List of Ig Nobel Prize winners

This is a list of Ig Nobel Prize winners from 1991 to the present day.

A parody of the Nobel Prizes, the Ig Nobel Prizes are given each year in early October—around the time the recipients of the genuine Nobel Prizes are announced—for ten achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think." Commenting on the 2006 awards, Marc Abrahams, editor of Annals of Improbable Research, co-sponsor of the awards, said: "The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative – and spur people's interest in science, medicine and technology."[1] All prizes are awarded for real achievements (except for three in 1991 and one in 1994 due to an erroneous press release).

Contents

1991

  • BiologyRobert Klark Graham, selector of seeds and prophet of propagation, for his pioneering development of the Repository for Germinal Choice, a sperm bank that accepts donations only from Nobellians and Olympians.
  • ChemistryJacques Benveniste, prolific proselytizer and dedicated correspondent of Nature, for his persistent discovery that water, H2O, is an intelligent liquid, and for demonstrating to his satisfaction that water is able to remember events long after all traces of those events have vanished (see water memory, his proposed explanation for homeopathy).
  • EconomicsMichael Milken, titan of Wall Street and father of the junk bond, to whom the world is indebted.
  • EducationJ. Danforth Quayle, consumer of time and occupier of space (as well as the U.S. Vice President from 1989–93), for demonstrating, better than anyone else, the need for science education.
  • LiteratureErich von Däniken, visionary raconteur and author of Chariots of the Gods?, for explaining how human civilization was influenced by ancient astronauts from outer space.
  • Medicine – Alan Kligerman, deviser of digestive deliverance, vanquisher of vapor, and inventor of Beano, for his pioneering work with anti-gas liquids that prevent bloat, gassiness, discomfort and embarrassment.
  • PeaceEdward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb and first champion of the Star Wars weapons system, for his lifelong efforts to change the meaning of peace as we know it.

Apocryphal achievements

The first nomination also featured three fictional recipients for fictional achievements.[2]

  • Interdisciplinary research: Josiah S. Carberry, for his work in psychoceramics, the study of "cracked pots."
  • Pedestrian technology: Paul DeFanti, "wizard of structures and crusader for public safety, for his invention of the Buckybonnet, a geodesic fashion structure that pedestrians wear to protect their heads and preserve their composure".
  • Physics: Thomas Kyle, for his discovery of "the heaviest element in the universe, Administratium".

1992

  • Archaeology – Eclaireurs de France (a French Scouting organization), removers of graffiti, for damaging the prehistoric paintings of two Bisons in the Cave of Mayrière supérieure near the French village of Bruniquel.[3]
  • Art – Presented jointly to Jim Knowlton, modern Renaissance man, for his classic anatomy poster "Penises of the Animal Kingdom," and to the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, for encouraging Mr. Knowlton to extend his work in the form of a pop-up book.
  • BiologyDr. Cecil Jacobson, relentlessly generous sperm donor, and prolific patriarch of sperm banking, for devising a simple, single-handed method of quality control.
  • Chemistry – Ivette Bassa, constructor of colourful colloids, for her role in the crowning achievement of twentieth century chemistry, the synthesis of bright blue Jell-O.
  • Economics – The investors of Lloyd's of London, heirs to 300 years of dull prudent management, for their bold attempt to ensure disaster by refusing to pay for their company's losses.
  • LiteratureYuri Struchkov,[4] unstoppable author from the Institute of Organoelement Compounds[5] in Moscow, for the 948 scientific papers he published between the years 1981 and 1990, averaging more than one every 3.9 days.
  • Medicine – F. Kanda, E. Yagi, M. Fukuda, K. Nakajima, T. Ohta, and O. Nakata of the Shiseido Research Center in Yokohama, for their pioneering research study "Elucidation of Chemical Compounds Responsible for Foot Malodour," especially for their conclusion that people who think they have foot odor do, and those who don't, don't.[6]
  • Nutrition – The utilizers of SPAM, courageous consumers of canned comestibles, for 54 years of undiscriminating digestion.
  • PeaceDaryl Gates, former police chief of the City of Los Angeles, for his uniquely compelling methods of bringing people together.
  • Physics – David Chorley and Doug Bower, lions of low-energy physics, for their circular contributions to field theory based on the geometrical destruction of English crops.

