Reber, Takeshi Nishimura, Judith Janisch, Mark Robertson, and W. Tecumseh Fitch, Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 218, 2015, pp. 2442-2447.
WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE CEREMONY: Stephan Reber, Takeshi Nishimura, Judith Janisch, Mark Robertson, and Tecumseh Fitch
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [CANADA, USA]
Miranda Giacomin and Nicholas Rule, for devising a method to identify narcissists by examining their eyebrows.
REFERENCE: “Eyebrows Cue Grandiose Narcissism,” Miranda Giacomin and Nicholas O. Rule, Journal of Personality, vol. 87, no. 2, 2019, pp. 373-385.
WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE CEREMONY: Miranda Giacomin and Nicholas Rule
PEACE PRIZE [INDIA, PAKISTAN]
The governments of India and Pakistan, for having their diplomats surreptitiously ring each other’s doorbells in the middle of the night, and then run away before anyone had a chance to answer the door.
REFERENCE: Numerous news reports.
PHYSICS PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, UKRAINE, FRANCE, ITALY, GERMANY, UK, SOUTH AFRICA]
Ivan Maksymov and Andrey Pototsky, for determining, experimentally, what happens to the shape of a living earthworm when one vibrates the earthworm at high frequency.
REFERENCE: “Excitation of Faraday-like body waves in vibrated living earthworms,” Ivan S. Maksymov and Andrey Pototsky, bioRxiv 10.1101/868521, December 8, 2019.
WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE CEREMONY: Ivan Maksymov and Andrey Pototsky
ECONOMICS PRIZE [UK, POLAND, FRANCE, BRAZIL, CHILE, COLOMBIA, AUSTRALIA, ITALY, NORWAY, ITALY]
Christopher Watkins, Juan David Leongómez, Jeanne Bovet, Agnieszka Żelaźniewicz, Max Korbmacher, Marco Antônio Corrêa Varella, Ana Maria Fernandez, Danielle Wagstaff, and Samuela Bolgan, for trying to quantify the relationship between different countries’ national income inequality and the average amount of mouth-to-mouth kissing.
REFERENCE: “National Income Inequality Predicts Cultural Variation in Mouth to Mouth Kissing,” Christopher D. Watkins, Juan David Leongómez, Jeanne Bovet, Agnieszka Żelaźniewicz, Max Korbmacher, Marco Antônio Corrêa Varella, Ana Maria Fernandez, Danielle Wagstaff, and Samuela Bolgan, Scientific Reports, vol. 9, article no. 6698, 2019.
WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE CEREMONY: Christopher Watkins
MANAGEMENT PRIZE [CHINA]
(奚广安) Xi Guang-An, (莫天祥) Mo Tian-Xiang, (杨康生) Yang Kang-Sheng, (杨广生) Yang Guang-Sheng, and (凌显四) Ling Xian Si, five professional hitmen in Guangxi, China, who managed a contract for a hit job (a murder performed for money) in the following way: After accepting payment to perform the murder, Xi Guang-An then instead subcontracted the task to Mo Tian-Xiang, who then instead subcontracted the task to Yang Kang-Sheng, who then instead subcontracted the task to Yang Guang-Sheng, who then instead subcontracted the task to Ling Xian-Si, with each subsequently enlisted hitman receiving a smaller percentage of the fee, and nobody actually performing a murder.
REFERENCE: Numerous news reports and trial documents.
ENTOMOLOGY PRIZE [USA]
Richard Vetter, for collecting evidence that many entomologists (scientists who study insects) are afraid of spiders, which are not insects.
REFERENCE: “Arachnophobic Entomologists: When Two More Legs Makes a Big Difference,” Richard S. Vetter, American Entomologist, vol. 59, no. 3, 2013, pp. 168-175.
WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE CEREMONY: Richard Vetter
MEDICINE PRIZE [THE NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM]
Nienke Vulink, Damiaan Denys, and Arnoud van Loon, for diagnosing a long-unrecognized medical condition: Misophonia, the distress at hearing other people make chewing sounds.
REFERENCE: “Misophonia: Diagnostic Criteria for a New Psychiatric Disorder,” Arjan Schroder, Nienke Vulink, and Damiaan Denys, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 1, 2013, e54706.
REFERENCE: “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is Effective in Misophonia: An Open Trial,” Arjan E., Schröder, Nienke C. Vulink, Arnoud J. van Loon, and Damiaan A. Denys, Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 217, 2017, pp. 289-294.
WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE CEREMONY: Nienke Vulink, Damiaan Denys, and Arnoud van Loon
MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE [BRAZIL, UK, INDIA, MEXICO, BELARUS, USA, TURKEY, RUSSIA, TURKMENISTAN]
Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, Narendra Modi of India, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Donald Trump of the USA, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, for using the Covid-19 viral pandemic to teach the world that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors can.
REFERENCE: Numerous news reports.
NOTE: This is the second Ig Nobel Prize awarded to Alexander Lukashenko. In the year 2013, the Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Alexander Lukashenko, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.
MATERIALS SCIENCE PRIZE [USA, UK]
Metin Eren, Michelle Bebber, James Norris, Alyssa Perrone, Ashley Rutkoski, Michael Wilson, and Mary Ann Raghanti, for showing that knives manufactured from frozen human feces do not work well.
REFERENCE: “Experimental Replication Shows Knives Manufactured from Frozen Human Feces Do Not Work,” Metin I. Eren, Michelle R. Bebber, James D. Norris, Alyssa Perrone, Ashley Rutkoski, Michael Wilson, and Mary Ann Raghanti, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 27, no. 102002, October 2019.
WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE CEREMONY: Metin Eren, Michelle Bebber, James Norris, Alyssa Perrone, Ashley Rutkoski, Michael Wilson, and Mary Ann Raghanti
The 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
MEDICINE PRIZE [ITALY, THE NETHERLANDS]
Silvano Gallus, for collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illness and death, if the pizza is made and eaten in Italy.
REFERENCE: “Does Pizza Protect Against Cancer?“, Silvano Gallus, Cristina Bosetti, Eva Negri, Renato Talamini, Maurizio Montella, Ettore Conti, Silvia Franceschi, and Carlo La Vecchia, International Journal of Cancer, vol. 107, no. 2, November 1, 2003, pp. 283-284.
REFERENCE: “Pizza and Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction,” Silvano Gallus, A. Tavani, and C. La Vecchia, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 58, no. 11, November 2004, pp. 1543-1546.
REFERENCE: “Pizza Consumption and the Risk of Breast, Ovarian and Prostate Cancer,” Silvano Gallus, Renato Talamini, Cristina Bosetti, Eva Negri, Maurizio Montella, Silvia Franceschi, Attilio Giacosa, and Carlo La Vecchia, European Journal of Cancer Prevention, vol. 15, no. 1, February 2006, pp. 74-76.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Silvano Gallus.
MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE [USA]
Karen Pryor and Theresa McKeon, for using a simple animal-training technique— called “clicker training” —to train surgeons to perform orthopedic surgery.
REFERENCE: “Is Teaching Simple Surgical Skills Using an Operant Learning Program More Effective Than Teaching by Demonstration,” I. Martin Levy, Karen W. Pryor, and Theresa R. McKeon, Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, vol. 474, no. 4, April 2016, pp. 945–955.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY:Karen Pryor and Theresa McKeon
BIOLOGY PRIZE [SINGAPORE, AUSTRIA, CHINA, GERMANY, AUSTRALIA, POLAND, USA, BULGARIA]
Ling-Jun Kong, Herbert Crepaz, Agnieszka Górecka, Aleksandra Urbanek, Rainer Dumke, and Tomasz Paterek, for discovering that dead magnetized cockroaches behave differently than living magnetized cockroaches.
REFERENCE: “In-Vivo Biomagnetic Characterisation of the American Cockroach,” Ling-Jun Kong, Herbert Crepaz, Agnieszka Górecka, Aleksandra Urbanek, Rainer Dumke, Tomasz Paterek, Scientific Reports, vol. 8, no. 1, 2018: 5140.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Tomasz Paterek, Herbert Crepaz, Rainer Dumke.
ANATOMY PRIZE [FRANCE]
Roger Mieusset and Bourras Bengoudifa, for measuring scrotal temperature asymmetry in naked and clothed postmen in France.
REFERENCE: “Thermal Asymmetry of the Human Scrotum,” Bourras Bengoudifa and Roger Mieusset, Human Reproduction, vol. 22, no. 8, 2007, pp. 2178-2182.
CHEMISTRY PRIZE [JAPAN]
Shigeru Watanabe, Mineko Ohnishi, Kaori Imai, Eiji Kawano, and Seiji Igarashi, for estimating the total saliva volume produced per day by a typical five-year-old child
REFERENCE: “Estimation of the Total Saliva Volume Produced Per Day in Five-Year-Old Children,” Shigeru Watanabe, M. Ohnishi, K. Imai, E. Kawano, and S. Igarashi, Archives of Oral Biology, vol. 40, no. 8, August 1995, pp. 781-782.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Shiguru Watanabe [and his adult sons, who were some of the subjects of the study when they were children 35 years ago]
ENGINEERING PRIZE [IRAN]
Iman Farahbakhsh, for inventing a diaper-changing machine for use on human infants.
REFERENCE: “Infant Washer and Diaper-Changer Apparatus and Method,” US patent 10034582, granted to Iman Farahbakhsh, July 31, 2018.
ECONOMICS PRIZE [TURKEY, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY]
Habip Gedik, Timothy A. Voss, and Andreas Voss, for testing which country’s paper money is best at transmitting dangerous bacteria.
REFERENCE: “Money and Transmission of Bacteria,” Habip Gedik, Timothy A. Voss, and Andreas Voss, Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control, vol. 2, no. 2, 2013.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Andreas Voss and Timothy Voss (who are father and son)
PEACE PRIZE [UK, SAUDI ARABIA, SINGAPORE, USA]
Ghada A. bin Saif, Alexandru Papoiu, Liliana Banari, Francis McGlone, Shawn G. Kwatra, Yiong-Huak Chan, and Gil Yosipovitch, for trying to measure the pleasurability of scratching an itch.
REFERENCE: “The Pleasurability of Scratching an Itch: A Psychophysical and Topographical Assessment,” G.A. bin Saif, A.D.P. Papoiu, L. Banari, F. McGlone, S.G. Kwatra, Y.-H. Chan and G. Yosipovitch, British Journal of Dermatology, vol. 166, no. 5, 2012, pp. 981-985.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Francis McGlone delivered an acceptance speech via recorded video.
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [GERMANY]
Fritz Strack, for discovering that holding a pen in one’s mouth makes one smile, which makes one happier — and for then discovering that it does not.
REFERENCE: “Inhibiting and facilitating conditions of the human smile: a nonobtrusive test of the facial feedback hypothesis,” Fritz Strack, Leonard L. Martin, and Sabine Stepper, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 54, no. 5, 1988, pp. 768-777.
REFERENCE: “From Data to Truth in Psychological Science. A Personal Perspective,” Fritz Strack, Frontiers in Psychology, May 16, 2017.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Fritz Strack.
PHYSICS PRIZE [USA, TAIWAN, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, SWEDEN, UK]
Patricia Yang, Alexander Lee, Miles Chan, Alynn Martin, Ashley Edwards, Scott Carver, and David Hu, for studying how, and why, wombats make cube-shaped poo.
REFERENCE: “How Do Wombats Make Cubed Poo?” Patricia J. Yang, Miles Chan, Scott Carver, and David L. Hu, paper presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, Abstract: E19.0000, November 18–20, 2018
REFERENCE: “Intestines of Non-Uniform Stiffness Mold the Corners of Wombat Feces,” Patricia J. Yang, Alexander B. Lee, Miles Chan, Michael Kowalski, Kelly Qiu, Christopher Waid, Gabriel Cervantes Benjamin Magondu, Morgan Biagioni, Larry Vogelnest, Alynn Martin, Ashley Edwards, Scott Carver, and David L. Hu, Soft Matter, vol. 3, 2021
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Patricia Yang, David Hu, Miles Chan, Alexander Lee, Scott Carver, Ashley Edwards
NOTE: This is the SECOND Ig Nobel Prize awarded to Patricia Yang and David Hu. They and two other colleagues shared the 2015 Ig Nobel Physics Prize, for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds)
The 2018 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
MEDICINE PRIZE [USA] — Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger, for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones.
REFERENCE: “Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster,” Marc A. Mitchell, David D. Wartinger, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, vol. 116, October 2016, pp. 647-652.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dave Wartinger
ANTHROPOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, ROMANIA, DENMARK, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, UK, INDONESIA, ITALY] — Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, for collecting evidence, in a zoo, that chimpanzees imitate humans about as often, and about as well, as humans imitate chimpanzees.
REFERENCE: “Spontaneous Cross-Species Imitation in Interaction Between Chimpanzees and Zoo Visitors,” Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, Primates, vol. 59, no. 1, January 2018, pp 19–29.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc
BIOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, COLOMBIA, GERMANY, FRANCE, SWITZERLAND] — Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, for demonstrating that wine experts can reliably identify, by smell, the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine.
REFERENCE: “The Scent of the Fly,” Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, bioRxiv, no. 20637, 2017.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Peter Witzgall
CHEMISTRY PRIZE [PORTUGAL] — Paula Romão, Adília Alarcão and the late César Viana, for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces.
REFERENCE: “Human Saliva as a Cleaning Agent for Dirty Surfaces,” by Paula M. S. Romão, Adília M. Alarcão and César A.N. Viana, Studies in Conservation, vol. 35, 1990, pp. 153-155.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The winners delivered their acceptance speech via recorded video.
MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Akira Horiuchi, for the medical report “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy.”
