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29 Years of the Ig Nobel Prize

Jump to navigation Jump to search This is a list of Ig Nobel Prize winners from 1991 to the present day.[1]A parody of the Nobel Prizes, the Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded each year in mid-September, 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 and co-sponsor of the awards, said that "[t]he prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative, and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology".[2] All prizes are awarded for real achievements, except for three in 1991 and one in 1994, due to an erroneous press release. 1991 Biology – Robert Klark

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This is a list of Ig Nobel Prize winners from 1991 to the present day.[1]

A parody of the Nobel Prizes, the Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded each year in mid-September, 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 and co-sponsor of the awards, said that "[t]he prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative, and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology".[2] All prizes are awarded for real achievements, except for three in 1991 and one in 1994, due to an erroneous press release.


Apocryphal achievements

The first nomination also featured three fictional recipients for fictional achievements.[6]

  • 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".


  • ArchaeologyÉclaireurs 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.[7]
  • 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 20th 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,[8] unstoppable author from the Institute of Organoelement Compounds[9] 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.[10]
  • 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.


  • 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".[11]
  • 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,[12] 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.[13]
  • 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".[14]
  • 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.[15]
  • 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.[16]
  • Psychology – Presented jointly to John E. 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".[17]
  • 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.


  • 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.[18]
  • 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.[19]
  • 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.[20]
  • 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."[21]
  • 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.[22]
  • 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.

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.[23]


  • 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".[24]
  • 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.[25]
  • 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."[26]
  • 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 Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China (Taiwan), for demonstrating that "politicians gain more by punching, kicking and gouging each other than by waging war against other nations", in the context of legislative violence.
  • 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."[27]
  • 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.[28]
  • 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."[29]









  • Biology – Presented to Kees Moeliker, of Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for documenting the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.[73]
  • 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 due to its arsenic content.[74]
  • 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.[75]
  • 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."[76]
  • 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.[77]
  • 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".[78]
  • 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".[79]


It has been suggested that the study of this phenomenon has had major political consequences. Following the sensational stranding of a Soviet submarine deep inside Swedish waters on 27 October 1981, the Swedish navy initiated a large-scale campaign to guard Swedish territorial waters from the perceived threat of infiltration by foreign submarines, despite the Soviets consistently asserting that the stranding had occurred due to navigational errors. The "submarine hunts", which lasted throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, have been a heavily debated issue in Sweden, as to whether or not there ever was any factual substance to the claims of Soviet infiltration. One widely reported piece of "evidence" were several sound recordings of what the Swedish navy suspected to be foreign submarines. Oceanographers and marine biologists were invited to study the recordings and would eventually find that the sounds heard were most probably produced not by submarines, but in fact were the noises made when herring passed gas. In a reportage by the Swedish science magazine "Vetenskapens värld" ("World of science") televised on 16 April 2012, it's suggested that these findings were important in putting an end to the costly "submarine hunts" which had continued for more than a decade, with Ig Nobel laurate Håkan Westerberg guessing that this would have saved Swedish tax payers hundreds of millions in SEK.[82]


  • Agricultural History – Presented to James Watson of Massey University, New Zealand, for his scholarly study, "The Significance of Mr. Richard Buckley's exploding trousers".[90]
  • 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.[91][92]
  • 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?[93][94]
  • 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".[95]
  • 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[96]
  • 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.[97]



  • Aviation: Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek, for discovering that hamsters recover from jetlag more quickly when given Viagra.[107][108]
  • 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.[109]
  • Chemistry: Mayu Yamamoto for extracting vanilla flavour from cow dung.[110]
  • Economics: Kuo Cheng Hsieh, for patenting a device to catch bank robbers by ensnaring them in a net.[111]
  • 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.[112]
  • Literature: Glenda Browne, for her study into indexing entries that start with the definitive article "the".[113]
  • Medicine: Dan Meyer and Brian Witcombe, for investigating the side-effects of swallowing swords.[114]
  • Nutrition: Brian Wansink, for investigating people's appetite for mindless eating by secretly feeding them a self-refilling bowl of soup.[115]
  • 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.[116]
  • Physics: Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan and Enrique Cerda Villablanca for their theoretical study of how sheets become wrinkled.[117]


