Ig Nobel Prize Awarded to Scientists Who Can Un-Boil Eggs


Every year, Improbable Research awards various scientists and researchers with the Ig Nobel Prize, meant to reward studies that make people laugh first and subsequently think. This year’s awards were handed out on Thursday, September 17 in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre.

One of this year’s 10 memorable winners is a group of scientists from Australia who figured out how to partially “un-boil” an egg. When eggs are boiled, the fundamental structure of proteins within the egg is changed, making it exceptionally difficult to change. The scientists created a machine called the vortex fluidic device, which essentially restores the proteins within the boiled egg to their original state.

There are many scientific implications for the vortex fluidic device. Pharmaceutically, it can be used to amplify drug potency and delivery. According to Callum Ormonde, a co-author on the research, the idea for the device originated from a brief conversation three years ago, in 2012. Colin Raston is the primary Australian researcher who developed the device. Raston is a professor at Australia’s Flinders University.

Nine additional Ig Nobel Prizes were handed out to other researchers. The Physics prize was awarded to a group of scientists who arrived at the conclusion that “…nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).” The Literature prize, on the other hand, was bestowed upon a group of researchers who discovered the existence of the word “huh” or one of its derivations in 31 languages.

Though the Ig Nobel Prize may not be as prestigious as an actual Nobel Prize, recipients of the Ig Nobel are given their award by actual Nobel Laureates, and earning an Ig Nobel is no easy feat. The awards have existed since 1991, with 10 awards being given out every year since then.

Saturday, September 19, marks the date for this year’s Ig Informal Lectures, which comprises an afternoon full of public lectures. This year’s Ig Nobel winners will demonstrate how they arrived at their respective conclusions, and past Ig Nobel winners will also be present to speak. The event is free but is expected to be crowded, so it is in attendees’ best interests to arrive early.