But it was the Ig Nobel Peace prize in which this country can take most pride, for not only was the winner an Englishman, but The Independent itself - though this has not been given the recognition it deserves - played a crucial role in the nomination process. In January 1994 in these pages, we reported the Ig Nobel awards for 1993 (including the Biology prize to the authors of a paper entitled "Salmonella Excretion in Joy- Riding Pigs" and a Mathematics prize to a man from South Carolina who had calculated the exact odds that Mikhail Gorbachev was the Anti-Christ - 8,606,091,751,882 to 1).
Our report ended, however, with the words: "None of the papers mentioned ... have the ... significance of `The Possible Pain Experienced During Execution by Different Methods' by Harold Hillman, which appeared in Perception 1993, Vol 22, pp745-753." After a wait of nearly four years, the Ig Nobel committee have finally taken our advice and offered overdue recognition to Dr Hillman's work. On a serious note, it is a paper that should be read by anyone who believes that beheading, shooting, hanging, stoning or electrocution are humane ways of putting a criminal to death.
The Ig Nobel awards were presented by four Nobel Laureates, including William Lipscomb, winner of the 1976 Chemistry prize, who was also raffled off in the Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest.