Ig Nobel Prize
The Ig Nobel Prize is a parody of the far more famous Nobel Prize. It is awarded to scientific achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think." The prize has been awarded annually since 1991, and honours achievements that are unusual or imaginative and that go on to spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.
The awards ceremony is held in Harvard's Sanders Theatre, in October, just before the Nobel laureates are announced. They are organised by the magazine "Annals of Improbable Research."
The Ig Nobels are not restricted to specific categories, and in most years a total of 10 awards are handed out. In keeping with the spirit of the Nobel Prizes, some of the same categories are used, along with others, which may vary from year to year. The most commonly used award categories are Peace, Economics, Chemistry, Medicine, Physics, Literature and Biology. Other categories, which have been used on several occasions include Public Health, Mathematics, Nutrition, Art and Psychology. Archaeology, Dentistry and Ornithology are other fields worthy of a mention.
When they first appeared, many of the awards had a hint of irony attached to them, such as Dan Quayle receiving the Education award, for "demonstrating, better than anyone else, the need for science education." The first peace prize was awarded to Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb and first champion of the "Star Wars" weapons system, for "his lifelong efforts to change the meaning of peace as we know it."
Although in later years, the focus has been on genuine, albeit bizarre, achievements in their chosen fields, the Ig Nobels occasionally lapse back into irony, such as when Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, was awarded the mathematics prize in 2009 for "giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers — from very small to very big — by having his bank print bank notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollars (Z$100,000,000,000,000)."