Even though they may not seem to have much in common, the sex lives of constipated scorpions, adorable ducklings with an intuitive understanding of physics, and a life-size rubber moose all served as inspiration for the winners of this year’s Ig Nobels, the award for humorous scientific achievement.
Ig Nobel Prize
The Ig Nobel Prize is a satirical awardiven each year since 1991 to honor ten outlandish or unimportant contributions to science. “Honoring achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think” is its stated goal. The award’s name is a play on the phrase ignoble and the Nobel Prize, which it mocks (“not noble”).
The Ig Nobel Prizes are presented by Nobel laureates in a ceremony at the Sanders Theater, Harvard University, and are sponsored by the scientific humor publication Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). The ceremony is followed by the prizewinners’ public lectures at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The 32nd annual Ig Nobel prize ceremony took place on Thursday. It was broadcast live online for the third consecutive year on the website of the Annals of Improbable Research journal less than a month before the actual Nobel Prizes were announced.
The winners, recognized in ten categories, also included researchers who looked at why legal paperwork can be so utterly perplexing, even to attorneys themselves and others who discovered that when persons on a blind date are attracted to one other, their pulse rates synchronize.
The ceremony was prerecorded, but it still had much of the excitement of the real one, which usually takes place at Harvard University.
The winners stretched out, carried a prize they had been supplied, and assembled themselves into view. This followed an Ig Nobel tradition where real Nobel laureates gave away prizes off-screen.
Winners also received a $10 trillion Zimbabwean currency that was essentially worthless.
Some scorpion species have developed the capacity to give up their tails when taken by a predator, such as the South American Ananteris balzani. But in the process, the scorpion also loses its metasoma, the last segment of its body that houses vital digestive and circulatory functions. This includes the anus, which means that over weeks or even months, the stingless scorpion will die of what is likely the worst case of constipation in the entire world—a slow, torturous death.
The loss of the metasomal causes a drop in the scorpion’s mass of roughly 25%, according to research by Solimary Garca-Hernández and Glauco Machado of the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil. The scorpion should be able to move much more quickly because it still has its limbs, according to the researchers’ theory, but only in the short term. The increase in bulk of the scorpion during the height of constipation cancels the benefits in speed as digestion wastes accumulate in the intestines with no way to remove them.
However, when the scientists conducted actual studies on more than 150 male and female scorpions, they discovered no difference in the pace at which they ran after losing their metasomal. The exciting but surprising conclusion reached by the Brazilian researchers, which won them the biology prize, was that scorpions should be able to forage, even look for suitable mates, and have children after losing their tails.
Love At First Sight
Eliska Prochazkova’s research on dating, which earned her and their colleagues the cardiology Ig Nobel, was inspired by her personal experiences.
On dating apps, she had no trouble locating her seemingly ideal mate, but she frequently discovered that there was no chemistry when they met.
She then arranged blind dates for participants in actual social contexts, monitored their physiological responses, and discovered that those attracted to one another had synchronized heart rates.
So, does her art demonstrate “love at first sight”?
According to Prochazkova, a researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, “it truly depends on how you define love.” According to our research, people may quickly decide whether they want to date a partner. The participants formed a relatively complicated idea of the person sitting in front of them during the first two seconds of the date.
GET YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW
“I enjoy science. Frank Fish, a biology professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, shared the physics Ig Nobel for his research into why ducklings follow their mothers in a single-file pattern. “My motto is you’re not doing science if you’re not having fun,” Fish said.
He explained that the ducklings are drafting, just like stock cars, cyclists, and runners do in a race, and it’s all about energy conservation.
The fittingly named Fish, who specializes in researching animal swimming, says, “it all has to do with the flow that occurs behind that leading organism and the manner that moving information can actually be an energetic benefit.”
THAT’S A MOOSE, DUMMY
For creating a moose “crash test dummy” for his master’s thesis at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, later published by the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Magnus Gers earned the safety engineering Ig Nobel.
CAN YOU SPEAK LEGALESE?
Legal contracts may often be incomprehensible, as anyone who has read the terms of the service agreement will attest to.
That aggravated Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate student in brain and cognitive science Eric Martinez, who also holds a legal degree from Harvard.
The research he conducted with Francis Mollica and Edward Gibson, published in the journal “Cognition,” won the Literature Ig Nobel Prize for the three of them.
In the end, there’s a hope that lawyers will consider the reader a bit more, he added. Lawyers can also profit from clarity, not only from the general public.