The Ig Nobel prizes, the satiric awards that ‘honour’ the weirdest of scientific discoveries since 1991 have just announced heir winners of this year and it has only gotten weirder. A team of scientists were honoured for determining the safest way to transport a rhino- upside down while it is airborne, another got it for search on reasons as to why pedestrians collide with one another while yet another set of researchers got the ‘honour’ for hypothesis that humans evolved beards to save themselves from getting hit in the face.
As much as they are the some of the most bizarre, we take a look at some of the most ‘out there’ winners of the Ig Nobel Prize. The awards are given away under various categories such as Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Public Health, Literature and so on.
In 2009,a group of scientists got the award for “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.”
In the year 1999, Dr Len Fisher won the prize for calculating one of the most notorious and sought after answer to a problem-the best way to dunk a biscuit in tea. The prize was tied between Fisher and Professor Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck and Joseph Keller who determined how to teapot spout that does not drip.
Erich von Däniken, the author of Chariots of the Gods? got it in the firts year in 1991 for explaining how human civilization was influenced by ancient astronauts from outer space.
In 2009, Katherine Whitcome, Daniel E Lieberman and Liza Shapiro won the prize in Physics for analysing why pregnant women do not tip over. The same year, under the award for ‘Peace’, a couple of researchers also were awarded the prize for determining whether it is better to be hit on the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.
In 2012, the US Government General Accountability Office won the prize in literature for “issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.” Phew! Still trying to figure that one out.
Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl won the prize in 2013 for parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing it without chewing. The experiment probed that during excretion, which bones would dissolve in the human digestive system and which wont.
In 2014, Peter K Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons won the prize in psychology for putting together evidence that people who habitually stay up late are usually ‘more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic’ than people who are early morning risers.
The Southern Baptist Church of Alabama in 1994 won the award as mathematical measurers of morality, for their county-by-county estimate of how many Alabama citizens will go to Hell if they don’t repent for sins.
In 2020, PM Narendra Modi became the second Indian Prime Minister to get the award for “using the COVID-19 pandemic to teach the world that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists can”. Modi shared the same with several other world leaders, including Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Donald Trump of the US, Vladimir Putin of Russia among others.