REFERENCE: “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy by Using a Small-Caliber, Variable-Stiffness Colonoscope,” Akira Horiuchi and Yoshiko Nakayama, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, vol. 63, No. 1, 2006, pp. 119-20.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Akira Horiuchi
LITERATURE PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, EL SALVADOR, UK] — Thea Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, for documenting that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual.
REFERENCE: “Life Is Too Short to RTFM: How Users Relate to Documentation and Excess Features in Consumer Products,” Alethea L. Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, Interacting With Computers, vol. 28, no. 1, 2014, pp. 27-46.
WHO PLANS TO ATTEND THE CEREMONY: Thea Blackler
NUTRITION PRIZE [ZIMBABWE, TANZANIA, UK] — James Cole, for calculating that the caloric intake from a human-cannibalism diet is significantly lower than the caloric intake from most other traditional meat diets.
REFERENCE: “Assessing the Calorific Significance of Episodes of Human Cannibalism in the Paleolithic,” James Cole, Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 44707, April 7, 2017.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: James Cole
PEACE PRIZE [SPAIN, COLOMBIA] — Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge, Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Jaime Sanmartín, Constanza Calatayud, and Beatriz Alamar, for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile.
REFERENCE: “Shouting and Cursing While Driving: Frequency, Reasons, Perceived Risk and Punishment,” Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge and Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, vol. 1, no. 12017, pp. 1-7.
REFERENCE: “La Justicia en el Tráfico: Conocimiento y Valoración de la Población Española” [“Justice in Traffic: Knowledge and Valuation of the Spanish Population”)], F. Alonso, J. Sanmartín, C. Calatayud, C. Esteban, B. Alamar, and M. L. Ballestar, Cuadernos de Reflexión Attitudes, 2005.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Francisco Alonso
REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE PRIZE [USA, JAPAN, SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT, INDIA, BANGLADESH] — John Barry, Bruce Blank, and Michel Boileau, for using postage stamps to test whether the male sexual organ is functioning properly—as described in their study “Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps.”
REFERENCE: “Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps,” John M. Barry, Bruce Blank, Michael Boileau, Urology, vol. 15, 1980, pp. 171-172.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: John M. Barry, Bruce Blank, Michel Boileau
ECONOMICS PRIZE [CANADA, CHINA, SINGAPORE, USA] — Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa Keeping, for investigating whether it is effective for employees to use Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses.
REFERENCE: “Righting a Wrong: Retaliation on a Voodoo Doll Symbolizing an Abusive Supervisor Restores Justice,” Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa M. Keeping, The Leadership Quarterly, February 2018.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Hanyu Liang, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa M. Keeping
The 2017 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
PHYSICS PRIZE [FRANCE, SINGAPORE, USA] — Marc-Antoine Fardin, for using fluid dynamics to probe the question “Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?”
REFERENCE: “On the Rheology of Cats,” Marc-Antoine Fardin, Rheology Bulletin, vol. 83, 2, July 2014, pp. 16-17 and 30.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Marc-Antoine Fardin
PEACE PRIZE [SWITZERLAND, CANADA, THE NETHERLANDS, USA] — Milo Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz, and Otto Braendli, for demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring.
REFERENCE: “Didgeridoo Playing as Alternative Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome: Randomised Controlled Trial,” Milo A. Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz and Otto Braendli, BMJ, vol. 332 December 2006.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Milo Puhan, Christian Lo Cascio, Markus Heitz, Alex Suarez. NOTE: Alex Suarez was the first patient, and was the inspiration for the study.
REFERENCE: “Never Smile at a Crocodile: Betting on Electronic Gaming Machines is Intensified by Reptile-Induced Arousal,” Matthew J. Rockloff and Nancy Greer, Journal of Gambling Studies, vol. 26, no. 4, December 2010, pp. 571-81.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer
ANATOMY PRIZE [UK] — James Heathcote, for his medical research study “Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?”
REFERENCE: “Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?” James A. Heathcote, British Medical Journal, vol. 311, 1995, p. 1668.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: James Heathcote
BIOLOGY PRIZE [JAPAN, BRAZIL, SWITZERLAND] — Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, and Charles Lienhard, for their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect.
REFERENCE: “Female Penis, Male Vagina and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect,” Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, Charles Lienhard, Current Biology, vol. 24, no. 9, 2014, pp. 1006-1010.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: They delivered a short video acceptance speech, filmed in a cave.
FLUID DYNAMICS PRIZE [SOUTH KOREA, USA] — Jiwon Han, for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee. REFERENCE: “A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime,” Jiwon Han, Achievements in the Life Sciences, vol. 10, no. 1, 2016, pp. 87-101.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Jiwon (“Jesse”) Han
NOTE: Jiwon Han was a high school student when he wrote the paper, at Korean Minjok Leadership Academy, Gangwon-do, Republic of Korea.
NUTRITION PRIZE [BRAZIL, CANADA, SPAIN] — Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo Torres, for the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat
REFERENCE: “What is for Dinner? First Report of Human Blood in the Diet of the Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Diphylla ecaudata,” Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo A. Torres, Acta Chiropterologica, vol. 18, no. 2, December 2016, pp. 509-515.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The winners delivered their acceptance speech via recorded video.
MEDICINE PRIZE [FRANCE, UK] — Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly, and Tao Jiang, for using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese.
REFERENCE: “The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study,” Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly and Tao Jiang, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 10, October 2016, article 511.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The winners delivered their acceptance speech via recorded video.
COGNITION PRIZE [ITALY, SPAIN, UK] — Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, and Salvatore Maria Aglioti, for demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually.
REFERENCE: “Is That Me or My Twin? Lack of Self-Face Recognition Advantage in Identical Twins,” Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, Salvatore Maria Aglioti, PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 4, 2015: e0120900.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari
OBSTETRICS PRIZE — [SPAIN] — Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte, for showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother’s vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother’s belly.
REFERENCE: “Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginal Music Emission,” Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, and Alberto Prats-Galino, Ultrasound, November 2015, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 216–223.
REFERENCE: “Fetal Acoustic Stimulation Device,” patent ES2546919B1, granted September 29, 2015 to Luis y Pallarés Aniorte and Maria Luisa López-Teijón Pérez.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte
NOTE: They also offer a product based on this research The product is named “Babypod“.
The 2016 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
REPRODUCTION PRIZE [EGYPT] — The late Ahmed Shafik, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.
REFERENCE: “Effect of Different Types of Textiles on Sexual Activity. Experimental study,” Ahmed Shafik, European Urology, vol. 24, no. 3, 1993, pp. 375-80.
REFERENCE: “Contraceptive Efficacy of Polyester-Induced Azoospermia in Normal Men,” Ahmed Shafik, Contraception, vol. 45, 1992, pp. 439-451.
REFERENCE: “The Brand Personality of Rocks: A Critical Evaluation of a Brand Personality Scale,” Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes ,and Shelagh Ferguson, Marketing Theory, vol. 14, no. 4, 2014, pp. 451-475.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Mark Avis and Sarah Forbes
PHYSICS PRIZE [HUNGARY, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND] — Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas, Susanne Åkesson, Péter Malik, and Hansruedi Wildermuth, for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses, and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.
REFERENCE: “An Unexpected Advantage of Whiteness in Horses: The Most Horsefly-Proof Horse Has a Depolarizing White Coat,” Gábor Horváth, Miklós Blahó, György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas and Susanne Åkesson, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, vol. 277 no. 1688, pp. June 2010, pp. 1643-1650.
REFERENCE: “Ecological Traps for Dragonflies in a Cemetery: The Attraction of Sympetrum species (Odonata: Libellulidae) by Horizontally Polarizing Black Grave-Stones,” Gábor Horváth, Péter Malik, György Kriska, Hansruedi Wildermuth, Freshwater Biology, vol. 52, vol. 9, September 2007, pp. 1700–9.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Susanne Åkesson
CHEMISTRY PRIZE [GERMANY] — Volkswagen, for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.
REFERENCE: “EPA, California Notify Volkswagen of Clean Air Act Violations“, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency news release, September 18, 2015.
MEDICINE PRIZE [GERMANY] — Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas Münte, Silke Anders, and Andreas Sprenger, for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).
REFERENCE: “Itch Relief by Mirror Scratching. A Psychophysical Study,” Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas F. Münte, Silke Anders, Andreas Sprenger, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no 12, December 26, 2013, e82756.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Andreas Sprenger
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [BELGIUM, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, CANADA, USA] — Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.
REFERENCE: “From Junior to Senior Pinocchio: A Cross-Sectional Lifespan Investigation of Deception,” Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon D. Logan, Kristina Suchotzki, and Bruno Verschuere, Acta Psychologica, vol. 160, 2015, pp. 58-68.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Bruno Verschuere
PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] — Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit”.
REFERENCE: “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit,” Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek J. Koehler, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Gordon Pennycook, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang
BIOLOGY PRIZE [UK] — Awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.
REFERENCE: GoatMan; How I Took a Holiday from Being Human, Thomas Thwaites, Princeton Architectural Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1616894054.
REFERENCE: Being a Beast, by Charles Foster, Profile Books, 2016, ISBN 978-1781255346.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Charles Foster, Thomas Thwaites. [NOTE: Thomas Thwaites’s goat suit was kindly released for Ig Nobel purposes from the exhibition ‘Platform – Body/Space’ at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, and will be back on display at the museum from 4 October 2016 till 8 January 2017.]
LITERATURE PRIZE [SWEDEN] — Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.
REFERENCE: The Fly Trap is the first volume of Fredrik Sjöberg’s autobiographical trilogy, En flugsamlares väg (“The Path of a Fly Collector”), and the first to be published in English. Pantheon Books, 2015, ISBN 978-1101870150.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Fredrik Sjöberg
PERCEPTION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.
REFERENCE: “Perceived size and Perceived Distance of Targets Viewed From Between the Legs: Evidence for Proprioceptive Theory,” Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, Vision Research, vol. 46, no. 23, November 2006, pp. 3961–76.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Atsuki Higashiyama
The 2015 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
CHEMISTRY PRIZE — Callum Ormonde and Colin Raston [AUSTRALIA], and Tom Yuan, Stephan Kudlacek, Sameeran Kunche, Joshua N. Smith, William A. Brown, Kaitlin Pugliese, Tivoli Olsen, Mariam Iftikhar, Gregory Weiss [USA], for inventing a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg.
REFERENCE: “Shear-Stress-Mediated Refolding of Proteins from Aggregates and Inclusion Bodies,” Tom Z. Yuan, Callum F. G. Ormonde, Stephan T. Kudlacek, Sameeran Kunche, Joshua N. Smith, William A. Brown, Kaitlin M. Pugliese, Tivoli J. Olsen, Mariam Iftikhar, Colin L. Raston, Gregory A. Weiss, ChemBioChem, vol. 16, no. 3, February 9, 2015, pp. 393–396.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Callum Ormonde, Tivoli Olsen, Colin Raston, Greg Weis
PHYSICS PRIZE — Patricia Yang [USA and TAIWAN], David Hu [USA and TAIWAN], and Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo [USA], for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).
REFERENCE: “Duration of Urination Does Not Change With Body Size,” Patricia J. Yang, Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo, and David L. Hu, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111 no. 33, August 19, 2014, pp. 11932–11937.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Patricia Yang, David Hu, Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo
LITERATURE PRIZE — Mark Dingemanse [THE NETHERLANDS, USA], Francisco Torreira [SPAIN, THE NETHERLANDS, BELGIUM, USA, CANADA], and Nick J. Enfield [AUSTRALIA, THE NETHERLANDS], for discovering that the word “huh?” (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language — and for not being completely sure why.
REFERENCE: “Is ‘Huh?’ a universal word? Conversational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items,” Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira, and Nick J. Enfield, PLOS ONE, 2013. [a video accompanies the paper.]
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The authors were unable to attend the ceremony; they sent a video acceptance speech. They received their prize at a special event (The European Ig Nobel Show) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on October 3.
MANAGEMENT PRIZE — Gennaro Bernile [ITALY, SINGAPORE, USA], Vineet Bhagwat [USA, INDIA], and P. Raghavendra Rau [UK, INDIA, FRANCE, LUXEMBOURG, GERMANY, JAPAN], for discovering that many business leaders developed during childhood a fondness for risk-taking, when they experienced natural disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and wildfires) that — for them — had no dire personal consequences.
REFERENCE: “What Doesn’t Kill You Will Only Make You More Risk-Loving: Early-Life Disasters and CEO Behavior,” Gennaro Bernile, Vineet Bhagwat, and P. Raghavendra Rau, later published in The Journal of Finance, vol. 72, no. 1, 2017, pp. 167-206..
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Gennaro Bernile and P. Raghavendra Rau
ECONOMICS PRIZE — The Bangkok Metropolitan Police [THAILAND], for offering to pay policemen extra cash if the policemen refuse to take bribes.
REFERENCE: Numerous news reports.
MEDICINE PRIZE — Awarded jointly to two groups: Hajime Kimata [JAPAN, CHINA]; and to Jaroslava Durdiaková [SLOVAKIA, US, UK], Peter Celec [SLOVAKIA, GERMANY], Natália Kamodyová, Tatiana Sedláčková, Gabriela Repiská, Barbara Sviežená, and Gabriel Minárik [SLOVAKIA], for experiments to study the biomedical benefits or biomedical consequences of intense kissing (and other intimate, interpersonal activities).
REFERENCE: “Kissing Reduces Allergic Skin Wheal Responses and Plasma Neurotrophin Levels,” Hajime Kimata, Physiology and Behavior, vol. 80, nos. 2-3, November 2003, pp. 395-8.
REFERENCE: “Reduction of Allergic Skin Weal Responses by Sexual Intercourse in Allergic Patients,” Hajime Kimata, Sexual and Relationship Therapy, vol 19, no. 2, May 2004, pp. 151-4.
