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Why don't pregnant women tip over? Ask an Ig Noble winner.

At Harvard University, a select group of researchers receive their Ig Noble awards.

By Matthew Shaer / October 2, 2009



It's October again, which means it's time for the Ig Nobles – a set of prizes awarded to discoveries "that cannot, or should not, be reproduced." The Ig Nobels were dished out last night at Sanders Theater, on the campus of Harvard University, and the awards, which cover categories ranging from physics to physiology, appear to have gone to the appropriate "innovators."

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Here's the full list of winners, courtesy of the Associated Press:

• Veterinary medicine: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson for showing that cows with names give more milk than unnamed cows.
• Peace: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl for investigating whether it is better to be struck over the head with a full beer bottle or with an empty beer bottle.
• Economics: Executives of four Icelandic banks for showing how tiny banks can become huge banks, and then become tiny banks again.
• Chemistry: Javier Morales, Miguel Apatiga and Victor Castano for creating diamonds out of tequila.
• Medicine: Donald Unger for cracking just the knuckles on his left hand for 60 years to see if knuckle cracking contributes to arthritis.
• Physics: Katherine Whitcome, Liza Shapiro and Daniel Lieberman for figuring out why pregnant women don't tip over.
• Literature: The Irish national police for issuing 50 tickets to one Prawo Jazdy, which in Polish means "driver's license."
• Mathematics: Gideon Gono and the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank for printing bank notes in denominations from 1 cent, to $100 trillion.
• Biology: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu and Zhang Guanglei for demonstrating that bacteria in panda poop can help reduce kitchen waste by 90 percent.

The Ig Nobles, which are curated by the folks at the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, were first presented in 1991. Since then, they've grown increasingly in stature, often attracting a good deal of press attention. The 2009 event was centered around the theme of "risk."

"Not the pinnacle of my academic achievements," Stephan Bolliger, the head of the beer bottle experiment, told the Associated Press. Still, he said winning an Ig Nobel was certainly "one of the most interesting or memorable moments of my professional life."

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