Winners of the Ig® Nobel Prize
For achievements that first make people LAUGH
then make them THINK
2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002 2001
2000 1999 1998 1997 1996
1995 1994 1993 1992 1991
|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 2013 Ig Nobel Prize winners will be announced and awarded on Thursday night, September 12, 2013. Tickets to the ceremony will go on sale in July.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, September 30, at the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. The ceremony was webcast live on YouTube. You can watch archived video.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
Knuckle Cracking Lead to Arthritis of the Fingers?",
Donald L. Unger, Arthritis and Rheumatism, vol. 41, no. 5, 1998, pp.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Donald Unger
PHYSICS PRIZE: Katherine
K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati,
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.
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
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).
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.
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.]
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
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: "TheRole 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
|At the 2007 ceremony, Ig Nobel Medicine Prize winner Dan Meyer punctuates his and Brian Witcombe's joint one-minute-long acceptance speech. Meyer and Dr. Witcombe (who is not visible in this photo, having stepped back to give his colleague breathing room) were honored for studying the medical side-effects of sword-swallowing. Nobel Laureates William Lipscomb, Robert Laughlin and Dudley Herschbach can be seen here analyzing Mr. Meyer's speech. Photo Credit: Alexey Eliseev.|
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
REFERENCES: "Wrinkling of an Elastic Sheet Under Tension," E. Cerda, K. Ravi-Chandar, L. Mahadevan, Nature, vol. 419, October 10, 2002, pp. 579-80.
"Geometry and Physics of Wrinkling," E. Cerda and L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters, fol. 90, no. 7, February 21, 2003, pp. 074302/1-4.
"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: Prof. Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, 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.
REFERENCES: "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.
"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.
"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.
"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: Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of Japan, 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 Medical Center of Japan.
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: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, 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: Glenda Browne of Blaxland, Blue Mountains, Australia, 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: 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: Brian Wansink of Cornell University, 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.
REFERENCE: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, Brian Wansink Bantom Books, 2006, ISBN 0553804340.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Brian Wansink.
ECONOMICS PRIZE: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taichung, Taiwan, 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.
AVIATION PRIZE: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek of Universidad Nacionalde Quilmes, Argentina, for their discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters.
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 Prize winners were awarded on Thursday night, October 5, at the 16th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. You can watch archived video of the ceremony.
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
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
MEDICINE: Gregg A. Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri, for inventing Neuticles -- artificial replacement testicles for dogs, which are available in three sizes, and three degrees of firmness.
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
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 evening, September 30, at the 14th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. You can watch archived video of the live webcast.
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.
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.
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
(Click here for details about the ceremony)
The 2003 Ig Nobel Prize winners were announced on Thursday evening, October 2, at the 13th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. Click here for details. The ceremony was telecast live on the Internet (click here to watch an archived videocast).
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
(Click here for details about the ceremony)
BIOLOGY: N. 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.
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
(Click here for details about the ceremony)
MEDICINE: Peter Barss of McGill University, for his impactful medical report "Injuries Due 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.
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
(Click here for details about the ceremony)
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. 101-9.]
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
(Click here for details about the ceremony)
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.
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
(Click here for details about the ceremony)
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.
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
(Click here for details about the ceremony)
BIOLOGY: T. Yagyu and his colleagues 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
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 3, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Robert J. Genco of the University of Buffalo for his discovery
that "financial strain is a risk indicator for destructive periodontal
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
NUTRITION: John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta, Georgia, for 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.
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.
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"
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.
David B. Busch and James
R. Starling, of Madison Wisconsin, for their deeply penetrating research
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.
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
REFERENCE: Ergonomics, vol 37, no. 8, Aug. 1994 , pp. 1375-89.
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.
[Click here for additional details.]
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.
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. [The study was published in 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.]
[Click here for additional details.]
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 Organoelemental Compounds in Moscow, for the 948 scientific papers he published 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 that Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded, 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.