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Archive for Friday, October 5, 2001

Dubious achievements honored with Ig Nobels

October 5, 2001

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— If airtight underwear someday makes its way onto the shelves of America's department stores, thank Buck Weimer.

Seven years ago the Pueblo, Colo., therapist, came up with the idea of "Under-Ease" skivvies, complete with a flatulence filter.

Ig Nobel Prize winner Viliumas Malinauskus, of Lithuania, holds up
a plaque with the bust of Josef Stalin. Malinauskus was awarded the
prize for creating the amusement park known as "Stalin World."

Ig Nobel Prize winner Viliumas Malinauskus, of Lithuania, holds up a plaque with the bust of Josef Stalin. Malinauskus was awarded the prize for creating the amusement park known as "Stalin World."

Weimer, 62, and a dozen other researchers, inventors and scientists received the 2001 Ig Nobel Prize on Thursday night for their unique, occasionally head-scratching, contributions to the world.

Weimer stresses that Under-Ease is a serious medical product. "While we appreciate the humor and get a lot of that we recognize that it's a medical product, and it's for people in need," he said. "We believe we're certainly fulfilling a service here."

"There are many prizes in the world for people who are the best at something ... There are a few prizes for the worst things. But most people are somewhere in between, and there's nothing for them," said Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, the humor science magazine and host of the awards. "That's why there's the Ig Nobel Prizes. It's for the great muddle in the middle, where most of us are, most of the time."

David Schmidt, 31, was a bit chagrined at first to learn he was a winner for discovering that shower curtains billow inward because of air currents caused by water spray.


"My first reaction was, 'Oh my God, am I going to make a laughingstock out of myself and my university?"' he said.

Schmidt is an assistant professor of engineering at the University of Massachusetts and his major area of research is engine functions.

"Then I realized that I did this in the first place for the fun of it," he said. "I think every one realizes that there's no practical application."

Nobel Prize winners bestow the awards.

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