1993

  • Biology – Presented jointly to Paul Williams Jr. of the Oregon State Health Division and Kenneth W. Newel of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, bold biological detectives, for their pioneering study, "Salmonella Excretion in Joy-Riding Pigs".[7]
  • Chemistry – Presented jointly to James Campbell and Gaines Campbell of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, dedicated deliverers of fragrance, for inventing scent strips, the odious method by which perfume is applied to magazine pages.
  • Consumer Engineering – Presented to Ron Popeil, incessant inventor and perpetual pitchman of late night television, for redefining the industrial revolution with such devices as the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone, and the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler.
  • Economics – Presented to Ravi Batra of Southern Methodist University, shrewd economist and best-selling author of The Great Depression of 1990 (ISBN 978-0-440-20168-7) and Surviving the Great Depression of 1990, (ISBN 978-0-671-66324-7) for selling enough copies of his books to single-handedly prevent worldwide economic collapse.
  • Literature – Presented to T. Morrison,E. Topol, R. Califf, F. Van de Werf, P. W. Armstrong, and their 972 co-authors,[8] for publishing a medical research paper which has one hundred times as many authors as pages. The authors are from the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Mathematics – Presented to Robert W. Faid of Greenville, South Carolina, farsighted and faithful seer of statistics, for calculating the exact odds (710,609,175,188,282,000 to 1) that Mikhail Gorbachev is the Antichrist.[9]
  • Medicine – Presented to James F. Nolan, Thomas J. Stillwell, and John P. Sands, Jr., medical men of mercy, for their painstaking research report, "Acute Management of the Zipper-Entrapped Penis".[10]
  • Peace – The Pepsi-Cola Company of the Philippines, for sponsoring a contest to create a millionaire, and then announcing the wrong winning number, thereby inciting and uniting 800,000 riotously expectant winners, and bringing many warring factions together for the first time in their nation's history.[11]
  • Physics – Presented to Corentin Louis Kervran of France, ardent admirer of alchemy, for his conclusion that the calcium in chickens' eggshells is created by a process of cold fusion.[12]
  • Psychology – Presented jointly to John Edward Mack of Harvard Medical School and David M. Jacobs of Temple University, for their conclusion that people who believe they were kidnapped by aliens from outer space, probably were—and especially for their conclusion, "the focus of the abduction is the production of children".[13]
  • Visionary Technology – Presented jointly to Jay Schiffman of Farmington Hills, Michigan, crack inventor of AutoVision, an image projection device that makes it possible to drive a car and watch television at the same time, and to the Michigan State Legislature, for making it legal to do so.

