- Jonathan Amos
- Science Correspondent, BBC
An experiment that hung black rhinos upside down to see what effect it had on these animals received one of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes.
Other awardees studied bacteria in gum stuck to sidewalks and how to control cockroaches on submarines.
The ceremony could not take place at its usual headquarters at Harvard University due to covid restrictions.
All the fun happened online this time.
Fake prizes are not as famous as “real” Nobel prizes.
The scientific humor magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, Annals of Improbable Research, assures that its Ig Nobel laureates “they should first make you laugh but then make you think“.
Rhinos upside down
And the rhino study, which won the transportation research award this year, does exactly that. What could seem crazier than hanging 12 rhinos upside down for 10 minutes?
But Cornell University wildlife vet Robin Radcliffe and his colleagues did exactly this in Namibia. The scientists they wanted to know if the health of animals could be compromised when they dangle by their legs under a helicopter.
This type of air transport is used with increasing frequency to move rhinos between areas of fragmented habitat.
However, no one had done the basic research to check that heart and lung function of the calmed animals were easily adapted to flying in that position, Radcliffe said.
“Namibia was not the first country to move rhinos face up with helicopters, but they were the first to step back and say, ‘hey, let’s look at this and find out, is this transport safe for rhinos?” Cornell researcher.
Radcliffe’s team, in collaboration with the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, suspended 12 tranquilized rhinos from a crane and measured their physical responses.
The study showed that it is better for rhinos to be moved in this unusual position than simply lying down or on your side.
“I think the reason is that when a rhino is lying on its side, it affects the blood flow. In other words, the lower parts of the lung receive a lot of blood flow for gas exchange, but the upper part of the lung, only for the gravity, it is not perfusing well, so when a rhino is hanging upside down, it’s basically like I’m standing still; the lung is equally perfused. “
“We have also seen that rhinos that are on their side too long, or on the sternum, suffer muscle damage, contract myopathy, because they weigh a lot. When they are carried on their back there is no pressure on their legs, apart from the strap around their ankle. “Radcliffe explained.
Royal nobel awards
As usual with Ig Nobel, the prizes were awarded by real Nobel laureates, among them Frances Arnold (chemistry, 2018), Carl Weiman (physics, 2001) and Eric Maskin (economics, 2007).
The winners got a paper trophy that they had to assemble themselves from a PDF print and a cash prize in the form of a counterfeit Zimbabwean $ 10 billion banknote.
When asked what he would do with his “cash” payment, Robin Radcliffe joked: “We are always looking for research funds.”
“When I heard about the Ig Nobel Prize, I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. But I think for us it’s about that message, that it ‘makes you laugh and then think.’
“More and more people should understand what efforts are being made to try to save these amazing animals who live here on planet Earth with us. “
Another team member, wildlife vet Pete Morkel, added: “This has really changed the translocation of rhinos, and the translocation of elephants even more. Lifting these large animals by the legs is a now accepted method.. The next thing we need to do is investigate its effect on other species such as buffalo, different species of hippopotamus, and maybe even giraffes. “
The complete list of winners of the Ig Nobel Prize 2021 is as follows:
Biology Award: Susanne Schötz, for analyzing variations of purrs, chirps, chatters, trills, murmurs, meows, whines, screeches, hisses, howls, growls, and other modes of communication between cats and humans.
Ecology Award: Leila Satari and colleagues, for using genetic analysis to identify the different species of bacteria that reside in discarded gum stuck on sidewalks in various countries.
Chemistry Award: Jörg Wicker and colleagues, for chemically analyzing the air inside movie theaters, to test whether the smells produced by an audience reliably indicate levels of violence, sex, antisocial behavior, drug use, and profanity in the movie they are watching.
Economics Award: Pavlo Blavatskyy, for discovering that the obesity of politicians in a country can be a good indicator of corruption in that nation.
Medicine Award: Olcay Cem Bulut and colleagues, for demonstrating that sexual orgasms can be as effective as decongestant medications in improving nasal breathing.
Peace Prize: Ethan Beseris and colleagues, for testing the hypothesis that humans developed beards to protect themselves from blows to the face.
Physics Award: Alessandro Corbetta and colleagues, for conducting experiments to learn why pedestrians do not constantly collide with other pedestrians.
Award of Cunethical: Hisashi Murakami and colleagues, for conducting experiments to understand why pedestrians sometimes collide with other pedestrians.
Entomology Award: John Mulrennan Jr and colleagues, for their study “A new method of cockroach control in submarines”.
Award of Ttransportation: Robin Radcliffe and colleagues, to determine by experiment whether it is safer to transport a rhino in the air upside down.
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Hanging rhinos and gum stuck to the floor: Ig Nobel prizes, the awards that make you “laugh first and then think” – BBC News World