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Ig Nobel Award Winners: Urination, Tank Mayor, Coconuts, Wasabi Fire Alarm
September 30, 2011
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We all know about Nobel Prizes: they're serious; a prestigious honour won by some of the smartest and most impressive people in the world. We're pretty sure no one ever won a Nobel for studying how much needing to pee affects your concentration. Or for creating a fire alarm that sprays wasabi into the air to wake up sleeping people. But those are just two of the projects that were awarded Ig Nobel Prizes on Thursday night.

The Ig Nobel Prize is in no way affiliated with the Nobel Prize. The only actual connection? Ig Nobels are handed out by real Nobel Laureates, who attend the ceremony, and take the opportunity to dress in outlandish costumes and poke a little fun at what they take so seriously during the rest of the year. Unlike the real thing, Ig Nobels go to research or undertakings that make us laugh - and then make us think.

Awarded by the Improbable Research organization, Ig Nobel awards are perfectly serious. in a sense. All the research that gets a prize has a genuine point. It just sounds kind of ridiculous. The idea is to celebrate work that gets people interested in science and social issues by adding a dose of comedy.

Some of this year's winners, alongside the urination investigation and the sushi condiment alarm, include:

Arturos Zuokas, the Lithuanian Mayor who crushed a car with an armoured vehicle to highlight the problem of illegally parked cars - he got the Ig Nobel Peace Prize, naturally.

A whole bunch of people who incorrectly predicted the Earth would end in 1954, 1982, 1990, 1992, 1997, 1999, 1994, and 2011, respectively.

John Perry of Stanford University for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which we might explain later if we get around to it.

Karl Halvor Teigen from the University of Oslo, Norway, for his very Ingmar Bergman-esque study of why people sigh in everyday life.

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