REFERENCE: “Kissing Selectively Decreases Allergen-Specific IgE Production in Atopic Patients,” Hajime Kimata, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, vol. 60, 2006, pp. 545– 547.
REFERENCE: “Prevalence and Persistence of Male DNA Identified in Mixed Saliva Samples After Intense Kissing,” Natália Kamodyová, Jaroslava Durdiaková, Peter Celec, Tatiana Sedláčková, Gabriela Repiská, Barbara Sviežená, and Gabriel Minárik, Forensic Science International Genetics, vol. 7, no. 1, January 2013, pp. 124–8.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Jaroslava Durdiaková and Peter Celec will be at the ceremony. Hajime Kimata will be at the Ig Informal Lectures, on Saturday, Sept 19 (a prior commmitment prevented him from attending the Thursday ceremony); he sent a video acceptence speech which was played at the Thursday night ceremony.
MATHEMATICS PRIZE — Elisabeth Oberzaucher [AUSTRIA, GERMANY, UK] and Karl Grammer [AUSTRIA, GERMANY], for trying to use mathematical techniques to determine whether and how Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty, the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, managed, during the years from 1697 through 1727, to father 888 children.
REFERENCE: “The Case of Moulay Ismael-Fact or Fancy?” Elisabeth Oberzaucher and Karl Grammer, PLOS ONE, vol. 9, no. 2, 2014, e85292.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Elisabeth Oberzaucher
BIOLOGY PRIZE — Bruno Grossi, Omar Larach, Mauricio Canals, Rodrigo A. Vásquez [CHILE], José Iriarte-Díaz [CHILE, USA], for observing that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked.
REFERENCE: “Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion,” Bruno Grossi, José Iriarte-Díaz, Omar Larach, Mauricio Canals, Rodrigo A. Vásquez, PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 2, 2014, e88458. [NOTE: The paper is accompanied by a video.>
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Bruno Grossi, José Iriarte-Díaz, Omar Larach, Rodrigo A. Vásquez
DIAGNOSTIC MEDICINE PRIZE — Diallah Karim [CANADA, UK], Anthony Harnden [NEW ZEALAND, UK, US], Nigel D’Souza [BAHRAIN, BELGIUM, DUBAI, INDIA, SOUTH AFRICA, US, UK], Andrew Huang [CHINA, UK], Abdel Kader Allouni [SYRIA, UK], Helen Ashdown [UK], Richard J. Stevens [UK], and Simon Kreckler [UK], for determining that acute appendicitis can be accurately diagnosed by the amount of pain evident when the patient is driven over speed bumps.
REFERENCE: “Pain Over Speed Bumps in Diagnosis of Acute Appendicitis: Diagnostic Accuracy Study,” Helen F. Ashdown, Nigel D’Souza, Diallah Karim, Richard J. Stevens, Andrew Huang, and Anthony Harnden, BMJ, vol. 345, 2012, e8012.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Diallah Karim, Anthony Harnden, Helen Ashdown, Nigel D’Souza, Abdel Kader Allouni
PHYSIOLOGY and ENTOMOLOGY PRIZE — Awarded jointly to two individuals: Justin Schmidt [USA, CANADA], for painstakingly creating the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which rates the relative pain people feel when stung by various insects; and to Michael L. Smith [PANAMA, US, UK, THE NETHERLANDS], for carefully arranging for honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, to learn which locations are the least painful (the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm). and which are the most painful (the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft).
REFERENCE: “Hemolytic Activities of Stinging Insect Venoms,” Justin O. Schmidt, Murray S. Blum, and William L. Overal, Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology, vol. 1, no. 2, 1983, pp. 155-160.
REFERENCE: “Honey Bee Sting Pain Index by Body Location,” Michael L. Smith, PeerJ, 2014, 2:e338.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Justin Schmidt and Michael Smith
The 2014 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
PHYSICS PRIZE [JAPAN]: Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that’s on the floor.
REFERENCE: “Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin,” Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, Tribology Online 7, no. 3, 2012, pp. 147-151.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Kiyoshi Mabuchi
NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE [CHINA, CANADA]: 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.
REFERENCE: “Seeing Jesus in Toast: Neural and Behavioral Correlates of Face Pareidolia,” Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, Kang Lee, Cortex, vol. 53, April 2014, Pages 60–77.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Kang Lee
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [UK, FINLAND, AUSTRALIA, USA]: Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.
REFERENCE: “Creatures of the Night: Chronotypes and the Dark Triad Traits,” Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 55, no. 5, 2013, pp. 538-541.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Peter Jonason
PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE [CZECH REPUBLIC, JAPAN, USA, INDIA]: Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlíček and Jitka Hanušova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.
REFERENCE: ” Changes in personality profile of young women with latent toxoplasmosis,” Jaroslav Flegr and Jan Havlicek, Folia Parasitologica, vol. 46, 1999, pp. 22-28.
REFERENCE: “Decreased level of psychobiological factor novelty seeking and lower intelligence in men latently infected with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii Dopamine, a missing link between schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis?” Jaroslav Flegr, Marek Preiss, Jiřı́ Klose, Jan Havlı́ček, Martina Vitáková, and Petr Kodym, Biological Psychology, vol. 63, 2003, pp. 253–268.
REFERENCE: “Describing the Relationship between Cat Bites and Human Depression Using Data from an Electronic Health Record,” David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, 2013, e70585. WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Jaroslav Flegr, David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan
BIOLOGY PRIZE [CZECH REPUBLIC, GERMANY, ZAMBIA]: Vlastimil Hart, Petra Nováková, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Vladimír Hanzal, Miloš Ježek, Tomáš Kušta, Veronika Němcová, Jana Adámková, Kateřina Benediktová, Jaroslav Červený and Hynek Burda, for carefully documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth’s north-south geomagnetic field lines.
REFERENCE: “Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field,” Vlastimil Hart, Petra Nováková, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Vladimír Hanzal, Miloš Ježek, Tomáš Kušta, Veronika Němcová, Jana Adámková, Kateřina Benediktová, Jaroslav Červený and Hynek Burda, Frontiers in Zoology, 10:80, 27 December 27, 2013.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Vlastimil Hart, Petra Nováková, Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Veronika Němcová, Hynek Burda
ART PRIZE [ITALY]: Marina de Tommaso, Michele Sardaro, and Paolo Livrea, for measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a powerful laser beam.
REFERENCE: “Aesthetic value of paintings affects pain thresholds,” Marina de Tommaso, Michele Sardaro, and Paolo Livrea, Consciousness and Cognition, vol. 17, no. 4, 2008, pp. 1152-1162.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Marina de Tommaso
ECONOMICS PRIZE [ITALY]: ISTAT — the Italian government’s National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.
REFERENCE: “Cambia il Sistema europeo dei conti nazionali e regionali – Sec2010“, ISTAT, 2014.
REFERENCE: “European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010),” Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013.
REFERENCE: “Nasal Packing With Strips of Cured Pork as Treatment for Uncontrollable Epistaxis in a Patient with Glanzmann Thrombasthenia,” Ian Humphreys, Sonal Saraiya, Walter Belenky and James Dworkin, Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology, vol. 120, no. 11, November 2011, pp. 732-36.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Sonal Saraiya
REFERENCE: “Response Behaviors of Svalbard Reindeer towards Humans and Humans Disguised as Polar Bears on Edgeøya,” Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestøl, Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, vol. 44, no. 4, 2012, pp. 483-9.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Eigil Reimers, Sindre Eftestøl
NUTRITION PRIZE [SPAIN]: Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, and Margarita Garriga, for their study titled “Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages.”
REFERENCE: “Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages,” Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, Margarita Garriga, Food Microbiology, vol. 38, 2014, pp. 303-311.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The winners were unable to attend the ceremony; they delivered their acceptance speech via video.
The 2013 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 12th, 2013 at the 23rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
MEDICINE PRIZE: Masateru Uchiyama [JAPAN], Xiangyuan Jin [CHINA, JAPAN], Qi Zhang [JAPAN], Toshihito Hirai [JAPAN], Atsushi Amano [JAPAN], Hisashi Bashuda [JAPAN] and Masanori Niimi [JAPAN, UK], for assessing the effect of listening to opera, on heart transplant patients who are mice.
REFERENCE: “Auditory stimulation of opera music induced prolongation of murine cardiac allograft survival and maintained generation of regulatory CD4+CD25+ cells,” Masateru Uchiyama, Xiangyuan Jin, Qi Zhang, Toshihito Hirai, Atsushi Amano, Hisashi Bashuda and Masanori Niimi, Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery, vol. 7, no. 26, epub. March 23, 2012.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Masateru Uchiyama, Xiangyuan Jin, Masanori Niimi
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Laurent Bègue [FRANCE], Brad Bushman [USA, UK, the NETHERLANDS, POLAND], Oulmann Zerhouni [FRANCE], Baptiste Subra [FRANCE], and Medhi Ourabah [FRANCE], for confirming, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.
REFERENCE: “‘Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder’: People Who Think They Are Drunk Also Think They Are Attractive,” Laurent Bègue, Brad J. Bushman, Oulmann Zerhouni, Baptiste Subra, Medhi Ourabah, British Journal of Psychology, epub May 15, 2012.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Brad Bushman, Laurent Bègue, Medhi Ourabah
JOINT PRIZE IN BIOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY: Marie Dacke [SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA], Emily Baird [SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA, GERMANY], Marcus Byrne [SOUTH AFRICA, UK], Clarke Scholtz [SOUTH AFRICA], and Eric J. Warrant [SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA, GERMANY], for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.
REFERENCE: “Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation,” Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clarke H. Scholtz, Eric J. Warrant, Current Biology, epub January 24, 2013.
SAFETY ENGINEERING PRIZE: The late Gustano Pizzo [USA], for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers — the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane’s specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival. US Patent #3811643, Gustano A. Pizzo, “anti hijacking system for aircraft”, May 21, 1972.
PHYSICS PRIZE: Alberto Minetti [ITALY, UK, DENMARK, SWITZERLAND], Yuri Ivanenko [ITALY, RUSSIA, FRANCE], Germana Cappellini [ITALY], Nadia Dominici [ITALY, SWITZERLAND, THE NETHERLANDS], and Francesco Lacquaniti [ITALY], for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the moon.
REFERENCE: “Humans Running in Place on Water at Simulated Reduced Gravity,” Alberto E. Minetti, Yuri P. Ivanenko, Germana Cappellini, Nadia Dominici, Francesco Lacquaniti, PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 7, 2012, e37300.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Alberto Minetti and Yuri Ivanenko
CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Shinsuke Imai [JAPAN], Nobuaki Tsuge [JAPAN], Muneaki Tomotake [JAPAN], Yoshiaki Nagatome [JAPAN], H. Sawada [JAPAN],Toshiyuki Nagata [JAPAN, GERMANY], and Hidehiko Kumagai [JAPAN], for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realized.
REFERENCE: “An Onion Enzyme that Makes the Eyes Water,” S. Imai, N. Tsuge, M. Tomotake, Y. Nagatome, H. Sawada, T. Nagata and H. Kumagai, Nature, vol. 419, no. 6908, October 2002, p. 685.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: All the co-authors.
ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE: Brian Crandall [USA] and Peter Stahl [CANADA, USA], for parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing the shrew without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days — all so they could see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system, and which bones would not.
REFERENCE: “Human Digestive Effects on a Micromammalian Skeleton,” Peter W. Stahl and Brian D. Crandall, Journal of Archaeological Science, vol. 22, November 1995, pp. 789–97.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Brian Crandall
PROBABILITY PRIZE: Bert Tolkamp [UK, the NETHERLANDS], Marie Haskell [UK], Fritha Langford [UK, CANADA], David Roberts [UK], and Colin Morgan [UK], for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.
REFERENCE: “Are Cows More Likely to Lie Down the Longer They Stand?” Bert J. Tolkamp, Marie J. Haskell, Fritha M. Langford, David J. Roberts, Colin A. Morgan, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 124, nos. 1-2, 2010, pp. 1–10.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Bert Tolkamp
PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: Kasian Bhanganada, Tu Chayavatana, Chumporn Pongnumkul, Anunt Tonmukayakul, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Krit Komaratal, and Henry Wilde, for the medical techniques described in their report “Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam” — techniques which they recommend, except in cases where the amputated penis had been partially eaten by a duck. [THAILAND]
REFERENCE: “Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam,” by Kasian Bhanganada, Tu Chayavatana, Chumporn Pongnumkul, Anunt Tonmukayakul, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Krit Komaratal, and Henry Wilde, American Journal of Surgery, 1983, no. 146, pp. 376-382.
The 2012 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2012 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 20th, 2012 at the 22rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
REFERENCE: “Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller: Posture-Modulated Estimation,” Anita Eerland, Tulio M. Guadalupe and Rolf A. Zwaan, Psychological Science, vol. 22 no. 12, December 2011, pp. 1511-14.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Tulio Guadalupe. [NOTE: Two days after the ceremony, Anita Eerland and Rolf Zwaan married each other, in the Netherlands.]
PEACE PRIZE: The SKN Company [RUSSIA], for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Igor Petrov
ACOUSTICS PRIZE: Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada [JAPAN] for creating the SpeechJammer — a machine that disrupts a person’s speech, by making them hear their own spoken words at a very slight delay.
REFERENCE: “SpeechJammer: A System Utilizing Artificial Speech Disturbance with Delayed Auditory Feedback“, Kazutaka Kurihara, Koji Tsukada, arxiv.org/abs/1202.6106. February 28, 2012.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada
NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford [USA], for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.