1994

  • Biology – Presented to W. Brian Sweeney, Brian Krafte-Jacobs, Jeffrey W. Britton, and Wayne Hansen, for their breakthrough study, "The Constipated Serviceman: Prevalence Among Deployed US Troops," and especially for their numerical analysis of bowel movement frequency.[14]
  • Chemistry – Presented to Texas State Senator Bob Glasgow, wise writer of logical legislation, for sponsoring the 1989 drug control law which makes it illegal to purchase beakers, flasks, test tubes, or other laboratory glassware without a permit.
  • Economics – Presented to Juan Pablo Dávila of Chile, tireless trader of financial futures and former employee of the state-owned company Codelco, for instructing his computer to "buy" when he meant "sell". He subsequently attempted to recoup his losses by making increasingly unprofitable trades that ultimately lost 0.5 percent of Chile's gross national product. Davila's relentless achievement inspired his countrymen to coin a new verb, "davilar", meaning "to botch things up royally".
  • Entomology – Presented to Robert A. Lopez of Westport, NY, valiant veterinarian and friend of all creatures great and small, for his series of experiments in obtaining ear mites from cats, inserting them into his own ear, and carefully observing and analyzing the results.[15]
  • Literature – Presented to L. Ron Hubbard, ardent author of science fiction and founding father of Scientology, for his crackling Good Book, Dianetics, which is highly profitable to mankind, or to a portion thereof.
  • Mathematics – Presented to The Southern Baptist Church of Alabama, mathematical measurers of morality, for their county-by-county estimate of how many Alabama citizens will go to Hell if they don't repent.
  • Medicine – Two prizes. First, to Patient X, formerly of the US Marine Corps, valiant victim of a venomous bite from his pet rattlesnake, for his determined use of electroshock therapy. At his own insistence, automobile spark plug wires were attached to his lip, and the car engine revved to 3,000 rpm for five minutes. Second, to Dr. Richard C. Dart of the Rocky Mountain Poison Center and Dr. Richard A. Gustafson of The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, for their well-grounded medical report, "Failure of Electric Shock Treatment for Rattlesnake Envenomation."[16]
  • Peace – Presented to John Hagelin of Maharishi University and The Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy, for his experimental conclusion that 4,000 trained meditators caused an 18 percent decrease in violent crime in Washington, D.C..[17]
  • Psychology – Presented to Lee Kuan Yew, former Prime Minister of Singapore, for his thirty-year study of the effects of punishing three million citizens of Singapore whenever they spat, chewed gum, or fed pigeons.

Apocryphal achievements, no longer officially listed

  • Physics – Presented to The Japanese Meteorological Agency, for its seven-year study of whether earthquakes are caused by catfish wiggling their tails. This winner is not officially listed, as it was based on what turned out to be erroneous press accounts.

1995

  • Chemistry – Presented to Bijan Pakzad of Beverly Hills, for creating DNA Cologne and DNA Perfume, neither of which contain deoxyribonucleic acid, and both of which come in a triple helix bottle.
  • Dentistry – Presented to Robert H. Beaumont, of Shoreview, Minnesota, for his incisive study "Patient Preference for Waxed or Unwaxed Dental Floss."[18]
  • Economics – Presented jointly to Nick Leeson and his superiors at Barings Bank and to Robert Citron of Orange County, California for using the calculus of derivatives to demonstrate that every financial institution has its limits.
  • Literature – Presented to David B. Busch and James R. Starling, of Madison, Wisconsin, for their research report, "Rectal Foreign Bodies: Case Reports and a Comprehensive Review of the World's Literature." The citations include reports of, among other items: seven light bulbs; a knife sharpener; two flashlights; a wire spring; a snuff box; an oil can with potato stopper; eleven different forms of fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs; a jeweler's saw; a frozen pig's tail; a tin cup; a beer glass; and one patient's remarkable ensemble collection consisting of spectacles, a suitcase key, a tobacco pouch and a magazine.[19]
  • Medicine – Presented to Marcia E. Buebel, David S. Shannahoff-Khalsa, and Michael R. Boyle, for their study entitled "The Effects of Unilateral Forced Nostril Breathing on Cognition."[20]
  • Nutrition – Presented to John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta, for Luak Coffee, the world's most expensive coffee, which is made from coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luak, a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia.
  • Peace – Presented to the Taiwan National Parliament, for demonstrating that politicians gain more by punching, kicking and gouging each other than by waging war against other nations.
  • Physics – Presented to Dominique M.R. Georget, R. Parker, and Andrew C. Smith of Norwich, England, for their rigorous analysis of soggy breakfast cereal. It was published in the report entitled "A Study of the Effects of Water Content on the Compaction Behaviour of Breakfast Cereal Flakes."[21]
  • Psychology – Presented to Shigeru Watanabe, Junko Sakamoto, and Masumi Wakita, of Keio University, for their success in training pigeons to discriminate between the paintings of Picasso and those of Monet.[22]
  • Public Health – Presented to Martha Kold Bakkevig of Sintef Unimed in Trondheim, Norway, and Ruth Nielsen of the Technical University of Denmark, for their exhaustive study, "Impact of Wet Underwear on Thermoregulatory Responses and Thermal Comfort in the Cold."[23]

