UCI News

UCI team that discovered how to unboil eggs awarded 2015 Ig Nobel Prize in chemistry

by by Brian Bell | September 18, 2015

UCI chemist Greg Weiss and his team received the 2015 Ig Nobel Prize in chemistry Sept. 17 at the 25th Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University. A parody of the Nobel Prizes, these humorous awards honor scientific research that “makes you laugh, then think.” Weiss’ Ig Nobel is in recognition of his group’s breakthrough technique of unboiling an egg with a vortex fluid device, a high-speed machine that converts unfolded proteins into folded proteins. The results, published in the journal ChemBioChem, show that the researchers were able to refold proteins thousands of times faster than with previous methods. This innovation could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry. “The team and I are thrilled by the recognition and the chance to tell people about the reversibility of transformations, including those taking place every day, that seem totally irreversible,” Weiss said. As part of the amusing ceremony, the audience threw paper airplanes at the winners, who each received a Zimbabwean $10 trillion bill – the equivalent of about two U.S. dollars. The awards were presented by actual Nobel Prize winners. For those interested in learning more about unboiling eggs, Weiss will give a TEDx talk on the subject during UCI’s Festival of Discovery on Saturday, Oct. 3.