Albert Einstein once said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a
Each year the Ig Nobel prizes are awarded for the worst and most pointless discoveries in science. Through the years of the award, there have been some great (and awful) prizes awarded. These are the best of the Ig Nobel Prize.
1. One Purdue University professor won an Ig Nobel in Chemistry in 1996 for the amazing feat of lighting a barbecue in a mere 3 seconds. George Goble used liquid oxygen (usually rocket fuel) to light 60 pounds of charcoal on fire.
2. In the category of Visionary Technology, Jay Schiffman really went above and beyond by creating the AutoVision. The purpose? To be able to watch TV while driving by using mirrors and a projector to show the screen floating in space in front of the driver. It addresses safety concerns by creating a head up display to let the driver know what was happening around them. Brilliant.
3. One Ig Nobel winner’s invention is still available for sale at nandahome.com. Gauri Nanda won in Economics for Clocky, an alarm clock on wheels that runs away and plays hide and seek until you find it and turn it off.
4. Some Ig Nobel winners are working with the best intentions, like Charl Fourie and Michelle Wong, a pair from South Africa who wanted to stop car hijackings that had been a problem. They created the Blaster, a burglar alarm that shoots fire jets out of the car when you press a pedal inside the car. It was awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize.
5. In 2000, Andre Geim and Sir Michael Berry won the prize in Physics by defying gravity. They used magnets to suspend a frog in midair, proving that despite frogs’ natural non-magnetic state, they can become magnetic in an electromagnetic field.
6. Some people don’t win for inventions but rather for their writing, like Mark Hostetler who wrote That Gunk on Your Car to help people identify bug types based on windshield splatters.
7. One of the most audacious patents ever patented has to go to John Keogh who was awarded a patent in Australia for his “circular transportation facilitation device.” It was of course a wheel, and Keogh was supposedly showing that the system was awarding patents without double checking them. He won an Ig Nobel regardless of his intentions.
8. The 2007 Ig Nobel in Medicine went to Dan Meyer for the study Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects. The paper went into great detail of exactly how to swallow a sword, including the steps that one takes to do it: suppressing the gag reflex, flipping the epiglottis, and so on.
9. One of the most pointless scientific experiments won for Physics in 2002 when Arnd Leike measured how long the froth on beer takes to dissipate in different types of beer. He concluded that it was an exponential decay.