Award Worthy: A Teenager Repellant, Ending Hiccups with Rectal Massage, and More

Last week was a biggie for awards. Nobel Prizes were handed out in Sweden, complete with the usual reverence and media attention. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean, in a less publicized but, as can be seen on the webcast, ridiculously boisterous ceremony, the Ig Nobel prizes were awarded.

Like their companion prizes, Ig Nobels are bestowed for achievements in science, peace, and literature. The difference is that these achievements—which are culled from peer-reviewed journals—“make people laugh, and then make them think,” according to the group Improbable Research, which administers the prizes. 

Here’s a sample of the winners from the 16th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony:

PEACE: Howard Stapleton 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 ring tones that are audible to teenagers but not to their teachers.

MEDICINE: Francis M. Fesmire for his medical case report "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage"; and Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven for their subsequent medical case report also titled "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage."

LITERATURE: Daniel Oppenheimer for his report "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly."

BIOLOGY: Bart Knols and Ruurd de Jong 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.

ORNITHOLOGY: Ivan R. Schwaband the late Philip R.A. May for exploring and explaining why woodpeckers don't get headaches.