The 21st annual Ig Nobel Prizes, were given at Harvard University in front of sell out crowd, with former Nobel Prize winners handing out the honors. The prizes honour achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think”. They are awarded by the Journal of Improbable Research as a whimsical counterpart to the Nobel Prizes, which will be announced next week.
Most of the winners turned up to collect their Igs and make one minute speeches at the ceremony in Boston. They were handed their award by real-life Nobel laureates including Prof Roy Glauber (physics, 2005), Prof Dudley Herschbach (chemistry, 1986) and Prof Louis Ignarro ( medicine, 1998).
Medicine, won by a Dutch-Belgian-Australian team for a study that found attention and working memory suffer when you are focused on having to urinate.
Peace, won by Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running over them with a tank.
Biology, to Daryll Gwynne and David Rentz for discovering that certain kinds of beetle mate with certain kinds of Australian beer bottle.
Chemistry, to a Japanese team of researchers, for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi – a pungent horseradish – to awaken sleeping people and for applying this knowledge to invent a wasabi fire alarm.
Mathematics, awarded to six academics who over the years have given precise dates as to when the world will end. The latest prediction, coming from Harold Camping of the USA is the world will end on 21 October 2011. The award was given to these individuals for teaching all of us to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.
The other Ig Nobels awarded were for Physiology, Psychology, Literature, Physics and Public safety.