1996

  • Art – Presented to Don Featherstone of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, for his ornamentally evolutionary invention, the plastic pink flamingo. Featherstone was the first Ig Nobel Prize winner to appear in person at the awards ceremony to accept the award.[24]
  • Biodiversity – Presented to Chonosuke Okamura of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory in Nagoya, Japan, for discovering the fossils of dinosaurs, horses, dragons, and more than one thousand other extinct "mini-species", each of which is less than 0.25 mm in length.
  • Biology – Presented jointly to Anders Barheim and Hogne Sandvik of the University of Bergen, Norway, for their report, "Effect of Ale, Garlic, and Soured Cream on the Appetite of Leeches."[25]
  • Chemistry – Presented to George Goble of Purdue University, for his blistering world record time for igniting a barbecue grill: three seconds, using charcoal and liquid oxygen.[26]
  • Economics – Presented to Dr. Robert J. Genco of the University at Buffalo for his discovery that "financial strain is a risk indicator for destructive periodontal disease."[27]
  • Literature – Presented to the editors of the journal Social Text for eagerly publishing meaningless research that they could not understand, which claimed that reality does not exist. (See Sokal Affair for details).
  • Medicine – Presented to James Johnston of R.J. Reynolds, Joseph Taddeo of U.S. Tobacco, Andrew Tisch of Lorillard, William Campbell of Philip Morris, Edward A. Horrigan of Liggett Group, Donald S. Johnston of American Tobacco Company, and Thomas E. Sandefur, Jr., chairman of Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, for their unshakable discovery, as testified to the U.S. Congress, that nicotine is not addictive.
  • Peace – Presented to Jacques Chirac, President of France, for commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Hiroshima with atomic bomb tests in the Pacific.
  • Physics – Presented to Robert Matthews of Aston University, England, for his studies of Murphy's Law, and especially for demonstrating that toast often falls on the buttered side.[28]
  • Public Health – Presented to Ellen Kleist of Nuuk, Greenland and Harald Moi of Oslo, Norway, for their cautionary medical report "Transmission of Gonorrhea Through an Inflatable Doll."[29]

1997

1998

  • Chemistry – Presented to Jacques Benveniste of France, for his homeopathic discovery that not only does water have memory, but that the information can be transmitted over telephone lines and the Internet.[36]
  • Biology – Presented to Peter Fong of Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for contributing to the happiness of clams by giving them Prozac.[37]
  • Economics – Presented to Richard Seed of Chicago for his efforts to stoke up the world economy by cloning himself and other human beings.[38]
  • Literature – Presented to Dr. Mara Sidoli of Washington, DC, for her illuminating report, "Farting as a Defence Against Unspeakable Dread".[39]
  • Medicine – Presented to Patient Y and to his doctors, Caroline Mills, Meirion Llewelyn, David Kelly, and Peter Holt, of Royal Gwent Hospital, in Newport for the cautionary medical report, "A Man Who Pricked His Finger and Smelled Putrid for 5 Years."[40]
  • Peace – Presented to Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, for their aggressively peaceful detonations of atomic bombs.
  • Physics – Presented to Deepak Chopra of The Chopra Center for Well Being, La Jolla, California, for his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness.[41]
  • Safety Engineering – Presented to Troy Hurtubise, of North Bay, Ontario, for developing and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears.
  • Science Education – Presented to Dolores Krieger, Professor Emerita, New York University, for demonstrating the merits of therapeutic touch, a method by which nurses manipulate the energy fields of ailing patients by carefully avoiding physical contact with those patients.
  • Statistics – 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".[42]