The "18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony" was held on 2 October 2008 at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre.[118]




  • Biology: Darryl Gwynne and David Rentz for discovering that certain kinds of beetle mate with certain kinds of Australian beer bottle.[155]
  • 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.[156][157]
  • 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."[158][159][160]
  • 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 6 September 1994, and later predicted that the world would end on 21 May 2011, which preceded his final prediction on 21 October 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.
  • Medicine: Mirjam Tuk, Debra Trampe and Luk Warlop,[161] and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder, Robert Feldman, Robert Pietrzak, David Darby and Paul Maruff 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.[162]
  • Peace: Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with a tank.[163][164] (Note, the vehicle used was not a tank, but a BTR-60 Armoured personnel carrier.)[165]
  • Psychology: Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo, Norway, for trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.[166]
  • 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".[167]
  • 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".[168]
  • 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 their face, blinding them.[169]


  • Acoustics: Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada for creating the SpeechJammer – a machine that disrupts a person's speech by making them hear their own spoken words at a very slight delay.[170]
  • Anatomy: Frans de Waal and Jennifer Pokorny, for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually by seeing photographs of their anogenital regions (their behinds).[171]
  • Chemistry: Johan Pettersson, for solving the puzzle of why, in certain new houses in the town of Anderslöv, Sweden, people's hair turned green. Water pipes connected to these houses lacked coatings, so hot water left in the pipes overnight peeled copper from them, leading to very high copper levels in the water.[172]
  • Fluid dynamics: Rouslan Krechetnikov and Hans Mayer for studying the dynamics of liquid sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee.[173]
  • Literature: The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.[174]
  • Medicine: Emmanuel Ben-Soussan and Michel Antonietti, for advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.[175][176]
  • Neuroscience: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford, for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere – even in a dead salmon.[177]
  • Peace: The SKN Company, for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds.[178][179]
  • Physics: Joseph Keller, Raymond E. Goldstein, Patrick Warren, and Robin Ball, for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail.[180]
  • Psychology: Anita Eerland, Rolf Zwaan, and Tulio Guadalupe for their study "Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller".[181]


  • Archaeology: Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl, for parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing the shrew without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days—all so they could see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system, and which bones would not.[182]
  • Biology/Astronomy: Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clarke Scholtz, and Eric Warrant, for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.[183]
  • Chemistry: Shinsuke Imai, Nobuaki Tsuge, Muneaki Tomotake, Yoshiaki Nagatome, Toshiyuki Nagata, and Hidehiko Kumagai, for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realized.[184]
  • Medicine: Masateru Uchiyama, Xiangyuan Jin, Qi Zhang, Toshihito Hirai, Atsushi Amano, Hisashi Bashuda and Masanori Niimi, for assessing the effect of listening to opera on mice which have had heart transplant operations.[185]
  • Peace: Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, and to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.[186]
  • Probability: Bert Tolkamp, Marie Haskell, Fritha Langford, David Roberts, and Colin Morgan, for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.[187]
  • Physics: Alberto Minetti, Yuri Ivanenko, Germana Cappellini, Nadia Dominici, and Francesco Lacquaniti, for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond—if those people and that pond were on the moon.[188]
  • Psychology: Laurent Bègue, Brad Bushman, Oulmann Zerhouni, Baptiste Subra, and Medhi Ourabah, for confirming, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.[189]
  • Public Health: Kasian Bhanganada, Tu Chayavatana, Chumporn Pongnumkul, Anunt Tonmukayakul, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Krit Komaratal, and Henry Wilde, for the medical techniques described in their report "Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam"—techniques which they recommend, except in cases where the amputated penis had been partially eaten by a duck.[190]
  • Safety Engineering: The late Gustano Pizzo, for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers—the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane's specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival. (U.S. Patent 3,811,643)


