“Beer goggles” are said to make the potential object of your affection look more and more attractive as more alcohol is imbibed, but do those goggles work on your self-image as well? Researchers have shown that they do, even if you only think you're having a stiff drink — and that discovery earned an Ig Nobel Prize, one of the silliest awards in science. An international team of scientists received the “Psychology Prize” for their beer-goggles study at the annual Ig Nobel ceremony on Thursday. The parody of the real Nobel Prizes has been paying tribute to “science that makes you laugh, then makes you think” since 1991. Past winners have included the inventor of a bra that turns into a pair of gas masks, a researcher who reported on what's thought to be the first documented case of homosexual necrophilia in ducks, and a team of scientists who studied how painful it can get when you have to pee.
Thursday's ceremony took place at Harvard University, amid the traditional flurries of paper airplanes, tributes to past winners, and interruptions from an impatient 8-year-old girl to move the proceedings along. Under the direction of Ig Nobel impresario Marc Abrahams, real Nobel laureates handed out this year's 10 prizes. Abrahams announced that each prize-winning team would receive a cash prize amounting to 10 trillion dollars — Zimbabwean dollars, that is, which equals about four bucks. The festivities also included the premiere of “The Blonsky Device,” a mini-opera celebrating the invention of a bizarre birthing centrifuge. The device's creators won an Ig Nobel in 1999. Although the awards are silly, most of the winners are serious scientists. Physicist Andre Geim won an Ig Nobel in 2000 for his work with magnetically levitating frogs, and then went on to win the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for his work with graphene. That's one reason why Brad Bushman, an Ohio State University psychologist who worked on the “beer goggles” study, doesn't mind being singled out this year.