Ig Nobel Prizes

A prestigious gathering of the genuine Nobel laureates help present the awards at the annual Ig Nobel ceremony amid pomp, mayhem and paper planes at the Harvard University. The annual Ig Nobel awards honour scientific achievement that ‘cannot or should not be reproduced’.

Who can win the awards?

The Ig Nobel awards were instituted by Marc Abrahams, editor of a science magazine, in 1991. His aim was to honour scientists whose work had taken them far from the scientific main stream. Previous winners of the Igs include authors of landmark reports on the impact of country music on suicide, the use of magnets to levitate frogs, and the effect of beer, garlic and sourced cream on the appetite of leeches. Ig Nobels are awarded in such fields as medicine, physics, chemistry, biology, literature, peace etc.

The identity of the winners is a closely guarded secret in the best tradition of the Nobel Academy in Stockholm. The winners are discretely contacted beforehand to give them an opportunity to decline. It is a testament to the growing popularity of the event that very few turn down the offer and agree to attend at their own expense. During the award giving ceremony, the audience traditionally peppers the stage with paper aeroplanes.

The Noble among the Ig Nobels of 2005

John Mainstone and the late Thomas Parnell won the Ig Nobel for physics for an experiment that began in 1927, in which a glob of congealed black tar has been slowly dripping through a funnel at a rate of about one drop every nine years. Greg A Miller won the Ig Nobel for medicine for inventing artificial replacement testicles for dogs. The Peace award went to Claire Rind and Peter Simmons for electrically monitoring the activity of a locust’s brain cell while it was watching selected highlights from the movie Star Wars. Edward Cussler and BrianGettelfinger won the award for chemistry for settling the scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup than in water?

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