Ig Nobel Prizes honour slime, Coke and jumping flea research

6th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Ig Nobel Prizes, a semi-serious alternative to the Nobel Prize takes a humours look at an unconventional world of science.

6 October 2008

MASSACHUSETTS -- High jumping fleas, fertile lap dancers and archaeological armadillos - these were just a few of the research subjects that bestowed the less than highly coveted Ig Nobel Prizes on 10 lucky scientists Thursday night in a ceremony at Harvard University.

The semi-serious alternatives to the imminent Nobel prizes are awarded annually by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research. They are designed to reward scientific achievements which "cannot, or should not, be reproduced" and research that "first makes people laugh, and then makes them think".

The Nutrition prize went to two scientists who showed how food tasted different according to which soundtrack was played at the time of consumption. For instance, research subjects said that crisps tasted better when crunchy sounds were played.

The Ig Nobel Economics Prize went to a team that discovered that lap dancers earned higher tips when they were ovulating, while the Chemistry Prize went to researchers who investigated whether Coca Cola was an effective spermicidal.

The Archaeology Award went to Astolfo G Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how the contents of an archaeological dig site can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.

The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology and the citizens of Switzerland won the Peace Prize for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity, while the Cognitive Science Prize was awarded to a team of Japanese researchers who showed that slime molds could find their way out of a maze.

The Biology Prize went to a trio of researchers from Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, in France, for discovering that fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.

Dan Ariely of Duke University in the US won the Medicine Prize for showing that high-priced fake medicine worked better than cheap fake medicine.

US researchers Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith won the Mathematics Prize for proving that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots, while the Literature Prize went to David Sims for his passionately written study You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations.

[dpa / Expatica]

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