I read recently about a novel award that marks achievements that at “first make people laugh but then make them think”. The Ig Nobel award for improbable research has been awarded since 1991, and this years winners included the ‘Gay Bomb’, posted about on right here on The Shelf in February 2007.
Winning the peace category, the Gay Bomb was a concept first coined by the US military and intended to make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to one another. The Gay Bomb was just one of a variety of non-lethal chemical weapons that were conceived in order to disrupt both discipline and morale.
Past Ig peace award winners have also included the electromechanical teenager repellent in 2006, a device which makes an annoying high pitched sound audible only to teenagers, and the inventor of karaoke for providing a new way for people to tolerate each other.
Other winners in the 2007 competition included work on treating hamster jetlag with impotency drugs and extracting vanilla from cow dung.
Winners of the award walk away with a hand made trophy, certificate and more importantly the prestige of winning such an award. Currently in their seventeenth year, the awards
“Celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative – and spur people’s interest in science, medicine and technology.”
The coveted award ceremony is seen as a way to prove the science doesn’t have to be boring, and that fun science can end up having a real life impact on millions of people.