“The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.”
The 2008 winners were announced at a ceremony on October 2, 2008 held at Harvard University. A sampling of the winners includes:
NUTRITION PRIZE. Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.
REFERENCE: The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips, Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence, Journal of Sensory Studies, vol. 19, October 2004, pp. 347-63.
PHYSICS PRIZE. Dorian Raymer of the Ocean Observatories Initiative at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, and Douglas Smith of the University of California, San Diego, USA, for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots.
REFERENCE: Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String, Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 104, no. 42, October 16, 2007, pp. 16432-7.
BIOLOGY PRIZE. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.
REFERENCE: A Comparison of Jump Performances of the Dog Flea, Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis, 1826) and the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis (Bouche, 1835), M.C. Cadiergues, C. Joubert, and M. Franc, Veterinary Parasitology, vol. 92, no. 3, October 1, 2000, pp. 239-41.