17th First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded

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Filed under: Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Ig Nobel awards give peace (and animal dung) a chance
by Candace Lombardi
October 5, 2007

ignobel_2007.jpgThere’s nothing like nerd humor to keep the world’s problems in perspective.

Harvard University once again played host to the Ig Nobel awards given out by the Annals of Improbable Research, a parody of the Nobel prizes awarding people for scientific inventions that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

This year’s Ig Nobel peace prize brought new meaning to the phrase “make love, not war.”

It went to the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio. The group invented a chemical weapon, nicknamed the “gay bomb,” that when dropped causes heterosexual men to become attracted to one another instead of aggressive.

Meanwhile, the Ig Nobel prize for medicine went to Dan Meyer and Brian Witcombe for studying the side effects of sword swallowing.


There also seemed to be an animal metaphor theme running through the winning entries.

Prizes included an aviation Ig Nobel to Patricia Agostino, who discovered that hamsters who take Viagra recover faster from jet lag, and an Ig Nobel in biology to Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk for determining the population of dust mites and other insects in beds.

Part of the ceremonial events also included a speech in which the word “chicken” was repeated in different ways for two minutes.

One winner was treated to a double honor.

Toscanini’s Ice Cream named a flavor after Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of Japan called “Yum-A-Moto Vanilla Twist.” Yamamoto won the Ig Nobel prize in chemistry for “developing a way to extract vanillin–vanilla fragrance and flavoring–from cow dung.”

Last year the Ig Nobel Peace Prize went to Howard Stapleton for his “electromechanical teenager repellant,” a high-pitch ringtone (MP3) that’s usually only audible to people under 30.

from: CNET via Life in the Fast Lane

Here’s a list of this year’s winners from Wikipedia:

  • Aviation: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek, for discovering that hamsters recover from jetlag more quickly when given Viagra.
  • Biology: Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk, for taking a census of all the mites and other life forms that live in people’s beds.
  • Chemistry: Mayu Yamamoto for extracting vanilla flavor from cow dung.
  • Economics: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, for patenting a device to catch bank robbers by ensnaring them in a net.
  • Linguistics: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Nuria Sebastian-Galles, for determining that rats sometimes can’t distinguish between Japanese, played backward, and Dutch, played backward.
  • Literature: Glenda Browne, for her study of the word “the”.
  • Medicine: Dan Meyer and Brian Witcombe, for investigating the side-effects of swallowing swords.
  • Nutrition: Brian Wansink, for investigating people’s appetite for mindless eating by secretly feeding them a self-refilling bowl of soup.
  • Peace: The Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, for suggesting the research and development of a “gay bomb,” which would cause enemy troops to become sexually attracted to each other.
  • Physics: L. Mahadevan and Enrique Cerda Villablanca for their theoretical study of how sheets become wrinkled.
  • Photos:
    Ig Nobel Award prize 2007 from 24 Oranges
    Dan Meyer sword swallower by Stan Honda, AFP, Getty Images