Ig Nobel awards honor car-crushing mayor

Well, this year’s Ig Nobel awards are out, and as ever there’s a fine selection of winning research – from why beetles try to mate with beer bottles to how needing to pee affects decision making.

A Japanese team won the chemistry prize for a fire alarm that blasts out wasabi to waken sleeping people. And the Peace prize was awarded to Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius in Lithuania, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank. 

The math prize was given to several people who’ve predicted the end of the world – including Harold Camping, who assured the world the Rapture was on its way earlier this year. They were honored, says the panel, “for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations.”

It’s impressive that John Perry, winner of the Literature prize, made it to the ceremony at all – his prize was awarded for a treatise on the benefits of procrastination.

As usual, real Nobel prize winners dished out the awards, and a small girl was posted on the sidelines to shout out ‘Please stop, I’m bored,” if any of the speeches went on too long.

If you’re wondering about the beetles, by the way, the answer seems to be that the myopic males mistake the beer bottle for a particularly large and sexy female.

“I’m honoured, I think,” says author Darryl Gwynne. “The awards make people think, and they’re a bit of a laugh. Really, we’ve been sitting here by the phone for the past 20 plus years waiting for the call. Why did it take them so long?”

There’s a full list of winners here.