  • Arctic on Science: Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestøl, for testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.[191]
  • Art: Marina de Tommaso, Michele Sardaro, and Paolo Livrea, for measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a powerful laser beam.[192]
  • Biology: Vlastimil Hart, Petra Nováková, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Vladimír Hanzal, Miloš Ježek, Tomáš Kušta, Veronika Němcová, Jana Adámková, Kateřina Benediktová, Jaroslav Červený and Hynek Burda, for carefully documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth's north-south geomagnetic field lines.[193]
  • Economics: ISTAT – the Italian government's National Institute of Statistics, for including revenue from illegal drug sales, prostitution, smuggling, etc., in GDP reporting, in order to meet an EU regulatory mandate.[194]
  • Medicine: Ian Humphreys, Sonal Saraiya, Walter Belenky and James Dworkin, for treating "uncontrollable" nosebleeds, using the method of nasal-packing-with-strips-of-cured-pork.[195]
  • Neuroscience: Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Shubham Bose, Jie Tian, and Kang Lee, for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.[196]
  • Nutrition: Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofré, Belén Martín, Teresa Aymerich, and Margarita Garriga, for their study titled "Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages."[197]
  • Physics: Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that's on the floor.[198]
  • Psychology: Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.[199][200]
  • Public Health: Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlíček and Jitka Hanušova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.[201]



  • Chemistry: Callum Ormonde and Colin Raston, and Tom Yuan, Stephan Kudlacek, Sameeran Kunche, Joshua N. Smith, William A. Brown, Kaitlin Pugliese, Tivoli Olsen, Mariam Iftikhar, Gregory Weiss, for inventing a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg.[203]
  • Physics: Patricia Yang, David Hu, and Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo, for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).[204]
  • Literature: Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira, and Nick J. Enfield, for discovering that the word "huh?" (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language—and for not being quite sure why.[205]
  • Management: Gennaro Bernile, Vineet Bhagwat, and P. Raghavendra Rau, for discovering that many business leaders developed in childhood a fondness for risk-taking, when they experienced natural disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and wildfires) that—for them—had no dire personal consequences.[206]
  • Economics: The Bangkok Metropolitan Police, for offering to pay policemen extra cash if the policemen refuse to take bribes.[207]
  • Medicine: Awarded jointly to two groups: Hajime Kimata; and to Jaroslava Durdiaková, Peter Celec, Natália Kamodyová, Tatiana Sedláčková, Gabriela Repiská, Barbara Sviežená, and Gabriel Minárik, for experiments to study the biomedical benefits or biomedical consequences of intense kissing (and other intimate, interpersonal activities).[208][209][210][211]
  • Mathematics: Elisabeth Oberzaucher and Karl Grammer, for trying to use mathematical techniques to determine whether and how Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty, the Sharifian Emperor, managed, during the years from 1697 through 1727, to father 888 children.[212]
  • Biology: Bruno Grossi, Omar Larach, Mauricio Canals, Rodrigo A. Vásquez, José Iriarte-Díaz, for observing that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked.[213]
  • Diagnostic Medicine: Diallah Karim, Anthony Harnden, Nigel D'Souza, Andrew Huang, Abdel Kader Allouni, Helen Ashdown, Richard J. Stevens, and Simon Kreckler, for determining that acute appendicitis can be accurately diagnosed by the amount of pain evident when the patient is driven over speed bumps.[214]
  • Physiology and Entomology: Awarded jointly to two individuals: Justin Schmidt, for painstakingly creating the Schmidt sting pain index, which rates the relative pain people feel when stung by various insects;[215] and to Michael L. Smith, for carefully arranging for honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, to learn which locations are the least painful (the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm) and which are the most painful (the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft).[216]



  • Reproduction: The late Ahmed Shafik, for testing the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats,[218] and for then conducting similar tests on the human male.[219]
  • Economics: Mark Avis and colleagues, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.[220]
  • Physics: Gabor Horvath and colleagues, for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof horses,[221] and for discovering why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.[222]
  • Chemistry: Volkswagen, for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.
  • Medicine: Christoph Helmchen and colleagues, for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).[223]
  • Psychology: Evelyne Debey and colleagues, for asking a thousand liars how often they lie, and for deciding whether to believe those answers.[224]
  • Peace: Gordon Pennycook and colleagues, for their scholarly study called "On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit".[225]
  • Biology: Awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.
  • Literature: Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.
  • Perception: Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.[226]


