No, not the Noble Prize given by the Noble Foundation (started by Alfred Noble) an international prize awarded annually for outstanding work in the arts, sciences, world peace, etc. I'm talking about the Ig Nobel Prize, and the name is a pun combining the words "the Nobel Prize" and "ignoble". Photo Credit: Morguefile
According to Improbable Research's website, "The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology."
The event is held every year Harvard University and the prizes are traditionally handed out by real Nobel laureates.
So what kind person can win an Ig Nobel Prize? No comedians, all real and serious scientists, and all for real projects, the 2012 winners included:
- The psychology prize went to Anita Eerland, Rolf Zwaan and Tulio Guadalupe for their study "Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller"
- The physics prize went to Joseph Keller, Raymond Goldstein, Patrick Warren, and Robin Ball, for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail.
- The fluid dynamics prize went to Rouslan Krechetnikov and Hans Mayer for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.
- The anatomy prize went to Frans de Waal and Jennifer Pokorny for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends.
- And my favorite, the medicine prize that went to Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.
But if you doubt the caliber of any of the above scientists and researchers, know this, that one Ig Nobel Prize winner later received the real Nobel Prize. Physicist, Andre Geim won the former by making frogs levitate with the help of a magnet, and he won the latter with his invention of an ultra firm but very light substance, produced from carbon named graphene.<p>
BTW, the 2012 literature prize went to the US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports. And that's for real.