50 Interesting Ig Nobel Prize Winners

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1Cat, Liquid or Solid?

Because of their tendency to take the form of whatever container they are in, a study was conducted over whether cats should be classified as liquids or solids. This experiment won the Ig Noble Prize in 2017.


2. In 2003, a Dutchman named Kees Moeliker won the Ig Nobel Prize for Biology after writing a paper on “the first case of homosexual necrophilia [by a mallard],” after he watched a duck die after crashing into his window, only for its corpse to be “raped almost continually for 75 mins” by another duck.


3. Dr. Francis M. Fesmire won the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering how to cure hiccups with a rectal massage.


4. Dr. Donald Unger cracked his left-hand knuckles every day for 60 years but did not do so on his right hand. He proved that cracking knuckles had no effect on his health and he earned the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine.


5. Tamagotchi won its creators the 1997 Ig Nobel Prize in Economics “for diverting millions of person-hours of work into the husbandry of virtual pets.”


6Troy Hurtubise

Troy Hurtubise, the man who created the bear-proof suit also invented a fireproof paste, a light capable of seeing through walls, and the Trojan Ballistics Suit of Armor. In 1998, he was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize “for developing and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears.”


7. Physicist Andre Geim won the satirical Ig Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work using magnetism to levitate a frog. About 10 years later, his experiments regarding graphene won him the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics. This makes him the only ever recipient of both the Ig Nobel and Nobel Prizes.


8. In 2011, Pat Robertson and several others who incorrectly predicted various dates for the end of the world were jointly awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for “teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.”


9. Swedish Navy detected underwater sounds suspected to be hostile Russian submarines in the 1980s. The suspicion escalated to a diplomatic conflict between Sweden and Russia. It turned out later that these sounds came from fish farts, a discovery that led its researcher to win the Ig Nobel Prize in 2004.


10. A Russian company won the Ig Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 for developing a method to turn military explosives into nanodiamonds. These nanodiamonds can be used as light beacons for cancer treatment.


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11Volkswagen Ig Prize

Volkswagen won the 2016 Ig Nobel Chemistry prize “for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.”


12. The winner of 2011 Ig Nobel Peace Prize was Arturas Zuokas, the 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.


13. The US Government General Accountability Office won the 2012 Ig Nobel Literature Prize, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.


14. Two scientists Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl boiled and swallowed a shrew without chewing it, and then carefully examined the excrement and how the carcass reacts within the human digestive system. They were rewarded the 2013 Ig Noble Archeology Prize for their findings.


15. Daniel Oppenheimer won the Ig Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006 for his paper “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with using long words needlessly,” which argues that simple writing makes authors appear more intelligent than complex writing.


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16Bernard Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut’s brother, Bernard Vonnegut, won an Ig Nobel prize for determining that the ability of a tornado to pluck the feathers from a chicken is not a good method of estimating its wind speed.


17. Psychologist Dan Ariely and his colleagues earned the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine “for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.”


18. In 2006, the Ig Nobel Prize for Biology was awarded to scientists who proved that the odor emanated by Limburger cheese attracted “Anopheles gambiae” mosquitos, mistaking it for the smell of human feet, effectively making Limburger offer protection against Malaria.


19. A New York vet named Dr. Robert A. Lopez suspected a connection between cat ear mites and a child’s rash. So he started experimenting by transferring them into his left ear. He said, “I heard scratching sounds... as the mites began to explore my ear canal.” He repeated the experiment twice and won the Ig Nobel Prize in Entomology in 1994.


20. Behavioral Scientist Gordon Pennycook and his colleagues won the IG Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for their scholarly study called “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullsh*t.” Deepak Chopra’s Twitter feed is included in the references, and supplementary tables include a bullsh*t ranking of some of his tweets.


21Chonosuke Okamura

Chonosuke Okamura, a Japanese Paleontologist from the 70s and 80s, gained infamy as a pseudoscientist in his field for misidentifying tiny rocks to be miniature-sized animal fossils. He won the 1996 Ig Nobel Biodiversity Prize after claiming that humans once used to be approximately 3.5mm in height, on average.


22. Dr. Elena Bodnar is a Ukrainian physician, who has a US Patent for inventing a brassiere that in an emergency, can act as a pair of protective face masks. She was awarded the Ig Nobel Public Health Prize for it in 2009.


23. Wright Laboratory won the 2007 Ig Noble Peace Prize for “instigating research and development on a chemical weapon” called ‘The Gay Bomb.’ It would be a bomb that when used, discharges female sex pheromones over enemy forces in order to make them sexually attracted to each other.


24. The Pepsi-Cola company of the Philippines won the 1993 Ig Nobel Peace Prize “for sponsoring a contest to create a millionaire and then announcing the wrong winning number, which incited and united 800,000 expectant winners, bringing many warring factions together for the first time in their nation’s history.”


25. A team of four scientists discovered that biochemically, romantic love may be indistinguishable from having severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. This research led to them being awarded the Ig Noble Prize in Chemistry for the year 2000.

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