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article imageIg Nobel Prizes announced

By Tim Sandle     Sep 14, 2013 in Science
This week the Ig Nobel Prizes were announced. The prize originally began as a spoof; it is now awarded to unusual and amusing scientific study.
Researchers who studied stargazing dung beetles, opera-loving mice are among recipients of this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes. The Ig Nobel Prizes are an American parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October for ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. The name is a play on the words ignoble ("characterized by baseness, lowness, or meanness") and the Nobel Prize.
The stated aim of the prizes, which began in 1991, is to "honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think." Ten prizes are awarded each year in many categories, including the Nobel Prize categories of physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, literature, and peace, but also other categories such as public health, engineering, biology, and interdisciplinary research. The awards are organized by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR).
Amongst the 2013 winners were the group who received the medicine prize. This went to a team of Japanese scientists—two of whom accepted the award in mouse costumes—that investigated the effects of opera music on mice that had undergone heart transplants. The animals that listened to Verdi’s La Traviata lived after their operations nearly four times longer than those who did not receive a musical treatment, the study found.
In another example, scientists from Sweden and South Africa won the joint prize in astronomy and biology for their discovery that dung beetles navigate and orient dung balls using the Milky Way as a compass. Discussing the award, Ig Nobel-recipient Eric Warrant from the University of Lund told The Guardian: "The principles we are uncovering in dung beetle navigation may be useful in the design of autonomous vehicles and robots, although this is likely to be few years off."
A science group from Japan and Germany won the chemistry prize for their 2002 findings that suggested “the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realized.”
Similar parody awards include:
Darwin Awards – A similar award for enriching the human gene pool by idiotic self-destruction.
Golden Fleece Award – A similar award for conspicuous waste of public money.
Golden Raspberry Award – A similar award for movies.
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