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Every year the Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded to scientists whose research is deemed “different” from other ground-breaking research. As the organisers of the event put it, prizes are awarded to “research that makes people laugh and then think”. This year marked the 26th annual Ig Nobel Prize awards where scientists received their honours from actual Nobel Laureates. The ceremony takes place at Harvard University and is attended by some of the greatest scientific minds in the world. The scientists are allowed to let loose, even throwing paper planes around the auditorium, delivering one word welcoming speeches, and pulling various pranks and science jokes. Perdeby took a look at some of the most notable prizes won this year.
The Reproduction Prize was awarded to Ahmed Shafik, a renowned surgeon from Egypt. This was awarded for his research into the effects of wearing pants made from polyester, cotton, or wool on the sex lives of rats. He also conducted similar studies on human males.
The Biology Prize was awarded to Charles Foster and Thomas Thwaites for research into different animals by dressing up as the animals and living among them. Foster lived as a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox and a bird at different times during his research. Thwaites created prosthetic limbs to allow him to live among goats unnoticed as an outsider.
The Chemistry Prize went to an organisation rather than an individual scientist this year. Popular car manufacturer Volkswagen won the chemistry prize for ground-breaking advances in combatting carbon emissions by “automatically, electromechanically” reducing emissions whenever their vehicles are tested for carbon emissions.
Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson won The Economics Prize for research into the perceived personalities of rocks in a marketing context.
The Medicine Prize went to a group of scientists from Germany who made the important discovery that if one has an itch on the left side of the body, looking into a mirror and scratching the complimentary right side of the body can relieve the itch.
Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi from Japan won The Perception Prize for investigating whether objects look different when a person bends down and looks at it through their legs.
Although some of the research may seem unnecessary, the organisation hopes that the awards can show how important even the strangest research can be and how science will always prescribe to the saying “There are no dumb questions”.
Illustration: Michal-Maré Linden