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

  • Biology – Presented to C.W. Moeliker, of Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for documenting the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.[64]
  • Chemistry – Presented to Yukio Hirose of Kanazawa University, for his chemical investigation of a bronze statue, in the city of Kanazawa, that fails to attract pigeons.
  • Economics – Presented to Karl Schwärzler and the nation of Liechtenstein, for making it possible to rent the entire country for corporate conventions, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other gatherings.
  • Engineering – Presented to John Paul Stapp, Edward A. Murphy, Jr., and George Nichols, for jointly giving birth in 1949 to Murphy's Law, the basic engineering principle that "If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, someone will do it" (or, in other words: "If anything can go wrong, it will").
  • Interdisciplinary Research – Presented to Stefano Ghirlanda, Liselotte Jansson, and Magnus Enquis of Stockholm University, for their inevitable report "Chickens Prefer Beautiful Humans."[65]
  • Literature – Presented to John Trinkaus, of the Zicklin School of Business, New York City, for meticulously collecting data and publishing more than 80 detailed academic reports about things that annoyed him, such as:
    • What percentage of young people wear baseball caps with the peak facing to the rear rather than to the front;
    • What percentage of pedestrians wear sport shoes that are white rather than some other color;
    • What percentage of swimmers swim laps in the shallow end of a pool rather than the deep end;
    • What percentage of automobile drivers almost, but not completely, come to a stop at one particular stop-sign;
    • What percentage of commuters carry attaché cases;
    • What percentage of shoppers exceed the number of items permitted in a supermarket's express checkout lane;
    • What percentage of students dislike the taste of Brussels sprouts.
  • Medicine – Presented to Eleanor Maguire, David Gadian, Ingrid Johnsrude, Catriona Good, John Ashburner, Richard Frackowiak, and Christopher Frith of University College London, for presenting evidence that the hippocampi of London taxi drivers are more highly developed than those of their fellow citizens.[66]
  • Peace – Presented to Lal Bihari, of Uttar Pradesh, India, for a triple accomplishment: First, for leading an active life even though he has been declared legally dead; second, for waging a lively posthumous campaign against bureaucratic inertia and greedy relatives; and third, for creating the Association of Dead People. Lal Bihari overcame the handicap of being dead, and managed to obtain a passport from the Indian government so that he could travel to Harvard to accept his Prize. However, the U.S. government refused to allow him into the country. His friend Madhu Kapoor therefore came to the Ig Nobel Ceremony and accepted the Prize on behalf of Lal Bihari. Several weeks later, the Prize was presented to Lal Bihari himself in a special ceremony in India.
  • Physics – Presented to Jack Harvey, John Culvenor, Warren Payne, Steve Cowle, Michael Lawrance, David Stuart, and Robyn Williams of Australia, for their irresistible report "An analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces".[67]
  • Psychology – Presented to Gian Vittorio Caprara and Claudio Barbaranelli of the University of Rome La Sapienza, and to Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University, for their discerning report "Politicians' Uniquely Simple Personalities".[68]

