System to launch hijackers from planes gets fun ‘Nobel’ prize

13 September 2013
By Tereza Pultarova
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A deceased inventor has been awarded this year's Ig Nobel Prize for Safety Engineering for a system launching hijackers from planes

A deceased inventor has been awarded this year's Ig Nobel Prize for Safety Engineering for a system launching hijackers from planes [Credit: US Department of Defense]

Discovery that dung beetles navigate by stars, a machine to launch hijackers from aircraft, or a calculation explaining that it would be possible to run across a surface of a pond if it was located on the Moon, were among achievements awarded by this year’s Ig Nobel Prize.

Announced one month ahead of the real Nobel Prize laureates, the quirky prize run by the Annals of Improbable Research has the goal of entertaining and encouraging global research and innovation.

Gustano Pizzo became this year’s winner of the safety engineering category with his design of an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers. The system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane's specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival.

Pizzo was awarded the Prize despite being dead since 2006. He had patented the invention in May 1972 under a name "anti-hijacking system for aircraft".

In the physics category, an international team from Italy, UK, Denmark and Switzerland has been awarded the Prize for a discovery that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the Moon.

Other categories include medicine, psychology, astronomy, public health, chemistry, archaeology, peace and probability.

The Prizes were handed out by former real Nobel Prize winners at a ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge,Massachusetts.

The ceremony included a mini-opera inspired by 1999 Ig Nobel Prize winners George and Charlotte Blonsky, who invented a spinning doctor's table that is meant to aid women in child birth by using centrifugal force.

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