Humourless Scientists at Work
The 2007 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October
4, at the 17th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's
Sanders Theatre. Here are the winners.
NOTE: For details see
NOTE: A video recording of the ceremony is, or very soon will be,
viewable at <http://improbable.com/ig/2007/webcast/>.
MEDICINE: Brian Witcombe of Gloucester, UK, and Dan Meyer of
Antioch, Tennessee, USA, for their penetrating medical report
"Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects."
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Brian Witcombe and Dan Meyer
PHYSICS: L. Mahadevan of Harvard University, USA, and Enrique
Cerda Villablanca of Universidad de Santiago de Chile, for
studying how sheets become wrinkled.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, and
Enrique Cerda Villablanca's sister Mariela.
BIOLOGY: Prof. Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk of Eindhoven
University of Technology, The Netherlands, for doing a census of
all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans,
bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds each
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk
CHEMISTRY: Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of
Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin -- vanilla
fragrance and flavoring -- from cow dung.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Mayu Yamamoto
PRESS NOTE: Toscanini's Ice Cream, the finest ice cream shop in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, created a new ice cream flavor in honor
of Mayu Yamamoto, and introduced it at the Ig Nobel ceremony. The
flavor is called "Yum-a-Moto Vanilla Twist."
LINGUISTICS: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria
Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that
rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person
speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: The winners could not travel to the
ceremony, so they instead delivered their acceptance speech via
LITERATURE: Glenda Browne of Blaxland, Blue Mountains, Australia,
for her study of the word "the" -- and of the many ways it causes
problems for anyone who tries to put things into alphabetical
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Glenda Browne
PEACE: The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for
instigating research & development on a chemical weapon -- the
so-called "gay bomb" -- that will make enemy soldiers become
sexually irresistible to each other.
NUTRITION: Brian Wansink of Cornell University, for exploring the
seemingly boundless appetites of human beings, by feeding them
with a self-refilling, bottomless bowl of soup.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Brian Wansink.
ECONOMICS: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taichung, Taiwan, for patenting a
device, in the year 2001, that catches bank robbers by dropping a
net over them.
NOTE: The Ig Nobel Board of Governors attempted repeatedly to
find Mr. Hsieh, but he seemed to have vanished mysteriously.
But... Mr. Hsieh reportedly has seen a news account of the Ig
Nobel ceremony, and contacted the news agency. We hope to be in
touch with him soon.]
AVIATION: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A.
Golombek of Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina, for their
discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters.