For the past 23 years, there has been one event devoted to the funniest and most unusual scientific and social discoveries.
This year’s Ig Nobel winners do not disappoint.
The First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony (it’s always the First Annual, even though it has been taking place for more than two decades), sponsored by the science humor magazine Annals Improbable Research, drew together actual Nobel laureates at Harvard University to present the Ig Nobel awards.
Here are six of the recipients (but be sure to check out the full list for more):
- “‘Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder’: People Who Think They Are Drunk Also Think They Are Attractive”: This study took home the Psychology Prize. It should be pretty self-explanatory as to what the findings were.
- “Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation”: This was a joint prize in the biology and astronomy category. TheBlaze actually reported about the research when it was published, so be sure to check out our previous coverage for more.
- “Anti Hijacking System for Aircraft”: the prize for engineering safety went to now-deceased Gustano Pizzo for his 1972 patent for an “anti hijacking system for aircraft.” Here’s how the system works, according to Improbable Research: “The system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane’s specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival.”
- “Humans Running in Place on Water at Simulated Reduced Gravity”: Anyone can walk on water, according to this research that won the physics prize. The stipulations are that the person and the pond would have to be on a surface like the moon.
- Keeping the Peace: Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, took a peace prize, though he wasn’t present to accept it, for making it illegal to applaud in public. The Belarus State Police also were included in the prize for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.
- “Are Cows More Likely to Lie Down the Longer They Stand?”: The answer to this question is particularly useful for cow tippers who want to know the probability of a cow to be standing when they arrive for said tipping. Hence, the probability prize was awarded to this research, which found 1) if a cow has been lying down for a long time, it is likely the cow will soon stand up; and 2) “once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again,” according to Improbable Research.
Editor Marc Abrahams, who organized the ceremony, said the point is to make people laugh and then think.
“The combination of science that is funny on its own — not because someone is making a joke, but it is funny — that’s an unusual notion in the United States,” he said. “It is becoming more acceptable again.”
For the first time, the winners received cash prizes: $10 trillion — in Zimbabwe dollars. So they’ll each get about four U.S. dollars.
In addition to the research itself often being somewhat humorous, the awards ceremony is usually silly as well. This year included a mini-opera and a contest to win a date with a Nobel laureate.
The winners of Ig Nobel prizes will give short speeches Saturday at MIT.
For more, check out TheBlaze’s coverage of last year’s Ig Nobel winners.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.