1. Not noble in quality, character, or purpose; base or mean.
2. Not of the nobility; common.
Every year since 1991 a little known award is quietly handed out in the honor of insignificent scientific contribution and human progress. The award is the "Ig Nobel Prize", a play on the word ignoble and Nobel Prize. Yearly it lists "ten achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think."
I haven't laughed this hard in a while. The following are a sample of some winners.
Archeology - Eclaireurs de France, the Protestant youth group whose name means "those who show the way," fresh-scrubbed removers of graffiti, for erasing the ancient paintings from the walls of the Meyrieres Cave near the French village of Bruniquel.
Chemistry - Ivette Bassa, constructor of colorful colloids, for her role in the crowning achievement of twentieth century chemistry, the synthesis of bright blue Jell-O.
Nutrition - The utilizers of SPAM, courageous consumers of canned comestibles, for 54 years of undiscriminating digestion.
Art - Presented jointly to Jim Knowlton, modern Renaissance man, for his classic anatomy poster "Penises of the Animal Kingdom," and to the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, for encouraging Mr. Knowlton to extend his work in the form of a pop-up book.
Psychology - Presented jointly to John Edward Mack of Harvard Medical School and David M. Jacobs of Temple University, for their conclusion that people who believe they were kidnapped by aliens from outer space, probably were -- and especially for their conclusion, "the focus of the abduction is the production of children".
Biology - Presented jointly to Paul Williams Jr. of the Oregon State Health Division and Kenneth W. Newel of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, bold biological detectives, for their pioneering study, "Salmonella Excretion in Joy-Riding Pigs".
Visionary Technology - Presented jointly to Jay Schiffman of Farmington Hills, Michigan, crack inventor of AutoVision, an image projection device that makes it possible to drive a car and watch television at the same time, and to the Michigan State Legislature, for making it legal to do so.
Biology - Presented to W. Brian Sweeney, Brian Krafte-Jacobs, Jeffrey W. Britton, and Wayne Hansen, for their breakthrough study, "The Constipated Serviceman: Prevalence Among Deployed US Troops," and especially for their numerical analysis of bowel movement frequency.
Medicine - Two prizes. First, to Patient X, formerly of the US Marine Corps, valiant victim of a venomous bite from his pet rattlesnake, for his determined use of electroshock therapy. At his own insistence, automobile sparkplug wires were attached to his lip, and the car engine revved to 3,000 rpm for five minutes. Second, to Dr. Richard C. Dart of the Rocky Mountain Poison Center and Dr. Richard A. Gustafson of The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, for their well-grounded medical report, "Failure of Electric Shock Treatment for Rattlesnake Envenomation."
Entomology - Presented to Robert A. Lopez of Westport, NY, valiant veterinarian and friend of all creatures great and small, for his series of experiments in obtaining ear mites from cats, inserting them into his own ear, and carefully observing and analyzing the results.
Mathematics - Presented to The Southern Baptist Church of Alabama, mathematical measurers of morality, for their county-by-county estimate of how many Alabama citizens will go to Hell if they don't repent.
Nutrition - Presented to John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta, for Luak Coffee, the world's most expensive coffee, which is made from coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luak, a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia.
Psychology - Presented to Shigeru Watanabe, Junko Sakamoto, and Masumi Wakita, of Keio University, for their success in training pigeons to discriminate between the paintings of Picasso and those of Monet.
Public Health - Presented to Martha Kold Bakkevig of Sintef Unimed in Trondheim, Norway, and Ruth Nielson of the Technical University of Denmark, for their exhaustive study, "Impact of Wet Underwear on Thermoregulatory Responses and Thermal Comfort in the Cold."
Medicine - Presented to James Johnston of R.J. Reynolds, Joseph Taddeo of U.S. Tobacco, Andrew Tisch of Lorillard, William Campbell of Philip Morris, Edward A. Horrigan of Liggett Group, Donald S. Johnston of American Tobacco Company, and Thomas E. Sandefur, Jr., chairman of Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, for their unshakable discovery, as testified to the U.S. Congress, that nicotine is not addictive.
Physics - Presented to Robert Matthews of Aston University, England, for his studies of Murphy's Law, and especially for demonstrating that toast often falls on the buttered side.
Peace - Presented to Jacques Chirac, President of France, for commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Hiroshima with atomic bomb tests in the Pacific.
Biology - Presented to T. Yagyu and his colleagues from the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, the Kansai Medical University in Osaka, Japan, and the Neuroscience Technology Research in Prague, Czech Republic, for measuring people's brainwave patterns while they chewed different flavors of gum. 
Entomology - Presented to Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida, for his book, That Gunk on Your Car, which identifies the insect splats that appear on automobile windows.
Economics - Presented to Akihiro Yokoi of Wiz Company in Chiba, Japan, and Aki Maita of Bandai Company in Tokyo, for diverting millions of person-hours of work into the husbandry of virtual pets.
Safety Engineering - Presented to Troy Hurtubise, of North Bay, Ontario, for developing and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears.
Biology - Presented to Peter Fong of Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for contributing to the happiness of clams by giving them Prozac.
Peace - Presented to Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, for their aggressively peaceful explosions of atomic bombs.
Biology - Presented to Dr. Paul Bosland, director of The Chile Pepper Institute, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, for breeding a spiceless jalapeño chile pepper.
Peace - Presented to Charl Fourie and Michelle Wong of Johannesburg, South Africa, for inventing the Blaster, an automobile burglar alarm consisting of a detection circuit and a flamethrower.
Managed Health Care - Presented to the late George Blonsky and Charlotte Blonsky of New York City and San Jose, California, for inventing a device (US Patent #3,216,423) to aid women in giving birth -- the woman is strapped onto a circular table, and the table is then rotated at high speed.
Psychology - Presented to David Dunning of Cornell University and Justin Kreuger of the University of Illinois, for their modest report, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments."
Physics - Presented to Andre Geim of the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and Sir Michael Berry of Bristol University, England, for using magnets to levitate a frog and a sumo wrestler.
Computer Science - Presented to Chris Niswander of Tucson, Arizona, for inventing PawSense, software that detects when a cat is walking across your computer keyboard.
Here is the complete listing of Ig Nobel Prize Winners.
For another similar award, see the Darwin Award and its listing of Darwin Award Winners.
Science is still at its infancy, barely a couple hundred years old. It is nice humanity is learning to take itself less seriously. From time to time, it is healthy to laugh at yourself.