Rebecca Woodrow and Georgina Glass
With graduation season in full swing, many students are faced with the realities of life after university. For those of you who want to continue with further studies, but are trying to find a way to do it with novelty and originality, the achievements of the Ig Nobel Prize winners are unquestionably inspirational.
Dance your Ph.D is a competition that requires applicants to submit interpretive dance videos that explain and illustrate your thesis in one of the most bizarre manners possible. You can win a thousand dollars in prize money, but your research does have to be in a field of science. The winner of the 2017 competition, Nancy Scherich, submitted a video explaining her Ph.D in Geometry titled Representation of the Braid Groups. This is a great option if you enjoy interpretive dance and want to receive internet notoriety.
The Ig Nobel Prizes are a parody of the Nobel Prizes; the annual awards in recognition of advances in a variety of fields. Since 1991 these prizes have been awarded annually in Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre to ten “trivial or unusual achievements” in scientific research. The good relations are obvious because Nobel laureates present these prizes to their respective recipients. The awards are organised by the scientific humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research, co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students. Much like other parody awards they exhibit the facets of these varying fields in a humorous manner; like using irony to highlight the continued importance of individual fields.
The first Ig Nobel Prize winner to appear in person at the ceremony to accept their award was Don Featherstone in 1996, receiving the Ig Nobel Art Prize for his “ornamentally evolutionary invention”, the pink plastic flamingo. The garden ornament continues to outnumber its living counterpart. South African winners of an Ig Nobel prize are the 1999 Ig Nobel Peace prize recipients Charl Fourie and Michelle Wong for inventing the Blaster, “a foot-pedal activated flamethrower that motorists can use against carjackers”. The most recent awards included research on such bizarre topics they can hardly be thought of as useful. These include research into “what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee” and “experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person’s willingness to gamble. Irony is pervasive and the range in topics is vast in the selection and scope of winners. The list of winners is entertaining and unquestionably deserving of attention as the prizes intend to be honours “For achievements that first make people LAUGH then make them THINK”. At 27 years old this year the Ig Nobel Prizes prove to be a witty and thought-provoking millennial actively involved in contemporary scientific research. The Ig Nobel Prize 2018 will take place on Thursday 13 September and will be available for online audiences.