In a series of published papers, the university’s Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, and Zhang Guanglei demonstrated that kitchen refuse can be reduced by more than 90% in mass if aided by bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas.
Taguchi was on hand along with 1,200 guests at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre to receive the prize during a ceremony that organizers described as being “filled with risk, inventive brassieres, sword-swallowing, opera singers and paper airplanes.”
The annual awards, in their nineteenth year, are produced by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research and honor achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think.
Ten prizes in all were distributed. A bra that converts into gas masks won in the public health category, and a physics award was given for a study that analyzed why pregnant women don’t tip over.
Marc Abrahams, master of ceremonies (and editor of the magazine), closed the evening with words of encouragement for future candidates: “If you didn’t win an Ig Nobel prize tonight — and especially if you did — better luck next year.”