The 2012 Ig Nobel Prizes

There’s still time to get tickets for the September 20 Ig Nobel Prize award ceremony at Harvard, where ten researchers will receive recognition for unusual discoveries.  The prizes are the brainchild of Marc Abrahams, editor and co-founder of “The Annals of Improbable Research” and author of a new book, This is Improbable: Cheese String Theory, Magnetic Chickens and Other WTF Research.

The ten Ig Nobel winners, whose identity has not been revealed, will receive their certificates from “real” Nobel laureates.  According to Abrahams, some dedicated scientists hold awards in both categories.  He cites Andre Geim  and Michael Berry, two UK physicists, who won an Ig Nobel in 2000 for using magnets to levitate a frog.  Ten years later, Geim and a student won a Nobel prize for producing graphene (two-dimensional carbon) in sufficient quantities to study.

Dr. Elena Bodnar, with her Ig Nobel prize winning bra that quickly converts to a protective face mask.

Past Ig Nobel winners who plan to attend this years ceremony include Dr. Bodnar, pictured above, as well as:

  • L. Mahadevan, a Harvard professor, for a “mathematico-physics analysis of how sheets get wrinkled.”
  • Dr. Richard Gustafson for research: “The failure of self-administered automobile-engine-supplied-electric-shock treatment for rattlesnake envenomation resulting from patient’s pet rattlesnake biting the patient on the lip.
  • Dr. Francis Fesmire, for an article in The Annals of Emergency Medicine entitled, “Digital rectal massage as a cure for intractable hiccups.”

Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch won a 2006 Ig Nobel for research on why spaghetti, when broken, often splits into more than two pieces.

  • Dan Mayer for an article on the medical effects of sword swallowing.
  • John Perry of Stanford for his “Theory of Structured Procrastination.”
  • Don Featherstone, creator of the pink plastic flamenco.
  • Glenda Browne of Blaxland, Australia, for her study of the word “the” and the problems it creates for people who try to alphabetize things.

Marc Abrahams

Marc Abrahams says the Ig Nobel committee is looking for research and inventions that make people laugh and then make them think.  “We also hope to spur people’s curiosity, and to raise the question: How do you decide what’s important and what’s not, and what’s real and what’s not — in science and everywhere else?”

A very good question! To learn more about this year’s prizes, check here:

3 thoughts on “The 2012 Ig Nobel Prizes

  1. I’m sorry, did he say humor and think… That is funny, I guess I won’t be in the running this year unless in some bizarre way the post I wrote that caused you to ask me if I had seen the 3 Stooges ( and then couldn’t remember why you asked me that) somehow qualifies 🙂


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