The Ig Nobel prizes

An Ig Nobel prize winner, Thomas Thwaites in his Goat Suit.
An Ig Nobel prize winner, Thomas Thwaites in his goat suit.

The Nobel prizes are awarded each year to recognise outstanding advances in physics, chemistry, literature, peace, economic sciences and physiology or medicine. Over the years The Nobel prizes have also played host to some celebrated controversies, dubious peace prize recipients, a medicine and physiology prize awarded for frontal lobotomies and some notable figures being overlooked.

There is however, an another prize ceremony, the Ig Nobel Prizes, that gives scientists and researchers additional opportunity to be recognised by their peers. Now in their 26th year, the Ig Nobels are awarded every September to honour achievements that make people laugh and then make them think. The prizes’ intention is to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative and spur people’s interest in science, medicine and technology. The awards are presented at a lavish ceremony in Harvard by genuine Nobel laureates.

This year’s award winners gives a flavour of the pedigree and variety of the research honoured at the Ig Nobels.

The prize in medicine was awarded for the discovery 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. This of course works with in reverse for an itch on the right side of your body. The prize for biology was awarded jointly to a Charles Foster, for living in the wild at different times as 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.

In addition to the useful scientific research honoured at the ceremony, some of the other winning entries have a more intrinsic value such as the economics prize for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks from a sales and marketing perspective; and the prize awarded to Japanese investigators for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs. And of course the evening wouldn’t be complete without a chemistry prize. Volkswagen, took the gong for for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically electro-mechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.

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