The 20th annual Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded Thursday night for "achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think." Organised by the same people who produce Annals of Improbable Research, the prizes commemorate the world's funniest research, and sometimes the world's biggest villains (BP is a winner this year). Here's a list of the 2010 prizes, with text from the official award announcements.
1. Ig Nobel Prize for 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.
2. Ig Nobel Prize for 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 rollercoaster ride.
3. Ig Nobel Prize for 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 mould to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks.
4. Ig Nobel Prize for Physics
Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams and Patricia Priest of the University of Otago, New Zealand, for demonstrating that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes.
5. Ig Nobel Peace Prize
Richard Stephens, John Atkins and Andrew Kingston of Keele University, UK, for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain.
6. Ig Nobel Prize for Public Health
Manuel Barbeito, Charles Mathews and Larry Taylor of the Industrial Health and Safety Office, Fort Detrick, Maryland, USA, for determining by experiment that microbes cling to bearded scientists.
7. Ig Nobel Prize for 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 undefined ways that maximise financial gain and minimise financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.
8. Ig Nobel Prize for Chemistry
Eric Adams of MIT, Scott Socolofsky of Texas A&M University, Stephen Masutani of the University of Hawaii and BP [British Petroleum], for disproving the old belief that oil and water don't mix.
9. Ig Nobel Prize for Management
Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, for demonstrating mathematically that organisations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.
10. Ig Nobel Prize for 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.