REFERENCE: “Neural correlates of interspecies perspective taking in the post-mortem Atlantic Salmon: An argument for multiple comparisons correction,” Craig M. Bennett, Abigail A. Baird, Michael B. Miller, and George L. Wolford, poster, 15th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, San Francisco, CA, June 2009.
REFERENCE: “Neural Correlates of Interspecies Perspective Taking in the Post-Mortem Atlantic Salmon: An Argument For Multiple Comparisons Correction,” Craig M. Bennett, Abigail A. Baird, Michael B. Miller, and George L. Wolford, Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results, vol. 1, no. 1, 2010, pp. 1-5.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford
ATTENDING THE THE CEREMONY: Johan Pettersson
LITERATURE PRIZE: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
REFERENCE: “Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies,” US Government General Accountability Office report GAO-12-480R, May 10, 2012.
REFERENCE: “Shape of a Ponytail and the Statistical Physics of Hair Fiber Bundles.” Raymond E. Goldstein, Patrick B. Warren, and Robin C. Ball, Physical Review Letters, vol. 198, no. 7, 2012.
REFERENCE: “Ponytail Motion,” Joseph B. Keller, SIAM [Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics] Journal of Applied Mathematics, vol. 70, no. 7, 2010, pp. 2667–72.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Joseph Keller, Raymond Goldstein, Patrick Warren, Robin Ball
FLUID DYNAMICS PRIZE: Rouslan Krechetnikov [USA, RUSSIA, CANADA] and Hans Mayer [USA] for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.
REFERENCE: “Walking With Coffee: Why Does It Spill?” Hans C. Mayer and Rouslan Krechetnikov, Physical Review E, vol. 85, 2012.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Rouslan Krechetnikov
ANATOMY PRIZE: Frans de Waal [The Netherlands and USA] and Jennifer Pokorny [USA] for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends.
REFERENCE: “Faces and Behinds: Chimpanzee Sex Perception” Frans B.M. de Waal and Jennifer J. Pokorny, Advanced Science Letters, vol. 1, 99–103, 2008.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Frans de Waal and Jennifer Pokorny
REFERENCE: “Colonic Gas Explosion During Therapeutic Colonoscopy with Electrocautery,” Spiros D Ladas, George Karamanolis, Emmanuel Ben-Soussan, World Journal of Gastroenterology, vol. 13, no. 40, October 2007, pp. 5295–8.
REFERENCE: “Argon Plasma Coagulation in the Treatment of Hemorrhagic Radiation Proctitis is Efficient But Requires a Perfect Colonic Cleansing to Be Safe,” E. Ben-Soussan, M. Antonietti, G. Savoye, S. Herve, P. Ducrotté, and E. Lerebours, European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, vol. 16, no. 12, December 2004, pp 1315-8.
ATTENDING THE THE CEREMONY: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: We are now, in 2012, correcting an error we made in the year 1999, when we failed to include one winner’s name. We now correct that, awarding a share of the 1999 physics prize to Joseph Keller. Professor Keller is also a co-winner of the 2012 Ig Nobel physics prize, making him a two-time Ig Nobel winner.
The corrected citation is:1999 PHYSICS PRIZE: Len Fisher [UK and Australia] for calculating the optimal way to dunk a biscuit, and Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck [UK and Belgium] and Joseph Keller [USA], for calculating how to make a teapot spout that does not drip.
REFERENCE: “Physics Takes the Biscuit“, Len Fisher, Nature, vol. 397, no. 6719, February 11, 1999, p. 469.
REFERENCE: “Pouring Flows,” Jean-Marc Vanden‐Broeck and Joseph B. Keller, Physics of Fluids, vol. 29, no. 12, 1986, pp. 3958-61.
REFERENCE: “Pouring Flows With Separation,” Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck and Joseph B. Keller, Physics of Fluids A: Fluid Dynamics, vol. 1, no. 1, 1989, pp. 156-158.
The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 29th, 2011 at the 21rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
PHYSIOLOGY PRIZE:Anna Wilkinson (of the UK), Natalie Sebanz (of THE NETHERLANDS, HUNGARY, and AUSTRIA), Isabella Mandl (of AUSTRIA) and Ludwig Huber (of AUSTRIA) for their study “No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise.”
REFERENCE: ‘No Evidence Of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise Geochelone carbonaria,” Anna Wilkinson, Natalie Sebanz, Isabella Mandl, Ludwig Huber, Current Zoology, vol. 57, no. 4, 2011. pp. 477-84.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Ludwig Huber
CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami of JAPAN, for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm.
REFERENCE: “Odor generation alarm and method for informing unusual situation,” US patent 9082274B2; July 14, 2015 [application filed Feb 5, 2009]. Product info [from Seems, Inc.].
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Makoto Imai, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami
MEDICINE PRIZE: Mirjam Tuk (of THE NETHERLANDS and the UK), Debra Trampe (of THE NETHERLANDS) and Luk Warlop (of BELGIUM). and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder and Robert Feldman (of the USA), Robert Pietrzak, David Darby, and Paul Maruff (of AUSTRALIA) for demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things — but worse decisions about other kinds of things‚ when they have a strong urge to urinate.
REFERENCE: “Inhibitory Spillover: Increased Urination Urgency Facilitates Impulse Control in Unrelated Domains,” Mirjam A. Tuk, Debra Trampe and Luk Warlop, Psychological Science, vol. 22, no. 5, May 2011, pp. 627-633.
REFERENCE: “The Effect of Acute Increase in Urge to Void on Cognitive Function in Healthy Adults,” Matthew S. Lewis, Peter J. Snyder, Robert H. Pietrzak, David Darby, Robert A. Feldman, Paul T. Maruff, Neurology and Urodynamics, vol. 30, no. 1, January 2011, pp. 183-7.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Mirjam Tuk, Luk Warlop, Peter Snyder, Robert Feldman, David Darby
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo, NORWAY, for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.
REFERENCE: “Is a Sigh ‘Just a Sigh’? Sighs as Emotional Signals and Responses to a Difficult Task,” Karl Halvor Teigen, Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, vol. 49, no. 1, 2008, pp. 49–57.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Karl Halvor Teigen
LITERATURE PRIZE: John Perry of Stanford University, USA, for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which says: To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that’s even more important.
REFERENCE: “How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done,” John Perry, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 23, 1996. Later republished elsewhere under the title “Structured Procrastination.”
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Colleague Deborah Wilkes accepted the prize on behalf of Professor Perry.
BIOLOGY PRIZE: Darryl Gwynne (of CANADA and AUSTRALIA and the UK and the USA) and David Rentz (of AUSTRALIA and the USA) for discovering that a certain kind of beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle
REFERENCE: “Beetles on the Bottle: Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies for Females (Coleoptera),” D.T. Gwynne, and D.C.F. Rentz, Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, vol. 22, , no. 1, 1983, pp. 79-80
REFERENCE: “Beetles on the Bottle,” D.T. Gwynne and D.C.F. Rentz, Antenna: Proceedings (A) of the Royal Entomological Society London, vol. 8, no. 3, 1984, pp. 116-7.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Darryl Gwynne and David Rentz
PHYSICS PRIZE: Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne and Bruno Ragaru (of FRANCE), and Herman Kingma (of THE NETHERLANDS), for determining why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers don’t.
REFERENCE: “Dizziness in Discus Throwers is Related to Motion Sickness Generated While Spinning,” Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne, Bruno Ragaru and Herman Kingma, Acta Oto-laryngologica, vol. 120, no. 3, March 2000, pp. 390–5.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: The winners accepted via recorded video.
MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of KOREA (who predicted the world would end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of UGANDA (who predicted the world would end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world will end on October 21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Arturas Zuokas
PUBLIC SAFETY PRIZE: John Senders of the University of Toronto, CANADA, for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.
ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: John Senders
The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2010 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 30th, 2000 at the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
ENGINEERING PRIZE: Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London, UK, and Diane Gendron of Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Baja California Sur, Mexico, for perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter.
REFERENCE: “A Novel Non-Invasive Tool for Disease Surveillance of Free-Ranging Whales and Its Relevance to Conservation Programs,” Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse, Agnes Rocha-Gosselin and Diane Gendron, Animal Conservation, vol. 13, no. 2, April 2010, pp. 217-25.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse, Agnes Rocha-Gosselin, Diane Gendron
MEDICINE PRIZE: Simon Rietveld of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Ilja van Beest of Tilburg University, The Netherlands, for discovering that symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller-coaster ride.
REFERENCE: “Rollercoaster Asthma: When Positive Emotional Stress Interferes with Dyspnea Perception,” Simon Rietveld and Ilja van Beest, Behaviour Research and Therapy, vol. 45, 2006, pp. 977–87.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Simon Rietveld and Ilja van Beest
TRANSPORTATION PLANNING PRIZE: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi of Japan, and Dan Bebber, Mark Fricker of the UK, for using slime mold to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks.
REFERENCE: “Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design,” Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Dan P. Bebber, Mark D. Fricker, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi, Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Science, Vol. 327. no. 5964, January 22, 2010, pp. 439-42. [VIDEO]
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Kentaro Ito, Atsushi Tero, Mark Fricker, Dan Bebber [NOTE: THE FOLLOWING ARE CO-WINNERS BOTH THIS YEAR AND IN 2008 when they were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for demonstrating that slime molds can solve puzzles: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero]
PHYSICS PRIZE: Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest of the University of Otago, New Zealand, for demonstrating that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes.
REFERENCE: “Preventing Winter Falls: A Randomised Controlled Trial of a Novel Intervention,” Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest, New Zealand Medical Journal. vol. 122, no, 1298, July 3, 2009, pp. 31-8.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Lianne Parkin
PEACE PRIZE: Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston of Keele University, UK, for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain.
REFERENCE: “Swearing as a Response to Pain,” Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston, Neuroreport, vol. 20 , no. 12, 2009, pp. 1056-60.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Richard Stephens
PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: Manuel Barbeito, Charles Mathews, and Larry Taylor of the Industrial Health and Safety Office, Fort Detrick, Maryland, USA, for determining by experiment that microbes cling to bearded scientists.
REFERENCE: “Microbiological Laboratory Hazard of Bearded Men,” Manuel S. Barbeito, Charles T. Mathews, and Larry A. Taylor, Applied Microbiology, vol. 15, no. 4, July 1967, pp. 899–906.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Manuel S. Barbeito was unable to travel, due to health reasons. A representative read his acceptance speech for him.
ECONOMICS PRIZE: The executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Magnetar for creating and promoting new ways to invest money — ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.
CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Eric Adams of MIT, Scott Socolofsky of Texas A&M University, Stephen Masutani of the University of Hawaii, and BP [British Petroleum], for disproving the old belief that oil and water don’t mix.
REFERENCE: “Review of Deep Oil Spill Modeling Activity Supported by the Deep Spill JIP and Offshore Operator’s Committee. Final Report,” Eric Adams and Scott Socolofsky, 2005.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Eric Adams, Scott Socolofsky, and Stephen Masutani
MANAGEMENT PRIZE: Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.
REFERENCE: “The Peter Principle Revisited: A Computational Study,” Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo, Physica A, vol. 389, no. 3, February 2010, pp. 467-72.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo.
BIOLOGY PRIZE: Libiao Zhang, Min Tan, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, and Shuyi Zhang of China, and Gareth Jones of the University of Bristol, UK, for scientifically documenting fellatio in fruit bats.
REFERENCE: “Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time,” Min Tan, Gareth Jones, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, Shuyi Zhang and Libiao Zhang, PLoS ONE, vol. 4, no. 10, e7595.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Gareth Jones
The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2009 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 1st, 2009 at the 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
REFERENCE: “Exploring Stock Managers’ Perceptions of the Human-Animal Relationship on Dairy Farms and an Association with Milk Production,” Catherine Bertenshaw [Douglas] and Peter Rowlinson, Anthrozoos, vol. 22, no. 1, March 2009, pp. 59-69. DOI: 10.2752/175303708X390473.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Peter Rowlinson. Catherine Douglas was unable to travel because she recently gave birth; she sent a photo of herself, her new daughter dressed in a cow suit, and a cow.
PEACE PRIZE: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.
REFERENCE: “Are Full or Empty Beer Bottles Sturdier and Does Their Fracture-Threshold Suffice to Break the Human Skull?” Stephan A. Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael J. Thali and Beat P. Kneubuehl, Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, vol. 16, no. 3, April 2009, pp. 138-42. DOI:10.1016/j.jflm.2008.07.013.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Stephan Bolliger
ECONOMICS PRIZE: The directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic banks — Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir Bank, and Central Bank of Iceland — for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly transformed into huge banks, and vice versa — and for demonstrating that similar things can be done to an entire national economy.
REFERENCE: Report of the Special Investigation Commission, issued April 12, 2010.
REFERENCE: “Growth of Diamond Films from Tequila,” Javier Morales, Miguel Apatiga and Victor M. Castano, 2008, arXiv:0806.1485. Also published as Reviews on Advanced Materials Science, vol. 22, no. 1, 2009, pp. 134-8.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Javier Morales and Miguel Apátiga
MEDICINE PRIZE: Donald L. Unger, of Thousand Oaks, California, USA, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand — but never cracking the knuckles of his right hand — every day for more than sixty (60) years.
REFERENCE: “Does Knuckle Cracking Lead to Arthritis of the Fingers?“, Donald L. Unger, Arthritis and Rheumatism, vol. 41, no. 5, 1998, pp. 949-50.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Donald Unger
PHYSICS PRIZE: Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, USA, Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard University, USA, and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas, USA, for analytically determining why pregnant women don’t tip over.
