October 01, 2010, 1:12 PM — The 20th annual Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded Thursday night for "achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think." Organized by the same people who produce Annals of Improbable Research, the prizes commemorate the world's funniest research, and sometimes the world's biggest villains (BP is a winner this year). Here's a list of the 2010 prizes, with text from the official award announcements.
IG NOBEL PRIZE IN ENGINEERING
"Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London, UK, and Diane Gendron of Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Baja California Sur, Mexico, for perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter."
IG NOBEL PRIZE IN MEDICINE
"Simon Rietveld of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Ilja van Beest of Tilburg University, The Netherlands, for discovering that symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller-coaster ride."
IG NOBEL PRIZE IN TRANSPORTATION PLANNING
"Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi of Japan, and Dan Bebber, Mark Fricker of the UK, for using slime mold to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks."
IG NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS
"Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams, and Patricia Priest of the University of Otago, New Zealand, for demonstrating that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes."
IG NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
"Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston of Keele University, UK, for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain."
IG NOBEL PRIZE IN PUBLIC HEALTH
"Manuel Barbeito, Charles Mathews, and Larry Taylor of the Industrial Health and Safety Office, Fort Detrick, Md., for determining by experiment that microbes cling to bearded scientists."
IG NOBEL PRIZE IN ECONOMICS
"The executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Magnetar for creating and promoting new ways to invest money — ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof."
IG NOBEL PRIZE IN CHEMISTRY
"Eric Adams of MIT, Scott Socolofsky of Texas A&M University, Stephen Masutani of the University of Hawaii, and BP [British Petroleum], for disproving the old belief that oil and water don't mix."
IG NOBEL PRIZE IN MANAGEMENT
"Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random."
IG NOBEL PRIZE IN BIOLOGY