Colonoscopies sometimes end with intestinal detonation, or what's known in more official circles as a "colonic gas explosion." Never heard of it? Neither had we. That was until last night, when a team of international researchers was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for advising doctors who perform such procedures how to minimize the chances of their patients going boom.
If that sounds like an unusual thing to win an award for, that's because it is. Then again, the Ig Nobels aren't your typical awards ceremony. Created to honor those achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think, last night's "22nd first-annual" Ig Nobel awards were as unconventional and decidedly un-stuffy as ever — and this year's winners did not disappoint.
The Ig Nobels are the brainchild of Marc Abrahams, editor of the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research. Held every year in Harvard University's historic Sanders Theatre, "The Igs" are modeled loosely after the actual Nobel Prize ceremonies, which are held every year in Stockholm, Sweden. Very loosely. Like the Nobel Prize ceremony, the Ig Nobels acknowledge scientists, artists and public figures for contributing toward their respective fields. Also like the actual Nobel ceremony, you tend to find genuine Nobel Laureates in attendance, the difference being that, at the Igs, audience members are encouraged to pelt the esteemed researchers with paper airplanes.