The 2006 IgNobel Prize

As most will already know, the 2006 Nobel Prizes for Physics, Medicine and Chemistry have been announced, with the remaining prizes for Economics, Literature and Peace to be announces soon. However, I’m not going to go into the details of boring, stereotyped scientific crap like that. Instead I’ll draw your attention to the fact that, much more importantly, it that time of year again – the annual highlight of the dubious research category – the highly anticipated 2006 IgNobel Prizes. Here’s a summary of this year’s prizes.

  • ORNITHOLOGY: Ivan R. Schwab and Philip R.A. May, for exploring and explaining why woodpeckers don’t get headaches.
  • NUTRITION: Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Mussalam, for showing that dung beetles are finicky eaters.
  • PEACE: Howard Stapleton, for inventing an electromechanical teenager repellant — a device that makes annoying noise designed to be audible to teenagers but not to adults; and for later using that same technology to make telephone ringtones that are audible to teenagers but not to their teachers.
  • ACOUSTICS: D. Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand, for conducting experiments to learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.
  • MATHEMATICS: Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes, for calculating the number of photographs you must take to (almost) ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their eyes closed.
  • LITERATURE: Daniel Oppenheimer, for his report “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.”
  • MEDICINE: Francis M. Fesmire, Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven, for their report titled “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage.”
  • PHYSICS: Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, for their insights into why, when you bend dry spaghetti, it often breaks into more than two pieces.
  • CHEMISTRY: Antonio Mulet, José Javier Benedito, José Bon and Carmen Rosselló, for their study “Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature.”
  • BIOLOGY:Bart Knols and Ruurd de Jong, for showing that the female malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae is attracted equally to the smell of limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet.
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