Since 1999, Slashdot has been covering the annual Ig Nobel prize ceremonies — which honor real scientific research into strange or surprising subjects. “Each winner (or winning team) has done something that makes people LAUGH, then THINK,” explains the ceremony web page, promising that “a gaggle of genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel laureates handed the Ig Nobel Prizes to the new Ig Nobel winners.” As co-founder Marc Abrahams says on his LinkedIn profile, “All these things celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.”
You can watch this year’s entire goofy webcast online. (At 50 minutes there’s a jaw-droppingly weird music video about running on water…) Slashdot reader Thorfinn.au shares this summary of this year’s winning research: CHEMISTRY and GEOLOGY PRIZE [POLAND, UK] — Jan Zalasiewicz, for explaining why many scientists like to lick rocks.
LITERATURE PRIZE [FRANCE, UK, MALAYSIA, FINLAND] — Chris Moulin, Nicole Bell, Merita Turunen, Arina Baharin, and Akira O’Connor for studying the sensations people feel when they repeat a single word many, many, many, many, many, many, many times.
MECHANICAL ENGINEERING PRIZE [INDIA, CHINA, MALAYSIA, USA] — Te Faye Yap, Zhen Liu, Anoop Rajappan, Trevor Shimokusu, and Daniel Preston, for re-animating dead spiders to use as mechanical gripping tools.
PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE [SOUTH KOREA, USA] — Seung-min Park, for inventing the Stanford Toilet a computer vision system for defecation analysis et al.
COMMUNICATION PRIZE [ARGENTINA, SPAIN, COLOMBIA, CHILE, CHINA, USA] — María José Torres-Prioris, Diana López-Barroso, Estela Càmara, Sol Fittipaldi, Lucas Sedeño, Agustín Ibáñez, Marcelo Berthier, and Adolfo García, for studying the mental activities of people who are expert at speaking backward.
MEDICINE PRIZE [USA, CANADA, MACEDONIA, IRAN, VIETNAM] — Christine Pham, Bobak Hedayati, Kiana Hashemi, Ella Csuka, Tiana Mamaghani, Margit Juhasz, Jamie Wikenheiser, and Natasha Mesinkovska, for using cadavers to explore whether there is an equal number of hairs in each of a person’s two nostrils.
NUTRITION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Homei Miyashita and Hiromi Nakamura, for experiments to determine how electrified chopsticks and drinking straws can change the taste of food.
EDUCATION PRIZE [HONG KONG, CHINA, CANADA, UK, THE NETHERLANDS, IRELAND, USA, JAPAN] — Katy Tam, Cyanea Poon, Victoria Hui, Wijnand van Tilburg, Christy Wong, Vivian Kwong, Gigi Yuen, and Christian Chan, for methodically studying the boredom of teachers and students.
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [USA] — Stanley Milgram, Leonard Bickman, and Lawrence Berkowitz for 1968 experiments on a city street to see how many passersby stop to look upward when they see strangers looking upward.
PHYSICS PRIZE [SPAIN, GALICIA, SWITZERLAND, FRANCE, UK] — Bieito Fernández Castro, Marian Peña, Enrique Nogueira, Miguel Gilcoto, Esperanza Broullón, Antonio Comesaña, Damien Bouffard, Alberto C. Naveira Garabato, and Beatriz Mouriño-Carballido, for measuring the extent to which ocean-water mixing is affected by the sexual activity of anchovies.
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