We all know what the prestigious Nobel Prize is and how it covers 5 domains of subjects. We also know how coveted this award is for the recipients. It is only presented to those who have done something remarkable and changed the course of that subject. In the same context but in the opposite way, the Ig Nobel Prize is given to those who have contributed to the world with some funniest scientific achievements and innovations.
This prize is given to those who have done something that nobody had thought of but on an unusual ground. The prime motive of this prize is to make people laugh and enjoy considering the unconventional thoughts behind these inventions.
The Ig Nobel Prize can be considered as the parody version of the auspicious Nobel Prize awarded to the highest achievers of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Peace, and Literature. This prize is given to honour something unconventional and fun in terms of science and other subjects. The achievements will surely make people think about how different scientists can think and achieve such things.
Well, this is a great idea to make the smartest minds think differently and engage in something hilarious or shocking to achieve. It is awarded to generate humour and look into the lighter side of science and other fields.
The presence and ceremonial distribution of the Ig Nobel Prize show us the light-hearted side of science and other fields. Otherwise, these fields are considered to be very serious. It is a way that the achievers from such backgrounds enjoy their time by knowing about these funny and unusual inventions, innovations, and achievements that are made.
To explain what it is, we need to split the name of this prize and focus on the English word ‘Ignoble’. It means the opposite of noble. This word means not so noble for a cause. Hence, this word has been twisted to form a new name for an award that is only given to achievers who have done something weird. It all started in the year 1991. Marc Abrahams, co-founder and editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, is considered the father of the Ig Nobel Prize.
We know that the Nobel Prize is distributed in five categories. You will be surprised to know that the categories or fields chosen for Ig Nobel Prize vary from time to time. Despite this fact, the number of categories always remains at 10. The addition and removal of categories depend on the decision made by the committee and the entry of nominees for the awards.
The fixed categories such as Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Peace, and Literature remain the same every year. Some other categories are added such as interdisciplinary research, biology, public health, engineering, etc considering the entries every year.
The Ig Nobel Prize Distribution Ceremony
You will surely be surprised to know some of the weirdest innovations, inventions, and achievements made by scientists and professionals in their respective fields. For instance, Robert Klark Graham received Ig Nobel Prize in 1991 for developing a sperm bank that accepts donations from the Olympians and Nobel laureates.
In the same year, Edward Keller received this prize for the invention of the hydrogen bomb. He was also one of the pioneers of the Star Wars Weapon System, a defence system that will protect the US from nuclear attacks. He was awarded due to his achievement of changing the meaning of peace ironically.
Another example of scientists trying and successfully levitating a living frog magnetically was awarded the prize in 2000. It was Michael Berry and Andre Geim who received the award for such a hilarious achievement. Don’t be fooled by their intentions. They did it for a purpose. You will be surprised that Andre Geim went on to win the Nobel Prize after a decade for his exemplary research on graphene, a useful allotrope of carbon.
Given below are the list of people who were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize 2020.
The Ig Nobel Physics Prize was awarded to Andriy Pototsky and Ivan Maksymov for finding the shape of earthworms when vibrated at a high frequency.
The Ig Acoustic Prize was awarded to Tecumseh Fitch, Takeshi Nishimura, Stephan Reber, Mark Robertson and Judith Janisch for recording the sounds of a female alligator in a helium-packed room. Funny, isn't it?
The prize in the Entomology field went to Richard Vetter, an entomologist, who found that most entomologists are afraid of spiders even though spiders are not insects.
The Ig Medicine Prize 2020 went to Damiaan Denys, Nienke Vulink, and Arnoud van Loon for the identification of an unrecognised medical condition called misophonia. It is a condition where a person cannot tolerate chewing sounds.
The Physiology prize went to Nicholas Rule and Miranda Giacomin. They devised a way that can recognise narcissists by their eyebrow movements. Their method of stereotyping high-brow narcissism is hilarious.
Even though we can see how hilarious these inventions and discoveries can be, we can still find the relevance of such achievements to our real world. The ceremony is full of fun activities, jokes, puns, and leg-pulling stunts. For instance, when a recipient is giving a speech of acceptance of the award, sudden music is played to notify him that his speech is taking too long and is getting boring.
You will have to be humorous and light-hearted to accept such awards and experience leg pulling on the stage in front of a coveted crowd. It shows how people great in academics also have a lighter side they enjoy. All the recipients of this award are great achievers in their respective fields and we cannot deny their real contributions that benefit the world.