Unusual and imaginative: Knowledge meets slapstick at the Ig Nobel Prize

The atmosphere at the Ig Nobel Prize award ceremony is great.

Unusual and imaginative: Knowledge meets slapstick at the Ig Nobel Prize

The atmosphere at the Ig Nobel Prize award ceremony is great. Short operas and lots of slapstick fuel the online event. The research work selected, ranging from the development of a moose crash test dummy to exploring colonic irrigation scenes on Mayan pottery, is extraordinary.

Constipated scorpions, ducklings swimming in formation and crash test dummies in the shape of elks: Scientific studies that are intended to "first make you laugh and then make you think" have been awarded "Ig Nobel Prizes" in the USA. "Ignoble" means dishonorable.

Because of the corona pandemic, the traditionally shrill gala on Friday night was held as a purely online event for the third time in a row. According to the organizers, the non-endowed fun prizes, which will be awarded for the 32nd time, are intended to "celebrate the unusual and honor the imaginative".

For example, scientists from Brazil and Colombia received one of the ten prizes for studying whether and how constipation affects scorpion mating prospects. The award is a "great honour", the researchers thanked during the pre-recorded event - and demonstrated what they had researched using a stuffed animal scorpion.

Researchers from China, the UK, Turkey and the US received the award in the 'Physics' category for their attempt to understand how ducklings swim in formation. The scientists explained in their acceptance speech that the ducklings basically surfed on the wave triggered by their mother. "I feel like a lucky duck," commented one of them with a squeaky duck in the picture. "Let me tell you all, you're not really doing science if you're not having fun."

Swedish researcher Magnus Gens has been recognized for developing a moose crash test dummy. He was "honestly honored and proud to receive this award," said Gens. His research was primarily concerned with the effects that a collision with a moose can have on a car.

Researchers from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden and Aruba were recognized for seeking and finding evidence that newlywed couples' heart rates align when they first meet and are attracted to each other. 'There is also research that suggests that married couples, in good times and bad, synchronize their heart rate,' said one of the researchers involved. "People sync on so many levels that they are not aware of and it affects the decisions they make."

Researchers from Canada, the US, the UK and Australia received an award for analyzing what exactly makes court documents so difficult to understand. Among other things, they compared court documents with popular books and colloquialism, the scientists said.

Researchers from Japan have been recognized for finding the most efficient way for people to use their fingers when turning a knob. Researchers from the Netherlands, Guatemala, the USA and Austria dealt with "ritual colonic irrigation scenes on ancient Mayan pottery" - and were also honored for it.

Researchers from Poland received an award for showing that patients undergoing a certain form of chemotherapy may be able to relieve side effects such as mouth swelling a little by sucking ice cream - where ice cubes, for example, have been common practice so far.

Researchers from Italy - two of whom had previously won Ig Nobel Prizes - were honored for mathematically explaining why the luckiest, rather than the most talented, tend to succeed.

Researchers from China, Hungary, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Italy, Australia, Switzerland and the US also developed an excellent algorithm to help gossip spreaders decide when to tell the truth and when to lie .

Usually more than 1000 spectators follow the gala live on site in a theater of the elite Harvard University. But even at the online award ceremony, which lasted around one and a half hours, this time under the main theme "Knowledge", paper airplanes flew, there were skits, bizarre short operas and much more bizarre slapstick - ended by the traditional closing words of moderator Marc Abrahams, the publisher a scientific journal on curious research: "If you didn't win an Ig Nobel Prize this year, and especially if you did, better luck next year!"

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