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Seeing Jesus in a piece of toast and other scientific discoveries win Ig Nobel awards

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5764 (Published 19 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5764
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

“Have you seen Jesus’ face in a piece of toast? Elvis in a tortilla? Your Uncle Bob in the clouds? It’s perfectly normal if you see non-existent objects,” said Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, accepting his Ig Nobel award for neuroscience on 18 September at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lee and colleagues from China and Canada were among the 10 winners of Ig Nobel awards announced at the 24th annual ceremony and handed out by winners of the proper Nobel prizes. The theme this year was “Food.” The awards are organized by the lighthearted journal Annals of Improbable Research and its editor, Marc Abraham. The prizes reward studies that “first make people laugh and then make them think.” The awards were a plastic tray with utensils such as those in an airplane meal, a document signed by real Nobel laureates, and a monetary prize—a 10 trillion dollar Zimbabwean note.

The celebration this year included a mini-opera, “What’s Eating You,” modeled on Don Giovanni; two blizzards of paper airplanes; an 8 year old girl who loudly interrupted participants who spoke longer than one minute; and lectures by experts who explained their subjects first in 24 seconds and then in seven words.

Lee told The BMJ that he and colleagues often encountered people who said they saw Jesus’s face on a piece of toast and wondered whether the people were deluded or whether there …

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