The most prestigious awards in the world are probably the Nobel prizes. They not only come with a huge amount of prestige, but a hefty amount of cash, as well. The first Nobel awards were presented in 1901, and as you probably know, they've been funded since year one by the estate of Alfred Nobel, inventor of nitroglycerin and dynamite, who obviously wanted to leave a lasting legacy that didn't go boom.
Ninety years after the first Nobel prize was awarded, a spoof of the Nobel prize was presented for the first time.
|The Stinker, Ig Nobel symbol|
The Ig Nobel (pronounced ig-no-BELL) prize, a play on the word ignoble, and an American parody of the Nobel prizes, is awarded for the ten most unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. Organized by The Annals of Improbable Research, a scientific humor magazine, the awards are presented at Harvard University each year, and the presenters are actual Nobel laureate winners. The aim of these awards? First make people laugh, and then make them think. The whimsical-looking awards, suitable for hanging on a bathroom wall, go to serious scientists whose studies may be a bit, shall we say, offbeat. (For example, last year's engineering prize was awarded for a method of collecting whale snot with a remote-controlled helicopter.)
Recently, in a celebration completely devoid of decorum or pomp, this year's winners were feted by the scientific community. Winners included: for chemistry, the inventors of a wasabi-based fire alarm; for medicine, a study that shows decisions can be influenced when we reeeeally have to pee; and for biology, the discovery of a beetle that likes to mate with a beer bottle. American John Perry took the prize in literature 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 even more important." And my personal favorite award went to the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, who scored the Ig Nobel Peace prize for demonstrating the problems of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running over them with an armored tank.
|Peaceful parking through tanks.|
Just goes to show ya. Science isn't all serious all the time. The entire ceremony of this year's Ig awards can be found on Youtube, if you care to take a gander, but here's a really cool (and short) promo you may enjoy.
What's kinda cool is scientists from all over the world dip into their own funds to attend these ceremonies. Allegedly, very few of the recipients turn down the prizes or fail to show up to accept them. Makes me wonder how some other scientists might have responded to an invitation. Here's what I think :
- Audubon would probably wing it.
- Ampere's passport wouldn't be current.
- Darwin would wait to see what evolved.
- Boyle would be under too much pressure to attend.
- Edison would consider it an illuminating experience.
- Einstein would find it relatively easy to attend.
- Ohm might resist the idea.
- Pavlov would drool at the thought.
- Pierre and Marie Curie would radiate enthusiasm.
- Watt would consider it a great way to let off steam.
- Volta would be electrified at the invitation, and Archimedes, absolutely buoyant.
Enough. Just remember: scientists aren't mad, by golly. Their senses of humor can be just as wacky as ours. And science really can be fun.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.