If yet another Nobel Prize has slipped through your fingers this year then fear not – next year perhaps you could aim for an Ig Nobel
|The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University|
The 2006 Ig Nobel Prizes – honouring achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think – have been awarded in a ceremony filled with cheese, woodpeckers, picky dung beetles and rectal massages.
"The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative – and stimulate people’s interest in science, medicine and technology," said Marc Abrahams, editor of the science humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research, which sponsors the awards.
Winners this year included Ivan R. Schwab, of University of California, and the late Philip R.A. May of the University of California Los Angeles, for exploring and explaining why woodpeckers don’t get headaches (the answer lies in a shock absorbing tongue by the way); Wasmia Al-Houty of Kuwait University and Faten Al-Mussalam of the Kuwait Environment Public Authority, for showing that dung beetles are finicky eaters; and Antonio Mulet, José Javier Benedito and José Bon of the University of Valencia, Spain, for their study “Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature.”
The awards highlight that even science that seems funny or absurd can have considerable merit. A perfect example of this was the winner of the Medicine prize.
Francis M. Fesmire of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, scooped the award for his medical case report “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage”. After encountering a patient suffering from a bout of hiccups that had lasted for three days, Dr Fesmire tried conventional cures such as pulling the patient’s tongue and making him gag, but found they didn’t work, so he decided to try something new.
“Quite why Dr Fesmire decided to try this in the first place I’m not sure. But that is why he is a pioneer of medical science, and I am not.” Said Abrahams.
The awards were handed out by genuine Nobel Laureates at Harvard University in the US.