The Ig Nobel Prize is a parody of the Nobel Prize. It is awarded yearly to celebrate trivial or unusual contributions to science. Established in 1991, the prize "honors achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think."
Keep reading to learn more about the stuff people put up their butts, how chimpanzees feel about butts, and how farts are psychologically beneficial. Basically anything butt-related. But the Ig Nobel Prize celebrates more than just butts. It also celebrates hamsters who take Viagra to recover from jet lag.
Not Too Shabby For A Bunch Of Eggheads
In 2015, Callum Ormonde, Colin Raston, and a bunch of other chemists won the Ig Nobel Prize for Chemistry. They were awarded the prize because they created a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg.
Their paper was titled, "Shear stress-mediated refolding of proteins from aggregates and inclusion bodies," which is just a fancy way of saying they turned an egg back to runny. Super useful for anybody who habitually overcooks their breakfast.
You Know What They Say About Guys With Big Feet...
In 1998, the Ig Nobel Prize in Statistics was presented to Jerald Bain of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto and Kerry Siminoski of the University of Alberta, for their carefully measured report, "The Relationship Among Height, Penile Length, and Foot Size."
Although penile length was found to be slightly statistically related to height and foot size, the scientists found that foot size is not a reliable predictor of anything to do with penises.
The More You Toot The Better You Feel
The 1996 Ig Nobel Prize for Literature went to Mara Sidoli for her paper, "Farting as a defence against unspeakable dread."
The paper deals with a case of a young child who was born into terrible conditions. Social services removed him from his mother's care when he was just 2 months old. Sidoli argues that the boy "developed a defensive olfactive container using his bodily smell and farts to envelop himself in a protective cloud of familiarity against the dread of falling apart, and to hold his personality together."
What What In The Butt
David B. Busch and James R. Starling won the Ig Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 for their paper, "Rectal Foreign Bodies: Case Reports and a Comprehensive Review of the World's Literature."
Basically, people shove stuff where the sun don't shine, and there are permanent records of whenever that happens. Foreign bodies discussed include light bulbs, a knife sharpener, fruits and vegetables, a jeweler's saw, and a frozen pig's tail. Keep reading to learn about a guy who took his goat cosplay to the next level.
A Ph.D. candidate at York University in Toronto won the Ig Nobel Prize in Sociology for his thesis on the history of Canadian doughnut shops.
Steve Penfold published his thesis in book form in 2008. He examines how a round, fried, glazed snackfood became an edible symbol of Canadianness. I wish all of my history classes looked at the world through the hole of a doughnut.
Itchy And Scratchy
In 2016, Christoph Helmchen won the Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).
Twenty-six male right-handed volunteers were injected with an itch-inducing agent in either their left or right forearm. Then lab techs scratched them in various places, and the volunteers rated their itchiness levels on a very scientific scale.
If I Could Walk With The Animals
Another 2016 Ig Nobel Prize winner (this time in Biology), Thomas Thwaites created prosthetic limb extensions that allow him to move like a goat.
These prosthetics let Thomas spend time with goats and learn about goat behavior. He even ate grass with an artificial rumen to get the full goat experience. He wrote a book about his crazy project called, GoatMan: How I Took A Holiday From Being Human.
Thank Scientists For Blue Jell-O
In 1992, Ivette Bassa won the Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry for synthesizing the compound behind bright blue Jell-O. General Foods sent her to the ceremony in a private jet, with a team of jelly scientists all wearing bright blue lab coats.
Of course, blue Jell-O was served at the reception following the ceremony. Thanks, Ivette— blue is undeniably the best Jell-O flavor. Keep reading for a study about a pregnant lady's center of gravity.
Chimps Know A Butt When They See One
2012 was an interesting year for the Ig Nobel Prize. Frans de Waal and Jennifer Pokorny won in the Anatomy category for their discovery that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees just by looking at pictures of their behinds.
Six adult chimpanzees were trained to play a computer game. They had to match pictures of chimpanzee faces to chimpanzee butts, and they were rewarded when they got the right answer. They got the right answer when they were familiar with the chimp in the picture.
Up, Up And Away
Back in 2007, Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano, and Diego A. Golombek won the Ig Nobel Prize in Aviation for discovering that hamsters recover from jetlag more quickly when they're given Viagra.
