BOSTON (AP) — The sex lives of constipated scorpions, cute ducklings with an innate sense of physics and a life-size rubber moose don’t seem to have much in common, but they all inspired this year’s Ig Nobel winners. year, the comic scientific achievement awards.
Held less than a month before the actual Nobel prizes are announced, Thursday’s 32nd annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony was, for the third year in a row, a pre-recorded webcast of the event at the Annals of Improbable Research Magazine place.
The winners, honored in 10 categories, also included scientists who found that when people on a blind date are attracted to each other, their heart rates sync up, and researchers who looked at why legal documents can be so puzzling, even for the same lawyers.
Although the ceremony was pre-recorded, it retained much of the fun of the live event usually held at Harvard University.
As has been an Ig Nobel tradition, the actual Nobel laureates presented the prizes, using a bit of a video trick: the Nobel laureates presented the prize off-screen, while the winners walked up and brought an award that had been sent to them. and assembled in sight.
The winners also received a virtually worthless $10 billion Zimbabwean note.
Curiosity lit? Learn more about some of the winners:
“Science is fun. My kind of catchphrase is you’re not doing science if you’re not having fun,” said Frank Fish, a professor of biology at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, who shared the Ig Nobel in physics for studying why ducklings follow their mothers. In one single place. file formation.
It’s about energy conservation: The ducklings are drawing, just like stock cars, cyclists and racers in a race, he said.
“It all has to do with the flow behind that main organism and how information in motion can be of energetic benefit,” said Fish, whose specialty is studying how animals swim.
He shared the prize with researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, who discovered that the ducklings were actually surfing in their mother’s wake.
Eliska Prochazkova’s personal experiences inspired her dating research that earned her and her colleagues the Ig Nobel Prize for cardiology.
She had no trouble finding her seemingly perfect match on dating apps, but often found there was no spark when they came face to face.
So he set up blind dates in real social settings, measured their physiological reactions, and found that the heart rates of people attracted to each other were in sync.
So is your work evidence of “love at first sight”?
“It really depends on how you define love,” Prochazkova, a researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said in an email. “What we found in our research was that people were able to decide if they wanted to date their partner very quickly. Within the first two seconds of the appointment, the participants made a very complex idea about the human being sitting in front of them.”
Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado of the University of São Paulo in Brazil won the Ig Nobel in biology for studying whether constipation ruins a scorpion’s sex life.
Scorpions can separate a body part to escape a predator, a process called autotomy. But when they lose their tail, they also lose the last portion of the digestive tract, leading to constipation and eventually death, they wrote in the journal “Integrated Zoology.”
“The long-term decline in locomotor performance of autotomized males may affect mate-seeking,” they wrote.
Magnus Gers won the Ig Nobel for safety engineering for making a moose “crash test dummy” for his master’s thesis at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, which was published by the Swedish National Institute for Road and Highway Research. Transportation.
Frequent moose-vehicle collisions on Sweden’s roads often result in injury and death to both humans and animals, Gers said in an email. However, car manufacturers rarely include animal accidents in their safety tests.
“I think this is a fascinating and still very unexplored area that deserves all the attention it can get,” he said. “This topic is mystical, life-threatening and more relevant than ever.”
Anyone who has ever read a terms of service agreement knows that the legal documents can be downright incomprehensible.
That frustrated Eric Martinez, a graduate student in the brain and cognitive sciences department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who also has a law degree from Harvard.
He, Francis Mollica, and Edward Gibson shared the Ig Nobel literature for looking at what makes legal documents unnecessarily difficult to understand, research that appeared in the journal “Cognition.”
“Ultimately, there’s kind of a hope that lawyers will think a little bit more with the reader in mind,” he said. “Clarity not only benefits the layman, it also benefits lawyers.”