The ceremony took place on 14 September 2017.[227][228]

  • Physics: Marc-Antoine Fardin, for using fluid dynamics to probe the question "Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?"[229]
  • Peace: Milo Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz, and Otto Braendli, for demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring.[230]
  • Economics: Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer, for their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble.[231]
  • Anatomy: James Heathcote, for his medical research study "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?"[232]
  • Biology: Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, and Charles Lienhard, for their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect.[233]
  • Fluid Dynamics: Jiwon Han, for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee.[234]
  • Nutrition: Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo Torres, for the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat.[235]
  • Medicine: Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly and Tao Jiang, for using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese.[236]
  • Cognition: Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, and Salvatore Maria Aglioti, for demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell each other apart visually.[237]
  • Obstetrics: Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte, for showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly.[238] Fetal Acoustic Stimulation Device, patent ES2546919B1, granted September 29, 2015 to Luis y Pallarés Aniorte and Maria Luisa López-Teijón Pérez.


The ceremony took place on 13 September 2018.[239]

  • Medicine: Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger, for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones.[240]
  • Anthropology: Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, for collecting evidence, in a zoo, that chimpanzees imitate humans about as often, and about as well, as humans imitate chimpanzees.[241]
  • Biology: Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jörger, and Peter Witzgall, for demonstrating that wine experts can reliably identify, by smell, the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine.[242]
  • Chemistry: Paula Romão, Adília Alarcão and the late César Viana, for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces.[243]
  • Medical Education: Akira Horiuchi, for the medical report "Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy."[244]
  • Literature: Thea Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, for documenting that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual.[245]
  • Nutrition: James Cole, for calculating that the caloric intake from a human-cannibalism diet is significantly lower than the caloric intake from most other traditional meat diets.[246]
  • Peace: Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge, Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Jaime Sanmartín, Constanza Calatayud, and Beatriz Alamar, for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile.[247]
  • Reproductive Medicine: John Barry, Bruce Blank, and Michel Boileau, for using postage stamps to test whether the male sexual organ is functioning properly—as described in their study "Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps."[248]
  • Economics: Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa Keeping, for investigating whether it is effective for employees to use Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses.[249]


The ceremony took place on 12 September 2019.[250]

  • Medicine: Silvano Gallus, for collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illness and death, if the pizza is made and eaten in Italy.[251]
  • Medical Education: Karen Pryor and Theresa McKeon, for using a simple animal-training technique—called “clicker training”—to train surgeons to perform orthopedic surgery.[252]
  • Biology: Ling-Jun Kong, Herbert Crepaz, Agnieszka Górecka, Aleksandra Urbanek, Rainer Dumke, and Tomasz Paterek, for discovering that dead magnetized cockroaches behave differently than living magnetized cockroaches.[253]
  • Anatomy: Roger Mieusset and Bourras Bengoudifa, for measuring scrotal temperature asymmetry in naked and clothed postmen in France.[254]
  • Chemistry: Shigeru Watanabe, Mineko Ohnishi, Kaori Imai, Eiji Kawano, and Seiji Igarashi, for estimating the total saliva volume produced per day by a typical five-year-old child.[255]
  • Engineering: Iman Farahbakhsh, for inventing a diaper-changing machine for use on human infants.[256]
  • Economics: Habip Gedik, Timothy A. Voss, and Andreas Voss, for testing which country’s paper money is best at transmitting dangerous bacteria.[257]
  • Peace: Ghada A. bin Saif, Alexandru Papoiu, Liliana Banari, Francis McGlone, Shawn G. Kwatra, Yiong-Huak Chan, and Gil Yosipovitch, for trying to measure the pleasurability of scratching an itch.[258]
  • Psychology: Fritz Strack, for discovering that holding a pen in one’s mouth makes one smile,[259] which makes one happier—and for then discovering that it does not.[260]
  • Physics: Patricia Yang, Alexander Lee, Miles Chan, Alynn Martin, Ashley Edwards, Scott Carver, and David Hu, for studying how, and why, wombats make cube-shaped faeces.[261]


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Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

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