Mind

And the 2012 Ig Nobel Prizes Go To... A Shut-Up Machine, Spilled Coffee, and Dead Fish Brains

By Sophie BushwickSep 21, 2012 3:58 PM

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Thursday night, we finally found out who won the most exciting awards in science! Well, maybe “exciting” isn't the best word for the 22nd Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. Perhaps I should say “bizarre,” or even “hilarious.” Every autumn, scientists from all over the world gather at Harvard to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Like the Nobel Prizes, the Ig Nobels include categories such as peace, physics, and chemistry. In fact, Nobel laureates traditionally present the awards during the ceremony.

But that's where the parallels end. It's unlikely that the Nobel Peace Prize would go to Russians who turn old ammunition into miniscule diamonds for use in medical imaging. Or that analyzing the motion of a ponytail would earn the prestigious Nobel for physics. Only the Ig Nobel Prizes would reward scientists for studying why coffee sloshes out of the cup, testing the brain activity of dead fish, creating a speech jammer, and writing a report about reports about reports.

For more coverage, including a list of all the lucky winners, read more at BBC News or Scientific American's The Scicurious Brain. And to get a better idea of what the awards actually look like---without watching the entire 2.5 hour ceremony in the top video---check out this news report on the 2011 award ceremony:

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