Working hard today? Then you’ve earned a coffee break and a little levity. In a world where intelligence is too often valued over content, it’s amusing, refreshing, and yes, even entertaining to share the names of the winners of the 2015 IG Nobel Prize Awards, given by the Annals of Improbable Research (in counterpoint to the Nobel Prize awards). In keeping within the framework of an auspicious awards program, actual Nobel winners handed out the spoof awards to winners who traveled at their own expense to the gala event held at Harvard University. And sure, the event was webcast. In case you missed the ceremony, and it’s mathematically probable that you did, here are the winners:
- The Economics Prize was awarded to the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Department (Thailand) for offering to pay its officers “extra cash” for not taking bribes.
- A weighted stick was attached to a chicken’s bottom to demonstrate how dinosaurs might have walked; that won a Biology Award for Chileans Bruno Grossi, Omar Larach, Mauricio Canals, and Rodigo A. Vasquez — and for Jose Iriarte-Diaze, who represented Chile and the U.S.A. (And aren’t we proud the USA was represented in that group?)
- Mammals, regardless of size, take about 21 seconds to empty their bladders (give or take 13 seconds). That finding won the Physics Prize for Patricia Yang (USA), David Hu (Taiwan), Jonathan Pham (USA) and Jerome Choo (USA). The research was published in the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 111 no.33 if you doubt the importance of the findings.
- Yes, it’s possible to father 888 children in 30 years, as was mathematically proven by Elizabeth Oberzaucher (Austria) and Karl Grammer (Germany). They showed how Moulay Ismael, the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, fathered a small town of children by himself in the 17th century.
- The Literature Prize went to Mark Dingemanse (USA), Francisco Torreira (Belgium, USA) and Nick J. Enfield (Australia). All three winners were also credited with representing the Netherlands for some reason. They won for proving that the word “huh” exists in every language. Huh? Eh? Hein? Ha? Xm? Va?
- Most of us know how to boil an egg, but the Chemistry Prize went to a group of researchers who proved it is possible to partially un-boil one with chemicals. Callum Ormonde (Austria), Colin Rason (Austria), Tom Yuan (USA), Stephan Kudlacek (USA), Sameeran Kunch (USA), Joshua N. Smith (USA), William Brown (USA), Kaitlin Pugliese (USA), Trivoli Olsen (USA), Mariam Iftikhar(USA) and Gregory Weiss (USA) also noodled out how to do this. Which came first – the experiment or the chemicals?
- The Physiology and Entomology Prize was jointly awarded to Justin Schmidt (USA, Canada) for creating the “Schmidt Sting Pain Index” which rates the relative pain felt when stung by various insects, and to Michael Smith (USA, U.K. and The Netherlands) for allowing honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different body areas. You can likely guess where the sting hurt the most.
- And finally, what happens as a result of intensive kissing or other such intimacies? Two teams of researchers won a Medicine Prize for their conclusion that swapping spit decreases skin allergies. Hajime Kimata (Japan, China), Jaroslava Durdiakova (Slovakia, USA, U.K.) and Peter Celek (Slovakia, Germany), along with Slovanians Natalia Kamodyova, Tatiana Sedlackova, Gabriela Repiska, Barbara Sviezena and Gabriel Minarik took home the honors.
Those who couldn’t attend were allowed to send video acceptance speeches which, one can only imagine, must have been a semi-serious hoot.