It’s Ig Nobel Prize season again!

A brief description:

The Ig® Nobel Prizes

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.

“Last, but not least, there are the Ig Nobel awards. These come with little cash, but much cachet, and reward those research projects that ‘first make people laugh, and then make them think’” — Nature

The video of last night’s ceremony is archived here.

Here are some highlights, or low lights, if you prefer from this year’s list of Laureates, including a few shocking Canadian and even Toronto connections:

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami of JAPAN, 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.

REFERENCE: US patent application 2010/0308995 A1. Filing date: Feb 5, 2009.

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Makoto Imai, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami

LITERATURE PRIZE: John Perry of Stanford University, USA, for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which says: To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that’s even more important.

REFERENCE: “How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done,” John Perry, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 23, 1996. Later republished elsewhere under the title “Structured Procrastination.”

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Colleague Deborah Wilkes accepted the prize on behalf of Professor Perry.

BIOLOGY PRIZE: Darryl Gwynne (of CANADA and AUSTRALIA and the UK and the USA) and David Rentz (of AUSTRALIA and the USA) for discovering that a certain kind of beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle

REFERENCE: “Beetles on the Bottle: Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies for Females (Coleoptera),” D.T. Gwynne, and D.C.F. Rentz, Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, vol. 22, , no. 1, 1983, pp. 79-80

REFERENCE: “Beetles on the Bottle,” D.T. Gwynne and D.C.F. Rentz, Antenna: Proceedings (A) of the Royal Entomological Society London, vol. 8, no. 3, 1984, pp. 116-7.

ATTENDING THE CEREMONY: Darryl Gwynne and David Rentz

PUBLIC SAFETY PRIZE: 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.

REFERENCE: “The Attentional Demand of Automobile Driving,” John W. Senders, et al., Highway Research Record, vol. 195, 1967, pp. 15-33. VIDEO



  1. #1 Nora
    September 30, 2011

    Thanks for the chuckle. I especially kliked the mathematics prize (hint – you msut open the link to “this year’s laureates”. :-)

  2. #2 Nora
    September 30, 2011

    Too bad I can’t spell, though! Must have been laughing too hard. Let’s try “I especially *liked* the mathematics prize”

  3. #3 cabbagediet
    October 6, 2011

    Thanks for the chuckle. I especially kliked the mathematics prize– Must have been laughing too hard. vey friday a day cabbagediet…

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