The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize Winners include scientists that invented a Wasabi Alarm

Often times, the best way to spark our interest is to touch on the lighter side of life, and this is what the Ig Nobel Prize is about. The awards are given to recognize accomplishments in the fields of science, medicine and technology that may initially seem bizarre, yet have hidden potential. In fact, the ceremony’s motto is: Research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.

The most notable Ig Nobel winner with real world applications is in the field of chemistry. Japanese scientists Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami of Shiga University were able to successfully identify the best density of wasabi when airborne, in order to determine how it can wake up hearing-impaired individuals from sleep during an emergency. Their research resulted in the creation of the silent Wasabi Alarm.

The secret behind the imaginative system is allyl isothiocyanate, a compound in the Japanese horseradish that emits a unique  odor that can be perceived even when one is asleep.“Wasabi odor is useful as a fire alarm to deaf people who failed to wake up with a conventional mode such as sound, vibration or flashing light,” said Makoto Imai, professor of psychiatry at Shiga University of Medical Science.

Other winners include a group of researchers who stumbled upon an Australian male jewel beetle that likes to get “intimate” with beer bottles, and Mirjam A. Tuk, whose research seems to support that decision making is improved with a full bladder. Several scientists were also honored for”teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations” in response to their mistaken predictions of the world’s end.

If you’re interested in the complete list of the Ig Nobel Prize winners, visit Improbable Research.


Source: Japan Today, Improbable Research