2010 Ig Nobel Prizes To 10 Strange & Funny Scientific Studies

Read this, if you want to die laughing...

Celebrating its 20th anniversary of Ig Nobel Awards on September 30 at Harvard University, Improbable Research granted 10 Ig Awards to some of the most hilarious scientific studies you will ever hear about.  They are laughable, but then they make you think, which is the main objective of the Ig Nobels.  So, laugh and then think as you read about these winning discoveries.


1. The Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine Asthma?  Keep riding the roller coaster!: image via simplemlmsponsoring.comAsthma? Keep riding the roller coaster!: image via simplemlmsponsoring.com

Psychologists Simon Rietveld and Ilja van Beest from the University of Amsterdam found that breathing difficulties of asthmatics were actually more intense before their first roller coaster ride than after repeated roller coaster rides. (study published in Science Direct)





2. The Ig Nobel Prize in Physics

Physicist Lianne Parkin and her team of researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand, won the Ig in Physics for the discovery that people are less likely to slip on ice if they wear socks over their shoes. (published in The New Zealand Medical Journal)


3. The Ig Nobel Prize in BiologyShort nosed fruit bats go for it!: image via afcd.gov.hkShort nosed fruit bats go for it!: image via afcd.gov.hk

British biologist from Bristol University, along with colleagues in China, discovered the first non-human species to engage in fellatio - the short-nosed fruit bat.  Also, that the females who perform fellatio on their mates engage in longer periods of copulation.  Does oral sex increase pleasure in short-nosed fruit bats?  (study published in Plos One)



4. The Ig Nobel Prize in Peace

Richard Stephens and his team of researchers from Keele University swore that swearing helps relieve pain perception as opposed to neutral words; but swearing also increased heart rate. (published in the Neuro Report)


Whale double blow holes.: image via becci.comWhale double blow holes.: image via becci.com 5.   The Ig Nobel Prize in Engineering

The collection of fluid ejected from whale blowholes was the project selected for the engineering prize.  Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and team from the Institute of Zoology, London, attached petri dishes to the underside of small, remotely controlled helicopters that hover over the whales' blowholes to collect the fluid.  (published in Animal Conservation)




6. The Ig Nobel Prize in Transportation

Mark Fricher and Dan Bebber from Oxford University, working with Japanese scientists, created a biomimetic model of an effective railway network based on the way slime mold grows and affects the linking of porridge oats. (study published in Science Magazine)


Beards can screw up lab research results.: image from superstock.comBeards can screw up lab research results.: image from superstock.com

7. The Ig Nobel Prize in Public Health

Thank goodness that Manuel Barbeito from the Industrial Health and Safety Office in Maryland discovered that beards collect microbes; otherwise we'd have bearded scientists in the lab, which would, of course, make them "a potential laboratory hazard." This study was conducted in 1967, thank heavens!  (study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology)





8. The Ig Nobel Prize in Management

Now this is a totally counterintuitive management style, but mathematician Alessadro Pluchino and his team at the University of Catania used a game theory approach to demonstrate that companies are more efficient when workers are promoted randomly, rather than being promoted because of competence. (study published in Arxiv.org)


9. The Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Did you know that oil and water do mix? Eric Adams, MIT, and other researchers from BP won this prize for their experiments in oil spills, that showed that oil and water behave differently in deep oil spills. (The reference included by Improbable Research (http://www.boemre.gov/tarprojects/377.htm), unfortunately, does not refer to Adam's study, but I think this may be it.)


Bonus money?: image via crooksandliars.comBonus money?: image via crooksandliars.com

10.  The Ig Nobel Prize in Economics

This prize went jointly to "The executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, AIG and Magnetar for 'creating and promoting new ways to invest money – ways that maximise financial gain and minimise financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.' " (unpublished study)



Hope you had fun reading the 2010 Ig Award list.  If you would like to have more fun, check out the 2009 Ig Award winners.


sources: Improbable Research, Guardian, and the references supplied in the article.


Oct 3, 2010
by Anonymous

I'm finding this very hard to believe

Much as this was a very entertaining read, I just can't bring myself to completely buy it. I'm not making a blatant accusation of fabrication, but the Nobel prize is awarded to scientists, economists, and philanthropists who accomplished something greater than everybody else in their field - the world over.

How could they possibly claim that observing bats giving blow jobs and roller-coasters reducing asthma, somehow contributed advancements to science as significant-and-more as everything else biologists and doctors had discovered that year? I too have read (and once employed) that cursing can increase acute pain threshold, but I can't say it's exactly changed my life for the better.

I'm sorry - I honestly can't see any reason for making this stuff up (except maybe some cheap laughs) - but there's just no plausible scenario in which I can see the Nobel Committee deciding that animal fellatio was the most important biological discovery of the year.

Something doesn't smell right...

Oct 3, 2010
by Myra Per-Lee

What doesn't smell right...

Is that these are not the Nobel awards... these are the Ig Nobel awards which are a parody of the Nobel awards. I did not make these up.  They are REAL awards.  Why not follow the links to the sources?