This year’s edition of the Ig Nobel Prizes stirred up quite the laughter in the audience. The winners were all original and inventive scientists who managed to put their name on works nobody could have ever thought of.
The Ig Nobel Prizes are the scientific version of a parody. During the ceremony, ten of the most unusual science endeavors are celebrated. And while the first response to such studies is an outburst of laughter, they do leave a sort of “aftertaste,” making people think about the deeper, hidden intentions of the scientists.
That is the main aim of the awards, to
“honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”
Here are the winners of the 2016 autumn edition of the Ig Nobel Prizes:
The Economics Prize went to Mark Avis and his team for an outstanding assessing of the way individuals perceive the personalities of rocks. The analysis was made from both a marketing and sales perspective.
The Chemistry Prize was awarded to the German car manufacturer, Volkswagen, for managing to solve the problem of excessive pollution by producing fewer emissions while testing their vehicles.
The Psychology Prize was won by Evelyne Debey for a deep analysis of thousands of people prone to embellish the truth. After focusing her and her team’s attention on thousands of liars that were asked about the frequency with which they distort the truth, the team was confused on whether the results of the paper were real or just another embellishment.
The Reproduction Prize was awarded post-mortem to Ahmed Shafik, Egyptian politician, and former presidency candidate. Shafik conducted extensive research on the effects of wearing cotton, wool, or polyester pants on the sexual activity of rodents.
The Peace Prize was handed to Gordon Pennycook and team for a comprehensive analysis “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit.”
The Physics Prize went to Gabor Horvath for a thoroughly researched paper on why white horses repel flies. The distinguished scientist also demonstrated the science behind the previously inexplicable attraction between dragonflies and tombstones. Spoiler alert: dragonflies only live for a few days, so they don’t have time to waste when choosing a final resting place.
When it came to the Biology Prize, the committee could not make a choice between Thomas Thwaites, the man who built plastic prosthetics to be able to walk and chill with the goats like one of their own, and Charles Foster, an individual so dedicated to wildlife study that he decided to live as a fox, deer, bird, otter, and badger. Not at the same time, of course. Both men received the award.
The Perception Prize was awarded to Kohei Adachi and Atsuki Higasiyama for analyzing the view from between their legs.
The Medicine Prize was won by Christoph Helmchen for a unique discovery. According to the researcher, people who experienced an itch on the left side of their body while looking in the mirror had a tendency of scratching their right side. Of course, the opposite scenario applied.
And last, but not least, the Literature Prize was awarded to Fredrik Sjoberg who wrote an immersive three-volume autobiography which describes the intense pleasure of collecting flies. Plot twist: the main character frantically searches for both alive and dead flies. According to literary critics, Sjoberg managed to describe the internal struggles of a fly collector perfectly.
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