Unusual, Odd, and Curious Science Honored Tonight in This Year’s Ig Nobel Awards

The 22nd annual Ig Nobel awards kick off tonight, highlighting odd but interesting scientific research

Every year for the past 21 years, an award ceremony riffing on the vaunted Nobel Prize has captured the quizzical, strange and hilarious side of science. The Ig Nobel Prize serves to honor researchers who “first make people laugh, then make them think.”

Around the web science enthusiasts are gearing up for the awards ceremony, which kicks off (and will be streamed live) at 7:30 pm eastern tonight, by reminiscing about some of their favorite past winners.

On NBC’s Cosmic Log, Alan Boyle recalls Elena Bodnar’s bra.

The bra that Bodnar invented can be converted into two filter masks in the event of a Chernobyl-style radiation leak or other emergency. That combination of laughability and practicality is what earned the Ukrainian physician an Ig Nobel Prize for Public Health in 2009.

New Scientist, however, prefers one of last year’s winners, the scientists behind an experiment that you’d be shocked to hear actually took place. For his Ig Nobel Prize-winning research, John Senders conducted “a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.”

Wired, on the other hand, gets a bit greedy/indecisive and instead opts to run through 10 of their favorite past winners, including “Racial Preferences for Cheese Color,” and an investigation into whether yawning is contagious in turtles.

But rather than look to the past, Physics Central proposes a candidate for this year’s awards: a study which sought to understand “the physics of maximally satisfying candy consumption.” This study set out to answer such life-changing questions as, “whether it is wise to split the candy by breaking it with the teeth or not.”

One way or another, the Ig Nobel awards ceremony is always a good show owing to the fact that they have what is probably the most inventive mechanism ever to keep awards recipients in line. Forget escalating orchestral tunes, the Ig Nobels have Miss Sweetie Poo.

More from Smithsonian.com:
Five Funny Science Sites on the Web
Become a Mad Scientist

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