2009 Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded To 10 Distinguished Researchers And Innovators

The 19th first annual Ig® Nobel Prizes were awarded on October 1, 2009 at Harvard University's Sanders Room in front of a standing room only audience! Check out these awards.  You will learn about things you've always wondered like why don't pregnant women tip over, how can your girlfriend help you during a chemical war, and whether beer bottles make better candle holders than head busters.  Ten awards you'll want to vie for next year: Ig Nobel Prizes in Peace, Literature, Physics, Medicine, Economics...

And the winners are...


1.  The 2009 Ig Nobel Peace Prize

via Planet Savevia Planet Save went to  Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle. "Are Full or Empty Beer Bottles Sturdier and Does Their Fracture-Threshold Suffice to Break the Human Skull?"  (Answers: Yes and Yes)  Now that's peaceful, isn't it?



2. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize In Medicine

via Fit Sugarvia Fit Sugar went to Donald L. Unger, of Thousand Oaks, California, USA, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand — but never cracking the knuckles of his right hand — every day for more than 50 years. 

Though I could not find the study in print, I did find some letters to the editor of the journal, including one from Dr. Unger, that indicated he found no relationship between knuckle cracking and arthritis, at least in his own left hand.  He was trying to de-bunk a myth that mothers tell children about why they shouldn't crack their knuckles.  "This result calls into question whether other parental beliefs, e.g., the importance of eating spinach, are also flawed," Dr. Unger wrote. 



3. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize In Literature

went to Ireland's police service (An Garda Siochana), for writing and presenting more than fifty traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country — PrawoJazdy — whose name in Polish means "Driving License."





4. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize In Economics

Image: Nordicphotos/Alamy via Guardian UKImage: Nordicphotos/Alamy via Guardian UK went to the directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic banks — Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir Bank, and Central Bank of Iceland — for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly transformed into huge banks, and vice versa — and for demonstrating that similar things can be done to an entire national economy.  (The Icelandic economy actually recessed more than our economy in the U.S. and had no bailout.)



5. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize In Chemistry

I'll take that one! (via Zimbio.com)I'll take that one! (via Zimbio.com)

went to Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for creating diamonds from tequila.  I'll take mine straight please, without the ring.

The Growth of Diamond Films From Tequila was published in 2008 and was proposed as an alternate way to produce diamond film for industrial uses.




6. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize In Physics

 from PregnantBellyPictures.blogspot.comfrom PregnantBellyPictures.blogspot.com

went to Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, USA, Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard University, USA, and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas, USA, for analytically determining why pregnant women don't tip over.

Fetal load and the evolution of lumbar lordosis in bipedal hominins is the reason. Lumbar lordosis is the hollow back or "saddle back" a woman develops to compensate for the distribution of her body weight in her belly.  This can become painful, even after pregnancy, if the curve is not corrected.



7. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize In Public Health

went to Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander. The patent for a “Garment Device Convertible to One or More Facemasks” explains how this is done.

Just tear off your bra and share it.   Below, inventor
Elena Bodnar kindly converts half of her bra to a gas mask for Wolfgang Ketterle, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics.


 Photograph by Steven Senne, APPhotograph by Steven Senne, AP

 via National Geographic News


8. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize In Mathematics

Zimbabwe currency via asapafrica.orgZimbabwe currency via asapafrica.org went to Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of number by printing bank notes in denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000).   I certainly would have been better in math if I had to figure the speed of money traveling from surplus to deficit instead of the speed of a darn train leaving the station.






9. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize In Biology

Love me, love my poop! (Giant panda from Vienna Zoo)Love me, love my poop! (Giant panda from Vienna Zoo) went to Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas.

The study, Microbial treatment of kitchen refuse with enzyme-producing thermophilic bacteria from Giant Panda feces, was conducted in 2001.  Perhaps, it has just come to the surface -- in someone's kitchen!




10. The 2009 Ig Nobel Prize In Veterinary Medicine

This cow is milked with love. (via visitbuckinghamshire.org)This cow is milked with love. (via visitbuckinghamshire.org) went to  Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK, for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless. 

Exploring Stock Managers' Perceptions of the Human-Animal Relationship on Dairy Farms and an Association with Milk Production proves that cows that fear humans produce much less milk than cows who have positive human relationships. In a survey of more than 500 British farm stock managers, it was learned that cows with names produce 258 liters more milk than unnamed cows in the same time period.






The Ig Nobel prizes are an annual event of Improbable Research, Research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.  Every year, real Nobel Prize winners show up to the Ig Nobels to join in the fun and the discussions of the winning works.