REFERENCE: “Fetal Load and the Evolution of Lumbar Lordosis in Bipedal Hominins,” Katherine K. Whitcome, Liza J. Shapiro & Daniel E. Lieberman, Nature, vol. 450, 1075-1078 (December 13, 2007). DOI:10.1038/nature06342.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Katherine Whitcome and Daniel Lieberman
LITERATURE PRIZE: Ireland’s police service (An Garda Siochana), for writing and presenting more than fifty traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country — Prawo Jazdy — whose name in Polish means “Driving License”.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: [Karolina Lewestam, a Polish citizen and holder of a Polish driver’s license, speaking on behalf of all her fellow Polish licensed drivers, expressed her good wishes to the Irish police service.]
PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.
REFERENCE: U.S. patent # 7255627, granted August 14, 2007 for a “Garment Device Convertible to One or More Facemasks.”
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Elena Bodnar.
MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers — from very small to very big — by having his bank print bank notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000).
REFERENCE: Zimbabwe’s Casino Economy — Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Challenges, Gideon Gono, ZPH Publishers, Harare, 2008, ISBN 978-079-743-679-4.
BIOLOGY PRIZE: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas.
REFERENCE: “Microbial Treatment of Kitchen Refuse With Enzyme-Producing Thermophilic Bacteria From Giant Panda Feces,” Fumiaki Taguchia, Song Guofua, and Zhang Guanglei, Seibutsu-kogaku Kaishi, vol. 79, no 12, 2001, pp. 463-9. [and abstracted in Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering, vol. 92, no. 6, 2001, p. 602.]
REFERENCE: “Microbial Treatment of Food-Production Waste with Thermopile Enzyme-Producing Bacterial Flora from a Giant Panda” [in Japanese], Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, Yasunori Sugai, Hiroyasu Kudo and Akira Koikeda, Journal of the Japan Society of Waste Management Experts, vol. 14, no. 2, 2003, pp. , 76-82.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Fumiaki Taguchi
The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2008 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 2nd, 2008 at the 18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
NUTRITION PRIZE. Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.
REFERENCE: “The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness ofPotato Chips,” Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence,Journal of Sensory Studies, vol. 19, October 2004, pp. 347-63.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Massimiliano Zampini. unable to attend the ceremony, was presented with the prize at a special ceremony, later in the month, at the Genoa Science Festival.
PEACE PRIZE. The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.
ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE. Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.
REFERENCE: “The Role of Armadillos in the Movement of Archaeological Materials: An Experimental Approach,” Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino, Geoarchaeology, vol. 18, no. 4, April 2003, pp. 433-60.
BIOLOGY PRIZE. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.
REFERENCE: “A Comparison of Jump Performances of the Dog Flea, Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis, 1826) and the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis (Bouche, 1835),” M.C. Cadiergues, C. Joubert, and M. Franc, Veterinary Parasitology, vol. 92, no. 3, October 1, 2000, pp. 239-41.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Marie-Christine Cadiergues and Christel Joubert, unable to attend the ceremony, were presented with the prize at a special ceremony, later in the month, at the Genoa Science Festival.
MEDICINE PRIZE. Dan Ariely of Duke University (USA), Rebecca L. Waber of MIT (USA), Baba Shiv of Stanford University (USA), and Ziv Carmon of INSEAD (Singapore) for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine..
REFERENCE: “Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy,” Rebecca L. Waber; Baba Shiv; Ziv Carmon; Dan Ariely, Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 2008; 299: 1016-1017.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dan Ariely
COGNITIVE SCIENCE PRIZE. Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University, Japan, Hiroyasu Yamada of Nagoya, Japan, Ryo Kobayashi of Hiroshima University, Atsushi Tero of Presto JST, Akio Ishiguro of Tohoku University, and Ágotá Tóth of the University of Szeged, Hungary, for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles.
REFERENCE: “Intelligence: Maze-Solving by an Amoeboid Organism,” Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, and Ágota Tóth, Nature, vol. 407, September 2000, p. 470. [VIDEO]
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero
REFERENCE: “Ovulatory Cycle Effects on Tip Earnings by Lap Dancers: Economic Evidence for Human Estrus?” Geoffrey Miller, Joshua M. Tybur, Brent D. Jordan, Evolution and Human Behavior, vol. 28, 2007, pp. 375-81.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Geoffrey Miller and Brent Jordan
PHYSICS PRIZE. Dorian Raymer of the Ocean Observatories Initiative at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, and Douglas Smith of the University of California, San Diego, USA, for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots.
REFERENCE: “Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String,” Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 104, no. 42, October 16, 2007, pp. 16432-7.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dorian Raymer
CHEMISTRY PRIZE. Sharee A. Umpierre of the University of Puerto Rico, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England (USA), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School (USA), for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to Chuang-Ye Hong of Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that it is not.
REFERENCE: “Effect of ‘Coke’ on Sperm Motility,” Sharee A. Umpierre, Joseph A. Hill, and Deborah J. Anderson, New England Journal of Medicine, 1985, vol. 313, no. 21, p. 1351.
REFERENCE: “The Spermicidal Potency of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola,” C.Y. Hong, C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang, Human Toxicology, vol. 6, no. 5, September 1987, pp. 395-6. [NOTE: THE JOURNAL LATER CHANGED ITS NAME. NOW CALLED “Human & experimental toxicology”]
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Deborah Anderson, and C.Y. Hong’s daughter Wan Hong
LITERATURE PRIZE. David Sims of Cass Business School. London, UK, for his lovingly written study “You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations.”
REFERENCE: “You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations,” David Sims, Organization Studies, vol. 26, no. 11, 2005, pp. 1625-40.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: David Sims
The 2007 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2007 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 4th, 2007 at the 17th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
REFERENCE: “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects,” Brian Witcombeand Dan Meyer, British Medical Journal, December 23, 2006, vol. 333, pp. 1285-7.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer
REFERENCE: “Wrinkling of an Elastic Sheet Under Tension,” E. Cerda, K. Ravi-Chandar, L. Mahadevan, Nature, vol. 419, October 10, 2002, pp. 579-80.
REFERENCE: “Geometry and Physics of Wrinkling,” E. Cerda and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, fol. 90, no. 7, February 21, 2003, pp. 074302/1-4.
REFERENCE: “Elements of Draping,” E. Cerda, L. Mahadevan and J. Passini, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 101, no. 7, 2004, pp. 1806-10.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, and Enrique Cerda Villablanca’s sister Mariela.
BIOLOGY PRIZE [THE NETHERLANDS] — Prof. Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk, for doing a census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds each night.
REFERENCE: “Huis, Bed en Beestjes” [House, Bed and Bugs], J.E.M.H. van Bronswijk, Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, vol. 116, no. 20, May 13, 1972, pp. 825-31.
REFERENCE: “Het Stof, de Mijten en het Bed” [Dust, Mites and Bedding]. J.E.M.H. van Bronswijk Vakblad voor Biologen, vol. 53, no. 2, 1973, pp. 22-5.
REFERENCE: “Autotrophic Organisms in Mattress Dust in the Netherlands,” B. van de Lustgraaf, J.H.H.M. Klerkx, J.E.M.H. van Bronswijk, Acta Botanica Neerlandica, vol. 27, no. 2, 1978, pp 125-8.
REFERENCE: “A Bed Ecosystem,” J.E.M.H. van Bronswijk, Lecture Abstracts — 1st Benelux Congress of Zoology, Leuven, November 4-5, 1994, p. 36.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk
CHEMISTRY PRIZE [JAPAN] — Mayu Yamamoto, for developing a way to extract vanillin — vanilla fragrance and flavoring — from cow dung.
REFERENCE: “Novel Production Method for Plant Polyphenol from Livestock Excrement Using Subcritical Water Reaction,” Mayu Yamamoto, International Journal of Chemical Engineering, 2008.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Mayu Yamamoto
PRESS NOTE: Toscanini’s Ice Cream, the finest ice cream shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, created a new ice cream flavor in honor of Mayu Yamamoto, and introduced it at the Ig Nobel ceremony. The flavor is called “Yum-a-Moto Vanilla Twist.”
LINGUISTICS PRIZE [SPAIN] — Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.
REFERENCE: “Effects of Backward Speech and Speaker Variability in Language Discrimination by Rats,” Juan M. Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, vol. 31, no. 1, January 2005, pp 95-100.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The winners could not travel to the ceremony, so they instead delivered their acceptance speech via recorded video
LITERATURE PRIZE [AUSTRALIA] — Glenda Browne, for her study of the word “the” — and of the many ways it causes problems for anyone who tries to put things into alphabetical order.
REFERENCE: “The Definite Article: Acknowledging ‘The’ in Index Entries,” Glenda Browne, The Indexer, vol. 22, no. 3 April 2001, pp. 119-22.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Glenda Browne
PEACE PRIZE [USA] — The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon — the so-called “gay bomb” — that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.
REFERENCE: “Harassing, Annoying, and ‘Bad Guy’ Identifying Chemicals,” Wright Laboratory, WL/FIVR, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, June 1, 1994.
NUTRITION PRIZE [USA] — Brian Wansink, for exploring the seemingly boundless appetites of human beings, by feeding them with a self-refilling, bottomless bowl of soup.
REFERENCE: “Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake,” Brian Wansink, James E. Painter and Jill North, Obesity Research, vol. 13, no. 1, January 2005, pp. 93-100.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Brian Wansink.
ECONOMICS PRIZE [TAIWAN] — Kuo Cheng Hsieh, for patenting a device, in the year 2001, that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them.
REFERENCE: U.S. patent #6,219,959, granted on April 24, 2001, for a “net trapping system for capturing a robber immediately.”
NOTE: The Ig Nobel Board of Governors attempted repeatedly to find Mr. Hsieh, but he seemed to have vanished mysteriously. Some days after the ceremony came news that he is alive and well.
REFERENCE: “Sildenafil Accelerates Reentrainment of Circadian Rhythms After Advancing Light Schedules,” Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 104, no. 23, June 5 2007, pp. 9834-9.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Diego A. Golombek
The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2006 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 5th, 2006 at the 16th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
ORNITHOLOGY: Ivan R. Schwab, of the University of California Davis, and the late Philip R.A. May of the University of California Los Angeles, for exploring and explaining why woodpeckers don’t get headaches.
REFERENCE: “Cure for a Headache,” Ivan R Schwab, British Journal of Ophthalmology, vol. 86, 2002, p. 843.
REFERENCE: “Woodpeckers and Head Injury,” Philip R.A. May, JoaquinM. Fuster, Paul Newman and Ada Hirschman, Lancet, vol. 307, no. 7957, February28, 1976, pp. 454-5.
REFERENCE: “Woodpeckers and Head Injury,” Philip R.A. May, JoaquinM. Fuster, Paul Newman and Ada Hirschman, Lancet, vol. 307, no. 7973, June 19,1976, pp. 1347-8.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Ivan Schwab
REFERENCE: “Dung Preference of the Dung Beetle Scarabaeus cristatus Fab (Coleoptera-Scarabaeidae) from Kuwait,” Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Musalam, Journal of Arid Environments, vol. 35, no. 3, 1997, pp. 511-6.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Faten Al-Musalam
PEACE: Howard Stapleton of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, for inventing an electromechanical teenager repellant — a device that makes annoying high-pitched noise designed to be audible to teenagers but not to adults; and for later using that same technology to make telephone ringtones that are audible to teenagers but probably not to their teachers.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Howard Stapleton planned to attend, but his plans were interrupted by a family medical situation.
ACOUSTICS: D. Lynn Halpern (of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and Brandeis University, and Northwestern University), Randolph Blake (of Vanderbilt University and Northwestern University) and James Hillenbrand (of Western Michigan University and Northwestern University) for conducting experiments to learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.
REFERENCE: “Psychoacoustics of a Chilling Sound,” D. Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand, Perception and Psychophysics, vol. 39,1986, pp. 77-80.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Lynn Halpern and Randolph Blake
MATHEMATICS: Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization, for calculating the number of photographs you must take to (almost) ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their eyes closed
REFERENCE: “Blink-Free Photos, Guaranteed,” Velocity, June 2006,
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes
LITERATURE: Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University for his report “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.”
REFERENCE: “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly,” Daniel M. Oppenheimer, Applied Cognitive Psychology, vol. 20, no. 2, March 2006, pp. 139-56.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Daniel Oppenheimer
MEDICINE: Francis M. Fesmire of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, for his medical case report “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage“; and Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven of Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, for their subsequent medical case report also titled “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage.”
REFERENCE: “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage,” Francis M. Fesmire, Annals of Emergency Medicine, vol. 17, no. 8, August 1988 p. 872.
REFERENCE: “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage,”
Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven, Journal of Internal Medicine, vol. 227, no. 2, February 1990, pp. 145-6. They are at the Department of Internal Medicine, Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.
REFERENCE: “Hiccups and Digital Rectal Massage,” M. Odeh and A. Oliven, Archives of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, vol. 119, 1993, p. 1383.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Francis Fesmire
REFERENCE: “Fragmentation of Rods by Cascading Cracks: Why Spaghetti Does Not Break in Half,” Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, Physical Review Letters, vol. 95, no. 9, August 26, 2005, pp. 95505-1 to 95505-1.
REFERENCE: Video and other details at <http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/index.html>
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch
CHEMISTRY: Antonio Mulet, José Javier Benedito and José Bon of the University of Valencia, Spain, and Carmen Rosselló of the University of Illes Balears, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, for their study “Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature.”
REFERENCE: “Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature,” Antonio Mulet, José Javier Benedito, José Bon, and Carmen Rosselló, Journal of Food Science, vol. 64, no. 6, 1999, pp. 1038-41.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: The winners delivered their acceptance speech via video recording.
BIOLOGY: Bart Knols (of Wageningen Agricultural University, in Wageningen, the Netherlands; and of the National Institute for Medical Research, in Ifakara Centre, Tanzania, and of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna Austria) and Ruurd de Jong (of Wageningen Agricultural University and of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Italy) for showing that the female malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae is attracted equally to the smell of limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet.
