By KIM BELLARD

There was a lot going on this week, as there always is, including the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the beginning of the NFL season, so you may have missed a big event: the announcement of the 31st First Annual Ig Nobel Awards (no, those are not typos).  

What’s that you say — you don’t know the Ig Nobel Awards?  These annual awards, organized by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, seek to:

…honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.  

Some scientists seek the glory of the actual Nobel prizes, some want to change the world by coming up with an XPRIZE winning idea, but I’m pretty sure that if I was a scientist I’d be shooting to win an Ig Nobel Prize.  I mean, the point of the awards is “to help people discover things that are surprising— so surprising that those things make people LAUGH, then THINK.”   What’s better than that?

Healthcare could use more Ig.

The awards have been held every year since 1991, and the ceremonies feature actual Nobel Prize winners handling the awards (although the 2021 and 2020 ceremonies were virtual).  Winners receive a $10 trillion bill (fake, of course), a cheesy-looking award, and the opportunity to give a “24/7 lecture” – explaining their research in detail but in only 24 words, then in a simple, 7-word description.  

You really can’t get a flavor of the Ig Nobels without actually seeing the winners, so here they are:

BIOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN]:Susanne Schötz, Robert Eklund, and Joost van de Weijer, for analyzing variations in purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, growling, and other modes of cat-human communication.

ECOLOGY PRIZE [SPAIN. IRAN]:Leila Satari, Alba Guillén, Àngela Vidal-Verdú, and Manuel

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