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2007 Ig Nobel prizes awarded October 5, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Funny, Near Physics, Science.
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This year the Ig Nobel prizes were awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research earlier than the regular Nobel Prizes. I was looking for some space themes (after all, 50 years ago on Oct. 4 was the day when people sent the first artificial sattelite in space), but alas… Nevertheless, here are some of the laureates:


MEDICINE: Dr. Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer for their report “Sword Swallowing and its Side Effects.”

PHYSICS: L. Mahadevan and Enrique Cerda Villablanca for studying wrinkle patterns in sheets.

BIOLOGY: Dr. Johanna E.M.H. von Bronswijk for her census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, bacteria, algae and ferns found in our beds.

CHEMISTRY: Mayi Yamamoto for developing a way to extract vanillin — vanilla fragrance and flavoring — from cow dung.

LINGUISTICS: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep Trobalon and Nuria Sebastian-Galles for demonstrating that rats can’t tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backward and a person speaking Dutch backward.

LITERATURE: Glenda Browne for her study of the definite article “the” and the ways it causes problems when alphabetizing.

PEACE: The U.S. Air Force’s Wright Laboratory for their proposed “gay bomb,” a chemical weapon to make enemy soldiers sexually attracted to each other.

NUTRITION: Brian Wansink, whose experiment with a bottomless bowl of soup showed that humans eat more when presented with more food.

ECONOMICS: Kuo Cheng Hsieh for patenting a device that drops a net over bank robbers.

AVIATION: Patricia Agostino, Santiago Plano and Diego Golombek for discovering that hamsters recover from jet lag faster when given Viagra.


I don’t know of any practical use of putting hamsters on Viagra (I think they do well without), but the prize in chemistry has enormous economic and philosophical value, as it shortens the “circle of life” famously described in the movie “Lion King.” I can also relate to the literature studies and suggest the author to enlarge her study by investigating the troubles that article “the” brings to (the?) Russian-speaking population. Contrary, the nutrition prize is given for an obvious result. Gosh, even Ig Nobels become controversial!

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