• Weird

The Wackiest Scientists to Ever Win the Ig Nobel Prize for Their Research

List RulesVote up the most hilarious contributions to "science."

Each year, the Ig Nobel (ignoble, get it?) Prizes are given out to the funniest, most outlandish research produced from around the globe. Hosted by the Annals of Improbable Research, the Ig Nobels have been held at Sanders Theatre at Harvard University since 1991. The awards have been given out to "researchers" who proclaimed that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements of Hell, "biologists" who donned stilts and lived among goats, and "scientists" who have endeavored to discover everything from the existence of the five-second rule to the friction of a banana peel. This list documents the weirdest Ig award winners from the past two decades. Some semi-serious, some seriously satirical, this list of funny Ig Nobel winners is unlikely to disappoint.  

  • 1

    The Royal Navy That Said "Boom" Instead of Using Ammunition

    In 2000, Ig Nobel awarded their Peace prize to a rather unlikely candidate: the British Royal Navy. They won the prestigious award after budget cuts reduced the amount of live ammunition rounds supplied to different training sites. As a way to save their live rounds, Royal Navy gunners began shouting “bang” through microphones to indicate the firing of canons during training exercises. Although some in the British Parliament questioned the “quality” of this training, the Ministry of Defense insisted it gave the most “bang” for government bucks.

    Hilarious research?
  • 2

    The Doctor Who Took on the Question of Knuckle-Cracking and Arthritis

    “Does knuckle cracking lead to arthritis of the fingers?” This is the question that Dr. Donald L. Unger of Thousand Oaks, California, spent 50 years trying to answer. And it won him the 2009 Ig Nobel in Medicine. To conduct his research, Dr. Unger cracked only the knuckles on his left hand at least twice a day, never cracking those on his right hand. “Thus, the knuckles on the left were cracked at least 36,500 times, while those on the right cracked rarely and spontaneously."

    After 50 years of cracking, Dr. Unger found that “there was no arthritis in either hand, and no apparent differences between the hands.”

    Talk about dedicating your life to science!

    Hilarious research?
  • 3

    The Physicists Who Measured the Friction Between a Shoe and a Banana Peel

    In 2012, a team of Japanese physicists took on a question that has plagued cartoon-viewers for decades: can you actually slip and fall on a banana peel?

    To answer this question, the physicists measured the friction created between a human shoe, a banana peel, and linoleum. They found that, in fact, a banana peel produces less friction between the shoe and the floor than another similar object would. In other words, the banana peel kind of creates a slipping hazard! They blame the peel’s “follicular gel” for the added lubrication that reduces friction. This research won the 2014 Ig Nobel in Physics.

    Hilarious research?
  • 4

    The Scientists Who Researched Constipation in Military Personnel

    In 1994, scientists W. Brian Sweeney, Brian Kraft-Jacobs, Jeffrey W. Britton, and Wayne Hansen won the award in Biology for their research into the, ahem, bathroom habits of military personnel. After surveying personnel aboard the USS Iwo Jima LPH 2 during Operation Desert Shield with a “bowel function questionnaire,” they published their results in the journal Mil Med.

    Their paper, “The constipated serviceman: prevalence among deployed U.S. troops,” confirmed that “whether constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements or presence of symptoms of constipation, significantly more servicemen will be constipated in the field as compared to their home environment.”

    Because of this increased risk of in-country constipation, the scientists recommended that “preventative measures ought to be evaluated.” Gentlemen, we salute you.

    Hilarious research?