Humor: The 18th Ig Nobel Prizes awarded

image Ig Nobel small It’s early October again and for some that means the highlight of the scientific calendar have just happened and for others that some at Harvard have again celebrated the silliest science around the globe.

What we are talking about are the 18th Annual Ig Nobel Prize Awards that took place this Thursday at Sanders Theater, Harvard University and informal lectures by the prize winners this afternoon at the MIT Building.

The annual prizes are awarded for “research that first makes people laugh, and then make them think

“…The 18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony announced and introduced the ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners. The winners traveled to the ceremony, at their own expense, from several continents. The Prizes were handed to them by a group of genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel Laureates, all before a standing-room only audience of 1200 people…”

This year’s winners are (see links below for references at the AIR web site):

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • MEDICINE PRIZE. Dan Ariely of Duke University, USA, for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.
  • 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.
  • ECONOMICS PRIZE. Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan of the University of New Mexico, USA, for discovering that a professional lap dancer’s ovulatory cycle affects her tip earnings.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”

Congratulations to all winners and we hope you had lots of fun at this years ceremonies




More information:
Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
Nature Magazine’s Dairy of the Ig Nobel award ceremony
AIR’s winner pages (great picture of the acceptance speech of one of the winners)


Have a look at the AIG ceremony web cast / video of the ceremony (multiple translations into various languages plus body language are available simultaneously) to recognize all the various delegations honoring the prize winners.

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