2010 Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded

Our friends at the Annals of Improbable Research bestowed the 2010 Ig Nobel Prizes at a festive ceremony at Harvard University last night. The prizes are for achievements that make people laugh, and then make them think, which this year included research into whale snot, bat sex, and swearing. Honors were bestowed by previous Ig Nobel winners and a few actual Nobel prize winners.
ENGINEERING PRIZE
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.

MEDICINE PRIZE
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.

TRANSPORTATION PLANNING PRIZE
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.

PHYSICS PRIZE
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.

PEACE PRIZE
Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston of Keele University, UK, for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain.

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE
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.

ECONOMICS PRIZE
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.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE
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.

MANAGEMENT PRIZE
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.

BIOLOGY PRIZE
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.

Eight of the ten winners attended the awards last night. The Public Health prize winner could not travel due to ill health, and no one wanted to accept the Economics prize. The theme for the awards ceremony was "bacteria", and entertainment included the premiere of the Bacterial Opera, about a woman and the microbes that live on her teeth. This year's trophy was designed to resemble a Petri dish. Link

(Image credit: Charles Krupa/AP)

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