2004

2005

  • Agricultural History – Presented to James Watson of Massey University, New Zealand, for his scholarly study, "The Significance of Mr. Richard Buckley's Exploding Trousers".[75]
  • Biology – Presented jointly to Benjamin Smith of the University of Adelaide, Australia and the University of Toronto, Canada and the Firmenich perfume company, Geneva, Switzerland, and ChemComm Enterprises, Archamps, France; Craig Williams of James Cook University and the University of South Australia; Michael Tyler of the University of Adelaide; Brian Williams of the University of Adelaide; and Yoji Hayasaka of the Australian Wine Research Institute; for painstakingly smelling and cataloging the peculiar odors produced by 131 different species of frogs when the frogs were feeling stressed.[76][77]
  • Chemistry – Presented jointly to Edward Cussler of the University of Minnesota and Brian Gettelfinger of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, for conducting a careful experiment to settle the longstanding scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup or in water? It was found that swimmers in the experiment reach comparable velocity in both media.[78][79]
  • Economics – Presented to Gauri Nanda of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for inventing Clocky, an alarm clock that runs away and hides, repeatedly, thus ensuring that people get out of bed, and thus theoretically adding many productive hours to the workday.
  • Fluid Dynamics – Presented jointly to Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow of International University Bremen, Germany and the University of Oulu, Finland; and József Gál of Loránd Eötvös University, Hungary, for using basic principles of physics to calculate the pressure that builds up inside a penguin, as detailed in their report "Pressures Produced When Penguins Poo—Calculations on Avian Defecation".[80]
  • Literature – Presented to the Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters—General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others—each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them. (See advance fee fraud.)
  • Medicine – Presented to Gregg A. Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri, for inventing Neuticles—artificial replacement testicles for dogs, which are available in three sizes, and three degrees of firmness.
  • Nutrition – Presented to Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu of Tokyo, Japan, for photographing and retrospectively analyzing every meal he has consumed during a period of 34 years (and counting).
  • Peace – Presented jointly to Claire Rind and Peter Simmons of University of Newcastle, in the UK, for electrically monitoring the activity of a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected highlights from the movie Star Wars.[81]
  • Physics – Presented jointly to John Mainstone and Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland, Australia, for patiently conducting the so-called pitch drop experiment that began in the year 1927—in which a glob of congealed black tar pitch has been slowly dripping through a funnel, at a rate of approximately one drop every nine years.[82]

2006

2007

  • Aviation: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek, for discovering that hamsters recover from jetlag more quickly when given Viagra.[91][92]
  • Biology: Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk, for taking a census of all the mites and other life forms that live in people's beds.[93]
  • Chemistry: Mayu Yamamoto for extracting vanilla flavour from cow dung.[94]
  • Economics: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, for patenting a device to catch bank robbers by ensnaring them in a net.[95]
  • Linguistics: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Nuria Sebastian-Galles, for determining that rats sometimes can't distinguish between recordings of Japanese and Dutch played backward.[96]
  • Literature: Glenda Browne, for her study into indexing entries that start with the definitive article "the".[97]
  • Medicine: Dan Meyer and Brian Witcombe, for investigating the side-effects of swallowing swords.[98]
  • Nutrition: Brian Wansink, for investigating people's appetite for mindless eating by secretly feeding them a self-refilling bowl of soup.[99]
  • Peace: The United States Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, for suggesting the research and development of a "gay bomb," which would cause enemy troops to become sexually attracted to each other.
  • Physics: L. Mahadevan and Enrique Cerda Villablanca for their theoretical study of how sheets become wrinkled.[100]

2008

The "18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony" was held on 2 October 2008 at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre.[101]

  • Archaeology: Astolfo Gomes de Mello Araujo and Jose Carlos Marcelino, for showing that armadillos can mix up the contents of an archaeological site.[102][103]
  • Biology: Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc, for discovering that fleas that live on dogs jump higher than fleas that live on cats.[104]
  • Chemistry: Sheree Umpierre, Joseph Hill, and Deborah Anderson, for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide,[105] and C.Y. Hong, C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang for accidentally proving it is not.[106][107]
  • Cognitive science: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero, Akio Ishiguro, and Ágota Tóth, for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles.[108][109]
  • Economics: Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tyber, and Brent Jordan, for discovering that exotic dancers earn more when at peak fertility.[110]
  • Literature: David Sims, for his study "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations".[111][112]
  • Medicine: Rebecca Waber and Dan Ariely for demonstrating that expensive placebos are more effective than inexpensive placebos.[113][114]
  • Nutrition: Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence, for demonstrating that food tastes better when it sounds more appealing.[115][116]
  • Peace: The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology and the citizens of Switzerland, for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.[117]
  • Physics: Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith, for proving that heaps of string or hair will inevitably tangle.[118]

