In 1993, popular science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research created the Ig Nobel Prize as a parody of the proper Nobel Prize. The name is a play on the word ignoble (not noble), and is an annual award given to the weirdest, silliest, and sometimes dumbest achievements in science.
Here are some of the most bizarre recipients of the award, who embody the Ig Nobel goal of “first making people laugh, and then making them think.”
1. In 1991, Robert Klark Graham was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize in biology for creating the Repository for Germinal Choice. The repository was a sperm bank that only accepts donations from Nobel Prize winners and Olympians.
2. In 1993, Robert W. Faid won the Ig Nobel Prize in mathematics for calculating the exact odds that Mikhail Gorbachev is the Antichrist (710,609,175,188,282,000 to 1).
3. In 1995, John Martinez won the Ig Nobel Prize in nutrition for Luak Coffee, the most expensive coffee in the world. Creating the coffee involves getting a luak (a small Indonesian bobcat like creature) to swallow and poop out the coffee beans.
4. In 1998, Jerald Bain won the Ig Nobel Prize in statistics for the report, “The Relationship Among Height, Penile Length, and Foot Size.”
5. In 1999, Takeshi Makino received the IG Nobel in chemistry for creating an infidelity detection spray that can be applied to underwear.
6. In 2000, Chris Niswander won the Ig Nobel Prize in computer science for inventing a software that detects when a cat is walking across your keyboard.
7. In 2007, the United States Air Force Wright Laboratory won the Ig Nobel for its research and development of a “gay” bomb. This bomb would make enemy troops want to make out with each other.
8. In 2009, Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson won the Ig Nobel Prize in veterinary medicine by discovering that cows with names produce more milk than those that are nameless.
9. In 2009, Elena N. Bodnar won the Ig Nobel Prize in public health for inventing a bra that can double as a gas mask for two people.
10. In 2014, Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian, and Kang Lee won the Ig Noble in neuroscience for their study on what happens to the brains of people who see Jesus in a piece of toast.
While these research projects are certainly interesting, they”re all pretty much useless. But I also feel like I kind of learned something…maybe? At least these Ig Nobel Prize winners are a lot more entertaining than the actual Nobel Prize winners.