APS News

December 2007 (Volume 16, Number 11)

Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prizes, honoring achievements that first make people LAUGH, and then make them THINK, were awarded at Harvard University’s historic Sanders Theatre in October before 1200 spectators. The event was produced by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), and co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students, and the Harvard Computer Society.

The event was broadcast live on the Internet, and can be seen in recorded form at www.improbable.com. An edited recording of the ceremony will be broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Science Friday” program on the day after Thanksgiving.

And the 2007 winners are….


Brian Witcombe of Gloucester, UK, and Dan Meyer of Antioch, Tennessee, USA, for their penetrating medical report “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects.”


L. Mahadevan of Harvard University, USA, and Enrique Cerda Villablanca of Universidad de Santiago de Chile, for studying how sheets become wrinkled.


Prof. Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, for doing a census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds each night.


Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin—vanilla fragrance and flavoring—from cow dung.


Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.


Glenda Browne of Blaxland, Blue Mountains, Australia, for her study of the word “the”—and of the many ways it causes problems for anyone who tries to put things into alphabetical order.


The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon—the so-called “gay bomb”—that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.


Brian Wansink of Cornell University, for exploring the seemingly boundless appetites of human beings, by feeding them with a self-refilling, bottomless bowl of soup.


Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taichung, Taiwan, for patenting a device, in the year 2001, that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them.


Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek of Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina, for their discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos
Contributing Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff

December 2007 (Volume 16, Number 11)

Table of Contents

APS News Archives

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Articles in this Issue
The Big Easy Hosts 2008 March Meeting
New Insights Into QGPs and Supernovae Highlight 2007 DNP Meeting
April Meeting Plenary Speakers Set
Apker Recipients Study Galaxy Clusters, Entangled Photons
Many Disciplines Have Stake in Underground Laboratory
APS Honors BCS, Joseph Henry in Historic Site Ceremonies
Smashing Eggs in the Name of Science
GEC Conference Features Latest Research in Plasma Phenomena
Determined Leadership
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
Ask The Ethicist
Profiles In Versatility
Focus on APS Topical Groups
Inside the Beltway
The Back Page