Last night, the Annals of Improbable Research held its 18th annual Ig Nobel Prizes. The prizes are awarded for scientific and social achievements "that first make people laugh, then make people think." And this year’s winners include studies on puzzle-solving slime molds, the spermicidal capabilities of Coca-Cola, and the economics of ovulating strippers.The prizes were awarded in a ceremony at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater in ten areas:
- Nutrition: Massimiliano Zampini and Clark Spence for demonstrating that, when the sound of eating a potato chip is modified, the eater believes the chip is fresher and crisper than it really is.
- Peace: The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.
- Archeology: Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and Jose Carlos Marcelino for demonstrating how the actions of an armadillo may scramble the contents of an archeological dig site.
- Biology: Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert, and Michel Franc for discovering that fleas on a dog jump higher than fleas on a cat.
- Medicine: Dan Ariely for demonstrating the high-cost placebos are more effective than low-cost placebos.
- Cognitive Science: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero, Akio Ishiguro, and Agota Toth for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles.
- Economics: Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur, and Brent Jordan for discovering that a lap dancer’s ovulatory cycle affects the tips she earns.
- Physics: Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith for mathematically proving that a heap of hair or string will inevitably tangle itself into knots.
- Chemistry: Sharee A. Umpierre, Joseph A. Hill, and Deborah J. Anderson for demonstrating that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and Chuang-Ye Hong, C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang for discovering that Coca-Cola is not an effective spermicide.
- Literature: David Sims for his study "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations.”
The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Winners [Improbable Research]