Awarded on Thursday night at Harvard’s Sanders theater, this year’s Ig Nobels feature an unhealthy crop of life sciences winners. From the official announcement of the 16th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize:
NUTRITION: Wasmia Al-Houty of Kuwait University and Faten Al-Mussalam of the Kuwait Environment Public Authority, for showing that dung beetles are finicky eaters.
REFERENCE: “Dung Preference of the Dung Beetle Scarabaeus cristatus Fab (Coleoptera-Scarabaeidae) from Kuwait,” Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Musalam, Journal of Arid Environments, vol. 35, no. 3, 1997, pp. 511-6.
PEACE: Howard Stapleton of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, for inventing an electromechanical teenager repellant — a device that makes annoying noise designed to be audible to teenagers but not to adults; and for later using that same technology to make telephone ringtones that are audible to teenagers but not to their teachers. ACOUSTICS: D. Lynn Halpern (of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and Brandeis University, and Northwestern University), Randolph Blake (of Vanderbilt University and Northwestern University) and James Hillenbrand (of Western Michigan University and Northwestern University) for conducting experiments to learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.
REFERENCE: “Psychoacoustics of a Chilling Sound,” D. Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand, Perception and Psychophysics, vol. 39,1986, pp. 77-80.
MEDICINE: Francis M. Fesmire of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, for his medical case report “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage“; and Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven of Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, for their subsequent medical case report also titled “Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage.” BIOLOGY: Bart Knols (of Wageningen Agricultural University, in Wageningen, the Netherlands; and of the National Institute for Medical Research, in Ifakara Centre, Tanzania, and of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna Austria) and Ruurd de Jong (of Wageningen Agricultural University and of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Italy) for showing that the female malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae is attracted equally to the smell of limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet.
REFERENCE: “On Human Odour, Malaria Mosquitoes, and Limburger Cheese,” Bart. G.J. Knols, The Lancet, vol. 348 , November 9, 1996, p. 1322.