Student - October 5, 2006

Prize for smelly feet

Thursday evening 5 October, Wageningen malaria researcher Dr Bart Knols will receive the IgNobel prize at Harvard University for biological research that makes people laugh. He receives this alternative Nobel Prize for his 1996 publication, in which he announced that the smell of sweaty feet and Limburg cheese are really good for attracting malaria mosquitoes. The cheesy feet story was selected by a committee of real Nobel Prize winners from over five thousand nominations. The award places Knols and his colleague Dr Ruurd de Jong in the company of the inventor of artificial testicles for dogs and the researchers who got their subjects to swim in syrup. Is he pleased with the award? ‘It’s simple. We get the prize, whether we want it or not. To be honest, I didn’t even know the prize existed. When I heard that I had won one, I started to read about it, and I think it’s a great prize. I’m really proud.’ It’s the philosophy behind the IgNobel prizes that appeals to Knols: ‘They honour achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think. The more I read about the prize, the more amazed I was that we hadn’t won it earlier.’

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