REFERENCE: “On Human Odour, Malaria Mosquitoes, and Limburger Cheese,” Bart. G.J. Knols, The Lancet, vol. 348 , November 9, 1996, p. 1322.
REFERENCE: “Behavioural and electrophysiological responses of the female malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae (Diptera: Culicidae) to Limburger cheese volatiles,” Bulletin of Entomological Research, B.G.J. Knols, J.J.A. van Loon, A. Cork, R.D. Robinson, et al., vol. 87, 1997, pp. 151-159.
REFERENCE: “Limburger Cheese as an Attractant for the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles gambiae s.s.,” B.G,J. Knols and R. De Jong, Parasitology Today, yd. 12, no. 4, 1996, pp. 159-61.
REFERENCE: “Selection of Biting Sites on Man by Two Malaria Mosquito Species,” R. De Jong and B.G.J. Knols, Experientia, vol. 51, 1995, pp. 80–84.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL PRIZE CEREMONY: Bart Knols
The 2005 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2005 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 6th, 2005 at the 15th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
AGRICULTURAL HISTORY: James Watson of Massey University, New Zealand, for his scholarly study, “The Significance of Mr. Richard Buckley’s Exploding Trousers. ”
REFERENCE: “The Significance of Mr. Richard Buckley’s Exploding Trousers: Reflections on an Aspect of Technological Change in New Zealand Dairy-Farming between the World Wars,” James Watson, Agricultural History, vol. 78, no. 3, Summer 2004, pp. 346-60.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: James Watson
PHYSICS: John Mainstone and the late Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland, Australia, for patiently conducting an experiment that began in the year 1927 — in which a glob of congealed black tar has been slowly, slowly dripping through a funnel, at a rate of approximately one drop every nine years.
REFERENCE: “The Pitch Drop Experiment,” R. Edgeworth, B.J. Dalton and T. Parnell, European Journal of Physics, 1984, pp. 198-200.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: John Mainstone
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: The winner was unable to travel, and delivered his acceptance speech via video.
LITERATURE: The Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters — General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others — each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them.
PEACE: Claire Rind and Peter Simmons of Newcastle University, in the U.K., for electrically monitoring the activity of a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected highlights from the movie “Star Wars.”
REFERENCE: “Orthopteran DCMD Neuron: A Reevaluation of Responses to Moving Objects. I. Selective Responses to Approaching Objects,” F.C. Rind and P.J. Simmons, Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 68, no. 5, November 1992, pp. 1654-66.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Claire Rind
ECONOMICS: Gauri Nanda of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for inventing an alarm clock that runs away and hides, repeatedly, thus ensuring that people DO get out of bed, and thus theoretically adding many productive hours to the workday.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Gauri Nanda
CHEMISTRY: Edward Cussler of the University of Minnesota and Brian Gettelfinger of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, for conducting a careful experiment to settle the longstanding scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup or in water?
REFERENCE: “Will Humans Swim Faster or Slower in Syrup?” American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal, Brian Gettelfinger and E. L. Cussler, vol. 50, no. 11, October 2004, pp. 2646-7.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Brian Gettelfinger and Edward Cussler
BIOLOGY: Benjamin Smith of the University of Adelaide, Australia and the University of Toronto, Canada and the Firmenich perfume company, Geneva, Switzerland, and ChemComm Enterprises, Archamps, France; Craig Williams of James Cook University and the University of South Australia; Michael Tyler of the University of Adelaide; Brian Williams of the University of Adelaide; and Yoji Hayasaka of the Australian Wine Research Institute; for painstakingly smelling and cataloging the peculiar odors produced by 131 different species of frogs when the frogs were feeling stressed.
REFERENCE: “A Survey of Frog Odorous Secretions, Their Possible Functions and Phylogenetic Significance,” Benjamin P.C. Smith, Craig R. Williams, Michael J. Tyler, and Brian D. Williams, Applied Herpetology, vol. 2, no. 1-2, February 1, 2004, pp. 47-82.
REFERENCE: “Chemical and Olfactory Characterization of Odorous Compounds and Their Precursors in the Parotoid Gland Secretion of the Green Tree Frog, Litoria caerulea,” Benjamin P.C. Smith, Michael J. Tyler, Brian D. Williams, and Yoji Hayasaka, Journal of Chemical Ecology, vol. 29, no. 9, September 2003.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Ben Smith and Craig Williams
NUTRITION: Dr. Yoshiro Nakamats of Tokyo, Japan, for photographing and retrospectively analyzing every meal he has consumed during a period of 34 years (and counting).[See the movie “The Invention of Dr. Nakamats“, 2009]
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Dr. Yoshiro Nakamats
FLUID DYNAMICS: Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow of International University Bremen, Germany and the University of Oulu, Finland; and Jozsef Gal of Loránd Eötvös University, Hungary, for using basic principles of physics to calculate the pressure that builds up inside a penguin, as detailed in their report “Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh — Calculations on Avian Defaecation.”
PUBLISHED IN: Polar Biology, vol. 27, 2003, pp. 56-8.
ACCEPTING: The winners were unable to attend the ceremony because they could not obtain United States visas to visit the United States. Dr. Meyer-Rochow sent an acceptance speech via video.
The 2004 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2004 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 30th, 2004 at the 14th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
MEDICINE: Steven Stack of Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA and James Gundlach of Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA, for their published report “The Effect of Country Music on Suicide.”
PUBLISHED IN: Social Forces, vol. 71, no. 1, September 1992, pp. 211-8.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: James Gundlach.
REFERENCE: “Coordination Modes in the Multisegmental Dynamics of Hula Hooping,” Ramesh Balasubramaniam and Michael T. Turvey, Biological Cybernetics, vol. 90, no. 3, March 2004, pp. 176-90.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Ramesh Balasubramaniam and Michael Turvey.
PUBLIC HEALTH: Jillian Clarke of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, and then Howard University, for investigating the scientific validity of the Five-Second Rule about whether it’s safe to eat food that’s been dropped on the floor.
REFERENCE: “If You Drop It, Should You Eat It? Scientists Weigh In on the 5-Second Rule,” ACES College News, September 2, 2003.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Jillian Clarke
CHEMISTRY: The Coca-Cola Company of Great Britain, for using advanced technology to convert ordinary tap water into Dasani, a transparent form of water, which for precautionary reasons has been made unavailable to consumers.
ENGINEERING: Donald J. Smith and his father, the late Frank J. Smith, of Orlando Florida, USA, for patenting the combover (U.S. Patent #4,022,227).
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Donald Smith’s son, Scott Jackson Smith, and daughter, Heather Smith.
LITERATURE: The American Nudist Research Library of Kissimmee, Florida, USA, for preserving nudist history so that everyone can see it.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Pamela Chestek, the daughter of ANRL director Helen Fisher.
PSYCHOLOGY: Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Christopher Chabris of Harvard University, for demonstrating that when people pay close attention to something, it’s all too easy to overlook anything else — even a woman in a gorilla suit.
REFERENCE: “Gorillas in Our Midst,” Daniel J. Simons and Christopher F. Chabris, vol. 28, Perception, 1999, pages 1059-74.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Daisuke Inoue.
BIOLOGY: Ben Wilson of the University of British Columbia, Lawrence Dill of Simon Fraser University [Canada], Robert Batty of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Magnus Whalberg of the University of Aarhus [Denmark], and Hakan Westerberg of Sweden’s National Board of Fisheries, for showing that herrings apparently communicate by farting.
REFERENCE: “Sounds Produced by Herring (Clupea harengus) Bubble Release,” Magnus Wahlberg and Håkan Westerberg, Aquatic Living Resources, vol. 16, 2003, pp. 271-5.
REFERENCE: “Pacific and Atlantic Herring Produce Burst Pulse Sounds,” Ben Wilson, Robert S. Batty and Lawrence M. Dill, Biology Letters, vol. 271, 2003, pp. S95-S97.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Lawrence Dill, Robert Batty, Magnus Whalberg, Hakan Westerberg.
The 2003 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2003 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September NNth, 2003 at the 13th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
ENGINEERING: The late John Paul Stapp, the late Edward A. Murphy, Jr., and George Nichols, for jointly giving birth in 1949 to Murphy’s Law, the basic engineering principle that “If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, someone will do it “(or, in other words: “If anything can go wrong, it will”).
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: (1) Author Nick T. Spark , on behalf of John Paul Stapp’s widow, Lilly. (2) Edward Murphy’s Edward A. Murphy III, on behalf of his late father. (3) George Nichols, via audio tape.
PHYSICS: Jack Harvey, John Culvenor, Warren Payne, Steve Cowley, Michael Lawrance, David Stuart, and Robyn Williams of Australia, for their irresistible report “An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces.”
PUBLISHED IN: Applied Ergonomics, vol. 33, no. 6, November 2002, pp. 523-31.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: John Culvenor.
MEDICINE: Eleanor Maguire, David Gadian, Ingrid Johnsrude, Catriona Good, John Ashburner, Richard Frackowiak, and Christopher Frith of University College London, for presenting evidence that the brains of London taxi drivers are more highly developed than those of their fellow citizens.
PUBLISHED IN: “Navigation-Related Structural Change In the Hippocampi of Taxi Drivers,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 97, no. 8, April 11, 2000, pp. 4398-403. Also see their subsequent publications.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Eleanor Maguire.
PSYCHOLOGY: Gian Vittorio Caprara and Claudio Barbaranelli of the University of Rome, and Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University, for their discerning report “Politicians’ Uniquely Simple Personalities.”
PUBLISHED IN: Nature, vol. 385, February 1997, p. 493.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Philip Zimbardo.
CHEMISTRY: Yukio Hirose of Kanazawa University, for his chemical investigation of a bronze statue, in the city of Kanazawa, that fails to attract pigeons.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Yukio Hirose.
LITERATURE: John Trinkaus, of the Zicklin School of Business, New York City, for meticulously collecting data and publishing more than 80 detailed academic reports about things that annoyed him
(such as: What percentage of young people wear baseball caps with the peak facing to the rear rather than to the front; What percentage of pedestrians wear sport shoes that are white rather than some other color; What percentage of swimmers swim laps in the shallow end of a pool rather than the deep end; What percentage of automobile drivers almost, but not completely, come to a stop at one particular stop-sign; What percentage of commuters carry attaché cases; What percentage of shoppers exceed the number of items permitted in a supermarket’s express checkout lane; and What percentage of students dislike the taste of Brussels sprouts.)
REFERENCE: 86 of Professor Trinkaus’s publications are listed in “Trinkaus — An Informal Look,” Annals of Improbable Research, vol. 9, no. 3, May/Jun 2003.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: John Trinkaus.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Karl Schwärzler.
[PUBLISHED IN: Human Nature, vol. 13, no. 3, 2002, pp. 383-9.]
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: All three co-authors.
PEACE: Lal Bihari, of Uttar Pradesh, India, for a triple accomplishment: First, for leading an active life even though he has been declared legally dead; Second, for waging a lively posthumous campaign against bureaucratic inertia and greedy relatives; and Third, for creating the Association of Dead People.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Lal Bihari overcame the handicap of being dead, and managed to obtain a passport from the Indian government so that he could travel to Harvard to accept his Prize. However, the U.S. government refused to allow him into the country. His friend Madhu Kapoor therefore came to the Ig Nobel Ceremony and accepted the Prize on behalf of Lal Bihari. Several weeks later, the Prize was presented to Lal Bihari himself in a special ceremony in India. [NOTE: Filmmaker Satish Kaushik will be making a film about the life (and death and life) of Lal Bihari.]
[REFERENCE: “The First Case of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Aves: Anatidae)” C.W. Moeliker, Deinsea, vol. 8, 2001, pp. 243-7.]
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Kees Moeliker.
The 2002 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2002 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 3rd, 2002 at the 12th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
BIOLOGY: Norma Bubier, Charles G.M. Paxton, Phil Bowers, and D. Charles Deeming of the United Kingdom, for their report “Courtship Behaviour of Ostriches Towards Humans Under Farming Conditions in Britain.”
[REFERENCE: “Courtship Behaviour of Ostriches (Struthio camelus) Towards Humans Under Farming Conditions in Britain,” Norma E. Bubier, Charles G.M. Paxton, P. Bowers, D.C. Deeming, British Poultry Science, vol. 39, no. 4, September 1998, pp. 477-481.]
[REFERENCE: “Demonstration of the Exponential Decay Law Using Beer Froth,” Arnd Leike, European Journal of Physics, vol. 23, January 2002, pp. 21-26.]
INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH: Karl Kruszelnicki of The University of Sydney, for performing a comprehensive survey of human belly button lint — who gets it, when, what color, and how much.
MATHEMATICS: K.P. Sreekumar and the late G. Nirmalan of Kerala Agricultural University, India, for their analytical report “Estimation of the Total Surface Area in Indian Elephants.” [REFERENCE: “Estimation of the Total Surface Area in Indian Elephants (Elephas maximus indicus),” K.P. Sreekumar and G. Nirmalan, Veterinary Research Communications, vol. 14, no. 1, 1990, pp. 5-17.]
LITERATURE: Vicki Silvers Gier and David S. Kreiner of Central Missouri State University, for their colorful report “The Effects of Pre-Existing Inappropriate Highlighting on Reading Comprehension.” [ PUBLISHED IN: Reading Research and Instruction, vol. 36, no. 3, 1997, pp. 217-23.]
PEACE: Keita Sato, President of Takara Co., Dr. Matsumi Suzuki, President of Japan Acoustic Lab, and Dr. Norio Kogure, Executive Director, Kogure Veterinary Hospital, for promoting peace and harmony between the species by inventing Bow-Lingual, a computer-based automatic dog-to-human language translation device.
