Ahh, the wonders of science! But some science is just a little more wonderful than others. For the really great and wonderful science there are the Nobel Prizes. For the off-the-beaten-path and unusual science, Harvard University’s Annals of Improbable Research magazine awards the “Ig Nobel” Prizes, touted as “research that makes people laugh and then think.” Prizes were doled out Oct. 1, but if you are in the Massachusetts area, you might want to attend a free lecture given by the winners on Oct. 3 at 1:00 pm EDT. Here are the 2009 winners:
Veterinary medicine: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson for showing that cows with names give more milk than unnamed cows.
Peace: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl for investigating whether it is better to be struck over the head with a full beer bottle or with an empty beer bottle.
Economics: Executives of four Icelandic banks for showing how tiny banks can become huge banks, and then become tiny banks again.
Chemistry: Javier Morales, Miguel Apatiga and Victor Castaño for creating diamonds out of tequila.
Medicine: Donald Unger for cracking just the knuckles on his left hand for 60 years to see whether knuckle-cracking contributes to arthritis.
Physics: Katherine Whitcome, Liza Shapiro and Daniel Lieberman for figuring out why pregnant women don’t tip over.
Literature: The Irish national police for issuing 50 tickets to one Prawo Jazdy, which in Polish means “driver’s license.”
Public health: Elena Bodnar, Raphael Lee and Sandra Marijan for inventing a brassiere than can be converted into a pair of gas masks.
Mathematics: Gideon Gono and the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank for printing bank notes in denominations from 1 cent to $100 trillion.
Biology: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu and Zhang Guanglei for demonstrating that bacteria in panda poop can help reduce kitchen waste by 90%.
Source: Annals of Improbable Research.