The Ig Nobel Prize 2016: the winners of science's silliest ceremony


If you haven't already heard the news, Great Britain is at the top of the tables again and a man acting as a goat has taken us there.

That's right - it can only be the Ig Nobel Awards 2016: science's silliest awards for the most paltry offerings to the furtherance of human understanding.

This year's research seemed particularly absurd, so we thought we'd do the most sensible thing and make a round-up of all the winners.

Reproduction Prize: Egypt

Awarded to the late Ahmed Shafik for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males. Sounds fruity.


Physics Prize: Hungary, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

György Kriska, Ramón Hegedüs, Balázs Gerics, Róbert Farkas, Susanne Åkesson, Péter Malik and Hansruedi Wildermuth, for discovering why white-haired horses are the most horsefly-proof and why dragonflies are fatally attracted to black tombstones.

(Michael Dwyer/AP)
Audience members throw paper aeroplanes during the Ig Nobel award ceremonies because... because why not? (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Economics Prize: New Zealand, UK

Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective.


Chemistry Prize

Volkswagen, for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested.

The German manufacturers are unlikely to be enamoured by the award though - it's in reference to their attempts to cheat car emissions tests in 2015. Awkward.


Medicine Prize: Germany

Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas Münte, Silke Anders and Andreas Sprenger, for discovering that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can relieve it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa).

Nobel laureate Rich Roberts gives a lecture during the Ig Nobel award ceremonies (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Nobel laureate Rich Roberts (physiology or medicine, 1993) gives a lecture during the Ig Nobel award ceremonies (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Psychology: Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Canada, USA

Evelyne Debey, Maarten De Schryver, Gordon Logan, Kristina Suchotzki and Bruno Verschuere, for asking a thousand liars how often they lie and for deciding whether to believe those answers.


Biology: UK

Awarded jointly to: Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites (aka Goat Man), for creating prosthetic limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.

Thomas Twaites accepts his prize. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Thomas Twaites accepts his prize. G'wan Goat Man! (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Perception Prize: Japan

Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether the world looks different when bent over and viewed between one's legs.

Atsuki Higashiyama. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
You know what - it really does look different! We salute you, Mr Higashiyama (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Literature Prize: Sweden

Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the joys of collecting dead flies, and flies that have not yet died.


Peace Prize: Canada, USA

Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler and Jonathan Fugelsang for their study called On The Reception And Detection Of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit.

And that about wraps it up! Just in time too - it's hard to type with these prosthetic goat limbs, so we're off. Back to munching grass.

Until next year...