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Center Hospital > About Us > History > A prize-winning research that sounds like a joke

A prize-winning research that sounds like a joke
What’s the Ig Nobel Prize?

  • In 2007, Yamamoto Mayu of the NCGM Research Center won the Ig Nobel Chemistry Prize for extracting vanillin, the compound responsible for the scent of vanilla, from cow dung.
  • “What? You’re kidding, right?”
  • The Ig Nobel Prize is a real prize that is given for “achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Its aim is to celebrate a creative and unusual research, and generate public interest in science, medicine, and technology.
  • The prizes have been awarded since 1991, with the cooperation of the Harvard University staff, which is responsible for publishing the magazine Annals of Improbable Research. They cover 10 fields that change slightly from year to year, such as chemistry, physics, literature, management, economics, medicine, mathematics, biology, peace, art, and public health. Every September at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater, over 1,100 spectators “with an interest in weird things” attend the ceremony, where the winners are handed their prizes by actual Nobel Laureates.
  • Past prize-winning achievements by Japanese people include the following studies: “Elucidation of Chemical Compounds Responsible for Foot Malodour” (1992); the invention of Tamagotchi virtual pets, which made people squander countless work hours (1997); the invention of “Bow-Lingual,” a computer-based device for automatic human-to-dog translation (2002); and the invention of karaoke, which provides a new means for people to become more tolerant of one another (2004).
  • All that is to say, research conducted at the NCGM has also won Ig Nobels. This makes “research” sound like fun, doesn’t it?