Ig Nobel 2019: Wacky Science Awards!

Sep 17, 2019 By James H, Writer
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And for discovering that pizza can solve cancer, the prize goes to... 

Started in 1991, the Ig Nobel prizes were started by Marc Abrahams to award the strangest and most humorous achievements in physics, chemistry, literature, and other fields.

Today, the award ceremony is held at Harvard University and presented by previous Nobel prize winners! The name of the prize is a play on the word ignoble, which means not honorable, and the Nobel prizes. The award-winners are in fact authentic research achievements, but they certainly are bizarre.

Let’s take a look at some of this year’s winners!

Winner in Economics

We use money almost daily to buy the things we need, but have you ever wondered how germy your money can be?

Andreas Vos, his son Timothy Vos, and colleague Habip Gedik set out to find which currency contains the most E. Coli and Klebsiella Spp. Currency that were tested included the US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Indian Rupee. From their research, while most currency carried signs of some bacteria, the currency that contained signs of both bacteria was the Romanian Leu, due to its polymer banknotes.

Still, you might want to think twice next time you reach for that dollar bill on the ground!

Winner in Chemistry

On average, a human being produces 2 to 4 pints (1 to 2 liters) of spit a day. How much saliva do you think a five-year-old will make?

Thirty-five years ago, Shigeru Watanabe and his team in Japan researched 15 boys and 15 girls and recorded the amount of time each child spends a day eating, sleeping, and being active. In addition, they measured the amount of saliva produced when 5-year-olds eat different foods. The results? If no saliva was produced during sleep, the predicted amount of saliva per day is around 1 pint or 500 mL.

By the way, among those 30 children were his sons, who also attended the award ceremony. 

Winner in Medicine

Last but not least, can pizza help solve cancer? That was a legitimate question being researched by Silvano Gallus and his colleagues in Italy, where pizza is one of the trademark foods.

Patients diagnosed with cancer were questioned about their eating habits, primarily with regard to pizza. No real conclusion was drawn from the research, but the researchers say that pizza has health benefits, if it was made in Italy. 

There are other discoveries that won awards, like magnetic cockroaches and cube-shaped poop from wombats. Who knows? If you don’t win the Nobel prize, maybe your discoveries could win the Ig Nobel prize. As they say at the closing ceremony, “If you didn’t win a prize - and especially if you did - better luck next year!”

Sources: CNN, Improbable.com, Sciencedirect.com, Biomedcentral.com, Wiley.com