With the Nobel Prize announcements starting soon, it is all too easy to overlook the 2011 Ig Nobel laureates (awarded at Harvard U. last Thursday). The event honors (presumably) the International Year of Chemistry.
The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
Physiology: Anna Wilkinson (UK), Natalie Sebanz (Netherlands, Hungary, and Austria), Isabella Mandl (Austria) and Ludwig Huber (Austria) for their study, “No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise.”
Chemistry: Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami (Japan), for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency), and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm.
Medicine: Mirjam Tuk (Netherlands and UK), Debra Trampe (Netherlands) and Luk Warlop (Belgium) and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder and Robert Feldman (US), Robert Pietrzak, David Darby, and Paul Maruff (Australia) for demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things—but worse decisions about other kinds of things—when they have a strong urge to urinate.
Psychology: Karl Halvor Teigen (Norway), for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.
Literature: John Perry of Stanford University (US), for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which says: To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that’s even more important.
Biology: Darryl Gwynne (Canada, Australia, UK and US) and David Rentz (Australia and US) for discovering that a certain kind of beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle.
Physics: Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne and Bruno Ragaru (France), and Herman Kingma (Netherlands), for determining why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers don’t.
Mathematics: Dorothy Martin (US) who predicted the world would end in 1954, Pat Robertson (US) who predicted the world would end in 1982, Elizabeth Clare Prophet (US) who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim (Korea) who predicted the world would end in 1992, Credonia Mwerinde (Uganda) who predicted the world would end in 1999, and Harold Camping (US) who predicted the world would end on Sept. 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world will end on Oct. 21, 2011, for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.
Peace: Arturas Zuokas (mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania), for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.
Public Safety: John Senders (Canada), for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.
If you have a half hour (or three), you can view the entire shebang below: