Any scientist worth his tachometer would shudder at the thought of their labour of love being tagged as ‘improbable research’. But not the winners of the Ig Noble Prizes. These awards honour real research, but are meant as a funny alternative to the Nobel Prize. Sample two of 2008’s winning entries: the Economics Ig Nobel went to someone who discovered that a professional lap dancer’s ovulatory cycle affects her tip earnings. (Alas, the findings might have been of interest back home if Mumbai’s bar dancers were still around).
Then there was the Ig Nobel laureate biologist who discovered that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than those that live on a cat. So it’s not only a dog-eat-dog world but also a flea pit where the dogs and cats are together in a rat race.
Though these Razzie Awards evoke much ridicule, scientists support them wholeheartedly. The awards are presented by kosher Nobel laureates and the winners are given a chance to explain their relevance to the public. Bizarre? Yes. Silly? Maybe. Useless? Not at all. After all, one of the winners this time has found the perfect 21st century date drink: the spermicidal cola. Next year we hope someone invents the the non-alcoholic uninhibitor.