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This article is from the In-Depth Report The 2009 Nobel Prizes
60-Second Science

Ig Nobel Prizes Awarded

On the eve of the Nobel Prize announcements, the Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded at Harvard, for studies into knuckle-cracking and other vital medical and scientific research. Karen Hopkin retorts

[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

When there are Nobel prizes there are Ig Nobel prizes, which were handed out at Harvard on October 1st. The awards honor research that “makes people laugh and then makes them think.”

Among this year’s winners:

The physics prize went to a study of why pregnant women don’t tip over. Usually. The chemistry prize was awarded to scientists who turned tequila into diamonds. Proof that all that glitters is not Cuervo gold. The veterinary medicine prize was given for finding that cows that have names make more milk than those who remain anonymous. Another study that’s udderly original. The medicine prize went to a physician who, for fifty years, cracked the knuckles on only his left hand to test his mother’s contention that knuckle-cracking causes arthritis. His conclusion: mom was wrong, although his study was self-controlled and not blinded.

Finally, the peace prize went to Swiss researchers for determining, through experiment, whether it’s better to get cracked over the head with a full bottle of beer or an empty one. Both, they found, are capable of fracturing a skull. Which should definitely make you think during your next barroom brawl, and that’s no laughing matter.

—Karen Hopkin

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