Every year, we salute a select and elite group of scientists, artists, writers, and peace activists who, through extraordinary accomplishment, have bettered humanity. These...are not those people. Instead, the Ig Nobel Prize, a parody of the Nobel Prize, is awarded to the zanier side of science, things which, according to the founders of the Ig Nobel Prize, "make people laugh and then make them think." This year's winners have been announced, and highlights include:
- Medicine: Brian Witcombe of Gloucester, UK, and Dan Meyer of Antioch, Tennessee, USA, for their penetrating medical report "Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects." Apparently the most common side effect is "sore throat."
- Chemistry: Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin -- vanilla fragrance and flavoring -- from cow dung. I was going to say something funny about this, but there's really not much more you can do.
- Linguistics: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and NÃºria SebastiÃ¡n-GallÃ©s, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.
- Peace: The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon -- the so-called "gay bomb" -- that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other. That's certainly another way to look at the concept of a flaming bomb.
- Economics-: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taichung, Taiwan, for patenting a device, in the year 2001, that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them. An absolute captivating report, I assure you.
- And, last, but not least, Aviation: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek of Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina, for their discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters. It must've been a very stimulating study for these poor rodents.