REFERENCE: “Station for Preparing Cleaning Disinfecting Delousing and Hydromassaging Animals,” US patent 7011044B2 .
ECONOMICS: The executives, corporate directors, and auditors of Enron, Lernaut & Hauspie [Belgium], Adelphia, Bank of Commerce and Credit International [Pakistan], Cendant, CMS Energy, Duke Energy, Dynegy, Gazprom [Russia], Global Crossing, HIH Insurance [Australia], Informix, Kmart, Maxwell Communications [UK], McKessonHBOC, Merrill Lynch, Merck, Peregrine Systems, Qwest Communications, Reliant Resources, Rent-Way, Rite Aid, Sunbeam, Tyco, Waste Management, WorldCom, Xerox, and Arthur Andersen, for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world. [NOTE: all companies are U.S.-based unless otherwise noted.]
MEDICINE: Chris McManus of University College London, for his excruciatingly balanced report, “Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and in Ancient Sculpture.” [PUBLISHED IN: Nature, vol. 259, February 5, 1976, p. 426.]
The 2001 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2001 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 4th, 2001 at the 11th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
MEDICINE: Peter Barss of McGill University, for his impactful medical report “InjuriesDue to Falling Coconuts.”
[PUBLISHED IN: The Journal of Trauma, vol. 24, no. 11, 1984, pp. 990-1.]
PHYSICS: David Schmidt of the University of Massachusetts for his partial solution to the question of why shower curtains billow inwards.
ECONOMICS: Joel Slemrod, of the University of Michigan Business School, and Wojciech Kopczuk, of University of British Columbia [and who has since moved to Columbia University], for their conclusion that people find a way to postpone their deaths if that would qualify them for a lower rate on the inheritance tax.
[REFERENCE:”Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. W8158, March 2001.]
PSYCHOLOGY: Lawrence W. Sherman of Miami University, Ohio, for his influential research report “An Ecological Study of Glee in Small Groups of Preschool Children.”
[PUBLISHED IN: Child Development, vol. 46, no. 1, March 1975, pp. 53-61.]
ASTROPHYSICS: Dr. Jack and Rexella Van Impe of Jack Van Impe Ministries, Rochester Hills, Michigan, for their discovery that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements to be the location of Hell.
[REFERENCE: The March 31, 2001 television and Internet broadcast of the “Jack Van Impe Presents” program. (at about the 12 minute mark).]
TECHNOLOGY: Awarded jointly to John Keogh of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, for patenting the wheel in the year 2001, and to the Australian Patent Office for granting him Innovation Patent #2001100012. [NOTE: Several years after this prize was awarded, the patent office quietly revoked Mr. Keogh’s patent.]
PUBLIC HEALTH: Chittaranjan Andrade and B.S. Srihari of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India, for their probing medical discovery that nose picking is a common activity among adolescents.
[REFERENCE: “A Preliminary Survey of Rhinotillexomania in an Adolescent Sample,” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, vol. 62, no. 6, June 2001, pp. 426-31.]
The 2000 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2000 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 5th, 2000 at the 10th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
PSYCHOLOGY: David Dunning of Cornell University and Justin Kruger of the University of Illinois, for their modest report, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.” [Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 77, no. 6, December 1999, pp. 1121-34.]
LITERATURE: Jasmuheen (formerly known as Ellen Greve) of Australia, first lady of Breatharianism, for her book “Living on Light,” which explains that although some people do eat food, they don’t ever really need to.
BIOLOGY: Richard Wassersug of Dalhousie University, for his first-hand report, “On the Comparative Palatability of Some Dry-Season Tadpoles from Costa Rica.” [Published in The American Midland Naturalist, vol. 86, no. 1, July 1971, pp. 101-109.]
PHYSICS: Andre Geim of the University of Nijmegen (the Netherlands) and Sir Michael Berry of Bristol University (UK), for using magnets to levitate a frog. [REFERENCE: “Of Flying Frogs and Levitrons” by M.V. Berry and A.K. Geim, European Journal of Physics, v. 18, 1997, p. 307-13.]
NOTE: Ten years later, in 2010, Andre Geim won a Nobel Prize in physics (for research on another subject).
CHEMISTRY: Donatella Marazziti, Alessandra Rossi, and Giovanni B. Cassano of the University of Pisa, and Hagop S. Akiskal of the University of California (San Diego), for their discovery that, biochemically, romantic love may be indistinguishable from having severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. [REFERENCE: “Alteration of the platelet serotonin transporter in romantic love,” Marazziti D, Akiskal HS, Rossi A, Cassano GB, Psychological Medicine, 1999 May;29(3):741-5.]
ECONOMICS: The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, for bringing efficiency and steady growth to the mass-marriage industry, with, according to his reports, a 36-couple wedding in 1960, a 430-couple wedding in 1968, an 1800-couple wedding in 1975, a 6000-couple wedding in 1982, a 30,000-couple wedding in 1992, a 360,000-couple wedding in 1995, and a 36,000,000-couple wedding in 1997.
MEDICINE: Willibrord Weijmar Schultz, Pek van Andel, and Eduard Mooyaart of Groningen, The Netherlands, and Ida Sabelis of Amsterdam, for their illuminating report, “Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Male and Female Genitals During Coitus and Female Sexual Arousal.” [Published in British Medical Journal, vol. 319, 1999, pp 1596-1600.]
PUBLIC HEALTH: Jonathan Wyatt, Gordon McNaughton, and William Tullett of Glasgow, for their alarming report, “The Collapse of Toilets in Glasgow.” [Published in the Scottish Medical Journal, vol. 38, 1993, p. 185.]
The 1999 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 1999 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 30th, 1999 at the 9th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
REFERENCE: “The social life of donuts: Commodity and community in postwar Canada,” Steven Penfold, York University Ph.D. thesis, 2002.
PHYSICS: Len Fisher [UK and Australia] for calculating the optimal way to dunk a biscuit, and Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck of the [UK and Belgium], and Joseph Keller [USA] for calculating how to make a teapot spout that does not drip.
REFERENCE: “Physics Takes the Biscuit“, Len Fisher, Nature, 397, no. 6719, February 11, 1999, p. 469.
REFERENCE: “Pouring Flows,” Jean-Marc Vanden‐Broeck and Joseph B. Keller, Physics of Fluids vol. 29, no. 12, 1986, pp. 3958-61.
SCIENCE EDUCATION: The Kansas State Board of Education and the Colorado State Board of Education, for mandating that children should not believe in Darwin‘s theory of evolution any more than they believe in Newton‘s theory of gravitation, Faraday‘s and Maxwell‘s theory of electromagnetism, or Pasteur‘s theory that germs cause disease.
MEDICINE: Dr. Arvid Vatle of Stord, Norway, for carefully collecting, classifying, and contemplating which kinds of containers his patients chose when submitting urine samples. (REFERENCE: “Unyttig om urinprøver,” Arvid Vatle, Tidsskift for Den norske laegeforening [The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association], no. 8, March 20, 1999, p. 1178.)
PEACE: Charl Fourie and Michelle Wong of Johannesburg, South Africa, for inventing an automobile burglar alarm consisting of a detection circuit and a flamethrower. (Patent WO/1999/032331, “A Security System for a Vehicle“)
MANAGED HEALTH CARE: The late George and Charlotte Blonsky of New York City and San Jose, California, for inventing a device (US Patent #3,216,423) to aid women in giving birth — the woman is strapped onto a circular table, and the table is then rotated at high speed.
The 1998 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 1998 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded at the 8th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live.
SAFETY ENGINEERING: Troy Hurtubise, of North Bay, Ontario, for developing, and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears. [REFERENCE: “Project Grizzly“, produced by the “National Film Board of Canada. ALSO: Bear Man: The Troy Hurtubise Saga, by Troy Hurtubise, Raven House Publishing, Westbrook, ME, USA, 2011.]
[REFERENCE: “Induction and Potentiation of Parturition in Fingernail Clams (Sphaerium striatinum) by Selective Serotonin Re- Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs),” Peter F. Fong, Peter T. Huminski, and Lynette M. D’urso, “Journal of Experimental Zoology, vol. 280, 1998, pp. 260-64.]
CHEMISTRY: Jacques Benveniste of France, for his homeopathic discovery that not only does water have memory, but that the information can be transmitted over telephone lines and the Internet.
[NOTE: Benveniste also won the 1991 Ig Nobel Chemistry Prize.]
[REFERENCE:”Transatlantic Transfer of Digitized Antigen Signal by Telephone Link,” J. Benveniste, P. Jurgens, W. Hsueh and J. Aissa, “Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology – Program and abstracts of papers to be presented during scientific sessions AAAAI/AAI.CIS Joint Meeting February 21-26, 1997”]
SCIENCE EDUCATION: Dolores Krieger, Professor Emerita, New York University, for demonstrating the merits of therapeutic touch, a method by which nurses manipulate the energy fields of ailing patients by carefully avoiding physical contact with those patients.
‘REFERENCE: “The Therapeutic Touch,” Dolores Krieger, Erik Peper, and Sonia Ancoli, The American Journal of Nursing, vol. 79, no. 4, 1979, pp. 660-662.]
STATISTICS: Jerald Bain of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto and Kerry Siminoski of the University of Alberta for their carefully measured report, “The Relationships Among Height, Penile Length, and Foot Size.”
[REFERENCE: “Annals of Sex Research,” vol. 6, no. 3, 1993, pp. 231-5.
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.
ECONOMICS. Richard Seed of Chicago for his efforts to stoke up the world economy by cloning himself and other human beings.
MEDICINE: To Patient Y and to his doctors, Caroline Mills, Meirion Llewelyn, David Kelly, and Peter Holt, of Royal Gwent Hospital, in Newport, Wales, for the cautionary medical report, “A Man Who Pricked His Finger and Smelled Putrid for 5 Years.” [Published in “The Lancet,” vol. 348, November 9, 1996, p. 1282.]
LITERATURE: Dr. Mara Sidoli of Washington, DC, for her illuminating report, “Farting as a Defence Against Unspeakable Dread.”
[REFERENCE: “Journal of Analytical Psychology,” vol. 41, no. 2, 1996, pp. 165-78.]
The 1997 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 1997 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded at the 7th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live.
BIOLOGY: T. Yagyu, J. Wackermann, T. Kinoshita, T. Hirota, K. Kochi, I. Kondakor, Thomas König, and Dietrich Lehmann, from the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, from Kansai Medical University in Osaka, Japan, and from Neuroscience Technology Research in Prague, Czech Republic, for measuring people’s brainwave patterns while they chewed different flavors of gum. [Published as “Chewing gum flavor affects measures of global complexity of multichannel EEG,” T. Yagyu, et al., Neuropsychobiology, vol. 35, 1997, pp. 46-50.]
ENTOMOLOGY: Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida, for his scholarly book, “That Gunk on Your Car,” which identifies the insect splats that appear on automobile windows. [The book is
published by Ten Speed Press.]
ASTRONOMY: Richard Hoagland of New Jersey, for identifying artificial features on the moon and on Mars, including a human face on Mars and ten-mile high buildings on the far side of the moon. [REFERENCE: “The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever,” by Richard C. Hoagland, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA,1996.]
COMMUNICATIONS: Sanford Wallace, president of Cyber Promotions of Philadelphia — neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night have stayed this self-appointed courier from delivering electronic junk mail to all the world.
PHYSICS: John Bockris of Texas A&M University, for his wide-ranging achievements in cold fusion, in the transmutation of base elements into gold, and in the electrochemical incineration of domestic rubbish.
LITERATURE: Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips and Yoav Rosenberg of Israel, and Michael Drosnin of the United States, for their hairsplitting statistical discovery that the bible contains a secret, hidden code.[REFERENCE: Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg,’s original research was published as”Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis,” “Statistical Science,” Vol. 9, No. 3, 1994, pp. 429-38. Drosnin’s popular book, “The Bible Code,” was published by Simon & Schuster.]
MEDICINE: Carl J. Charnetski and Francis X. Brennan, Jr. of Wilkes University, and James F. Harrison of Muzak Ltd. in Seattle, Washington, for their discovery that listening to elevator Muzak stimulates immunoblobulin A (IgA) production, and thus may help prevent the common cold.
REFERENCE: “Effect of music and auditory stimuli on secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA),” Carl J. Charnetski, Francis X. Brennan, Jr. and James F. Harrison, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 87, 1998, pp. 1163-70.
ECONOMICS: Akihiro Yokoi of Wiz Company in Chiba, Japan and Aki Maita of Bandai Company in Tokyo, the father and mother of Tamagotchi, for diverting millions of person-hours of work into the husbandry of virtual pets.
PEACE: Harold Hillman of the University of Surrey, England for his lovingly rendered and ultimately peaceful report “The Possible Pain Experienced During Execution by Different Methods.” [Published in Perception 1993, vol 22, pp. 745-53.]
The 1996 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 1996 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 3rd, 1996 at the 6th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch archived video on C-SPAN.
BIOLOGY: Anders Barheim and Hogne Sandvik of the University of Bergen, Norway, for their tasty and tasteful report, “Effect of Ale, Garlic, and Soured Cream on the Appetite of Leeches.”
REFERENCE: “British Medical Journal,” vol. 309, Dec 24-31, 1994, p. 1689.
MEDICINE: James Johnston of R.J. Reynolds, Joseph Taddeo of U.S. Tobacco, Andrew Tisch of Lorillard, William Campbell of Philip Morris, Edward A. Horrigan of Liggett Group, Donald S. Johnston of American Tobacco Company, and the late Thomas E. Sandefur, Jr., chairman of Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co. for their unshakable discovery, as testified to the U.S. Congress, that nicotine is not addictive.
