Even Nobel Prizes can be fun and very special. The proof is given by the Ig Nobel, those honors “that first make you laugh and then make you think”. As the site reports improbable.comthe prizes awarded in 2023 range from Literature to Communication, up to Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering and touch on many themes, from the study of cadavers to mental processes.
From Chemistry to Engineering, between rocks and spiders
The recipient of the Chemistry and Geology prize was the Polish Jan Zalasiewicz, who explained why many scientists like to lick rocks. The reference is “Eating fossils”, the newsletter n.96 of the Paleontological Association, sent in November 2017. The Literature prize instead went to a study by five different scientists, coming from France, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Finland, who they discovered what it feels like after a word has been repeated many times in a very short time. The honor in the field of Mechanical Engineering was instead awarded, as The Guardian also writes, to five scientists from India, China , Malaysia and the USA, who discovered dead spiders for use as mechanical gripping tools. This award is based on the 2022 study “Necrobotics: Biotic Materials as Ready-To-Use Actuators”.
From the Stanford Toilet to nose hair
The inventor of the Stanford Toilet, the Korean Seung-min Park, obtained mention in the field of Public Health: his discovery has the merit of using a variety of technologies, which allows urinalysis, a vision system artificial for the analysis of defecation, a sensor for anal impressions and also a telecommunications link, which rapidly monitors and analyzes the substances that humans excrete. The prize for Communication instead went to a South American team, with the addition of elements from Spain, China and the USA, which analyzed the mental activities of people expert in speaking backwards. The reference is to the study “Neurocognitive signatures of phonemic sequencing in expert backward speakers”, published in 2020. Special mention for Medicine went to eight scientists, who analyzed cadavers to understand if there is an equal number of hairs: an award obtained thanks to the study “The quantification and measurement of nasal hairs in a cadaveric population”, published in 2020.
From the changing taste of food to the sexual activity of anchovies
In the Nutrition sector, however, the prize went to two Japanese people, Homei Miyashita and Hiromi Nakamura, who studied how electrified chopsticks and straws can change the taste of food. The mention in the field of Education instead went to a team of eight scientists, who studied how student boredom also leads to boredom in teachers: the reference is to two studies, such as “Boredom generates boredom: a sampling study of experience on the impact of teacher boredom on student boredom and motivation” and “Whatever will bore, will bore: the mere anticipation of boredom exacerbates its occurrence in lessons.” Stanley Milgram, Leonard Bickman and Lawrence Berkowitz received the prize in Psychology for having conducted experiments on a city street to see how many passers-by stop to look up when they see strangers looking up. The honor, accepted only by Bickman, refers to a study dating back to 1969 entitled “Note on the power of attraction of crowds of different sizes”. Finally, the Physics prize went to an international team of scientists from Spain, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and France, who studied how the mixing of ocean water is influenced by the sexual activity of anchovies: the scientific reference is “”Intense upper-ocean mixing due to large aggregations of spawning fish,” published in 2022.