The 2018 IG Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Conservators for research on saliva

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Akira Horiuchi, Ig Nobel Prize winner for medical education, 2018. Photo Alexey Eliseev.

On September 13 in CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA, the 2018 Ig Nobel Prizes, honoring achievements that first make people laugh, and then think, were awarded at Harvard University's historic Sanders Theatre tonight before 1,100 spectators in a ceremony filled with paper airplanes, hearts, and ten-trillion dollar bills.

This was the 28th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. Most of the new winners journeyed to Harvard — at their own expense — to accept their Prizes. Each winning team also received cash — a ten-trillion dollar bill from Zimbabwe.

The Ig Nobel Prizes were physically handed to the winners by genuine Nobel laureates. The laureates in attendance include Eric Maskin (economics, 2007), Wolfgang Ketterle (physics, 2001), Oliver Hart (economics, 2016), and Michael Rosbash (physiology or medicine, 2017).

Each new winner was permitted a maximum of sixty seconds to deliver an acceptance speech. The time limit was crisply enforced by an eight-year-old girl, who told long-winded speakers: "Please stop. I'm bored. Please stop. I'm bored. Please stop. I'm bored." until each speaker stopped speaking.

The Ig Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year was given to Paula Romão, Adília Alarcão and the late César Viana for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces. Their original research paper was published as, "Human Saliva as a Cleaning Agent for Dirty Surfaces," by Paula M. S. Romão, Adília M. Alarcão and César A.N. Viana, Studies in Conservation, vol. 35, 1990, pp. 153-155. The winners delivered their acceptance speech via recorded video.

The theme of this year's ceremony (though not necessarily of any of the prize-winning achievements) was “The Heart.” The ceremony included the premiere of "The Broken Heart Opera", a mini-opera in which children attempt to build a mechanical heart, break that heart, and (inspired by the old Bee Gees song) mend the broken heart. The opera starred sopranos Maria Ferrante and Jan Hadland, with a chorus composed of Boston-area cardiologists and the Nobel laureates.

Marc Abrahams, master of ceremonies (and editor of the magazine "Annals of Improbable Research"), closed the ceremony with the traditional, "If you didn't win an Ig Nobel Prize tonight — and especially if you did — better luck next year."

The event was produced by the science humor magazine "Annals of Improbable Research" (AIR), and co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students.

The ceremony was webcast live, for the 24th consecutive year. A recording will be available soon on YouTube.
A specially edited recording of the ceremony will be broadcast on public radio's "Science Friday" program on the day after Thanksgiving.

For more information on the Ig Nobel Prizes follow this link: