And the winners are…


With the Ig Nobel awards being announced recently, Rónán Schütte looks into some of the quirkier awards in its history


Nowhere is more prone to terrorists than airplanes. The late Gustano Pizzo won the Safety Engineering Prize for a trapdoor. The patent describes it as “A partition or barrier located immediately aft of the pilots cabin is adapted to be raised dividing the aft section longitudinally into port and starboard areas, the floors of which are dropped on command to lower the hijacker into a capsule in the belly of the plane.

The capsule is releasable through opened bomb bay doors having attached thereto a parachute for safely returning the hijacker within the capsule to earth.” That’s right; we can now bomb using terrorists. Simple.


Music for a Broken Heart

Have you suffered a broken heart recently and had to get it mended? Well if so, researchers in Tokyo have gone one step further to see if opera music could help stop you rejecting your transplanted organ (in mice). It was found that the mice who listened to opera tended to live two or three times longer than those who listened to the “soothing” music of…sigh… Enya. They won the Medicine Prize in case you were wondering.


The “Eye of the Beer Holder”

We all have a friend who will think somebody is more attractive than they actually are. Researchers in France have shown that people who are drunk tend to find themselves more attractive as well.  One half of the study group was given non-alcoholic drinks, the others enough to get them tipsy.

Half of each group were told exactly what they drank, the others were lied to. Psychologists lying? Never. The students who were drunk, or thought so, rated themselves as more attractive than those who were sober. Just goes to show you that French students can’t handle their drink.


The Irish Connection

As with all high profile international awards recognising outstanding achievement, we Irish have shone through with brilliance. In 2009, An Garda Siochana won the first ever Ig Nobel Prize in Literature following such luminaries as Yeats, Shaw, Beckett and Heaney.

They wrote over 50 traffic tickets to a Mr. “Prawo Jazdy”. The Gardaí believed he was Ireland’s most prolific traffic offender, until a subsequent investigation found that “Prawo Jazdy” was in fact Polish for, wait for it: Driving Licence. Think Keyser Soze, except with the stupidest plot twist ever.