The late John Paul Stapp, the late Edward A. Murphy, Jr., and George Nichols, for jointly giving birth in 1949 to Murphy's Law, the basic engineering principle that "If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, someone will do it" (or, in other words: "If anything can go wrong, it will").
REFERENCE: "The Fastest Man on Earth," Nick T. Spark, Annals of Improbable Research, vol. 9, no. 5, Sept/Oct 2003.
Jack Harvey, John Culvenor, Warren Payne, Steve Cowley, Michael Lawrance, David Stuart, and Robyn Williams of Australia, for their irresistible report "An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces."
PUBLISHED IN: Applied Ergonomics, vol. 33, no. 6, November 2002, pp. 523-31
Eleanor Maguire, David Gadian, Ingrid Johnsrude, Catriona Good, John Ashburner, Richard Frackowiak, and Christopher Frith of University College London, for presenting evidence that the brains of London taxi drivers are more highly developed than those of their fellow citizens.
PUBLISHED IN: "Navigation-Related Structural Change In the Hippocampi of Taxi Drivers," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 97, no. 8, April 11, 2000, pp. 4398-403. Also see their subsequent publications.
Gian Vittorio Caprara and Claudio Barbaranelli of the University of Rome, and Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University, for their discerning report "Politicians' Uniquely Simple Personalities."
PUBLISHED IN: Nature, vol. 385, February 1997, p. 493.
Yukio Hirose of Kanazawa University, for his chemical investigation of a bronze statue, in the city of Kanazawa, that fails to attract pigeons.
John Trinkaus, of the Zicklin School of Business, New York City, for meticulously collecting data and publishing more than 80 detailed academic reports about specific annoyances and anomalies of daily life, such as: What percentage of young people wear baseball caps with the peak facing to the rear rather than to the front; What percentage of pedestrians wear sport shoes that are white rather than some other color; What percentage of swimmers swim laps in the shallow end of a pool rather than the deep end; What percentage of automobile drivers almost, but not completely, come to a stop at one particular stop-sign; What percentage of commuters carry attaché cases; What percentage of shoppers exceed the number of items permitted in a supermarket's express checkout lane; and What percentage of students dislike the taste of Brussels sprouts.
REFERENCE: 86 of Professor Trinkaus's publications are listed in "Trinkaus -- An Informal Look," Annals of Improbable Research, vol. 9, no. 3, May/Jun 2003.
Karl Schwrzler and the nation of Liechtenstein, for making it possible to rent the entire country for corporate conventions, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other gatherings.
REFERENCE: http://www.xnet.li and http://www.rentastate.com
Stefano Ghirlanda, Liselotte Jansson, and Magnus Enquist of Stockholm University, for their inevitable report "Chickens Prefer Beautiful Humans."
PUBLISHED IN: Human Nature, vol. 13, no. 3, 2002, pp. 383-9.
Lal Bihari, of Uttar Pradesh, India, for a triple accomplishment: First, for leading an active life even though he has been declared legally dead; Second, for waging a lively posthumous campaign against bureaucratic inertia and greedy relatives; and Third, for creating the Association of Dead People.
C.W. Moeliker, of Natuurmuseum Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for documenting the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.
REFERENCE: "The First Case of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Aves: Anatidae)" C.W. Moeliker, Deinsea, vol. 8, 2001, pp. 243-7. Photographs can be viewed at http://www.nmr.nl/deins815.htm