Curious Achievements: 40 Captivating Ig Nobel Prize Winners

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1Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson

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.”

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.”

5. 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.

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6US General Accountability Office

US General Accountability Office

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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.”

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11Limburger Cheese

Limburger Cheese

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.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

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16Gay Bomb

Gay Bomb

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.

17. 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.”

18. 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.

19. The 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for Biology was awarded jointly to Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of and spend time roaming hills of the Alps in the company of goats.

20. The 2016 Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a group of 7 researchers for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile.

21Bee Sting Pain

Bee Sting Pain

In 2015, the Ig Nobel prize under Physiology and Entomology category was awarded to two individuals: Justin Schmidt, for painstakingly creating the Schmidt sting pain index, which rates the relative pain people feel when stung by various insects; and to Michael L. Smith, for carefully arranging for honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, to learn which locations are the least painful (the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm) and which are the most painful (the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft).

22. In 2001, Televangelists Jack and Rexella Van Impe won the Ig Nobel Prize in Astrophysics “for their discovery that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements to be the location of Hell.”

23. Ponytail Shape Equation and Rapunzel number can be used to calculate the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail. It takes into account the stiffness of the hair fibers, the effects of gravity, and the presence of the random curliness of human hair. The study was awarded Ig Nobel in Physics in 2012.

24. In 2011, Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus made it illegal to applaud in public. Consequently, the 2011 Ig Nobel Peace prize was given to the Belarus State Police for arresting a one-armed man for clapping.

25. The 2001, Ig Nobel Prize in Biology was presented to Buck Weimer for inventing air-tight underpants that could filter bad-smelling gases through a charcoal filter.

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