There's a lot of fancy science behind how this works. It has to do with the chemicals in Viagra, and circadian rhythms, and all kinds of stuff that you'd need a degree to understand. What I want to know is did they actually take a bunch of hamsters on a trip around the world, or did they just artificially change their exposure to daylight? I really want to believe that there was a mass hamster excursion.
The Physics Of Pregnancy
In 2009, a group of American scientists won the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for showing why pregnant women don't just tip over. Their paper was titled, "Fetal load and the evolution of lumbar lordosis in bipedal hominins."
That's just a really complicated way of saying "how do they stand up?" Basically, women were built for this, and their spines and hips do all of the heavy lifting. The whole process does look quite front-heavy though, so I understand the inquiry.
How Real Is The Five Second Rule?
The 2004 Ig Nobel Prize in Public Health went to Jillian Clarke of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. She investigated the real truth behind the "five-second rule.
Amazingly, Jillian was just 17-years-old when she conducted this study. She used a variety of foods, floor surfaces, and floor textures to get a total picture of exactly what happens when you drop food on the floor. She discovered that if the floor is remarkably clean, then you're safe— but in most cases, it takes less than five seconds for bacteria to transfer from floor to food.
That's Just The Way The Noodle Crumbles
Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie won the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006. They thoroughly analyzed why uncooked spaghetti breaks into several pieces when it's bent.
Their abstract states, "When thin brittle rods such as dry spaghetti pasta are bent beyond their limit curvature, they often break into more than two pieces, typically three or four. With the aim of understanding these multiple breakings, we study the dynamics of a bent rod that is suddenly released at one end. We find that the sudden relaxation of the curvature at this end leads to a burst of flexural waves, whose dynamics are described by a self-similar solution with no adjustable parameters."
Hey Bro, That's Special Grafitti
In the second year the awards were given out, way back in 1992, Éclaireurs de France (a French Scouting organization), won the Ig Nobel in Archeology.
In an attempt to remove what they thought was graffiti, the organization damaged two prehistoric bison paintings in the Cave of Mayrière supérieure near the French village of Bruniquel. I guess no good deed goes unpunished, and no act of anti-vandalism goes unrewarded with an Ig Nobel.
The Comprehensive Guide To A Perfect Cup Of Tea
In 1999, the Ig Nobel Prize for Literature went to the British Standards Institutions for their six-page manual that outlines the proper way to make a cup of tea. Six. Pages.
In the document, you will find instructions about the material the teapot should be made out of, the various possible teapot sizes and volumes, the proper ratio of water to tea, correct steeping and drinking temperatures, and everything you've ever wanted to know about milk. The correct tea brewing time is exactly six minutes.
Which Bug Is Which
The 1997 Ig Nobel Prize in Entymology went to Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida. He wrote a book called That Gunk on Your Car which identifies insect splats on car windshields.
The 144-page paperback includes information about the life cycles of various insects, how they met their end on your window, and what you can do with them now. Apparently, kids love this book (because kids are gross).
Happy As A Clam
In 1998, the Ig Nobel Prize in Biology was presented to Peter Fong from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He contributed to the happiness of clams by giving them Prozac.
Basically, SSRIs like Prozac caused clams to give birth? And I guess that means that they're happy? Because happy people give birth. Sure, that makes sense. There are a lot of fancy words in Peter's abstract that I don't understand, but if he says the clams are happy, then I believe that the clams are happy.
Are Cats A Liquid Or A Solid?
2017 was Marc-Antoine Fardin's year. He won the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for his probe into the question, "Can a Cat Be Both a Liquid and a Solid?"
In his paper, Fadin cites a Bored Panda article called "Cats Are Liquids." He set out to prove the websites claim using hardcore science. He argues that because cats can take the shape of their container, they can, in fact, be classified as liquids. He compares cats to Silly Putty, another solid-liquid hybrid.
People Know When Their Feet Stink
In 1992, a group of scientists in Yokohama, Japan won the Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for their pioneering research study on the chemical compounds responsible for foot odor.
They came to the conclusion that people who think they have foot odor usually do, and people who don't, don't. Real scientific stuff. I just feel bad for all those people who were hired to smell stinky feet all day.
When Zippers Attack
The very next year, in 1993, a group of researchers led by James F. Nolan won the Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for their paper titled, "Acute management of the zipper-entrapped penis."
Their abstract goes on to explain, "A zipper-entrapped penis is a painful predicament that can be made worse by overzealous intervention. Described is a simple, basic approach to release, that is the least traumatic to both patient and provider." A necessary study if I ever saw one.