2009

  • Biology: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas.[119][120]
  • Chemistry: Javier Morales, Miguel Apatiga, and Victor M. Castano of Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, for creating diamond film from tequila.[121][122]
  • Economics: The directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic banks—Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir Bank, and Central Bank of Iceland—for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly transformed into huge banks, and vice versa (and for demonstrating that similar things can be done to an entire national economy).
  • Literature: Ireland's police service for writing and presenting more than 50 traffic tickets to a Polish individual, by the name of "Prawo Jazdy". Mr. "Jazdy" was widely thought to be the most frequent driving offender in Ireland, until an investigation uncovered the fact that Prawo Jazdy is the Polish term for "Driving License".[123]
  • Mathematics: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers by having his bank print notes with denominations ranging from one cent to one hundred trillion dollars.
  • Medicine: Donald L. Unger of Thousand Oaks, California, US, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand but not his right hand every day for 50 years.[124]
  • Peace: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali, and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining whether it is better to be hit on the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.[125]
  • Physics: Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, Daniel E Lieberman of Harvard University, and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas, all in the US, for analytically determining why pregnant women do not tip over.[126]
  • Public Health: Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, US, for inventing a bra that can be quickly converted into a pair of gas masks—one for the wearer and one to be given to a needy bystander.[127]
  • Veterinary medicine: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, UK, for showing that cows with names give more milk than cows that are nameless.[128]

2010

  • Biology: Libiao Zhang, Min Tan, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, and Shuyi Zhang of China, and Gareth Jones of the University of Bristol, UK, for scientifically documenting fellatio in fruit bats.[129]
  • Chemistry: Eric Adams, Scott Socolofsky, Stephen Masutani and BP, for disproving the old belief that oil and water don't mix.[130]
  • Economics: The executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Magnetar for creating and promoting new ways to invest money—ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.
  • Engineering: Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London, UK, and Diane Gendron of Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Baja California Sur, Mexico, for perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter.[131]
  • Management: Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.[132]
  • Medicine: Simon Rietveld of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Ilja van Beest of Tilburg University, The Netherlands, for discovering that symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller coaster ride.[133]
  • Peace: Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston of Keele University, UK, for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain.[134]
  • Physics: Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest of the University of Otago, for demonstrating that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes.[135]
  • Public Health: Manuel Barbeito, Charles Mathews, and Larry Taylor of the Industrial Health and Safety Office, Fort Detrick for determining by experiment that microbes cling to bearded scientists.[136]
  • Transportation Planning: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi of Japan, and Dan Bebber, Mark Fricker of the UK, for using slime mold to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks.[137]

2011

  • Biology: Daryll Gwynne and David Rentz for discovering that certain kinds of beetle mate with certain kinds of Australian beer bottle.[138]
  • Chemistry: Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami for determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm.[139][140]
  • Literature: John Perry of Stanford University for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which states: "To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that's even more important."[141][142][143]
  • Mathematics: Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of Korea (who predicted the world would end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of Uganda (who predicted the world would end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who originally predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994, and later predicted that the world will end on May 21, 2011, which preceded his final prediction on October 21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.
  • Medicine: Mirjam Tuk, Debra Trampe and Luk Warlop,[144] and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder, Robert Feldman, Robert Pietrzak, David Darby and Paul Maruff[145] for demonstrating that people make better decisions about some kinds of things – but worse decisions about other kinds of things – when they have a strong urge to urinate.
  • Peace: Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running over them with a tank.[146][147]
  • Psychology: Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo, Norway, for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.[148]
  • Physics: Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne, Bruno Ragaru and Herman Kingma for trying to determine why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers don't, in their paper "Dizziness in discus throwers is related to motion sickness generated while spinning".[149]
  • Physiology: Anna Wilkinson, Natalie Sebanz, Isabella Mandl and Ludwig Huber for their study "No evidence of contagious yawning in the red-footed tortoise Geochelone carbonaria".[150]
  • Public safety: John Senders of the University of Toronto, Canada, for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.[151]

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