Why plow through years of graduate school, labor nights and weekends, abandon your family in the name of science? Because one day, if you're very lucky, your work may be recognized by some prestigious international award committee. If you're only kind of lucky, though, you still might be able to snag an Ig Nobel.
This year's esteemed spoof awards went to a range of research, papers and patents that met the tight criteria: "First make people laugh, and then make them think." Among the winners was the Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, which swept the Peace category for its research into a harmless, but doubtless hilarious, "gay bomb." The weapon, laden with aphrodisiac chemicals, would presumably make enemy soldiers so irresistible to one another that they would drop their weapons in favor of dropping trou. Oddly, no one attended to accept the prize.
Other winners ran the gamut from food science (who knew you could extract vanilla from cow dung?) to medicine (who knew sword swallowing could cause a sore throat?). For the full list of science winners, launch the gallery. But to get you in the right frame of mind, you may first want to check out the highly informative keynote speech below.—Abby Seiff and John Mahoney
Launch the gallery for a list of this year's winners