Some of my favorite past examples (see here for a complete list) include:
- 1995 - Physics: A rigorous analysis of what makes breakfast cereal sogggy.
- 1998 - Safety Engineering: Developing and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears.
- 2007 - Physics: A theoretical study of how sheets become wrinkled.
- 2009 - Physics: Analytically determining why pregnant women do not tip over.
- 2011 - Physics: Trying to determine why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers don't, in their paper "Dizziness in discus throwers is related to motion sickness generated while spinning"
- Acoustics: The SpeechJammer. When this device is aimed at a target, the incoming audio is delayed by a few microseconds and then sent back to the speaker. The effect is immediate silencing of the speaker, who hears everything he/she says repeated back to them with a few microsecond delay. Basically this is a gun that makes people shut up.
- Neuroscience: Studying the brain signals produced by a dead salmon. While that seems like an odd thing to study, it proved an important point - without careful statistical analysis random noise can always be interpreted as signal. (See my previous posts on the subject of pattern-seeking and pareidolia)
- Literature: Awarded to the US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
- Physics: Research into why coffee spills out of a cup when you are walking.
 Einstein did not win the Nobel prize for relativity or his equation E = mc2, his most well known contributions to science. Instead he won the prize for his work on the photoelectric effect, which describes how electrons are removed from metals by shining light on them. This work was an important first step into quantum mechanics.
 If you have taken a class at Brigham Young University you have no doubt heard of Robert Millikan. He won a Nobel prize for accurately measuring the charge of an electron. This work was made possible by major contributions from Harvey Fletcher (the inventor of the electronic hearing aid), a BYU graduate.