REFERENCE: “Tumbling toast, Murphy’s Law and the fundamental constants,” “European Journal of Physics,” vol.16, no.4, July 18, 1995, p. 172-6.
PUBLIC HEALTH: Ellen Kleist of Nuuk, Greenland and Harald Moi of Oslo, Norway, for their cautionary medical report “Transmission of Gonorrhea Through an Inflatable Doll.”
REFERENCE: “Genitourinary Medicine,” vol. 69, no. 4, Aug. 1993, p. 322.
BIODIVERSITY: Chonosuke Okamura of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory in Nagoya, Japan, for discovering the fossils of dinosaurs, horses, dragons, princesses, and more than 1000 other extinct “mini-species,” each of which is less than 1/100 of an inch in length.
REFERENCE: the series “Reports of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory,” published by the Okamura Fossil Laboratory in Nagoya, Japan during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
LITERATURE: The editors of the journal Social Text, for eagerly publishing research that they could not understand, that the author said was meaningless, and which claimed that reality does not exist.
REFERENCE: The paper was “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” Alan Sokal, Social Text, Spring/Summer 1996, pp. 217-252.
ECONOMICS: Dr. Robert J. Genco of the University of Buffalo for his discovery that “financial strain is a risk indicator for destructive periodontal disease.
REFERENCES: (published after winning the prize): “Models to Evaluate the Role of Stress in Periodontal Disease,” Robert J. Genco, et al., Annals of Periodontology, vol. 3, no. 1, July 1998, pp. 288-302. “Relationship of Stress, Distress, and Inadequate Coping Behaviors to Periodontal Disease,” Robert J. Genco, et al., Journal of Periodontology, vol. 70, 1999, pp. 711-23.
REFERENCE: “Pink Flamingos: Splendor on the Grass”
The 1995 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 1995 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 6th, 1995 at the 5th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live. You can watch the video on our youTube Channel.
NUTRITION: John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta, Georgia, for educating the world about Luak Coffee, the world’s most expensive coffee, which is made from coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luak (aka, the palm civet), a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia.
PHYSICS: D.M.R. Georget, R. Parker, and A.C. Smith, of the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, England, for their rigorous analysis of soggy breakfast cereal, published in the report entitled “A Study of the Effects of Water Content on the Compaction Behaviour of Breakfast Cereal Flakes.”
REFERENCE: Powder Technology, November, 1994, vol. 81, no. 2, pp. 189-96.
ECONOMICS: Awarded jointly to Nick Leeson and his superiors at Barings Bank and to Robert Citron of Orange County, California, for using the calculus of derivatives to demonstrate that every financial institution has its limits.
REFERENCE: “Barings Lost : Nick Leeson and the Collapse of Barings Plc,” and “Big Bets Gone Bad”
MEDICINE: Marcia E. Buebel, David S. Shannahoff-Khalsa, and Michael R. Boyle, for their invigorating study entitled “The Effects of Unilateral Forced Nostril Breathing on Cognition.”
REFERENCE: International Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 57, 1991, pp. 239-249.
LITERATURE: David B. Busch and James R. Starling, of Madison Wisconsin, for their deeply penetrating research report, “Rectal foreign bodies: Case Reports and a Comprehensive Review of the World’s Literature.” The citations include reports of, among other items: seven light bulbs; a knife sharpener; two flashlights; a wire spring; a snuff box; an oil can with potato stopper; eleven different forms of fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs; a jeweler’s saw; a frozen pig’s tail; a tin cup; a beer glass; and one patient’s remarkable ensemble collection consisting of spectacles, a suitcase key, a tobacco pouch and a magazine.
REFERENCE: Surgery, September 1986, pp. 512-519.
PEACE: The Taiwan National Parliament, for demonstrating that politicians gain more by punching, kicking and gouging each other than by waging war against other nations.
REFERENCE: “Pigeons’ Discrimination of Paintings by Monet and Picasso,”Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, vol. 63, 1995, pp. 165-174.
PUBLIC HEALTH: Martha Kold Bakkevig of Sintef Unimed in Trondheim, Norway, and Ruth Nielsen of the Technical University of Denmark, for their exhaustive study, “Impact of Wet Underwear on Thermoregulatory Responses and Thermal Comfort in the Cold.”
REFERENCE: Ergonomics, vol 37, no. 8, Aug. 1994 , pp. 1375-89.
DENTISTRY: Robert H. Beaumont, of Shoreview, Minnesota, for his incisive study “Patient Preference for Waxed or Unwaxed Dental Floss.”
REFERENCE: Journal of Periodontology, vol. 61, no. 2, Feb. 1990, pp. 123-5.]
The 1994 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
BIOLOGY: W. Brian Sweeney, Brian Krafte-Jacobs, Jeffrey W. Britton, and Wayne Hansen, for their breakthrough study, “The Constipated Serviceman: Prevalence Among Deployed US Troops,” and especially for their numerical analysis of bowel movement frequency. [Published in “Military Medicine,” vol. 158, August, 1993, pp. 346-348.]
PEACE: John Hagelin of Maharishi University and The Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy, promulgator of peaceful thoughts, for his experimental conclusion that 4,000 trained meditators caused an 18 percent decrease in violent crime in Washington, D.C.
[REFERENCE: “Interim Report: Results of the National Demonstration Project to Reduce Violent Crime and Improve Governmental Effectiveness In Washington, D.C., June 7 to July 30, 1993, Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy, Fairfield, Iowa”]
MEDICINE: This prize is awarded in two parts. First, to Patient X, formerly of the US Marine Corps, valiant victim of a venomous bite from his pet rattlesnake, for his determined use of electroshock therapy — at his own insistence, automobile sparkplug wires were attached to his lip, and the car engine revved to 3000 rpm for five minutes. Second, to Dr. Richard C. Dart of the Rocky Mountain Poison Center and Dr. Richard A. Gustafson of The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, for their well-grounded medical report: “Failure of Electric Shock Treatment for Rattlesnake Envenomation.” [Published in Annals of Emergency Medicine, vol. 20, no. 6, June 1991, pp. 659-61.]
ENTOMOLOGY: Robert A. Lopez of Westport, NY, valiant veterinarian and friend of all creatures great and small, for his series of experiments in obtaining ear mites from cats, inserting them into his own ear, and carefully observing and analyzing the results. [Published as “Of Mites and Man,” The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, vol. 203, no. 5, Sept. 1, 1993, pp. 606-7.]
PSYCHOLOGY: Lee Kuan Yew, former Prime Minister of Singapore, practitioner of the psychology of negative reinforcement, for his thirty-year study of the effects of punishing three million citizens of Singapore whenever they spat, chewed gum, or fed pigeons.
LITERATURE: L. Ron Hubbard, ardent author of science fiction and founding father of Scientology, for his crackling Good Book, “Dianetics,” which is highly profitable to mankind or to a portion thereof.
CHEMISTRY: Texas State Senator Bob Glasgow, wise writer of logical legislation, for sponsoring the 1989 drug control law which make it illegal to purchase beakers, flasks, test tubes, or other laboratory glassware without a permit.
ECONOMICS: Jan Pablo Davila of Chile, tireless trader of financial futures and former employee of the state-owned Codelco Company, for instructing his computer to “buy” when he meant “sell,” and subsequently attempting to recoup his losses by making increasingly unprofitable trades that ultimately lost .5 percent of Chile’s gross national product. Davila’s relentless achievement inspired\ his countrymen to coin a new verb: ” davilar,” meaning, “to botch things up royally.”
MATHEMATICS: The Southern Baptist Church of Alabama, mathematical measurers of morality, for their county-by-county estimate of how many Alabama citizens will go to Hell if they don’t repent.
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The 1993 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
PSYCHOLOGY: John Mack of Harvard Medical School and David Jacobs of Temple University, mental visionaries, for their leaping conclusion that people who believe they were kidnapped by aliens from outer space, probably were — and especially for their conclusion “the focus of the abduction is the production of children. [REFERENCE: “Secret Life : Firsthand, Documented Accounts of UFO Abductions“]
CONSUMER ENGINEERING: Ron Popeil, incessant inventor and perpetual pitchman of late night television, for redefining the industrial revolution with such devices as the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone, and the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler. [REFERENCE: “The Salesman of the Century : Inventing, Marketing, and Selling on TV: How I Did It and How You Can Too!“]
BIOLOGY: Paul Williams Jr. of the Oregon State Health Division and Kenneth W. Newell of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, bold biological detectives, for their pioneering study, “Salmonella Excretion in Joy-Riding Pigs.” [Published in American Journal of Public Health and the Nation’s Health, vol. 60, no. 5, May 1970, pp. 926-9.]
ECONOMICS: Ravi Batra of Southern Methodist University, shrewd economist and best-selling author of “The Great Depression of 1990” ($17.95) and “Surviving the Great Depression of 1990” ($18.95), for selling enough copies of his books to single-handedly prevent worldwide economic collapse.
PEACE: The Pepsi-Cola Company of the Phillipines, suppliers of sugary hopes and dreams, for sponsoring a contest to create a millionaire, and then announcing the wrong winning number, thereby inciting and uniting 800,000 riotously expectant winners, and bringing many warring factions together for the first time in their nation’s history.
VISIONARY TECHNOLOGY: Presented jointly to Jay Schiffman of Farmington Hills, Michigan, crack inventor of AutoVision, an image projection device that makes it possible to drive a car and watch television at the same time, and to the Michigan state legislature, for making it legal to do so. REFERENCE: US patent #5061996A.
CHEMISTRY: James Campbell and Gaines Campbell of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, dedicated deliverers of fragrance, for inventing scent strips, the odious method by which perfume is applied to magazine pages.
LITERATURE: Eric Topol, R. Califf, F. Van de Werf, P. W. Armstrong, and their 972 co-authors, for publishing a medical research paper which has one hundred times as many authors as pages. [REFERENCE: “An International Randomized Trial Comparing Four Thrombolytic Strategies for Acute Myocardial Infarction,” Eric Topol, R. Califf, F. Van de Werf, P. W. Armstrong, and the GUSTO Investigators, The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 329, no. 10, September 2, 1993, pp. 673-82. The authors are from the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.]
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MATHEMATICS: Robert Faid of Greenville, South Carolina, farsighted and faithful seer of statistics, for calculating the exact odds (710,609,175,188,282,000 to 1) that Mikhail Gorbachev is the Antichrist. [REFERENCE: “Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?“]
PHYSICS: Louis Kervran of France, ardent admirer of alchemy, for his conclusion that the calcium in chickens’ eggshells is created by a process of cold fusion. REFERENCE: “Biological Transmutations and their applications in: Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Ecology, Medicine, Nutrition, Agronomy, Geology“]
MEDICINE: James F. Nolan, Thomas J. Stillwell, and John P. Sands, Jr., medical men of mercy, for their painstaking research report, “Acute Management of the Zipper-Entrapped Penis.” [Published in Journal of Emergency Medicine, vol. 8, no. 3, May/June 1990, pp. 305-7.]
The 1992 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
MEDICINE: F. Kanda, E. Yagi, M. Fukuda, K. Nakajima, T. Ohta and O. Nakata of the Shisedo Research Center in Yokohama, for their pioneering research study “Elucidation of Chemical Compounds Responsible for Foot Malodour,” especially for their conclusion that people who think they have foot odor do, and those who don’t, don’t. [Published in British Journal of Dermatology, vol. 122, no. 6,
June 1990, pp. 771-6.]
ARCHEOLOGY: Eclaireurs de France, the Protestant youth group whose name means”those who show the way,” fresh-scrubbed removers of grafitti, for erasing the ancient paintings from the walls of the Meyrieres Cave near the French village of Bruniquel.
BIOLOGY: Dr. Cecil Jacobson, relentlessly generous sperm donor, and prolific patriarch of sperm banking, for devising a simple, single-handed method of quality control. [REFERENCE: “The
Babymaker : Fertility Fraud and the Fall of Dr. Cecil Jacobson“]
LITERATURE: Yuri Struchkov, unstoppable author from the Institute of Nesmeyanov Institute of Organoelement Compounds in Moscow, for the 948 scientific papers he is credited with publishing between the years 1981 and 1990, averaging more than one every 3.9 days.
ART: Presented jointly to Jim Knowlton, modern Renaissance man, for his classic anatomy poster “Penises of the Animal Kingdom,” and to the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts for encouraging Mr. Knowlton to extend his work in the form of a pop-up book.
The 1991 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
CHEMISTRY: Jacques Benveniste, prolific proseletizer and dedicated correspondent of “Nature,” for his persistent discovery that water, H2O, is an intelligent liquid, and for demonstrating to his satisfaction that water is able to remember events long after all trace of those events has vanished.
MEDICINE: Alan Kligerman, deviser of digestive deliverance, vanquisher of vapor, and inventor of Beano, for his pioneering work with anti-gas liquids that prevent bloat, gassiness, discomfort and embarassment.
BIOLOGY: Robert Klark Graham, selector of seeds and prophet of propagation, for his pioneering development of the Repository for Germinal Choice, a sperm bank that accepts donations only from Nobellians and Olympians.
PEACE: Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb and first champion of the Star Wars weapons system, for his lifelong efforts to change the meaning of peace as we know it.
Did They Really Do These Things?
Are these things real? Yes, indeed. You can look it up. That’s why we give you the references.
The only exceptions came in 1991, the very first year of the ceremony, and 1994. In 1991, three additional Prizes were given for apocryphal achievements. In 1994, one prize was based on what turned out to be erroneous press accounts. Those four apocryphal achievements are not included in the list on this page. ALL the other Prizes, in all years, were awarded for genuine achievements.
For extensive background info and additional reference for many of the past winners, see the books Marc Abrahams has written about Ig Nobel Prizes.