Ig Nobel, the awards that make you “laugh first and then think”

Cindy Fernandez 7 min
science, nobel, awards
Ig Nobel reminds us how healthy it is for science to laugh at itself

The Ig Nobel Prizes they are, indisputably, an American parody of the Nobel Prize. And although they are not as famous as the latter, they are delivered every year between September and October in order to recognize the achievements of ten groups of scientists whose investigations “first make people laugh, then make them think.”

The event is organized by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (Annals of Improbable Research), are presented at Harvard University and have the particularity that They are delivered by a number of collaborators including genuine Nobel Laureates. And although it sounds a bit crazy, this event aims to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative, and stimulate interest of all for science, medicine, and technology.

The first Ig Nobel Prizes have been held since 1991, although at the beginning they were awarded discoveries “that could not, or should not, be reproduced.” Ten prizes are awarded each year, including the five Nobel Prize categories (physics, chemistry, physiology / medicine, literature, and peace), plus other categories such as public health, engineering, biology, and interdisciplinary research. With the exception of three awards in the first year, Ig Nobel Prizes are for real achievements. And these were the winners of 2021.

Transportation Award: Head Rhinos

And the rhino study, which won the transportation research award this year, does exactly that. What could seem crazier than hanging up 12 rhinos face down for 10 minutes? Scientists 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 increasingly used 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. The study showed that it is better for rhinos to be moved in this unusual position than to simply lie down or on their side.

Biology Prize: communication between humans and cats

Susanne Schötz from Lund University, Sweden, won in this category for researching what cats want when they make sounds. He analyzed variations of purrs, chirps, chatters, trills, murmurs, meows, moans, screeches, hisses, howls, growls, and other modes of communication between cats and humans.

Ecology Award: bacteria in chewing gum on the floor

Leila Satari and colleagues won for using genetic analysis to identify the different species of bacteria residing in gum discarded and stuck on the sidewalks of various countries. According to the authors, it is essential for forensic science, infectology and bioremediation.

Chemistry Prize: the smell to classify films

Jörg Wicker and his colleagues were awarded for chemically analyze the air inside movie theaters, which demonstrated that the smells produced by an audience reliably indicate the levels of violence, sex, antisocial behavior, drug use and profanity that appear in the movie being watched.

Economics Award: obese politicians vs corruption

Pavlo Blavatsky and other French, Swiss, Austrian, Australian and Czech researchers found that the politicians obesity in a country can be a good indicator of corruption in that nation.

Medicine Award: Can Sex Ease Nasal Congestion?

Olcay Cem Bulut and colleagues won because they demonstrated that orgasm can be ias effective as drugs when it comes to decongesting the nose and improving nasal breathing up to one hour after the sexual encounter. But beware, the relief is for a short time.

Peace Prize: protective beards

Ethan Beseris and his colleagues hypothesized that humans developed beards to protect against blows in the face.

According to this research, the beard can serve, similar to the long hair of a lion’s mane, to “protect vital areas such as the throat and jaw from lethal attacks.”

Physics Prize: pedestrians without bumps

Alessandro Corbetta and his colleagues won for research that sheds light on why when we find ourselves in a crowd of people we do not collide with each other. They observed that pedestrians continually adapt their walking paths trying to preserve mutual comfort distances and avoid collisions.

Kinetic Award: as in physics, but in reverse

Hisashi Murakami and his colleagues reversed the approach to the physical category and did studies to understand why some of the pedestrians sometimes collide with other pedestrians.

Entomology Prize: cockroaches in submarines

The entomology award was for a 1971 study on a method for control cockroach pests from a submarine. The retired commander of the US Navy, John Mulrennan Jr., received the award for developing a technique to get rid of cockroaches in Navy submarines using a pesticide called dichlorvos, (after verifying, yes, that the ethylene oxide used previously it was toxic). “The Navy was happy at the time,” he said in his acceptance speech, although he does not know if his technique is still being used.

This year’s ceremony was virtual and, as usual, there was an engineering opera, 24-second and 7-word lectures, paper airplanes and real Nobel Prize winners reminding us how healthy it is for science to laugh at itself.

We would like to say thanks to the writer of this short article for this outstanding content

Ig Nobel, the awards that make you “laugh first and then think”

Hank Gilbert